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 to Heaven" 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.
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?"
Winner: "Texas Flood" (59.08 percent)
Loser: "The Star-Spangled Banner" (40.92 percent)
Today, the at-times-strange Round 1 matchups continue as the guitar work of Ted Nugent competes against that of Jonny Greenwood (guitarists whose names aren't typically connected). It's Nugent's "Stranglehold" (31) Vs. Radiohead's "Paranoid Android" (34), two songs that were ranked remarkably close together. Get busy! You'll find the poll at the bottom of the story.
Round 1, Day 19: "Stranglehold" Vs. "Paranoid Android"
Soloist: Ted Nugent
Album: Ted Nugent (Epic, 1975)
“ ‘Stranglehold’ is a masterpiece of jamology,” proclaims Ted Nugent. “We were in the Sound Pit in Atlanta, Georgia, and I was showing my rhythm section of Cliff Davies [drums] and Rob DeLaGrange [bass] the right groove for the song. I was playing my all-stock 1964 blonde Byrdland through four Fender Twin Reverbs and four Dual Showman bottoms on my rhythm settings—we were going to leave a hole there so that I could overdub a solo later.
"Then I started playing lead work, just kind of filling in and though I had never played those licks before in my life, they all just came to me. And because I got so inspired and because they followed me so perfectly, that demo is exactly what you hear on the record today. Take one, rhythm track is the song—it made such organic sense with the flow of music that I said, ‘I’m not gonna fuck with that! That’s it, baby.’ And that is the essence of why people love it—because it is so spontaneous and uninhibited.
"The only thing we went back and overdubbed was Derek St. Holmes’ vocals and my two tracks of harmonized feedback, which come in and out of the entire song. All the engineers and everyone kept saying, ‘You can’t do that, Ted.’ And I said, ‘Shut the fuck up!’ Because I had the vision; I saw what the song could be, and I realized it.”
34. "Paranoid Android"
Soloist: Jonny Greenwood
Album: OK Computer (Capitol, 1997)
Radiohead consciously patterned their sprawling, epic song, “Paranoid Android,” after the Beatles’ “Happiness Is a Warm Gun.” “It really started out as three separate songs and we didn’t know what to do with them,” explains singer/rhythm guitarist Thom Yorke.
“Then we thought of ‘Happiness’—which was obviously three different bits that John Lennon put together—and said, ‘Why don’t we try that?’ ” Still, the song wasn’t really complete until lead player Jonny Greenwood added a fourth section as a fade out—a lengthy, intense solo which alternates between being backward and forward. “It was something I had floating around for a while and the song needed a certain burn,” recalls Greenwood. “I don’t usually have stockpiles of riffs lying around, but this happened to be the right key and the right speed and it fit right in.”
Winner: "Stranglehold" (77.73 percent)
Loser: "Paranoid Android" (22.27 percent)