Greatest Guitar Solos of All Time Readers Poll: Round 1 — "All Along the Watchtower" (Jimi Hendrix) Vs. "Zoot Allures" (Frank Zappa)



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I have played for over 45 years and am an accomplished jazz fusion player. I am tired to the point of ad-nauseam hearing about how great, how all powerful, the deified Hendrix was, a man allegedly able to master all genres of music including the alien Krell scale no doubt:-) A man who put out a sum total of four LPs (officially released) who has been dead over 40 years and yet is still elevated to the status of supernatural deity and crowned by default as best guitarist every single stinking year on every poll based on WHAT? In a recent article, another clueless writer stated that he could "play anything"...REALLY? Are they that delusional?
Sure, like the continually alleged erroneous bull that he could play jazz?....not quite! There are recordings of Jimi supposedly playing jazz or jamming with jazz players including one boot with John McLaughlin and if Jimi is playing jazz than I can play Paganini's 24 Caprices on the violin as well as Jaschia Heifetz!
He NEVER played jazz and couldn't play jazz, certainly not what is considered true, harmonically complex, contemporary jazz modulated over multiple chord changes as in Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, Johnny Smith, Pat Martino, Jim Hall, Jimmy Bruno, George Benson etc., or the fusion players like McLaughlln, Stern or Scofield - Jimi played BLUES, almost 95% typical, minor pentatonic blues riffs with a few majors thrown in, big deal, he and Clapton along with most blues players used virtually the same riffs with very few minor differences. Jimi was actually more inventive with his little hybrid passing chords such as Little Wing, Wait til Tomorrow, Angel, Wind Cries Mary  etc. although they were not jazz, not even close!
Sure Hendrix was a great blues-rock guitarist, YES he was an innovator even though much of his schtick was stolen from an unknown Buddy Guy (at the time) and other virtually undiscovered Chitlin Circuit rhythm & blues players but never the less, yes the amalgam was original, he was an innovator and he along with a young Clapton (the only guitarist he truly admired at the time) were the bookends that ushered in a new era of solo blues guitar, redefined it and set a new gold standard. I was there at the time, although a kid, to hear the rock and blues pros talk about two players among all others on the scene, and you either copied Clapton's Bluesbreaker LP, his Cream stuff or Hendrix, not even Beck etc. rated at that time although Mike Bloomfield was a master who is consistently forgotten. Jazz players on the whole could have cared less about Hendrix, largely dismissing him as just a another over indulgent, super loud rock and roller. Let it be known that to declare Jimi as the default greatest, in every single friggin poll year after year is a grotesque parody of history and a joke perpetrated by guilt ridden, writers, critics and suburban morons who know nothing about the guitar, its history, mechanics and different genres. Great guitar players who give this myth lip service, do it because  its being politically correct, you dare NOT say anything less of Hendrix or risk being scorned, vilified and committing nothing less than guitar heresy. Its ludicrous but sadly a fact.

The truth however is often inconvenient and until the press stops this relentless deification of Hendrix, it will continue to be a travesty of journalism, a lie, a myth and a gross disservice to all the GREAT players who are still alive, have put out prolific catalogs and who are far superior to Jimi in every phase of guitar. Jimi himself would be embarrassed and sickened by the deification the press has hurled upon him. He would have repudiated such bull crap and demanded that the press give attention to the multitude of other guitarists who have been just as great or better in their own right.

STOP this pathetic mythology about Hendrix..when is it going to stop? Since the man has died, he has been elevated to supernatural levels, endowed with super powers the he never had and its all due to the endless hype promulgated by an industry that for motives unknown beyond profit, seem hell bent on continuing this outrageous cultism that as its manifesto, claims Hendrix was the greatest guitarist in the history of the planet, sure, a man who could play blues, rock, classical, jazz, Hawaiian slack, bluegrass, you name it and Jimi could play it and of course, not only lefty but both ways because HE was from the planet Krypton:-)

