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Warren DeMartini, Steve Stevens, Lita Ford and an all-star panel share their guitar highlights of the ‘80s

Best of the '80s: Warren DeMartini, Steve Stevens, Lita Ford and more on their favorite things from the decade of excess
Look the part, be the part [L-R]: Warren DeMartini, Steve Stevens and Lita Ford (Image credit: Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images; Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

What was the greatest guitar solo of the eighties? How about the best guitar riff? The ultimate guitar album? The decade’s most underappreciated player? Was Back to School better than Back to the Future? (At least one GW editor screams yes!) Did A Flock of Seagulls’ Mike Score really have a more bitchin’ hairstyle than Steve Stevens?

Well, whether you remember or not, we at GW have already opined on at least some of these burning issues – probably even more than once (and it all started with the February 1990 issue). 

Hey, we’ve been around for 42 years! This time, however, we decided to open things up to a host of guitar stars (plus a few GW editors), some of whom were already doing their thing 35 years ago, and some who weren’t even born yet.

We asked them to answer these 10 questions about the eighties – and to elaborate whenever they deemed it necessary:

  1. Greatest guitar solo
  2. Best riff
  3. Ultimate guitar album
  4. Piece of gear that screams “Eighties”
  5. Guitarist of the decade
  6. Greatest shredder
  7. Underappreciated hero
  8. Best movie
  9. Greatest hairstyle
  10. Ultimate Eighties accessory

Check out their answers below. Enjoy!

Guitar World covers of the 80s...

Vernon Reid (Living Colour)

  • SOLO: Devil Take the Hindmost by Allan Holdsworth. Insane fluidity like [Eric] Dolphy, ’Trane and a space alien all at one go. 
  • RIFF: Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns N’ Roses. That riff is basic, but it feels elemental. It’s like the guitar played itself and Slash just channeled it. 
  • GUITAR ALBUM: Discipline by King Crimson. It’s incredible that two guitarists with radically opposite approaches made such a beautifully subtle and colorful album. A total reinvention of Crimson. Adrian Belew and Robert Fripp basically made the rock equivalent of a David Lynch film. 
  • GEAR: ADA MP-1 preamp into a VHT power amp.
  • MOVIE: Aliens 
  • HAIRSTYLE: Mike Score of A Flock of Seagulls 
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: Allan Holdsworth. Every other metal or rock guitarist had to deal with the fact that Allan fundamentally shifted the game.
  • SHREDDER: Steve Vai, the mad, mercurial scientist. His openness and extraordinary range, not to mention insane chops. From David Lee Roth to Public Image Ltd., remarkable. 
  • UNDERAPPRECIATED HERO: Greg Howe was amazing then and is phenomenal now. His evolution from metal to fusion – with stops at bebop along the way – is incredible. Why is he consistently underappreciated? You tell me, or go ask Kermit the Frog. 
  • ACCESSORY: A fanny pack. Never be caught dead with one.

John Petrucci (Dream Theater)

John Petrucci

(Image credit: Per Ole Hagen / Getty)
  • SOLO: My favorite band is Rush, so I think of the solo in YYZ. Not only do I love Rush and Alex [Lifeson], and that’s an instrumental, but the solo he did just became very influential to me. It has a kinda exotic sound; he’s using open strings and pull-offs, and it just has this nice slippery, slinky vibe to it. I love the whole vibe. 
  • RIFF: Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Scuttle Buttin’. That’s such a sick “Stevie Ray on fire” riff. It’s bringing back memories of me trying to learn these things and being like, “What the hell is he doing!” [Laughs]
  • ALBUM: Joe Satriani’s Surfing with the Alien. It just changed things for instrumental guitar music. Not that there weren’t guitar heroes before that, but it ushered in a new type. It’s a great combination of amazing, out-of-this-world playing and incredible songs.
  • GEAR: I don’t know if this was made in the Eighties, but to me, the TC Electronic 2290. When I discovered that, I was like, Oh, that’s how you get that sound. [Laughs] That real iconic famous chorusing sound – that was so Eighties in the best of ways. 
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: Yngwie Malmsteen. He blew the doors wide open as far as neo-classical shred guitar goes.
  • SHREDDER: Randy Rhoads
  • UNDERAPPRECIATED HERO: Tom Scholz [of Boston] because of his amazing melodic solos, iconic and unmistakable guitar tone, lush guitar harmonies and orchestrations and incredible songwriting. 
  • MOVIE: Purple Rain 
  • HAIRSTYLE: The Flock of Seagulls guy always comes to mind. [Laughs] Mike Score had a totally unique Eighties look. 
  • ACCESSORY: When I think of myself at that time, hair mousse comes to mind. [Laughs] And the Rockman by Tom Scholz!

