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: "Sultans of Swing" (86.29 percent)
Loser: "Sharp Dressed Man" (13.71 percent)
Today, two iconic guitarists — who will be eternally connected — go head to head. We have Stevie Ray Vaughan's solo on his version of "Texas Flood" (13) going up against Jimi Hendrix's famous live version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" (52). Get busy! You'll find the poll at the bottom of the story.
Round 1, Day 18: "Texas Flood" Vs. "The Star-Spangled Banner"
13. “Texas Flood”
Soloist: Stevie Ray Vaughan
Album: Texas Flood (Epic, 1983)
When Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble walked into Los Angeles’ Down Town Studio in November 1982 to take advantage of 72 free hours of time offered by studio owner Jackson Browne, they had no idea they were about to start recording their debut album. “We were just making tape,” recalls drummer Chris Layton. “We hoped that maybe we were making a demo that would actually be listened to by a real record company.”
The first 24 hours were spent getting settled in L.A., and in the second and third days the band cut 10 songs—which became Texas Flood, in its entirety. “It really was just a big warehouse with concrete floors and some rugs thrown down,” says bassist Tommy Shannon. “We just found a little corner, set up in a circle looking at and listening to each other and played like a live band.” The trio recorded two songs the second day and eight the third—including “Texas Flood,” a slow blues, written and recorded by the late Larry Davis in 1958, which had been a live staple of Vaughan’s for years. It was the final tune recorded, cut in one take just before the free time ran out.
“That song and the whole first album captures the pure essence of what Stevie was all about,” says Layton. “Countless people would tell Stevie how much they loved his guitar tone on Texas Flood. There was literally nothing between the guitar and the amp. It was just his number-one Strat plugged into a Dumble amp called Mother Dumble, which was owned by Jackson Browne and was just sitting in the studio. The real tone came from Stevie, and that whole recording was just so pure; the whole experience couldn’t have been more innocent or naive. We were just playing. If we’d had known what was going to happen with it all, we might have screwed up. The magic was there and it came through on the tape. You can get most of what the band was ever about right there on that song and that album.”
52. "The Star-Spangled Banner"
Soloist: Jimi Hendrix
Album: The Ultimate Experience (MCA, 1993)
Jimi Hendrix's legendary performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" still draws "love it or hate it" reactions so many decades later. For its time, it was certainly one of the most controversial renditions of the national anthem. Hendrix did, after all, make his Strat sound a whole lot like airplanes, bombs and screams. Remember, there was a controversial war going on in August 1969. As always, Hendrix made his guitar sound like something no one had ever heard before, and his performance on the recording still confounds players.
Your Voting Closed!
Winner: "Texas Flood" (59.08 percent)
Loser: "The Star-Spangled Banner" (40.92 percent)