The true test of a "cult" is how people who adhere to it cannot allow it to be questioned, such as, you guessed it, religion.....and the test is, they are so steeped in denial that to allow one critique or question regarding their deity seemingly threatens to crack their own self worth and credibility wide open therefore, they can not allow it just as religious zealots have zero tolerance toward any resistance, questions or attacks upon their sacred cult. Jimi, like Elvis and Jesus has become a cult and people who adhere to a cult have no self identity and therefore cling to a cult in order to create self validation which is apparently so fragile, so thin and fractious, they can't allow a debate. Lets stop this horse hockey, Hendrix was a great player, and like a food or type of coffee roast, its all subjective, you can love Hendrix, like him, or be indifferent but its not going to effect the rotation of the planets, the earths gravity, alter the consciousness of the human species or effect how often you have a bowl movement. How much somebody liked Hendrix's guitar work has no bearing on the actual level of skill he possessed if objectively compared to his contemporaries or players to this day. In fact, he registers better than average only among blues rock players but not the best, and not even necessarily great. the word "great" or "best" is itself often a perversion and is far more subjective in interpretation than objective or accurate.

So lets move on....enough. Stop the deification of James Marshall Hendrix, let him rest knowing he was one of the great pioneers of rock-blues guitar but leave it at that....he did not wear a cape, he could not play all genres of music nor play perfectly both right and left handed nor was he sent by Zeus to entertain the mortals nor was he a disciple of the greatest of all fairy tale myths, Jesus, sent to save the sins of all guitar players. As Carl Sagan so eloquently said "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence". Where is the evidence for these myths, I am still waiting.






Soloing over someone else song and the song your soloing over just encapsulates your solo is something few understand. Why he plays one song that’s not even his and puts his own finish touches over it like if it was his own. The thing here is that he’s playing his solo and then it becomes a master piece is fascinating. Soloing over a copy is done a lot. Everyone at least does it once. Soloing over other people’s songs is a lot like watching bar bands. They didn't write the song but still play some of their own material over all the time.



This poll is already fix it!!!



Absolutely no contest here. While Zoot Allures is a cool tune, there's nothing particularly memorable about the guitar solo that would make me hit replay or go buy the record. Watchtower, on the other hand, is so loaded with amazing textures and brilliantly melodic soloing that it's obvious why this tune has remained so high on people's 'all time favorite' lists since the late 60s. No disrespect to Frank here. He was a brilliant player, writer, and arranger, but the only common attribute between the guitar solos of these two tunes is that both players are no longer living.



if the sliding with a lighter doesnt get you.. then the waah waah will.. not yet? how bout the genius mini-shredding outro into the amazing hendrix vocals screaming, all along the watchtower... genius



Seriously, who picks these songs? Zappa, for all of his genius and musicality, was a very idiosyncratic guitar player. And I would posit that the so-called "greatest guitar solo of all time" (whatever that means) would require equal amounts of brilliance and accessibility. If you're going to throw Zappa into this mix, please pick a better guitar solo. I love this song but it's hardly a well-known classic and they could have gotten a much better solo off of a live version.
There are few recorded guitar solos that are as perfectly conceived and executed as "Watchtower." A solo like that could conceivably win this.



Anybody would lose going against 'Watchtower'; its a masterpiece to the point where Dylan prefers it to his own. I'm just bummed it was Frank that had to go against him; 'Zoot' (along with 'Black Napkins' and 'Watermelon in Easter Hay') was considered by FZ to be his signature piece(s). All that said, I voted FZ as it was an original piece composed live 'on the spot' through improvisation and trimmed down in order to fit on an album. To hear the full version, check out "Frank Zappa Plays the Music of Frank Zappa; A Memorial Tribute". It features the original full-length versions of the songs I mentioned.





Darth Compton

Watchtower, baby, Watch. Tower.



Once again, you guys have apples and oranges. Jimi is locked into one of his most melodic solos here and Frank ...well Frank is being Frank. Both are masterpieces in their own right, for completely different reasons. How can you ask us to choose? ,,,nay how can those of you that voted choose? A complete and utter dichotomy, ...a parabol, ...a Paradox, ...?
I refuse to vote.



Yikes~ unfair to anybody, putting them up against Hendrix's Watchtower.

Yeah, I know that this particular track has had WAAAAAAAYYYYY too much airplay, even for we dyed-in-the-wool Hendrix fans. Yet that doesn't detract from the skill and artistry of the solo.

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