A few years ago, the editors of Guitar World compiled what we feel is the ultimate guide to the 100 Greatest Guitar Solos of All Time.
The list, which has been quoted by countless artists, websites and publications around the world, starts with Richie Sambora's work on Bon Jovi's “Wanted Dead or Alive” (100) and builds to a truly epic finish with Jimmy Page's solo on "Stairway to Heaven" (01).
To quote our "Stairway to Heaven" story that ran with the list, "If Jimmy Page is the Steven Spielberg of guitarists, then 'Stairway' is his Close Encounters."
On June 10, we kicked off a summer blockbuster of our own — a no-holds-barred six-string shootout. We pitted Guitar World's top 64 guitar solos against each other in an NCAA-style, 64-team single-elimination tournament. Every day, we asked you to cast your vote in a different guitar-solo matchup as dictated by the 64-team-style bracket. Now Rounds 1, 2 and 3 (also known as the Sweet 16 round) have come and gone, leaving us with eight guitar solos!
WELCOME TO THE ELITE EIGHT ROUND, where all eight still-standing solos will go head to head before your eyes! As always, you can vote once per matchup, and the voting ends as soon as the next matchup is posted.
In one or two cases, genre might clash against genre. But please get real, people! They're all guitar solos, played on guitars, by guitarists, most of them in some subset of the umbrella genre of rock. When choosing, it might have to come down to, "Which solo is more original and creative for its time? Which is more iconic or important? or Which one kicks a larger, more impressive assemblage of asses?"
Winner: "Eruption" (70.18 percent)
Loser: "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" (29.82 percent)
Today's Sweetwater Elite Eight Matchup (4 of 4)
"Comfortably Numb" Vs. "Mr. Crowley"
Welcome to our final Elite Eight matchup! Today we have one of the serious favorites in this competition, Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb" (04) going up against a solo that barely made our top 30, Ozzy Osbourne's "Mr. Crowley" (28). In other words, it's one masterpiece by David Gilmour against another masterpiece by the late Randy Rhoads.Which classic guitar solo should advance to the Final Four? Only you can decide!
HOW THEY GOT HERE
• "Comfortably Numb" defeated Metallica's "Master of Puppets" (61) in Round 1, Steve Vai's "For the Love of God" (29) in Round 2 and Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" (20) in the Sweet 16 round.
• "Mr. Crowley" defeated Guns N' Roses' "Sweet Child O' Mine" (37) in Round 1, Jimi Hendrix's "All Along the Watchtower" (05) in Round 2 and Led Zeppelin's "Since I've Been Loving You" (53) in the Sweet 16 round.
Vote now! You'll find the poll at the very bottom of the story.
04. “Comfortably Numb”
Soloist: David Gilmour
Album: Pink Floyd—The Wall (Columbia, 1979)
How do you reason with two guys who once went to court over the artistic ownership of a big rubber pig? That was Bob Ezrin’s mission when he agreed to co-produce Pink Floyd’s The Wall with guitarist David Gilmour and bassist/vocalist Roger Waters. The legendary tensions between the two feuding Floyds came to a head during sessions for The Wall in 1979—which was why Ezrin was called in.
“My job was to mediate between two dominant personalities,” recalls Ezrin. However, the producer turned out to be no mere referee, but contributed plenty ideas of his own. “I fought for the introduction of the orchestra on that record,” says Ezrin. “This became a big issue on ‘Comfortably Numb,’ which Dave saw as a more bare-bones track. Roger sided with me. So the song became a true collaboration—it’s David’s music, Roger’s lyric and my orchestral chart.”
Gilmour’s classic guitar solo was cut using a combination of the guitarist’s Hiwatt amps and Yamaha rotating speaker cabinets, Ezrin recalls. But with Gilmour, he adds, equipment is secondary to touch: “You can give him a ukulele and he’ll make it sound like a Stradivarius.”
Which doesn’t mean Gilmour didn’t fiddle around in the studio when he laid down the song’s unforgettable lead guitar part. “I banged out five or six solos,” says Gilmour. “From there I just followed my usual procedure, which is to listen back to each solo and make a chart, noting which bits are good. Then, by following the chart, I create one great composite solo by whipping one fader up, then another fader, jumping from phrase to phrase until everything flows together. That’s the way we did it on ‘Comfortably Numb.’ ”
28. “Mr. Crowley”
Soloist: Randy Rhoads
Album: Ozzy Osbourne—Blizzard of Ozz (Epic, 1981)
“I’d have to say that ‘Mr. Crowley’ is my most memorable solo,” said Randy Rhoads. “I had spent hours trying to figure out a solo for the song, but wasn’t getting anywhere. I finally put something down. Then Ozzy came in and said, ‘It’s crap—everything you’re playing is crap.’ He told me to get in there and just play how I felt. He made me really nervous, so I just played anything. When I came back to listen to it, he said it was great, and I had to agree.”
[[ When you're done voting, start learning most of the guitar solos in this poll — and and a whole lot more! Check out a new TAB book from Guitar World and Hal Leonard: 'The 100 Greatest Guitar Solos of All Time: A Treasure Trove of Guitar Leads Transcribed Note-for-Note, Plus Song Notes for More Than 40 of the Best Solos.' It's available now at the Guitar World Online Store for $29.99. NOTE: Neil Young's "Cortez the Killer" guitar solo (solo number 39 on our list) is NOT included in this book. ]]
Winner: "Comfortably Numb" (54.16 percent)
Loser: "Mr. Crowley" (45.84 percent)