100 Worst Guitar Solos
Originally printed in Guitar World Magazine, December 2004
After two decades of kissing ass, Guitar World tips over a few sacred cows in a definitive guide to guitar parts that blow.
Guitarists, no matter how good they are, are bound to have the occasional bad night or hit the odd bum note. Legends like Hendrix, Page, Hammett and Harrison have had their share of uninspired moments and times where ambition exceeded their technique. It’s really no big deal.
Unless you’re caught on tape, that is.
In a rare moment of pure spite and malice, Guitar World asked several contributors to identify those instances when our greatest guitar heroes took their biggest pratfalls. And, boy, rarely have we seen our writers take to an assignment with greater gusto. It seems that nothing gets a journalist’s creative juices flowing like asking them to spill a big bucket of bile on a beloved icon. While our writers tended to save most of their venom for undeniably cruddy and inept solos, some had fun throwing darts at performances that were technically adept but which they deemed boring, self-indulgent or just plain absurd. Another favorite pastime was picking on anything remotely involving the talents of Poison’s C.C. DeVille.
Now, we enjoy the colorful Mr. DeVille, but unfortunately somebody’s gotta be the whipping boy, and we guess it’s C.C.’s turn to feel the lash. But he shouldn’t take it too hard. The flamboyant, hair-sprayed rocker can take solace in the fact that he’s in some rather good company. So pull out the knives, put on the lobster bib and dig in. No one, but no one, gets out of this alive.
(1991) GUITARIST: C.C. DeVille
Remember when you were in high school and your novice shredder best friend kept insisting he’d “almost nailed” Eddie Van Halen’s “Eruption” solo, and you’d be stuck in his room wanting to kill yourself as he tried to play it again and again? That’s a little what listening to C.C.’s jaw-dropping nineminute solo spot is like. Only instead of your friend going “No, wait!” and starting over every time he fucks up, there’s an arena full of idiots loudly cheering him on. And just to show you the breadth of his chops, C.C. also throws in a messy attempt at some “Hot Club”–style gypsy jazz licks (Django Reinhardt would surely be envious of the tres magnifique tones C.C. coaxes from his pointyheadstocked ax), a touch of polka, some searing Miami Vice blues bends and, of course, several more dive bombs and two-handed tapping runs whenever inspiration fails. Completely devoid of taste, structure or steady tempo, this should be required listening for budding guitarists everywhere. Surely they can’t do any worse.
2 BLUE CHEER
GUITARIST: Leigh Stephens
The heaviest band of their day, Blue Cheer made a pretty convincing case for being the lousiest as well. Guitarists and rock critics alike have spent decades debating the worst aspect of their lone hit: Is it the witless whammy bar break in the first verse? The Hendrixon– Boone’s Farm–and-Quaaludes guitar solo? The agonizing onenote- at-a-time full-octave climb to the final verse? Whichever you choose, there’s no doubt that the cumulative effect had Eddie Cochran turning in his grave like a rotisserie chicken.
3 CARLOS SANTANA
“The Game of Love”
We were delighted to see Carlos get his due from a new generation of music fans, even if it meant he had to share the stage at the Grammys with that loser from Matchbox 20. But with “The Game of Love” he totally crossed the line, teaming his guitar with Michelle Branch’s whiny-ass voice to create one of the most uncannily annoying hooks—“Uh-hiiii-yai-i-I,” anyone?— ever waxed. A “little bit of this” and a “little bit of that” will truly drive you all the way up the fucking wall—and make you pray Carlos ditches the guest vocalists next time around.
Falstaff beer 1967 radio spot
GUITARIST: Eric Clapton
Clapton quit the Yardbirds in 1965, objecting to their new, commercially oriented direction. Yet only two years later, Slowhand himself could be heard wielding his patented “woman tone” on this radio ad for Falstaff beer. Turning “Sunshine of Your Love” on its side and rewriting it as “Falstaff, the Thirst-Slaker,” Clapton and Jack Bruce touted the joys of alcohol to impressionable youngsters throughout America. Still feeling guilty about it three decades later, the guitarist (and recovering substance abuser) tried to replenish his karma points by establishing a rehab clinic on the easily accessible Caribbean island of Antigua.
5 THE BEATLES
“All You Need Is Love”
Magical Mystery Tour (1967)
GUITARIST: George Harrison
The shortest and most uptight solo of George’s Beatles career, with a jarringly abrupt ending. Maybe John Lennon realized it was only going to get worse and pulled the plug on him.
6 BLACK FLAG
“Thirsty and Miserable”
GUITARIST: Greg Ginn
Well, at least Black Flag got the last half of the song title right. Punk rockers should never attempt shredding, even if they’re trying to be ironic. Greg Ginn performs his solo like a sloppy drunk having sex, and, mercifully, he gets his act over quickly before his flaccid notes have the chance to penetrate deep enough to do damage. Even worse, Ginn tries to mimic Jimi Hendrix with his overextended bent-note screams but ends up sounding like someone trying to bend Jimmy Kimmel. The guitarist claims Black Flag practiced about six hours every night. Apparently, that didn’t involve playing any musical instruments (though it certainly involved a ton of wanking).
