100 Worst Guitar Solos
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.