Scott Ian (Anthrax)

Anthrax - L-R Frank Bello, Dan Spitz, Joey Belladonna, Charlie Benante, Scott Ian

Anthrax - L-R Frank Bello, Dan Spitz, Joey Belladonna, Charlie Benante, Scott Ian (Image credit: Krasner/Trebitz / Getty)
  • SOLO: Mr. Crowley, Randy Rhoads. His 1-2-3 punch of chops, technique and melody make this solo the one that not only stands out above all his other work, but above everyone else’s in the Eighties. And it’s fun to “air guitar” to! 
  • RIFF: AC/DC’s Back in Black came out in 1980 and set the tone for the rest of the decade. 
  • GUITAR ALBUM: Blizzard of Ozz by Ozzy. Randy tops Eddie [Van Halen’s] Women and Children First by a nose hair – and only because he was the new kid and it was all very exciting to hear someone come along A.E. – after Ed – and give us all ear boners. 
  • GEAR: The Floyd Rose! Eddie, Randy, Alex, Kirk, Dave, Steve, Joe, Neil, Kerry, Jeff, Vernon, me! etc., etc. They’re all first-name basis guitar players who used Floyd’s – and this is only the tip of the iceberg.
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: Randy Rhoads 
  • SHREDDER: Steve Vai 
  • UNDERAPPRECIATED HERO: Ty Tabor of King’s X. Ty’s playing on their two Eighties albums is wholly original. His tone is incredible, his feel, his sense of melody. He’s a monster. You need to listen to King’s X. 
  • MOVIE: Raging Bull 
  • HAIRSTYLE: Mike Score of A Flock of Seagulls 
  • ACCESSORY: My Walkman Sport

Steve Stevens (Billy Idol)

Steve Stevens

(Image credit: Bill Tompkins / Getty)
  • SOLO: Owner of a Lonely Heart by Yes (Trevor Rabin) 
  • RIFF: Beat It by Michael Jackson (Steve Lukather) 
  • GUITAR ALBUM: Van Halen’s 1984 
  • GEAR: Scholz Rockman 
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: Eddie Van Halen 
  • SHREDDER: Joe Satriani 
  • UNDERAPPRECIATED HERO: Adrian Belew. A complete original. The only guitarist I’ve seen live and couldn’t figure out how the hell he got such sounds out of the instrument. He also emits complete joy when he performs. 
  • MOVIE: Blade Runner 
  • HAIRSTYLE: Me [Visual aid, top right...] 
  • ACCESSORY: Sony Walkman 

Adam Jones (Tool)

Adam Jones

(Image credit: Ebet Roberts / Getty)
  • SOLO: Ozzy Osbourne’s Crazy Train (Randy Rhoads) 
  • RIFF: Ratt’s Lay It Down – drop D! 
  • GUITAR ALBUM: David Bowie’s Scary Monsters 
  • GEAR: ADA MP-1 preamp with a Roland AX-7 Keytar 
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: Eddie Van Halen 
  • SHREDDER: Yngwie Malmsteen
  • OVERLOOKED HERO: [Gang of Four’s] Andy Gill. [He had a] huge influence on me. His style was so passionate and raw, very unique at the time. When I mention him, most people say, “Who?” 
  • MOVIE: Blade Runner 
  • HAIRSTYLE: Any member of Kajagoogoo
  • ACCESSORY: Sony Walkman 

Eric Peterson (Testament)

  • SOLO: Hook in Mouth by Megadeth 
  • RIFF: Wrathchild by Iron Maiden and A Dangerous Meeting by Mercyful Fate 
  • ALBUM: Rising Force by Yngwie Malmsteem
  • GEAR: Parametric equalizer by Furman 
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: Eddie Van Halen 
  • SHREDDER: Eddie Van Halen 
  • UNDERAPPRECIATED HERO: Dave Meniketti [Y&T] – amazing chops and killer tone. Never seen him in the limelight. 
  • MOVIE: Legend 
  • HAIRSTYLE: David Lee Roth 
  • ACCESSORY: My case of cassettes. Still have it!

Eric Johnson

  • SOLO: The Pump by Jeff Beck 
  • RIFF: Satch Boogie by Joe Satriani 
  • GUITAR ALBUM: Reckless by Bryan Adams 
  • GEAR: Tube Screamer 808 
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: Eddie Van Halen 
  • SHREDDER: Allan Holdsworth 
  • UNDERAPPRECIATED HERO: Andy Summers. He writes great orchestrated parts that fit the songs and embellish their integrity. 
  • MOVIE: On Golden Pond 
  • HAIRSTYLE: Mike Score from A Flock of Seagulls 
  • ACCESSORY: B.K. Butler Tube Driver

Gretchen Menn

Gretchen Menn

(Image credit: Scott Dudelson / Getty)
  • SOLO: I have to honor the first one that made my ears perk up: Nuno Bettencourt’s solo on [Extreme’s] Play with Me
  • GUITAR ALBUM: Joe Satriani’s Surfing with the Alien 
  • GEAR: [Laughs] Maybe too much chorus, but the exact pedal? I couldn’t tell you... 
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: Eddie Van Halen. He was there at the beginning of the decade and changed the electric guitar in such a profound way for so many guitarists. 
  • SHREDDER: I don’t think I could choose one, as there are so many different flavors of amazing. The whole decade is an abundance of shred riches. 
  • UNDERAPPRECIATED HERO: Warren DeMartini. I feel like those who know really know, but he’s just a monster player. He garners plenty of admiration and respect among musicians, but I don’t know if he truly gets recognized on a larger scale the way he deserves. 
  • MOVIE: The Shining and, of course, This Is Spinal Tap
  • HAIRSTYLE: I think they all did! [Laughs]

