Five Iconic Guitar Solos That Have Achieved Legendary Status

by Madonna

The realm of rock ‘n’ roll boasts no greater spectacle than a masterful guitar solo. Since the inception of contemporary music, the six-stringed instrument has served as a vessel for infusing songs with energy, diversity, and raw emotion. Whether weaving a mysterious, jazzy interlude or igniting a fervent climax, the perfect guitar solo possesses the alchemical power to transform a mere song into an enduring classic.

While countless well-crafted solos have stood the test of time, only a select few have ascended to the realm of legends. From Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” to Blue Öyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” here are five songs whose guitar solos have grown even more mythical with the passage of time.


1. “Stairway to Heaven,” Led Zeppelin (1971)

“Stairway to Heaven” stands as a monumental rock epic, captivating listeners with its eight-minute sonic journey. Beginning with delicate acoustic guitars and fantastical lyrics, the song gradually ascends to a fiery climax. Around the six-minute mark, the virtuoso guitarist Jimmy Page embarks on a transcendent solo. Recorded on a Fender Telecaster inherited from Yardbirds bandmate Jeff Beck, Page’s distinctive sound bathes his masterful playing in an authoritative, trebly brilliance.


2. “The Star Spangled Banner,” Jimi Hendrix (1970)

The 1969 Woodstock festival remains an indelible chapter in rock history, and one of its most iconic moments was Jimi Hendrix’s instrumental rendition of the United States National Anthem. Hendrix’s interpretation begins as a faithful rendition but soon spirals into feedback-laden improvisation around the minute-and-a-half mark. By the final chords, he has taken listeners on a mind-bending, psychedelic journey that resonates as powerfully today as it did then.


3. “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” Blue Öyster Cult (1976)

Blue Öyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper” may be remembered today for its comedic portrayal in Saturday Night Live’s “More Cowbell” sketch, but the 1976 single is also one of classic rock’s most haunting tracks. Singer and guitarist Buck Dharma’s poetic lyrics about impending death set a moody tone, amplified by his explosive solo in the song’s midst—legend has it, executed in a single take. Starting subtly and repetitively, it swiftly escalates to a rapid-fire climax, showcasing Dharma’s exceptional guitar prowess.

4. “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Nirvana (1991)

Kurt Cobain, the frontman of Nirvana, may not have been a guitar virtuoso in the traditional sense, but his brilliance lay in his simplicity. His solo in the band’s 1991 breakout hit, “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” mirrors the song’s vocal melody on his signature baby blue Fender Mustang. Yet, the solo’s chorus effect-soaked tone, coupled with Cobain’s impassioned playing, elevates it to a cathartic pinnacle on arguably the most pivotal grunge song ever released.

5. “Reelin’ in the Years,” Steely Dan (1972)

While Steely Dan is often associated with a laid-back, carefree vibe, their 1972 single “Reelin’ in the Years” stands out as a boisterous exception. The solo, captured in one flawless take by session musician Elliott Randall, is a tour de force of jazzy finesse. Utilizing a wiry, distorted tone, Randall’s playing is so intricate and enjoyable that it has earned acclaim as Jimmy Page’s personal favorite solo of all time.


You may also like


Musicalinstrumentworld is a musical instrument portal. The main columns include piano, guitar, ukulele, saxphone, flute, xylophone, oboe, trumpet, trombone, drum, clarinet, violin, etc.

Copyright © 2023