7 TED NUGENT
Scream Dream (1980)
The Motor City Madman has never been known for subtlety or inventiveness, but the main riff of this song is so brain-dead, it cries out for euthanasia.
8 ROLLING STONES
“Ain’t Too Proud to Beg”
It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (1974)
GUITARIST: Keith Richards
Keith Richards says he never understood why Mick Taylor left the Rolling Stones, but this horrendous, lurching and sputtering solo might have had something to do with his exit. Was Taylor angry with Richards for ruining an otherwise decent cover of a Motown classic? Was he too proud to beg to play the solo himself? Or was he just plain tired of playing with a group he considered rank amateurs? “I couldn’t believe how bad they were,” Taylor has said of the group. “Their playing was out of tune, and they sounded like a garage band. I often wondered how the Stones could make hit records.” Maybe it was only rock and roll, but Taylor apparently didn’t like it, and he bailed from the Stones less than two months after this record came out.
“Sting of the Bumblebee”
Kings of Metal (
1988) BASSIST: Joey DeMaio
This manic, mindless masturbatory wankfest (played on bass, which technically is a guitar) becomes more unbearable when you consider that DeMaio most likely performed it clad only in a loincloth, his hairy chest abundantly oiled and puffed out with pride. Sometimes it sounds like his woolly mammoth popped out to help him slap the strings. This metal is as heavy as the foil used to wrap a stick of Wrigley’s gum.
10 LENNY KRAVITZ
GUITARIST: Lenny Kravitz
In this plodding, lethargic remake of the Guess Who hit, Lenny Kravitz sucks all the bounce and air out of Randy Bachman’s classic riff like a vampire performing cunnilingus on a blow-up doll. If songs could give out restraining orders, Kravitz would be forced to stay away from everything recorded between 1960 and 1979.
GUITARISTS: Dave Mustaine and Marty Friedman
The only risk Megadeth took on this album was the chance they might alienate their die-hard fans once and for all. Probably inspired by the alternative crossover success Metallica enjoyed with Load, Dave Mustaine and company reached for a similar audience with this tepid rocker, which sounds uncannily like Loverboy’s “Turn Me Loose” being covered by K.C. and the Sunshine Band. No matter how hard Mustaine tried to sell this piece, no one was buying.
12 TWISTED SISTER
“We’re Not Gonna Take It”
Stay Hungry (1984)
GUITARIST: Jay Jay French
Arnold Schwarzenegger made this glammetal anthem by a bunch of girlieman cross-dressers the theme song for his California gubernatorial campaign, using it as a torture device to force people to vote for him. Jay Jay French displays the imagination of a sea monkey on his solo by merely aping the song’s melody.
13 KENNY LOGGINS
Top Gun soundtrack (1986)
When I think “danger,” I think Kenny Loggins. Or not. Ol’ Kenny, who boogied with a gopher in Caddyshack and taught rhythmless rednecks to disco with his hit “Footloose,” made “Danger Zone” the U.S. Armed Forces’ most popular recruiting song since the Village People sang “In the Navy.” Just thinking about those over-processed power chords and that whiny lead induces a jet stream of vomit. Every time we hear the kids in South Park say “They killed Kenny!” we wish they were talking about this bearded, mullethaired rocker.
14 PETER FRAMPTON
“Do You Feel Like We Do”
Frampton Comes Alive (1976)
Come on—if you’re gonna address the audience through a Talk Box during your extended guitar solo, wouldn’t you at least have some fun with it and say “I need a blowjob,” or something?
“Y’all Want a Single”
Take a Look in the Mirror (2003)
GUITARISTS: Munky and Head
Featuring a riff that sounds like it was bashed out in 20 seconds so the band could get to the strip club before it closed, this song should have been called “Y’all Want a Refund?” Korn don’t get airplay anymore because they ran out of good ideas five years before they made this record.
16 DAVID BOWIE
“Hang Onto Yourself”
Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders from Mars soundtrack (1973) GUITARIST: Mick Ronson
Bowie’s finest guitar foil must have been breaking in a new pair of platforms the night this gig was recorded. What else could explain the way he stumbles over this familiar solo, not to mention several others throughout the show? “Hang Onto Your Guitar” would have been more like it.
17 DEF LEPPARD
GUITARISTS: Steve Clark and Phil Collen
Even Mutt Lange’s production wizardry can’t disguise the fact that this song is essentially a killer chorus surrounded by weak-to-the-point-of-nonexistent verses, with a solo that any fouryear- old with a rack-mounted effects unit could play.
18 BRITNY FOX
“Save the Weak”
Britny Fox (1988)
GUITARIST: Michael Kelly Smith
This C-list hair band tried to mix social commentary with sub- Slade screechiness, resulting in what may well be the worst metal power ballad ever. Or maybe they were just singing about themselves?