Ross The Boss (Manowar)

L-R Joey DeMaio, Ross the Boss, Eric Adams and Scott Columbus

(Image credit: Fin Costello / Getty)
  • SOLO: Mr. Crowley by Ozzy Osbourne (Randy Rhoads) 
  • RIFF: Zero the Hero by Black Sabbath (Tony Iommi) 
  • GUITAR ALBUM: Texas Flood by Stevie Ray Vaughan 
  • GEAR: Marshall JCM800 
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: Stevie Ray Vaughan 
  • SHREDDER: Steve Vai 
  • UNDERAPPRECIATED HERO: Yours truly, Ross the Boss! I made six great records in six years with Manowar. No one has topped that. 
  • MOVIE: Conan the Barbarian 
  • HAIRSTYLE: Angus Young 
  • ACCESSORY: Hair spray

Paul Riario (Guitar World)

  • SOLO: Scorpions’ Rock You Like a Hurricane 
  • RIFF: Ratt’s Round and Round
  • GUITAR ALBUM: Dokken’s Tooth and Nail. Nearly every hair metal guitarist from the decade most likely studied every solo, lick and riff from this album. 
  • GEAR: Marshall JCM800 
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: Steve Vai combined all the elements of technique and flash that nearly every guitarist wanted to emulate. 
  • SHREDDER: Yngwie Malmsteen changed the course of neo-classical shred guitar in speed and technique that still resonates today. 
  • UNDERAPPRECIATED HERO: Neil Giraldo is one of the most consistently tasteful guitarists who incorporated speed, restraint and clever phrasing in the most memorable way for not only Pat Benatar, but other artists like Rick Springfield (Hello? Jessie’s Girl). 
  • MOVIE: The Breakfast Club 
  • HAIRSTYLE: Billy Idol/Steve Stevens – the perfect pairing of Eighties hairstyles in one band. 
  • ACCESSORY: Aqua Net hair spray. C’mon now, you couldn’t leave home without it.

Mark Holcomb (Periphery)

Mark Holcomb

(Image credit: Miikka Skaffari / Getty)
  • SOLO: Randy Rhoads on Mr. Crowley 
  • RIFF: Anything by Metallica – but for me, the main riff in Disposable Heroes
  • GEAR: Any chorus pedal
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: Eddie Van Halen 
  • SHREDDER: Yngwie Malmsteen 
  • UNDERAPPRECIATED HERO: Randy Rhoads lived in the shadow of EVH and contributed only two studio albums to Ozzy’s legacy, but he brought an academic, classical sensibility to metal that left an imprint on the genre for good. 
  • MOVIE: Who Framed Roger Rabbit? 
  • HAIRSTYLE: Anyone in Poison
  • ACCESSORY: Hair spray... and maybe a studded armband or two.

Ernie C (Body Count)

  • SOLO: S.A.T.O. by Ozzy 
  • RIFF: Van Halen’s Ain’t Talkin’ ’bout Love. It’s fun to play – and people always know what it is. 
  • GUITAR ALBUM: Ozzy’s Diary of a Madman 
  • GEAR: Roland G-707 guitar synthesizer. I actually had one. 
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: It has to be Eddie Van Halen. Quick story: I wanted a left-handed Eddie Van Halen guitar. When I produced Black Sabbath’s Forbidden, Tony [Iommi] said, if you ever have a chance, go say hi to Eddie. So I made it to a concert and said hi to him.
    He takes my number and calls me – back when we had answering machines – and left a message. “Ernie, it’s Eddie Van Halen. Give me a call.” I had that as my outgoing message for a year. Back to the guitar: Ernie Ball said they didn’t make left-handed ones. I told Eddie and he said, “They made one for John McEnroe – they’re going to make one for you,” and he got me one. So my answer might be kind of biased! 
  • SHREDDER: Eddie. 
  • UNDERAPPRECIATED HERO: Michael Schenker is really good and doesn’t get all the credit. UFO was great! 
  • MOVIE: It’s not necessarily my favorite, but Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo. Ice-T and I are in that. 
  • HAIRSTYLE: Slash – the best combination of instrument and hair, hands down. Still is. 
  • ACCESSORY: Jim Dunlop Cry Baby

John 5

John 5

(Image credit: Jeff Hahne / Getty)
  • SOLO: Beat It. It really is just pure perfection. 
  • RIFF: Lay It Down by Ratt 
  • GUITAR ALBUM: Rising Force by Yngwie Malmsteen 
  • GEAR: My Boss Heavy Metal pedal. 
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: Steve Vai 
  • SHREDDER: Paul Gilbert came on the scene with Racer X and changed my life forever. 
  • UNAPPRECIATED HERO: Vinnie Moore 
  • MOVIE: Crossroads with Ralph Macchio and Steve Vai – one of the best! 
  • HAIRSTYLE: My good friend Nikki Sixx had the coolest haircut in the Eighties. 
  • ACCESSORY: My record collection. Without it, I wouldn’t be who I am today. 

