A few years ago, the editors of Guitar World magazine 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” (Number 100) and builds to a truly epic finish with Jimmy Page's solo on "Stairway to Heaven" (Number 1).
To quote our "Stairway" story that ran with the list, "If Jimmy Page is the Steven Spielberg of guitarists, then 'Stairway' is his Close Encounters."
We've kicked off a summer blockbuster of our own — a no-holds-barred six-string shootout. We're pitting Guitar World's top 64 guitar solos against each other in an NCAA-style, 64-team single-elimination tournament. Every day, we will ask you to cast your vote in a different guitar-solo matchup as dictated by the 64-team-style bracket.
Note that you can vote only once per matchup. The voting for each matchup ends as soon as the next matchup is posted (Basically, that's one poll per day during the first round of elimination, including weekends and holidays).
In some cases, genre will clash against genre; a thrash solo might compete against a Southern rock solo, for instance. But let's get real: 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? Which is more iconic? or Which one kicks a larger, more impressive assemblage of asses?"
Today's very Ozzy Osbourne-centric matchup pits Randy Rhoads' work on Ozzy's "Crazy Train" (9) against Tony Iommi's iconic solo on Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" (56). Get busy! You'll find the poll at the bottom of the story.
Winner: "Little Wing" (77.62 percent)
Loser: "Jessica" (22.38 percent)
Round 1, Day 8: "Crazy Train" Vs. "War Pigs"
9. “Crazy Train”
Soloist: Randy Rhoads
Album: Ozzy Osbourne—Blizzard of Ozz (Epic, 1981)
Randy Rhoads employed a two-part process when recording his solos for Blizzard of Ozz. First, the classically trained young shredder would take his customized Jackson guitars to a stone room downstairs at England’s Ridge Farm Studios where he would work out each of his solos, among them “Crazy Train.”
“This was after we did the backing tracks,” says Blizzard of Ozz engineer Max Norman. “Randy had a Marshall and a couple of 4x12s, and we had him set up in this room with the cabinets facing up out into the main studio. They were miked at various points: close, at three feet and again at about 12 feet. I would make Randy a loop of the solo section and we’d just let that play into these big monitors downstairs, where he would just sit and jam away for hours and hours until he had composed his completed solo.”
With the solos arranged to his liking, Rhoads would then report upstairs to the control room to record them. “We’d plug the guitar directly into the console,” recalls Norman. “We’d preamp it in the console and send it down to the amp from there. That way we could control the amount of gain that hit the amp, which is always a problem when running a remote amplifier and trying to get a good enough signal to it."
56. "War Pigs”
Soloist: Tony Iommi
Album: Black Sabbath—Paranoid (Warner Bros., 1970)
Tony Iommi makes his first appearance in our Greatest Guitar Solos of All Time readers poll! Iommi once said "War Pigs," the iconic opener to Black Sabbath's Paranoid album, originated as a jam session.
Winner: "Crazy Train" (74.71 percent)
Loser: "War Pigs" (25.29 percent)
Please check out our current Greatest Guitar Solos of All Time poll at GuitarWorld.com!