Most Iconic Guitar Solo?

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 15.678% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

I was listening to Prozzak’s “Sucks To Be You” (Spotify link) the other day, and musing how I thought it had one of the most perfectly fitting guitar solos ever.  Not that I’ll defend that choice; it’s a quirky little song, and the flamenco-style solo is just weird and somehow fitting for me.
But then I thought: what’s the most iconic guitar solo of all time?
“Stairway to Heaven” came to mind instantly, but then I realized that I couldn’t bring the whole solo to mind.  The end weedly bits, yes, but I think for a solo to be iconic, the whole solo has to be something so memorable you can pretty much sing along with it.  So after thinking for a bit, I settled upon “Hotel California.”  You might not like the song, but I think pretty much anyone who grew up in the 70s through the 90s can sing along with that sucker.
But I could be wrong.  Remember, we’re not looking for the best guitar solo here, but the most iconic – as in, the guitar solo that almost everyone knows, the guitar solo that is the most legendary.  I was toying with one other choice here, which to me is incredibly obvious, but I’ll see whether I get swamped with that one in the comments.
(Cue Bart Calendar’s strong opinions.)


  1. J3
    Apr 4, 2012

    How about the opening to House of the Rising Sun? That’s pretty iconic, I think.

  2. Garfield
    Apr 4, 2012

    Smoke on the Water, Free Bird, Down by the RIver (Neil Youn).

  3. Jodo
    Apr 5, 2012

    To me, it’s still, and may always be, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”.

  4. Garfield
    Apr 5, 2012

    Thinking some more, Johny Be Good (go Back to the Future).
    I may be snobish here, but while Rising Sun is iconic, I just can not think of doing arpeggio’s on basic chords as a guitar solo.

  5. Joshua Gage
    Apr 9, 2012

    I think we need to differentiate between “solo” and “guitar work”. A “solo” is the part of the song where the guitarist(s?) are allowed to jam out, with no singing or whatnot from the lead. Ideally, this should be improvised, and show off not only the guitarist’s technical skills but also add something to the live performance. Some solos, as this points out, become so iconic that artists actually have to memorize their improvisations and perform them note for note.
    Good guitar work is something like the bulk Stairway or Hotel California, where a chord progression is opened up, and a counter melody is created. While this also shows off the guitarist’s skills, it’s not really soloing as they’re not playing solo, but accompanying other musicians, as opposed to jamming out on their own. Of course, the last few minutes of Hotel California, when Felder and Walsh just flamenco their asses off, is pretty cool soloing. It would make my list of obvious choices.
    Some of my favs:
    “Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones — Keith’s solo here is choppy and rough, but then again, so is the song.
    “Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns” by Mother Love Bone — I love the back and forth of the solo here, and the way it crescendos to a palpable explosion that Andrew Wood clearly plays off of lyrically.
    “Alive” by Pearl Jam — McCreedy steals from Kiss, who steal from the Doors. It’s another blistering solo that’s enhanced slightly by lyricism, in this case a “Yeah-ah-ah” from Eddie Vedder.
    “Little Wing” by Jimi Hendrix Experience — Jimi’s solo on this is soft, subtle and passionate. Really quite nice
    “Paranoid Android” by Radiohead — The end of this song sounds like Greenwood threw together every damn riff and jam he could think of, and made it work somehow. It’s bizarre and chaotic and fights against itself, but it’s still damn cool.
    Others that I think need to be mentioned:
    “Layla” — Clapton just showing off, and then some.
    “Sweet Little Angel” — possibly one of my favorite BB King songs, the solo is packed on this one.
    “Comfortably Numb” — I’m not a Floyd fan, but the solo on this song is quite solid.
    “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground” — Blind Willie Johnson isn’t singing, really, just moaning and echoing back this haunting guitar awesomeness. Not really a solo, but still so awesome that it needs to be mentioned.

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