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Top 10 Guitar Solos

VO: Rebecca Brayton
With September 10th marking the 40th anniversary of Eric Clapton's Rainbow Concert album release and September 18th marking the 43rd anniversary of Jimi Hendrix's death, we take a look at the top 10 guitar solos. There are few better ways for talented guitarists to display their skills in a song than with a solo. These melodic musical sections often contain improvisation and though they can be found in all genres of music, they most often appear in rock, heavy metal and related genres. For this list, we’ve limited it to one guitar solo per artist and excluded instrumentals. Join WatchMojo.com as count down our picks for the top 10 guitar solos. Special thanks to our user damissinglynk for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest.
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It takes a whole band to rock, but these solos will make you roll. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 guitar solos.

For this list, we’ve limited it to one guitar solo per artist and excluded instrumentals.

#10 – Ritchie Blackmore from Deep Purple: “Highway Star”


With “Smoke on the Water,” the Deep Purple guitarist paved the way for classical music in blues-rock and brought to life one of the best heavy metal riffs in history. But when it comes to solos, it’s hard to overlook “Highway Star.” Machine Head’s fastest track also contains an organ solo by Jon Lord, but it’s Blackmore’s classically-inspired guitar piece that’s the “killing machine, it’s got everything.”

#9 – Eric Clapton from Cream: “Crossroads”


As one of the greatest guitarists of all time, it’s no surprise Clapton’s got a number of signature solos to his name. While he and Duane Allman made history with “Layla”’s signature sound, it’s with Cream’s “Crossroads” solo that he really nails it. In fact, this hard-rock arrangement of Robert Johnson’s original blues tune is so good we think Slowhand may have signed a deal with the Devil too.

#8 – Don Felder and Joe Walsh from Eagles: “Hotel California”


After One of These Nights set these country and folk-influenced rockers on pace to live “life in the fast lane,” the Eagles produced another number one with Hotel California. That record spawned the smooth and soulful title track that classic rock radio stations won’t let us forget: aside from its surrealist lyrics, “Hotel California” showcases some of the most memorable electric guitar chemistry ever between Felder and Walsh.

#7 – Allen Collins and Gary Rossington from Lynyrd Skynyrd: “Free Bird”


With their remarkable solos and defiant rock ‘n’ roll swagger, Lynyrd Skynyrd became fixtures of the southern rock scene. It’s because of this cut off (Pronounced 'Lĕh-'nérd 'Skin-'nérd) that the band first became household names across America. Due in no small part to its structure – half ballad, half up-tempo guitar solo – “Free Bird” also became their second top 40 hit, keeping crowds pumped for decades.

#6 – Randy Rhoads from Ozzy Osbourne: “Mr. Crowley”


Rhoads exploded into the heavy metal universe after giving Ozzy Osbourne’s music a new lease on life. And while “Crazy Train” off Blizzard of Ozz features one of the genre’s most iconic riffs, it’s actually that album’s second single that captures Rhoads’ guitar skills best. “Mr. Crowley” contains not one, not two, but three standout guitar moments; but the masterpiece’s climax is the outro solo.

#5 – Brian May from Queen: “Bohemian Rhapsody”


With Freddie Mercury’s theatrical vocals and lively stage presence and May’s virtuoso guitar abilities, Queen scored big overseas thanks to “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Featuring elements of hard rock, balladry, and opera, its unconventional style initially baffled critics. But today, it’s one of the Brits’ most popular songs. It’s in this melodic, chorus-less tune that May played one of the most incredible axe solos ever – and the song wouldn’t be the same without it.

#4 – Jimi Hendrix from The Jimi Hendrix Experience: “All Along the Watchtower”


Though “Little Wing” or “Voodoo Child” could’ve easily made this list, it’s the Seattle rocker’s cover of “All Along the Watchtower” that lands here. The Jimi Hendrix Experience gave Bob Dylan’s folk rock original a psychedelic rock spin, which included a killer guitar solo that helped Hendrix earn his only top 20 American hit. Even Dylan was inspired: his later performances of the track were influenced by Jimi’s version.

#3 – Slash from Guns N’ Roses: “Sweet Child O’ Mine”


While Slash stood out on a wide array of G N’ R songs – from “Nightrain” to “November Rain,” just to name a few – it’s “Sweet Child o’ Mine” that really set the stage for the band’s later work. Though its brilliant riff was conceived as a joke, the track’s chart-topping success and incredible solo were anything but. Its parent album, Appetite for Destruction, also became the best-selling debut in American history.

#2 – Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin: “Stairway to Heaven”


It's quite fashionable to knock and hate Led Zeppelin's radio staple, “Stairway to Heaven,” but no list of the top guitar solos would be complete without it. With Plant’s bluesy vocals, and Bonham’s thunderous bass drum, you’ve got an unmatched sound blending blues, hard rock and folk. However, it’s Page’s complex guitar work that’s truly left an immeasurable and all-encompassing influence on later artists.

#1 – David Gilmour from Pink Floyd: “Comfortably Numb”


Though “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” is sometimes cited, it’s with The Wall’s third single that Pink Floyd ensured fans weren’t “comfortably numb” to their music. They may’ve been known for introspective lyrics, studio experimentation, and effects-heavy, extravagant shows, but their sound wouldn’t be the same without Gilmour. His evocative, blues-inspired guitar on “Comfortably Numb”’s two solos, especially the final one, helped solidify the band’s popularity and success.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite guitar solo? If you didn’t see your pick, be sure to check out our Top 10 Guitar Rock Instrumentals list and subscribe to WatchMojo.com for more entertaining top 10s.
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