Ben Phillips (The Pretty Reckless)

Ben Phillips The Pretty Reckless

(Image credit: Jason Squires / Getty)
  • RIFF: Hells Bells by AC/DC, one of the best opening riffs of all time. 
  • GUITAR ALBUM: Back in Black 
  • GEAR: Marshall JCM800 
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: Eddie Van Halen
  • SHREDDER: Eddie Van Halen 
  • UNAPPRECIATED HERO: Is Mark Knopfler underrated? He’s often left out – at least in the U.S. – as one of the greatest. 
  • MOVIE: Fast Times at Ridgemont High 
  • HAIRSTYLE: Nick Rhodes 
  • ACCESSORY: Your Walkman!

Eric Gales

Eric Gales

(Image credit: Catherine McGann / Getty)
  • SOLO: Beat It by Michael Jackson 
  • RIFF: Beat It by Michael Jackson! 
  • GUITAR ALBUM: Tones by Eric Johnson 
  • GEAR: 1959 non-master vintage Marshall stack 
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: Eddie Van Halen 
  • SHREDDER: I don’t know, I got a lot of friends out there – Tony MacAlpine, Yngwie Malmsteen, Eric Johnson, Van Halen, Stevie Ray Vaughan – that’s a difficult question to answer! 
  • UNDERAPPRECIATED HERO: I think Shuggie Otis might be one of the ones that didn’t get their due. He’s amazing. 
  • MOVIE: Beverly Hills Cop 1 and 2 
  • HAIRSTYLE: Frank Zappa 
  • ACCESSORY: 1959 Marshall stack with a 1954 Strat. Can’t leave home without it! 

Lita Ford

Lita Ford

(Image credit: Paul Natkin / Getty)
  • SOLO: The Ripper by Lita Ford 
  • RIFF: Close My Eyes Forever by Lita Ford and Ozzy Osbourne 
  • GUITAR ALBUM: Lita by Lita Ford 
  • GEAR: B.C. Rich guitars 
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: Eddie Van Halen 
  • SHREDDER: Eddie Van Halen 
  • UNDERAPPRECIATED HERO: Lita Ford – because she is/was a badass “female” guitarist. Not many people could handle that. 
  • MOVIE: Arthur 
  • HAIRSTYLE: Nikki Sixx 
  • ACCESSORY: A guitar! 

Warren DeMartini (Ratt)

Warren DeMartini

(Image credit: Paul Natkin / Getty)
  • SOLO: Bark at the Moon by Ozzy Osbourne (Jake E. Lee) 
  • RIFF: Welcome to the Jungle by Guns N’ Roses 
  • GUITAR ALBUM: Blizzard of Ozz by Ozzy Osbourne 
  • GEAR: MXR Flanger 
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: Stevie Ray Vaughan 
  • SHREDDER: Yngwie Malmsteen 
  • MOVIE: The Blues Brothers 
  • HAIRSTYLE: Tommy Lee 
  • ACCESSORY: Vitamin B12

Jimmy Brown (Guitar World)

  • SOLO: GNR’s Sweet Child O’ Mine 
  • RIFF: GNR’s Welcome to the Jungle 
  • GUITAR ALBUM: AC/DC, Back in Black 
  • GEAR: Marshall JCM800 100-watt tube amp 
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: Eddie Van Halen 
  • UNDERAPPRECIATED HERO: Mike Stern. He wrote and played some brilliant music that really epitomized the jazz-rock ethos. But being a jazz musician, his exposure to rock fans and the guitar community at large was inherently limited by the low popularity of jazz in mainstream culture. 
  • MOVIE: Bloodsport
  • HAIRSTYLE: Billy Idol 
  • ACCESSORY: My black leather “fanny pack multi-compartment man purse.” LOL

Mark Tremonti (Alter Bridge)

Mark Tremonti

(Image credit: Frank Hoensch / Getty)
  • SOLO: Jeff Beck’s People Get Ready, a great example of the pure emotion that one of the best players that ever lived is capable of laying down. 
  • RIFF: Lay It Down by Ratt. It is just that classic Eighties metal-era iconic riff that everybody’s learned over the years. 
  • GUITAR ALBUM: Stevie Ray Vaughan, Texas Flood 
  • GEAR: The ADA MP-1, a rack-mounted guitar processor. I never got the MP1, but I did have the MP2. 
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: Eddie Van Halen, hands down. 
  • SHREDDER: Eddie Van Halen. He’s the godfather of shred guitar and put that style of playing on the map. 
  • UNDERAPPRECIATED HERO: Neal Schon. He played with a lot of class and emotion on those Journey recordings, but a lot of people didn’t realize how talented a player and shredder he was at that time. 
  • MOVIE: Crossroads was one of the reasons I wanted to start playing guitar. The “cutting heads” scene is one of the most iconic guitar movie scenes of all time. 
  • HAIRSTYLE: Dee Snider
  • ACCESSORY: The Rockman Sustainor rack that Tom Scholz created.