19 ROY BUCHANAN
“Sneaking Godzilla Through the Alley”
When a Guitarist Gets the Blues (1985)
GUITARIST: Roy Buchanan
Back in the Seventies, a PBS documentary gave Buchanan the title of “the world’s greatest unknown guitarist.” Listen to this song and you’ll know why the “unknown” tag still applies. Buchanan creates such horrendous and annoying tones with his guitar that a more-appropriate title for this song would have been “Poking My Tele Up Godzilla’s Poop Chute.”
GUITARIST: Kirk Hammett
We don’t know what possessed Metallica to rip off a show tune, because to us this lumbering riff sounds like it was lifted from “Hey Big Spender.” Hammett struggles through the wooden solo as if he’s using a large plank for a pick, and he’s so obsessed with his wah-wah that he forgets to play anything with his left hand.
21 BUZZCOCKS “Noise Annoys” Singles Going Steady (1979)
GUITARISTS: Pete Shelley, Steve Diggle
You could argue that this song was actually meant to be annoying, but only a group of idiots would bother to record this dreck and release it. The Buzzcocks pulled off punk’s first hat trick—infantile lyrics, one stoopid riff and two (count ’em) crap solos in one tune. The only good idea is the song’s rhyming title, but that’s not enough to justify the immortalization of this steaming pile of poo.
22 BLIND MELON
Blind Melon (1992)
GUITARIST: Christopher Thorn
Thorn suffers from a drought of inspiration when performing the feeble solo on this hippy-drippy paean to indolence. His tone is about as dry and insufferable as Death Valley in July.
23 SMASHING PUMPKINS
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995)
GUITARIST: Billy Corgan
Old Chinese saying: “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Give a man a Whammy pedal and he’ll annoy you for a lifetime.” Just because you call yourself a zero doesn’t mean you have to play like one.
24 VINNIE VINCENT INVASION
“Boyz Are Gonna Rock”
Vinnie Vincent Invasion (1986)
GUITARIST: Vinnie Vincent
It’s rumored that Vincent slowed down the tape while recording this song to make his solos sound faster on playback. But no studio trickery can fix his sloppy fingering, lousy intonation and utter lack of taste and restraint. All flash and no substance, Vincent’s playing made Mick Mars and C.C. DeVille look like virtuosos. His entire band realized he was going nowhere fast (just like his solos) and left him stranded after a gig. That band, Slaughter, immediately went on to multi-Platinum success.
Cherry Pie (1990)
GUITARISTS: Erik Turner, Joey Allen, C.C. DeVille
Imagine how insulted Erik Turner and Joey Allen felt when they were told Poison’s C.C. DeVille would play the solo on this song. That’s like having your wife tell you Gary Coleman will be taking over your bedroom duties.
26 FAITH NO MORE
The Real Thing (1989)
GUITARIST: Jim Martin
This is the real thing all right—real boring. Looking like the love child of Frank Zappa and Doctor Demento, Jim Martin couldn’t decide whether he was playing in Black Sabbath, Yes or the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Listen closer to the lyrics, Jim—you want it all, but you can’t have it.
“Every Rose Has Its Thorn”
Open Up and Say...Ahh! (1988)
GUITARIST: C.C. DeVille
It’s C.C. DeVille, so that’s two strikes right there. On Poison’s biggest hit, C.C. botches his big chance to turn in a tasteful solo by opening up and saying “Ahh shit!” at the first note. This rose stunk worse than a fertilizer factory.
28 GREEN DAY
GUITARIST: Billie Joe Armstrong
This riff is a total ripoff of Chicago’s “25 or 6 to 4.” The only thing punk about this song is that it makes us want to shove a smoking red-hot stick up Armstrong’s ass.
29 IRON MAIDEN
“Fear Is the Key”
Fear of the Dark (1992)
GUITARIST: Janick Gers
Apparently, this song got its title from the instructions the band gave Janick Gers when he asked what key the tune is in. Not only does this track feature one of the most lightweight, wimpy riffs ever recorded by a metal band but the solo sounds like Gers was afraid of the strings. The only thing to fear about this song is the possibility that it may bore you to death.
30 B.B. KING
“Into the Night”
Into the Night soundtrack (1985)
GUITARIST: B.B. King
B.B. has made numerous missteps during his career, including stints as a corporate shill for Greyhound, KFC and Wendy’s. But this cheeseball theme song from a long-forgotten Jeff Goldblum–Michelle Pfeiffer movie ranks as his worst career move ever. The surging synth pads, metal power-chord accents and phony passion of his solos are as tasteful and timeless as Kid n’ Play’s vertical geometric afros.
31 THE GRATEFUL DEAD
Shakedown Street (1978)
GUITARIST: Jerry Garcia
Why the Grateful Dead wanted to sound like the Bee Gees is anyone’s guess (on their next album they even tried to look like the Bee Gees, donning white polyester Angels Flight suits for the cover photo). This banal attempt at disco fell flat faster than a hippie on brown acid. Garcia’s overprocessed, bluegrass-tinged solo is as out of place as Merle Haggard at Studio 54.
