Hendrix, Gilmour, Allman and More: 10 of the Greatest Guitar Solos Ever

by Peter Wendel
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MickTaylorMain

Mick Taylor [source: Wikipedia]

You could argue that the guitar solo is rock music’s highest form of expression. The greatest solos come from the heart – pure and unfiltered. They can’t be faked. They are transcendent (not to get too far into the clouds).

In many ways, guitar solos from legendary players like Jimi Hendrix, Neil Young and David Gilmour are far more emotional and compelling than any lyrics could ever hope to be.

The solo is the center around which the other aspects of the song revolve.

Before I ramble on and belabor the point, let’s just go ahead and listen to some of rock-n-roll’s greatest guitar solos. They have been isolated – unencumbered by lyrics – for your listening pleasure.

This is straight-up music that will get down inside your soul. So don’t be surprised if you want to start your own band by the time you’re done.

ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER
Jimi Hendrix (Dylan Cover)
The Jimi Hendrix Experience

This one needs no introduction.

CORTEZ THE KILLER
Neil Young
Neil Young

Neil is a master painter with his guitar. You are transported onto a galleon skimming across the ocean to plunder the New World and a “palace in the sun.”

LAYLA
Eric Clapton & Duane Allman
Derek & The Dominos

Yes it’s Eric’s song, but it’s Duane’s double-tracked slide solo at the end of “Layla” that makes it a true masterpiece. Allman’s slide weeps and wails for all who’ve loved and lost. He pulls delicate, syrupy-sweet notes from his guitar that sound almost like a violin, and he gets the last word with his signature “bird chirp” as the song fades. He actually produced that sound with his guitar.

SINCE I’VE BEEN LOVING YOU
Jimmy Page
Led Zeppelin

Sure we could have showcased “Stairway To Heaven,” but this one shows more of Page’s humongous talent. Buckle up, the ride gets wild.

SHINE ON YOU CRAZY DIAMOND
David Gilmour
Pink Floyd

Gilmour has laid down a truckload of monster solos in his day, including the classic from “Comfortably Numb,” but this one has to be at the top of the heap. It sucks you into the dream and then blows it up. “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” was written as a tribute to the band’s original leader, Syd Barrett. It is suspected that Syd’s heavy use of psychedelics caused the serious mental illness that led to his removal from the band.

SWAY
Mick Taylor
The Rolling Stones

The Stones were never quite the same after Mick Taylor left the band in December of 1974. Listen to his blazing solo at the end of “Sway” and you won’t bother arguing the point.

SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL
Keith Richards
The Rolling Stones

If Jagger is Lucifer, Richards is his faithful, riff-slinging minion, Beelzebub, who lays down one of the edgiest, filthiest guitar solos in the history of rock music. His piercing, jagged-edge play is the musical equivalent of being poked in the eye with a rusty nail (but it hurts so good). One moment the “woo-woooo” chorus offers a soothing blanket, and the next, Richards comes in swinging – shattering glass with his low-slung, gunslinger guitar play.

TEXAS FLOOD
Stevie Ray Vaughan
Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble

Wow! SRV unleashes searing blues work.

VOODOO CHILD (SLIGHT RETURN)
Jimi Hendrix
The Jimi Hendrix Experience

This could very well be the greatest guitar solo of all time. Seriously, what planet was this guy from?

WHY DOES LOVE GOT TO BE SO SAD?
Eric Clapton & Duane Allman
Derek & The Dominos

If you like blistering guitar duels, you’ve come to the right place. This is an all-out scorch-fest that’ll make your head spin – wave after wave of white-hot guitar work from two of the best players to ever walk the earth. Put on your flame-retardent coveralls before you press “Play.”

Peter Wendel is a journalist and PR consultant. He's attended hundreds of concerts and festivals, including Mountain Jam, The All Good and Lockn'. He's ridden legendary Grateful Dead runs from Ventura County Fairgrounds to Irvine Meadows (CA) from the Nassau Coliseum (NY) to the Boston Garden (MA). Peter is a former U.S. Marine who – after running into trouble with every last one of his commanding officers – received an honorable discharge and a direct order never to return. Born in California and raised in New Jersey, Peter lived in Boston and Joshua Tree (CA) before settling in the nation's capital. Find him on tour at PWendel@SongMango.com.

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