Jim Heath (Reverend Horton Heat)

Reverend Horton Heat

(Image credit: Steve Eichner / Getty)
  • SOLO: Brian Setzer’s solo in Stray Cats’ Stray Cat Strut changed my life.
  • RIFF: Elliot Easton managed to get a ton of great country- and rockabilly-style riffs into the Cars’ new wave songs. The solo in My Best Friend’s Girl is a great example. 
  • GUITAR ALBUM: Stray Cats’ Built for Speed 
  • GEAR: Boss DM-2 analog delay. Some jerk stole mine off of the stage at a gig in Amsterdam. 
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: Brian Setzer... this is getting redundant. 
  • SHREDDER: I’m not really that well versed in shredders, but since he’s from Texas and was a friend of mine, I’ll go with Mike Scaccia from Rigor Mortis and Ministry. 
  • UNDERAPPRECIATED HERO: Dave Gonzalez of the Paladins and Jimmie Vaughan of the Fabulous Thunderbirds. 
  • MOVIE: Elvis ’56 and maybe Something Wild with Ray Liotta. 
  • HAIRSTYLE: The guy from Flock of Seagulls? [Laughs] 
  • ACCESSORY: For me it was the Fifties-style shirt-jacks... two-tone maxi-style! We also liked the baggy pleated trousers. For me, the Eighties were all about the Fifties. [Laughs]

Nate Garrett (Spirit Adrift)

  • SOLO: Glenn Tipton’s solo in Reckless by Judas Priest 
  • RIFF: Black Sabbath, Sign of the Southern Cross 
  • ALBUM: Megadeth’s Peace Sells... but Who’s Buying? At that point, it was an arms race to see who could write the most impressive riffs and solos, and Megadeth came out on top in my book. 
  • GEAR: Les Paul into a Marshall 
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: Eddie Van Halen. That’s not even really up for discussion. 
  • SHREDDER: Eddie Van Halen 
  • UNDERAPPRECIATED HERO: Glenn Tipton 
  • MOVIE: The Thing by John Carpenter 
  • ACCESSORY: Denim and leather – like Saxon was preaching about. 

Reb Beach (Winger)

  • SOLO: Crying in the Rain by Whitesnake (John Sykes) 
  • RIFF: Still of the Night by Whitesnake 
  • GUITAR ALBUM: Surfing with the Alien by Joe Satriani 
  • GEAR: Tom Sholz Rockman 
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: Stevie Ray Vaughan 
  • SHREDDER: Yngwie Malmsteen 
  • UNDERAPPRECIATED HERO: Andy Timmons. He was in Danger Danger, and no one knew how amazing he was at the time. 
  • MOVIE: Silverado 
  • HAIRSTYLE: Me! [See below...] 
  • ACCESSORY: Boss Super Overdrive

Reb Beach

(Image credit: Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

Steve Lukather (Toto)

  • SOLO: Where Were You by Jeff Beck 
  • RIFF: Beat It by Michael Jackson. It was Michael’s riff. The fact that I played it is irrelevant. Ed gets a big nod for his solo. 
  • GUITAR ALBUM: Tones by Eric Johnson or Surfing with the Alien by Joe Satriani 
  • GEAR: Tri stereo chorus with stereo delay 
  • SHREDDER: Hard to pick! Yngwie, Nuno, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani... 
  • UNDERAPPRECIATED HERO: Michael Landau, my best friend since we were 12. Everything he plays is masterful. People need to check out all his solo records. 
  • MOVIE: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation 
  • HAIRSTYLE: Mike Score from A Flock of Seagulls – and my dear pal Steve Stevens. 
  • ACCESSORY: Delay was probably something I’ve always used back to the Echoplex days of the Seventies.

Diamond Rowe (Tetrarch)

  • SOLO: Metallica’s One or Ozzy Osbourne’s Crazy Train
  • RIFF: Welcome to the Jungle by Guns N’ Roses
  • GUITAR ALBUM: Metallica’s ...And Justice for All. Guitar riffs galore!
  • GEAR: I don’t see how anyone can say anything other than the Marshall JCM head! That was an Eighties tone staple!
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: Eddie Van Halen 
  • SHREDDER: Dave Mustaine or Zakk 
  • UNDERAPPRECIATED HERO: Adrian Smith doesn’t get enough praise for all the amazing melodic guitar work he does (and did) for Iron Maiden. 
  • MOVIE: Aliens 
  • HAIRSTYLE: I’m going to have to go with all the boys that just let it grow: James Hetfield, Zakk Wylde, Eddie Van Halen, etc. 
  • ACCESSORY: The whammy bar!

Max Cavalera (Sepultura, Soulfly)

  • SOLO: Pink Floyd Sorrow. David Gilmour recorded that on a boat with a little amp, which makes it even cooler! [Laughs] The Final Cut, A Momentary Lapse of Reason, The Division Bell – I love all those records, and they’re filled with great guitar stuff. 
  • RIFF: Motörhead Ace of Spades. It’s just dirty! 
  • GUITAR ALBUM: I love Link Wray’s Live in ’85 because it starts with Rumble, and Rumble is from the Fifties, and when he [first released it] it was banned. It was the only instrumental ever banned on the radio because it incited riots. What balls to make an instrumental song that gets banned! 
  • GEAR: The B.C. Rich Warlock. It was what I was using, what Slayer was using and I think W.A.S.P. and Lita Ford and a bunch of other people. I think I got it from Lita Ford. 
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: The Edge from U2 
  • SHREDDER: Eddie Van Halen, man. Other guys come close, like Randy Rhoads right behind him, but I have to go with Eddie. 
  • UNDERAPPRECIATED HERO: Chuck Schuldiner from Death. Not just for the technical stuff of later years, which was mind-blowing, but the early stuff. Come on, the guy practically invented death metal! [Laughs] 
  • MOVIE: Planes, Trains and Automobiles 
  • HAIRSTYLE: There’s a lot of mullets flying around. ing around... but I wanted to do some- thing different, so I went with [bassist Jean-Yves] Blacky [Thériault from] Voivod, with the shaved head on one side and long hair. 
  • ACCESSORY: For us, touring at that time during Arise, Beneath the Remains and Chaos [A.D.], it was the fanny pack. [Laughs] I was actually thinking about bringing that back. It was cool because you could put everything in it!