32 THIN LIZZY
Vagabonds of the Western World (1973)
GUITARIST: Eric Bell
More than a decade before Steve Vai whipped out his talking guitar trick on David Lee Roth’s “Yankee Rose,” Thin Lizzy’s Eric Bell took a similar approach on this solo. By simultaneously manipulating his whammy bar and wah pedal, Bell made his guitar sound as unintelligible as a drunken Irish lad after too many pints of Guinness.
Love Gun (1977)
GUITARIST: Ace Frehley
Yes, Ace, pentatonic scales are cool. But they only sound interesting when you mix up the order of the notes.
34 DAVID LEE ROTH
Eat ’Em and Smile (1986)
GUITARIST: Steve Vai
Steve Vai calls those noises at the beginning of this song “Martian voices,” but to us it sounds like the parents in a Peanuts holiday special. Or Louis Armstrong playing trumpet. With his butt.
“Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (1976)
GUITARIST: Angus Young
Angus begins his wobbly ascent up the fretboard at the end of this solo like a hungry octogenarian climbing the steps to Home Town Buffet. After losing his grip on a few cranky pull-offs, he concludes with an out-of-tune blues bend that howls like an old geezer dropping his dentures in the clam chowder pot.
35 RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE
“Know Your Enemy”
Rage Against the Machine (1992)
GUITARIST: Tom Morello
Great solo. Has absolutely nothing to do with anything else going on in the song, but great solo.
36 MOLLY HATCHET
Molly Hatchet (1978)
GUITARISTS: Dave Hlubek,
Steve Holland, Duane Roland These three axmen from Florida chopped up every imaginable southern rock cliché until they’d hacked the genre to death. It’s a pity no gator got close enough to bite their arms off.
“She Loves My Cock”
GUITARISTS: Jeff Worley, Jimmy Stiff
Quite possibly the dumbest AC/DC ripoff ever, this single-entendre hillbilly sploogefest makes Brian Johnson sound like Bon Scott, and Bon Scott sound like Oscar Wilde. The rhythm guitarist riffs like he’s lost at least one hand in a hunting accident—perhaps he ran afoul of singer Jesse James Dupree’s chainsaw— and Angus Young could play a better lead with his ass after a night of boozing. In fact, he probably has.
39 BOB MARLEY & THE WAILERS
“Stir It Up”
Catch a Fire (1973)
GUITARIST: Peter Tosh
The only thing more annoying than watching white guys groove to reggae music is hearing Peter Tosh nod out on his wah-wah pedal throughout this song.
40 LIMP BIZKIT
Three Dollar Bill Y’all$ (1997)
This George Michael cover may have put Limp Bizkit on the map, but it was also the most embarrassing moment of their career—and that’s saying a lot. Bizkit’s version became a hit just in time to pay all of Michael’s legal fees after he was arrested in a Beverly Hills men’s room for lewd behavior. Wes Borland’s limpwristed riff suggests Michael wasn’t the only one who should have been jailed for wanking in public.
41 MÖTLEY CRÜE
“Looks That Kill”
Shout at the Devil (1983)
GUITARIST: Mick Mars
Mick Mars intended to shock and awe listeners, but the only thing shocking about his solo is how awful it sounds. His tinny, threadbare riff sounds like it was played on a child’s plastic toy guitar. By a child. Forget Saddam Hussein—the U.S. should punish Mars and C.C. DeVille for the horrific atrocities they committed on the guitar.
42 THE WHO
It’s Hard (1982)
GUITARIST: Pete Townshend
It’s hard, all right—hard to believe that the most exciting rock band in the world was reduced to churning out monotonous electro-pop, and harder still to swallow Townshend’s willingness to sound like nothing more than a third-rate Eighties Clapton. At least the video, in which Roger Daltrey appears in grave danger of being dwarfed by his Telecaster, is good for a few bitter chuckles.
“At War with Satan”
At War with Satan (1983)
GUITARIST: Jeff “Mantas” Dunn
Only the devil knows what possessed this novice English trio to tackle a 20-minute conceptual opus about the battle of Armageddon, but they were in way over their horned heads. The sloppy guitar, bass and drums clash so badly that the band members sound like they’re at war with one another.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Noodles got his name from his most unpunklike tendency to imitate hair metal guitarists. While he doesn’t play a traditional solo on this song, he does make thousands of dollars’ worth of guitar equipment sound like a 50-cent kazoo. That may be his greatest accomplishment.
45 JIMI HENDRIX
Blue Wild Angel (Digipak) (2003)
GUITARIST: Jimi Hendrix
About everything that could possibly go wrong did go wrong with Jimi Hendrix’s final festival performance at the Isle of Wight. But the reason this song sounds so bad has nothing to do with a drug-addled purple haze, overindulgence in red house wine or even the interruptions of security radio transmissions through Jimi’s Marshall stacks. The culprit was the dreaded “wardrobe malfunction.” Apparently, Jimi ripped the seam of his pants and popped the fly open after doing the splits, and his wild thing was threatening to burst stone free at any second. How would you play if you knew 600,000 people could be looking at your exposed willy?
