Thursday, May 21, 2009

Lead Guitar Solos and the Guitarists Who Played Them

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Lead Guitar Solos and the Guitarists Who Played Them by Ricky Sharples

In the early hours of the morning have you ever wondered where the great lead guitar solos came from and how did the guitar solo get firmly wedged into today's popular music? Did it all start with Chuck Berry in the nineteen fifties or with The Yardbirds or The Rolling Stones in the sixties? Or did it all start with the guitar solo in Rock Around The Clock by Bill Hayley And The Comets?

Of course before rock and roll took off as a musical force, Les Paul who was one of the earliest electric guitar players. The team of Les Paul and his wife Mary Ford made many records and had their own TV series, and most of the songs included a guitar solo in some form. But I don't think I have ever read of any lead guitarist being inspired by the solos of Les Paul.

You could change the question to "who was the first guitar player to make his lead guitar solos stand out noticeably?" Chuck Berry and Carl Perkins certainly made their own distinctive impressions during the early years of rock and roll but the nineteen sixties really brought the electric guitar into its own as a solo instrument through performers like The Shadows, The Ventures and Dick Dale.

There were also the simple but exciting instrumentals of Link Wray and Duane Eddy. Probably a contributing factor to the age of the guitar instrumental was that, apart from Hank Marvin of The Shadows, none of these guitar players could sing. The era of the guitar instrumental filled the three or four years before The Beatles and The Stones changed the face of music entirely.

By the time Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton emerged as the original guitar heroes, the instrumental groups had come and gone but they were very real influence on the guitarists of the late sixties.

George Harrison's guitar solos with The Beatles were always very tuneful but a lot of people say that George himself was not very good at composing solos and he just played what Lennon and McCartney suggested to him. The riffs on Day Tripper and Ticket To Ride are said to be the work of John Lennon.

The element of rock and roll that we refer to as the riff has been around for many years. The guitar was brought out of the jazz band rhythm section by men like Charlie Christian and Django Reinhardt.

Once Jimi Hendrix had arrived on the scene it seemed as though every rock and roll guitar player had the world's permission to create lead guitar solos. And they are still doing it.

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