Malina Moye

Malina Moye

(Image credit: Patrick R. Murphy / Getty)
  • SOLO: Beat It by Eddie Van Halen or Purple Rain by Prince 
  • RIFF: AC/DC’s Back in Black or Zapp’s More Bounce to the Ounce with Roger Troutman. 
  • GUITAR ALBUM: Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet or Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction 
  • GEAR: A Floyd Rose on a Kramer 
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: Eddie Van Halen 
  • SHREDDER: Eddie Van Halen 
  • UNDERAPPRECIATED HERO: Steve Lukather, Vernon Reid or Wendy Melovin 
  • MOVIE: Friday the 13th 
  • HAIRSTYLE: Randy Jackson or Buddy Guy with his Jheri curl! 
  • ACCESSORY: Ray-Ban Aviator sunglasses

Billy Howerdel (A Perfect Circle)

Billy Howerdel

(Image credit: NurPhoto / Getty)
  • SOLO: Diary of a Madman by Ozzy Osbourne (Randy Rhoads) 
  • RIFF: This Charming Man by the Smiths (Johnny Marr) 
  • GUITAR ALBUM: Spring Session M by Missing Persons (Warren Cuccurullo) 
  • GEAR: Lexicon 480 L Digital Reverb 
  • SHREDDER: Steve Vai 
  • UNDERAPPRECIATED HERO: The Edge. In a decade filled to the brim with shredding virtuosos, the Edge could transcend the guitar and get right to the heart of the song. He filled space when needed and appropriately and modestly found his lane with taste and class. Always interesting and always thoughtful. 
  • MOVIE: The Lost Boys
  • HAIRSTYLE: Robert Smith of the Cure 
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: Eddie Van Halen 
  • ACCESSORY: Condoms

Dean Deleo (Stone Temple Pilots)

Dean DeLeo

(Image credit: Scott Legato / Getty)
  • SOLO: The Great Curve by Talking Heads (Adrian Belew) 
  • RIFF: It’s No Game, Part 1 by David Bowie (Robert Fripp) 
  • GUITAR ALBUM: I.O.U. by Allan Holdsworth 
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: Elliot Easton 
  • SHREDDER: Steve Stevens 
  • MOVIE: Pee Wee’s Big Adventure 
  • HAIRSTYLE: Mike Score from A Flock of Seagulls 
  • ACCESSORY: The CD Walkman

Nili Brosh

Nili Brosh

(Image credit: David Becker / Getty)
  • SOLO: Eddie Van Halen’s Beat It solo 
  • RIFF: The Final Countdown by Europe. It’s technically a melody rather than a guitar riff, but it’s one of the catchiest that’s synonymous with the Eighties. 
  • GUITAR ALBUM: Van Halen’s 1984 
  • GEAR: The old Tom Scholtz Rockman Sustainor 
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: Eddie Van Halen 
  • SHREDDER: Yngwie Malmsteen 
  • UNDERAPPRECIATED HERO: Nuno Bettencourt, but I’ve always felt it’s because it was the early Nineties when Extreme hit it big. 
  • MOVIE: The Breakfast Club 
  • HAIRSTYLE: A Flock of Seagulls 
  • ACCESSORY: I was only two when the Eighties ended so it’s a tough one to answer, but I’m guessing a pink hair brush would’ve been my version of it!

Reeves Gabrels

Reeves Gabrels

(Image credit: Gaelle Beri / Getty)
  • SOLO: The Boy with the Gun by David Sylvain (David Torn) 
  • RIFF: Metal Fatigue by Allan Holdsworth 
  • GUITAR ALBUM: Discipline by King Crimson 
  • GEAR: Steinberger GL2T TransTrem 
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: Bill Nelson 
  • SHREDDER: Allan Holdsworth 
  • UNDERAPPRECIATED HERO: Eddie Martinez, a New York City player who was omnipresent on terrestrial radio in the Eighties. He could be heard on recordings by Robert Palmer, Blondie, Lou Reed, Lenny White, David Lee Roth, Meat Loaf and countless others. His fresh playing on Run-DMC’s self-titled album (which included Rock Box) presented the blueprint for the rock guitar/rap hybrid that was relentlessly exploited by others into the 2000s. He’s a guitarist’s guitarist, whose riffs you’ve played in your cover band and whose solos you’ve tried to copy but whose name you never took the time to learn. Now’s the time to do your homework and hit “search.” 
  • MOVIE: Amadeus 
  • ACCESSORY: Pro Co Rat distortion pedal

