Artist: The Beatles
Who played it: George Harrison
UK chart position: 1
Why it rocks: George Harrison’s genius lay in his ability to supply the perfect solo for the song. Never flashy, Harrison’s speciality was the ‘song within a song’ style of solo that typifies his outing on one of the rare Harrison tunes that Lennon and McCartney allowed as a single. Although not technically difficult, Something’s solo features tricky bends and fretboard positions that don’t fall instantly under the fingers.
Notice how the solo finishes by reiterating the song’s opening lick. Here’s how shredmeister Paul Gilbert describes Something: “This is my favourite ‘feel’ solo ever. George Harrison did a masterful job playing those notes, and they are STUNNING notes.”
Find it on: Abbey Road
Did you know? George Harrison admitted that he got the idea for Something from Apple’s first signing, singer-songwriter James Taylor. Harrison created his song’s opening line from the title of Taylor’s own song, Something In The Way She Moves.
Track: All Right Now
Who played it: Paul Kossoff
UK chart position: 1
Why it rocks: It’s all about the climax. Every great guitar solo should have a beginning, a middle and an end, and the classically trained Paul Kossoff understood this. The solo opens with a hammer-on from the open third string to the second fret and builds gradually up the fretboard from there. The whole solo is played on the top three strings and the majority of it on the top two. Could you be that creative and memorable with such a restricted palette? Kossoff echoes the solo’s repetitive triplet lick at his Les Paul’s 17th fret for a stunning crescendo to one of rock’s greatest ever guitar solos.
Find it on: Fire And Water
Did you know? Paul Kossoff worked as a guitar salesman for Selmer’s in Charing Cross Road at the same time as another budding six-stringer, Mahavishnu Orchestra’s John McLaughlin!
Track: Johnny B Goode
Artist: Chuck Berry
Who played it: Chuck Berry
UK chart position: 8
Why it rocks: Berry was the guitar star of his day and Johnny B Goode the twinkling jewel in his crown. Chuck’s double-stop intros became his trademark, and within what would now be seen as relatively simple solos you can find some sophisticated note choices. Berry’s big influence was blues guitarist T-Bone Walker, from whom he not only learnt those classic licks with added major 3rd, 6th and 9th intervals, but also the use of hollow-bodied Gibson guitars and the famous ‘duck walk’. Solos like those on Johnny B Goode and Roll Over Beethoven defined an entire genre, influencing guitarists from Keith Richards to Angus Young.
Find it on: Anthology
Did you know? Legend has it that having been messed about as a young black musician in racially unenlightened 1950s America, once he became famous Chuck Berry refused to play a show unless he had the cash firmly in his hand.