GUITARIST: Peter Klett
This song was the second breakthrough hit for these grunge-lite rockers from Seattle, but we think someone should have broken the legs of the radio programmer who decided to force-feed this crap to the masses. The endlessly repeated guitar riff is the closest thing to a hook in this song, but it’s so dull that you couldn’t catch a sardine with it. How these idiots didn’t receive ritual beatings from total strangers is the greatest unsolved mystery of the 20th century.
47 MARILYN MANSON
Portrait of an American Family (1994)
This song’s unimaginative half-step riff makes you wish there was a 20-year ban on playing the “evil interval.” Daisy Berkowitz’s tone sounds as heavy as a flower petal, and his bombastic guitar solo is as explosive as a toy grenade.
Payable on Death (2003)
GUITARIST: Jason Truby
To prove himself as a player and good Christian, guitarist Jason Truby invited born-again guitar hero Phil Keaggy to record this overbearing instrumental duet, which should have remained in the musicians’ private collections. This performance makes you wish God had given Moses an 11th commandment: “Thou shalt not irritate your neighbor with mindless New Age drivel.”
GUITARIST: Tony Rombola
Featuring a drop-D riff so simple you could play it with a strap-on dildo, this song is as predictable as J. Lo and Marc Anthony’s impending divorce.
50 ALBERT KING
“Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight”
Red House (1991)
GUITARIST: Albert King
No longer challenged by the task of decimating the Hendrix legacy, producer Alan Douglas got busy destroying Albert King’s career before the blues legend died. The second strike against this misguided effort was Douglas’ decision to have King cover this James Taylor snoozer with the accompaniment of smooth-jazz synth strings, Kenny G–style soprano sax and cooing background vocals. Throw in booze-drenched accompaniment by Joe Walsh and King strikes out before he even approaches the plate to play his first note.
GUITARIST: Michael Angelo
Listening to Michael Angelo’s shrill, hyperspeed shredding is more torturous than hot dog night at Abu Ghraib. You’ll want to throw yourself in front of a freight train before his solo ends.
52 JEFFERSON STARSHIP
“By My Lady”
Winds of Change (1982)
GUITARIST: Craig Chaquico
Craig Chaquico thought it was a good idea to make his triple-harmonized guitar solo sound like a pan flute, but no one else did. Guitarist Pete Sears and his wife, Jeannette, penned this drippy ballad, but to us it sounds like they stole it from Sears & Roebuck.
53 LOU REED
Metal Machine Music (1975)
GUITARIST: Lou Reed
This entire double album offers nothing but atonal, meandering distortion, feedback and guitar noise layered into a numbing, deafening, rhythmless racket for 64 minutes. Reed once said, “Anyone who gets to side four is dumber than I am.” That may be the most honest summary imaginable for this musical abortion.
54 BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN
Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978)
GUITARISTS: Bruce Springsteen,
Steve Van Zandt Powerful vocals. Huge arrangement. Bombastic production. Thin lead guitar tone.
“Lay It on the Line”
Just a Game (1979)
GUITARIST: Rik Emmett
This is a good song…for me to poop on! Canada should apologize to America for foisting this comic dog of a band on us during the Seventies. Rik Emmett plods through vapid power chords before blasting into his solo with all the panache and finesse of a bulldog mounting a poodle. At best, Triumph were a B-grade version of Rush—Limbaugh, that is.
“Walk This Way”
Live! Bootleg (1978)
GUITARISTS: Joe Perry and Brad Whitford
Aerosmith rip through their funkiest hit at almost twice the speed of the studio original, completely losing the groove in the process. One of the roadies must’ve been waving an eightball at them from the side of the stage.
57 THE CRAMPS
Songs the Lord Taught Us (1980)
GUITARIST: Bryan Gregory
The maxed-out fuzz box can’t disguise the fact that Gregory can’t play. Remarkably, he fails to play even one note in key. To make matters worse, his band mate, Poison Ivy— a girl—humiliates him by playing a primitive but noteperfect rockabilly solo a few bars later. No wonder the kids in Gregory’s Brooklyn neighborhood used to mock this ghoul-faced girlie-boy by singing Nick Gilder’s “Hot Child in the City” whenever he walked past.
GUITARIST: Neal Schon
It’s too easy to diss anything Neal Schon has done. After all, he’s the idiot who allegedly tried to kick Carlos Santana out of Santana. But the solo on “Faithfully” sums up everything that was wrong with Eighties rock guitar, and then some. The wimpy wankfest that ends this song is so overplayed, overblown and overextended that you wish it was over now.
59 THE CULT
“Born to Be Wild”
GUITARIST: Billy Duffy
Apparently, no one told Billy Duffy that a Bigsby tremolo will knock your guitar out of tune. Like the hillbillies in Deliverance, Duffy made his Gretsch White Falcon squeal like a pig, and the final passage of his solo may be the most unintentionally out-of-tune noise ever released by a major label. Duffy deserves to be sodomized by the entire Hells Angels for the disgrace he made of this biker anthem.