Steve Morse

  • SOLO: Don’t Tell Me You Love Me by Night Ranger (Brad Gillis, Jeff Watson). The harmonies really hit a sweet spot, and the energy is intense. 
  • RIFF: Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns N’ Roses. Slash’s intro is simple and beautiful, and it offered a new approach for rock guitarists. 
  • GUITAR ALBUM: Tones by Eric Johnson 
  • GEAR: A whammy bar guitar. 
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: Randy Rhoads 
  • SHREDDER: A five-way tie between Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson, Yngwie Malmsteen and Randy Rhoads. 
  • UNDERAPPRECIATED HERO: Mick Mars. His rhythm playing and riffs are very musical, and they’re a great place to start learning the art of playing effectively. 
  • MOVIE: Mel Brooks’ History of the World, Part I
  • HAIRSTYLE: Kip Winger. He’s a great musician and writer, but he also had the ultimate look, one that all singers wanted to emulate. 
  • ACCESSORY: It’s not an item – it’s practicing the guitar. Everybody was playing so phenomenally well in the Eighties, so you had to be at the top of your game before walking out the door for a gig. The audience really listened to the guitar.

Jake Bowen (Periphery)

Jake Bowen

(Image credit: Miikka Skaffari / Getty)
  • SOLO: Fight Fire with Fire by Metallica 
  • RIFF: The first riff of Metallica’s Blackened after the intro 
  • GUITAR ALBUM: Master of Puppets by Metallica 
  • GEAR: Mesa/Boogie Mark IIC+ 
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: Eddie Van Halen 
  • SHREDDER: Eddie Van Halen 
  • MOVIE: Aliens 
  • HAIRSTYLE: Did James Hetfield have that awesome mullet in the Eighties?
  • ACCESSORY: Don’t leave home without your machine gun bullet belt.

Marty Friedman (solo artist, ex-Megadeth)

  • SOLO: Wuthering Heights by Pat Benatar (Neil Giraldo) 
  • RIFF: Here It Comes by Ezo 
  • GUITAR ALBUM: Crimes of Passion by Pat Benatar. Every solo is totally different, and every song has lots of unique and very effective guitar work. 
  • GEAR: Quadraverb 
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: It would be impossible to choose one, probably thanks to the high standard set by EVH. 
  • UNDERAPPRECIATED HERO: Steve Lukather. People know how great he is, but many are not aware that his massive body of musical work is so overwhelmingly expansive and diverse that there are literally no rivals as far as I know. 
  • MOVIE: The Last American Virgin 
  • HAIRSTYLE: The bass player on the first Cinderella album cover. 
  • ACCESSORY: Hair

Joel Stroetzel (Killswitch Engage)

Joel Stroetzel

(Image credit: Miikka Skaffari / Getty)
  • SOLO: Into the Fire by Dokken (George Lynch) 
  • RIFF: Opening riff to Lay It Down by Ratt 
  • GUITAR ALBUM: Rising Force by Yngwie Malmsteen 
  • GEAR: Original Eighties hot pink Ibanez JEM 
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: Eddie Van Halen 
  • SHREDDER: Paul Gilbert 
  • UNDERAPPRECIATED HERO: Adrian Vandenburg. Killer vibrato [and] awesome-sounding hands. 
  • MOVIE: Purple Rain 
  • HAIRSTYLE: Mike Score of A Flock of Seagulls 
  • ACCESSORY: Walkman cassette player!

Alex Skolnick (Testament)

Testament

Testament (L-R):  Alex Skolnik, Louie Clemente (fore), Chuck Billy, Greg Christian, and Eric Peterson (Image credit: Paul Natkin / Getty)
  • SOLO: Beat It (Eddie Van Halen, Michael Jackson). Not that it was Eddie’s best, but it was darn good. More important is what it represented – a cultural milestone and the radical merging of hard rock guitar and pop via EVH & MJ. 
  • RIFF: Back in Black by AC/DC. It was one of the first riffs of the Eighties, and it set the bar extremely high. 
  • GUITAR ALBUM: Metal Fatigue by Allan Holdsworth 
  • GEAR: Yamaha SPX 90 rack effects unit. If I’m not mistaken, Mike Stern still uses his. 
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: Joe Satriani. He was completely unknown outside of the SF Bay Area in the early Eighties when I was fortunate enough to have him as a teacher. 
  • SHREDDER: Yngwie Malmsteen 
  • UNDERAPPRECIATED HERO: Dann Huff of Giant. Listen to 1989’s Last of the Runaways
  • MOVIE: Revenge of the Nerds (1984). It’s not my favorite on an artistic level, but it’s one of several mid-Eighties comedies that just helps capture the era. Besides, what other movie has a character named “Skolnick”? 
  • HAIRSTYLE: Jennifer Batten. She’s tied with Steve Stevens. Both played for MJ and had the ultimate hair at the time. 
  • ACCESSORY: Sony Walkman

Marcos Curiel (P.O.D.)

