Jimmy Fallon takes on H.E.R. in a guitar solo battle for the ages on The Tonight Show

Sure, Jimmy Fallon likes to grab a guitar every once in a while on The Tonight Show. But clearly he still has to work on his shredding skills, as he demonstrated in a recent “guitar battle” with H.E.R.

Armed with triple-pickup Gibson SG Custom electric guitar – borrowed, presumably from The Roots' Captain Kirk – and a stack of Marshall JCM900 amps, Fallon laid down the gauntlet against the “two-time Grammy-award-winning artist, writer, producer and arranger who recently collaborated with Fender to make her own guitar – the H.E.R. Stratocaster,” as he says.

The rules of the challenge are simple: “I have this button which activates the guitar solo generator,” Fallon says. “It’ll land on a famous guitar solo and whoever’s turn it is, they have to play it.”

First up? American Woman – the Lenny Kravitz version – which H.E.R., of course, nails. Fallon is up next and lands on Mary Had a Little Lamb – thankfully, not the Stevie Ray Vaughan rendition. 

Which brings up back to H.E.R., who wows Jimmy with her spot-on version of Brian May’s soaring Bohemian Rhapsody lead. Fallon responds with the NBC “chimes” theme, which he plays with heavy wah and his arm raised triumphantly.

“Encore!” H.E.R. screams, leading Fallon to play it again, this time with whammy bar accents and even some (admittedly limp) feedback. Just when it seems the battle is getting too close to call, H.E.R. brings it all home with Prince’s Let’s Go Crazy.

“Give it up for the winner!,” Fallon announces, conceding defeat.

You can check out the full skit above.

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.