“Spit It Out”
GUITARISTS: Jim Root, Mick Thomson
Even Jenna Jameson would have trouble swallowing the soggy wad of a riff on this limp attempt to fuse hip-hop and metal. The eerie guitar sounds in the midsection are supposed to complement the samples, but they just suck.
61 LIVING COLOUR
“Cult of Personality”
Vernon Reid shows us what it would sound like if you tried to play a solo with a boat motor.
62 STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN
Live Alive (1986)
GUITARIST: Stevie Ray Vaughan
This coked-out, drunken mess, recorded when Vaughan was at the bottommost depths of his addiction problems, kicks off what is woefully the only official live album by this powerhouse guitarist. Vaughan conceived the song’s title when he imagined how record buyers would react after paying $19.95 for this disastrous double album.
“Working for the Weekend”
Get Lucky (1981)
GUITARIST: Paul Dean
Paul Dean’s licks gallop and whine like characters in a My Little Pony cartoon, only Dean sounds twice as prissy and fey. And only a West Hollywood hairdresser would think skin-tight red leather jeans and a rolled-up bandanna were cool attire for a man.
64 NEIL YOUNG & CRAZY HORSE
GUITARIST: Neil Young
When Neil Young played a onenote solo on “Cinnamon Girl” in 1969, it was considered clever. But when he tried to cram two one-note solos into this track 12 years later, his decision was rightfully considered monotonous and weak. To quote George W. Bush: “Fool me once, shame on…shame on you. Fool me…you can’t get fooled again.”
God Hates Us All (2001)
GUITARIST: Kerry King
Kerry King approaches this guitar solo like Napoleon Dynamite running a 50-yard dash—he flails wildly and aimlessly at the start, only to end up hacking and wheezing by the time he reaches the finish line. Dang!
66 BILLY JOEL
“It’s Still Rock & Roll to Me”
Glass Houses (1980)
GUITARISTS: Dave Brown, Russell Javor
It wasn’t rock and roll to anyone else, though. Released when bands like Motörhead, the Ramones and AC/DC were in their prime, this song sounded as dangerous as a death threat from a three-year- old. The soggy slapback echo guitars and featherweight rhythmic accents make Lawrence Welk sound like the Dead Kennedys.
67 THE ROLLING STONES
“Sympathy for the Devil”
Four Flicks DVD (2003)
GUITARIST: Keith Richards
Everyone raved about how well Ron Wood was playing on the Stones’ most recent tour, probably because Woody had to work extra hard just to cover for Keith. During the band’s Madison Square Garden show, Keef essays his most famous solo as if he has no idea what song the rest of the band is playing.
68 TYRANNOSAURUS REX
A Beard of Stars (1970)
GUITARIST: Marc Bolan
On the verge of ditching Tyrannosaurus Rex’s flower-power mysticism for T.Rex’s cosmic boogie, Bolan apparently decided to combine the worst aspects of both on this interminable track. His solo playing is so sloppy, you wonder if the sleeve of his gypsy caftan had become entangled in the strings. In any case, it makes George Thorogood sound positively tasty by comparison.
“This Ain’t Havana”
End of the Century (1980)
GUITARIST: Johnny Ramone (?)
In Lobotomy: Surviving the Ramones, the late Dee Dee Ramone claimed that Johnny sat out most of the End of the Century sessions in a huff, and producer Phil Spector brought in session guys to cover his parts. Of course, Dee Dee was never a reliable source, but the lame, watered-down guitar sounds on this and several other of the album’s tracks seem to support his allegation. Johnny could make his Mosrite roar like a tsunami; this stuff is about as compelling as a leaky faucet.
70 THE KINKS
“Welcome to Sleazytown”
Think Visual (1986)
GUITARISTS: Ray Davies, Dave Davies
A punishingly tedious track from what may be the Kinks’ alltime worst album. Ray Davies steals the main riff from no less a stinker than “Misunderstanding” by Genesis, thereby underscoring his utter lack of inspiration.
71 SAMMY HAGAR
“Three Lock Box”
Three Lock Box (1982)
Okay, nobody ever confused the Red Rocker with the second coming of Mozart, but even a punch- and tequiladrunk former boxer should know better than to wedge a totally awkward, momentum-killing chord progression between the chorus and solo break of an otherwise decent rocker.
72 BOB DYLAN
“Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)”
Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 (1971)
GUITARIST: Robbie Robertson
When Dylan yelped “Uh, guitar now!” on this shambolic performance, he probably wanted Robertson to serve up something a little more compelling than a piercing burst of accidental feedback. Then again, given the Mighty Zim’s contrary ways, maybe it was exactly what he was hoping for.
73 DINOSAUR JR.
“Show Me the Way”
You’re Living All Over Me (1987)
GUITARIST: J. Mascis
Bringing Frampton to the late-Eighties college-rock crowd was a sobad- it’s-cool move. Too bad J. Mascis was too baked to learn more than half the chords of the original.
