Poll Results: Eddie Van Halen's "Eruption" Tops Readers' List of the 50 Greatest Guitar Solos of All Time
Who says lightning doesn't strike twice?
For the second year in a row, Eddie Van Halen has topped a major summer-long poll at GuitarWorld.com.
In 2012, readers crowned him the Greatest Guitarist of All Time. This year, one of his many six-string masterpieces, "Eruption," a wildly innovative instrumental track from Van Halen's self-titled 1978 album, was voted the Greatest Guitar Solo of All Time.
The final matchup — aka the Ultimate Championship — took place Monday and Tuesday on GuitarWorld.com.
"Eruption," the No. 2 seed in our tournament-style poll (more on that below) faced Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb," the No. 4 seed. And although David Gilmour's breathtaking 1979 solo from one of The Wall's standout tracks took an early — and seemingly convincing — lead, "Eruption" had pulled ahead by early Tuesday, and there was no looking back.
In the end, "Eruption" had snagged 57.06 percent of the readers' votes.
And "Comfortably Numb" was anything but a pushover. It had already knocked off a series of top contenders, including the No. 1 seeded guitar solo, Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven," which features the fretwork of one Jimmy Page.
It's difficult to imagine a more appropriately titled piece of music than “Eruption.” When it was originally released, it hit the rock guitar community like an H bomb. Two-handed tapping, gonzo whammy bar dips, artificial harmonics — with Van Halen’s masterly application of these and other techniques, “Eruption” made every other six-stringer look like a third-stringer.
Which is not to imply that the losing guitar solos — many of which you can check out below — and their authors are mere third-stringers. They all fought long and hard during our 64-solo, tournament-style poll, which we launched June 10.
The poll's 64 solos were the top 64 solos from Guitar World's list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Solos of All Time. The list, which has been quoted by countless artists, reference sites and media outlets around the globe, starts with Richie Sambora's work on Bon Jovi's “Wanted Dead or Alive” (100) and builds to an epic finish with Page's "Stairway to Heaven" (01).
Head HERE to see every matchup — from June 10 to September 17.
Below, we invite to check out your top 50 guitar solos.
Rankings: Readers' Top 50
How did we determine a Top 50 ranking for a tournament-style poll?
Simple. We ranked the guitarists by round — first the two guitar solos from the finals, then the remaining two from the Final Four, and so on — and then within their respective rounds by their overall vote count. The “Bohemian Rhapsody” guitar solo, for instance, is No. 9 because it received the most votes of any solo that didn't make it to the Elite Eight.
Note that we've also included each song's original ranking from Guitar World's original list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Solos of All Time.
Soloist: Carlos Santana
Album: Santana—Amigos (Columbia, 1976)
Original Ranking: 49
“I started writing this song in 1966 or ’67, but didn’t finish it until ’75 when we were on tour with Earth, Wind and Fire, in Manchester, England,” says Carlos Santana. “We were backstage while they were onstage playing. And we were just warming up, tuning up. I started playing it and [keyboardist] Tom Coster and I completed it right there on the spot. It immediately became a crowd favorite; it is one of those songs that, whether it’s played in Japan or in Jerusalem or in South America, it just fits right in with everything.”
49. "Master of Puppets"
Soloist: Kirk Hammett
Album: Metallica—Master of Puppets (Elektra, 1986)
Original Ranking: 61
48. "War Pigs”
Soloist: Tony Iommi
Album: Black Sabbath—Paranoid (Warner Bros., 1970)
Original Ranking: 56