Marcos Curiel

(Image credit: Scott Legato / Getty)
  • SOLO: Iron Maiden’s Powerslave – Dave Murray’s solo at 3:06. 
  • RIFF: Metallica’s Seek & Destroy 
  • GUITAR ALBUM: Queensryche’s Operation Mindcrime 
  • GEAR: ADA MP-1 preamp 
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: EVH 
  • SHREDDER: EVH 
  • UNDERAPPRECIATED HERO: Vivian Campbell. His work on Dio’s Holy Diver was some of the baddest stuff I heard as a kid. 
  • MOVIE: The NeverEnding Story 
  • HAIRSTYLE: Robert Smith of the Cure

Dean Back & Tyler Connolly (Theory Of A Deadman)

  • SOLO: Ice 9 by Joe Satriani (Tyler), Beat It (Dean) 
  • RIFF: Hot for Teacher (Tyler), GNR’s Mr. Brownstone (Dean) 
  • GUITAR ALBUM: Surfing with the Alien (Tyler) 
  • GEAR: Ibanez JEM 777 (Tyler) 
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: EVH 
  • SHREDDER: Joe Satriani 
  • UNDERAPPRECIATED HERO: Jeff Healey (Tyler), Mark Knopfler (Dean) 
  • MOVIE: The Breakfast Club (Tyler), Top Gun (Dean) 
  • HAIRSTYLE: Jennifer Batten or Bruce Dickinson (Tyler), Jon Bon Jovi (Dean)
  • ACCESSORY: Ibanez Tube Screamer (Tyler), Sony Sports Walkman (Dean).

Josh Smith (Northlane)

  • SOLO: Crying in the Rain by Whitesnake – the one and only John Sykes. 
  • RIFF: Slayer’s Raining Blood 
  • GUITAR ALBUM: Death, Leprosy 
  • GEAR: I own a fluorescent green and black swirled Ibanez with a double locking tremolo. Not a Northlane guitar but as shred as it gets! 
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: EVH, duh 
  • SHREDDER: Steve Vai. In the Eighties, GW editor Brad Tolinski wrote, “Steve Vai’s guitar wizardry is so profound that in earlier times he would have been burned as a witch.” 
  • MOVIE: Top Gun 
  • HAIRSTYLE: Jerry Cantrell’s got us all covered with those locks.

Dave Dalone (H.E.A.T)

Dave Dalone

(Image credit: Venla Shalin / Getty)
  • SOLO: Kee Marcello’s solo in Superstitious
  • RIFF: Money for Nothing by Dire Straits 
  • GUITAR ALBUM: Hysteria by Def Leppard. It might not be the craziest playing, but it’s damn effective and well executed. 
  • GEAR: Anything that goes to 11! How about a Tri Stereo Chorus... preferably mounted in one of those Bradshaw racks, sitting in the trunk of a Firebird, driven by Jean-Claude Van Damme into the L.A. sunset to the sound of Rough Boy by ZZ Top. (Sorry, I got carried away!) 
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: EVH 
  • SHREDDER: Yngwie Malmsteen 
  • UNDERAPPRECIATED HERO: Dann Huff. Giant came along at the end of the cycle, and it seems they were a bit late to the party. But what a great guitar player! 
  • MOVIE: Back to the Future 
  • ACCESSORY: A Walkman and an attitude.

Bobby Keller

  • SOLO: Mr. Crowley by Randy Rhoads 
  • RIFF: Master of Puppets by Metallica 
  • GEAR: The George Lynch “Tiger Striped” ESP guitar for me. What more could you ask for? 
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: Eddie Van Halen 
  • SHREDDER: Jason Becker 
  • UNDERAPPRECIATED HERO: Jake E. Lee and Vito Bratta don’t get the credit they deserve, even though Vito had maybe a different life scenario happen that prevented him from playing or continuing with White Lion. But Jake just slays. 
  • MOVIE: Nightmare on Elm Street movies 
  • HAIRSTYLE: Prince 
  • ACCESSORY: A Walkman or a boom box. 

Damian Fanelli (Guitar World)

  • SOLO: Texas Flood 
  • RIFF: Crazy Train 
  • GUITAR ALBUM: Texas Flood 
  • GEAR: My ol’ EMG active pickups 
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: EVH because of obviousness; Steve Vai because of Crossroads and the Ibanez JEM; SRV because he didn’t get another decade. 
  • SHREDDER: Our Mr. Malmsteen 
  • UNDERAPPRECIATED HERO: Chris Hayes of Huey Lewis and the News. And while I’m at it: Albert Collins, Jimmie Vaughan, Robert Cray, Brian Setzer and Pete Anderson! 
  • MOVIE: Back to School. “Remember – you’re a Melon!” 
  • HAIRSTYLE: Kiss guitarist Mark St. John from a 1987 Gibson USA “Artist Signature Series” GW ad that also features Michael Angelo (Batio) and Wayne Charvel. I know there were crazier hairstyles, but Mark St. John’s hair in this ad pretty much leaves me speechless. 
  • ACCESSORY: Food.

Adia Victoria

  • SOLO: Poison's Nothin' But a Good Time
  • RIFF: Metallica's Master of Puppets
  • GUITAR ALBUM: Appetite for Destruction by Guns N' Roses
  • GEAR: Tommy Lee's flying drum set
  • MOVIE: Die Hard
  • HAIRSTYLE: David Bowie's mullet
  • GUITARIST OF THE DECADE: Prince
  • SHREDDER: Slash
  • UNDERAPPRECIATED HERO: AC/DC's Malcolm Young. No explanation needed.
  • ACCESSORY: Bedazzled jockstrap

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