74 GRATEFUL DEAD
“Not Fade Away”
Grateful Dead (1971)
GUITARIST: Jerry Garcia
Jerry’s solos always served up more noodles than lunchtime in Chinatown, but did he have to dump them all over a classic Buddy Holly tune? And there’s that hideous wheedly guitar tone, which practically makes you want to scratch a chalkboard for relief.
75 JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS
“I Love Rock N’ Roll”
I Love Rock N’ Roll (1981)
GUITARIST: Ricky Byrd
Anyone who truly loved rock and roll wouldn’t have let this solo fester in the middle of an otherwise slammin’ track.
GUITARIST: Ace Frehley
Did somebody leave the gas jets on, or did everyone just accidentally take a swig from the same flask as Ace? The band plays like it’s encased in Jell-O, and Ace sounds like he’s passing out during his solo. Forget the firehouse—call the paramedics!
77 THE FIRM
The Firm (1985)
GUITARIST: Paul Rodgers
In a move perverse enough to horrify even Aleister Crowley, Jimmy Page decided to let Paul Rodgers play the guitar solo on their new band’s debut single. If you listen closely, you can almost hear Page laughing hysterically in the background as Rodgers clams up a storm.
78 THE STROKES
Is This It (2001)
GUITARIST: Albert Hammond Jr.
Desperately trying to downplay the song’s suspicious resemblance to Tom Petty’s “American Girl,” Hammond Jr. hacks up a frantic, screechy blues-box solo that goes absolutely nowhere. If the Heartbreakers’ Mike Campbell couldn’t have come up with something better or more original than this, he probably would have cut his hands off.
“Spit It Out”
Slide It In (1984)
GUITARIST: John Sykes
The most underrated of David Coverdale’s loin-sweat anthems, this charming ode to oral sex is put completely over the top by Sykes, who punctuates every pause with squealing fills that at best sound like bargain-basement Randy Rhoads. He then serves up an additional layer of cheese with a “sensitive” chorus-drenched chord passage right before the lead break, which makes Coverdale’s priapic demands sound even sleazier than they already are.
80 THE CURE
“Pictures of You”
GUITARIST: Robert Smith
Just one of about a hundred leaden, meandering Cure songs that are made even more annoying by Robert Smith’s intentionally out-of-tune 12-string guitar. Make it stop, Fat Bob! Please, make it stop!
“Hair of the Dog”
Hair of the Dog (1975)
GUITARIST: Manny Charlton
Really, has there ever been a better hard rock chorus than “Now you’re messin’ with [stomp! stomp!] a son of a bitch”? And has there ever been a more idiotic concept for a hard rock guitar solo than Manny Charlton’s interminable Talk Box excursion? The damn thing sounds like they let that duck from the Afflac commercial into the studio.
82 THE REPLACEMENTS
Let It Be (1984)
GUITARIST: Bob Stinson
What should have been a tongue-in-cheek Kiss cover ended up as a nose-in-ass tribute. From his heavily chorused intro to his leaden power chords, Stinson stomps through this song as if he’s wearing 12-inch platform heels. Whatever punk credibility the Replacements may have once possessed was destroyed for good by this misstep.
83 JOE SATRIANI
The Extremist (1992)
GUITARIST: Joe Satriani
Satriani got a lot of flack from critics who claimed his playing lacked emotion, so to prove he could play with feeling he called this song “Cryin’.” But with its insipid melody and excessive, harsh bends, the tune really deserves the title “Whinin’.” The album was mistitled, too—he should have named it The Excrement.
“Ride My Rocket”
Metal Magic (1983)
GUITARIST: Diamond Darrell
A blatant ripoff of Kiss’ “Detroit Rock City,” “Ride My Rocket” is typical of the fluffy hair metal Pantera churned out before undergoing an extreme makeover in 1990 with Cowboys from Hell. Diamond (yes, Dimebag went by the oh-so-glam name Diamond back then) Darrell’s lead work sounds like a warmup exercise from one of Doug Marks’ Metal Method instructional videos.
85 BLUES TRAVELER
“Closing Down the Park”
Live from the Fall (1996)
GUITARIST: Chan Kinchla
For 13 minutes, guitarist Chan Kinchla and harmonicat John Popper spray sloppy notes all over each other like Ebola victims with diarrhea. This park shouldn’t have been closed down; it should have been permanently quarantined.
86 THE BEATLES
“If You’ve Got Troubles”
Anthology 2 (1996)
GUITARIST: George Harrison
If you’ve got troubles, get Ringo to sing so you can blame the entire mess on him. George Harrison meanders on a meaningless riff that sounds like he’s trying to remember how to play “Taxman” (except that “Taxman” was written in 1966, one year after this Lennon/McCartney-penned outtake). Just before the instrumental break, Ringo pleads, “Ah, rock on, anybody!” and Harrison phones in a solo. Unfortunately, the operator failed to tell him his line was disconnected.
“Turn Up the Radio”
Sign in Please (1984)
GUITARIST: Steve Lynch
We bet radios were turned off whenever anyone broadcast this piece of corporate metal crap. Steve Lynch, a bizarre-looking man who apparently bathed in bronzer, is one of the clowns who turned Eddie Van Halen’s two-handed tapping technique into an overused cliché during the Eighties. It sounds like Lynch was playing with one hand down his pants.
88 DEAD BOYS
Young, Loud & Snotty (1977)
GUITARIST: Cheetah Chrome
This song must have gotten its title from the pedal Cheetah Chrome used to get his scratchy, piercing tone on this song’s solo. Chrome’s guitar sounds as small as a certain Green Day member’s member (check groupiedirt.com) and as whiny as Paris Hilton being forced to shop at Wal-Mart.
89 WHITE STRIPES
“Offend in Every Way”
White Blood Cells (2001)
GUITARIST: Jack White
Slipshod playing is a big part of Jack White’s shtick and garagerock appeal, but it can’t hide the fact that White is struggling with this song’s simplistic riff. His phrasing meanders as if he’s trying to remember the riff, and the botched G chord roughly two minutes into the song is one of the most painful mistakes ever recorded. Only an attempt at a solo could have made this recording more offensive.
Kilroy Was Here (1983)
GUITARIST: Tommy Shaw
Any number of Styx tunes belong on this list, from the creepy ballad “Babe” to the pompous rocker “Come Sail Away,” but here Tommy Shaw’s playing is so stiff, lifeless and predictable that you wish the band had replaced him with a robot.
“Need You Tonight”
GUITARISTS: Andrew Farriss, Tim Farriss, Kirk Pengilly
It wasn’t bad enough these Aussies built this song around an incredibly annoying cod-funk lick that would bore into your skull and stay there for days; they also used variations of the same lick in most of their other hits.
Filth Pig (1995)
GUITARISTS: Al Jourgensen, Mike Scaccia
This song’s main riff is so bogged down and soporific that it makes “Iron Man” sound like “Flight of the Bumblebee.” The beefy bass line and wailing harmonica evoke Zep’s “When the Levee Breaks,” but the swampy, stinky guitars ooze like a stream of fresh manure seeping from a Wisconsin dairy farm.
93 THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND
Peakin’ at the Beacon (2000)
GUITARIST: Dickey Betts
Why Gregg Allman fired legendary guitarist and founding band member Dickey Betts is anyone’s guess, but the answer probably lies in this 27-minute instrumental jam, which is featured on a live album documenting Betts’ final shows with the group. The guitarist delivers tasteful, jazzy solos between extended acid house percussion jams, but like a bad LSD trip, this song seems to go on with no end in sight.
94 ERIC CLAPTON
“I’ve Got a Rock N’ Roll Heart”
Money and Cigarettes (1983)
A profoundly mediocre song from Clapton’s bad career patch (i.e., everything after Layla), this drab little toe-tapper finds the Armani bluesman bragging about how he gets off on, among other things, “a screaming guitar.” Then, on cue, he meekly tosses off clichéd blues lick #478, which only screams “has-been,” if anything at all.
95 SPIN DOCTORS
Pocket Full of Kryptonite (1991)
GUITARIST: Eric Schenkman
Back when the only danger New Yorkers had to worry about was being overrun by dippy jam bands, these idiots were the kings of the local scene. Listening to “Two Princes” now, it’s hard to imagine why—the vocalist’s attempts at scat singing are bad enough, but the draggy, patchouliscented, fake-funk riff that’s repeated through the entire song takes artlessness to a whole new level.
96 ROSIE & THE ORIGINALS
“Give Me Love”
The Best of Rosie & the Originals (1960)
GUITARIST: Noah Tafolla
“Angel Baby” remains one of the most charming ballads of the doo-wop era, but the real treat for guitar fans lies on the single’s flipside. Having used most of their studio time nailing the A-side, the Originals had just a few minutes in which to write and record this r&b stomper. The results sound like blues night at the brain injuries ward, and the unbelievably half-assed guitar solo is worth the price of admission alone.
“Down with the Sickness”
The Sickness (2000)
GUITARIST: Dan Donegan
Donegan pummels a repetitive alternating half-step pattern while singer David Draiman practices tropical birdcalls, and then the band falls into a mindnumbing one-chord groove. The only thing disturbing about this song is the fact that a major label thought anyone would like it.
The Other Side (2004)
GUITARIST: Tony Rombola
You have to appreciate the honesty of this song’s title. Tony Rombola’s painful solo sounds like he played it after someone poked his eyes out with a sharp stick.
99 THE REPLACEMENTS
GUITARISTS: Chris Mars, Tommy Stinson
Okay, this was supposed to suck in the first place—all four ’Mats traded instruments and attempted a blues jam to achieve the desired effect—but this appalling orgy of drunken cacophony is still a total chore to listen to, even if you’re already in on the joke.
100 MICHAEL JACKSON
“Black or White”
Shooting for another rock-crossover coup along the lines of Eddie Van Halen’s “Beat It” solo, Wacko Jacko placed a call to Slash, the hottest guitarist of the moment. Lightning failed to strike twice, however, and Eddie no doubt lost little sleep over Slash’s plodding contributions.