This week's traditional Wednesday Question saw the people of UG community discussing the matter of the greatest guitar solos of the '80s ever. Based on votes and about 250 comments, we summed this one up into a Top 25 rundown.
And before kicking things off, the honorable mentions are:
- Black Sabbath - When Death Calls (feat. Brian May)
- Toto - Rosanna
- Allan Holdsworth - Devil Take the Hindmost
- White Lion - Radar Love
- King Crimson - Elephant Talk
- Bon Jovi - Wanted Dead or Alive
- Europe - Superstitious
- Jeff Beck - Where Were You
- Accept - Fast as a Shark
- R.E.M. - The One I Love
- Jane's Addiction - Mountain Song
And we can't start without mentioning the Spinal Tap solo:
The full rundown awaits below.
25. Dio - Rainbow in the Dark
Starting this week's list is the solo in legendary Ronnie James Dio's song "Rainbow in the Dark," played by Vivian Campbell. What an amazing way to start a solo career with such an awesome guitarist.
24. Kenny Loggins - Danger Zone
"Top Gun" in combination with this song is responsible for so many young men getting interested in military aviation. So fire up your F-14 Tomcats and blast off this song, with the solo performed by Dann Huff of Giant.
23. Pixies - Hey
22. Tears for Fears - Everybody Wants to Rule the World
Well, the 1980ss weren't all about shredding. User Phaneron, who nominated the song, offered:
Not as flashy as the shred fests that will likely dominate this list, but a great solo nonetheless.
21. Skid Row - 18 and Life
One of the most important Skid Row tracks tells a story of an 18-year-old kid receiving 18 years to life prison sentence. The strong and emotional solo depicts the subject pretty well.
20. Scorpions - Rock You Like a Hurricane
And what would a rock anthem be without an appropriate guitar solo? "Rock You Like a Hurricane" shows what Matthias Jabs can do with his instrument.
19. Pink Floyd - Sorrow
Some would argue that Pink Floyd without Roger Waters is just not worth it, but the band still had one of the greatest guitarists of the 20th century - David Gilmour. And according to him, the solo at the end of "Sorrow" recorded on a boat through a small amp.
18. Whitesnake - Crying in the Rain
The song was originally released in 1982 on "Saints & Sinners," but was later re-recorded for 1987's "Whitesnake." The version below is from the band's self-titled album, with the one and only John Sykes on lead guitar.
17. Black Sabbath - Lonely Is the Word
Even though Ozzy left the band, the 1980s started quite well for Black Sabbath with "Heaven and Hell" album. The solo in "The Lonely is the Word" shows that Tony Iommi started to change the style for the new times, with still managing to be recognizable and unique.
16. Harold Faltermeyer & Steve Stevens - Top Gun Anthem
You can't talk about this famous decade without mentioning Top Gun music. Well, at least twice. The main theme of this 1986 film features Steve Stevens on guitar, best known for his work with Billy Idol. Besides being a "Top Gun Anthem" it is one of the anthems of the 1980s.
15. Yngwie Malmsteen - Far Beyond the Sun
With the 80s being a decade of shredding, Mr. Malmsteen brought the guitar playing to a whole new level when he showed up with "Rising Force" album. And "Far Beyond the Sun" instantly became recognized by all the guitar lovers out there, making it one of his most important songs.
14. Gary Moore - Victims of the Future
The title track of Gary Moore's 1983 album deals with the difficult situation in the world was in back in the 1980s. It is also well represented in his emotionally charged solo in the song.
13. Megadeth - Wake Up Dead
One of the most notable genres of this decade was thrash metal, and there's no thrash metal without Megadeth. "Wake Up Dead," just like the whole "Peace Sells... but Who's Buying?" album, defines how a metal band should sound like, with Mustaine and Chris Poland sharing lead guitar duties.
12. ZZ Top - Sharp Dressed Man
After exploding during the 1970s, ZZ Top continued to rock throughout the 80s. With their album "Eliminator" they changed their sound, making a legacy in rock music. One more example of a tasty solo without any typical 80s style shredding.
11. Joe Satriani - Surfing With the Alien
Talking about shredders, Joe Satriani is certainly a game changer in guitar playing. Satriani recorded the main theme and the solo for "Surfing With the Alien" in just half an hour and was using Eventide 949s. Unfortunately, it broke down and after fixing it he wasn't able to recreate the original sound, so the original version was used.
10. Dire Straits - Brothers in Arms
The anti-war song which showcases Mark Knopfler's musicality. UG user rufizonfire commented:
For me, the ultimate example of "less is more"
Take care, Yngwie Malmsteen might be lurking here, and you don't want to make him mad, don't you?
9. Rush - Limelight
According to Alex Lifeson, solo to "Limelight" is his favorite one to play live and represent's this song's lyrics which are about "feeling isolated amidst chaos and adulation."
8. Iron Maiden - Powerslave
Iron Maiden have pretty much defined metal music in the 1980s. The legendary guitar duo of Adrian Smith and Dave Murray always delivered the goods, and solos on "Powerslave" are no exception to that.
7. Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble - Texas Flood
It was not only metal music that went through some serious changes during this period. When Stevie Ray Vaughan released his first album 1983 he opened up some new horizons for guitar fans. The song "Texas Flood", and this album's title track, was originally performed by Larry Davis in 1958. However, Stevie's version is the most popular one.
6. Prince - Purple Rain
Besides being an amazing singer and artist, Prince also did his fine share of making guitar magic. One of the best examples is his legendary signature song "Purple Rain."
5. Van Halen - Hot for Teacher
There is no compromise in this song, it just kicks off with a double bass drum and a short guitar solo. Mountain Trash comments:
The intro alone, not to mention the solo, it's dripping with swagger.
Hard not to look at Van Halen in the 80s they pretty much defined it.
4. Michael Jackson - Beat It (feat. Eddie Van Halen)
And what would this list be if there are no two consecutive solos by Eddie? Producer Quincy Jones sure knew who to pick a guitarist for the solo on this Michael Jackson's legendary song. When Eddie Van Halen was contacted by the producer he first thought it was a prank call. Also, he offered to do this solo free of charge, proving that he is a genuine music lover.
3. Metallica - Fade to Black
Metallica had many songs nominated for this list, including "Ride the Lightning," "One," "Master of Puppets," as well as "Orion." But the one with the most votes was the band's well-known track "Fade to Black." However, user henrihell stirred things up a bit in the comment section, by saying:
The intro solo I hope. The later solo is just kind of boring imo. It shares some ideas with the intro but then there's some parts where he just throws in some noise or shredding for what really seems like no reason at all.
2. Guns N' Roses - Sweet Child O' Mine
Yeah, sure, this song is overplayed as much as "Smoke on the Water" and "Stairway to Heaven" are, but for a good reason. Besides that amazing intro, Slash shows what he can do in the solo of "Sweet Child o' Mine." That's how you use a wah pedal.
1. Ozzy Osbourne - Mr. Crowley
The entire list could easily be just Jake and Randy as far as I'm concerned.
That's all folks! Feel free to post more great guitar solos of the '80s in the comment section below. And we hope you enjoyed the top, stay tuned until next week for another WQ!
Also feel free to check out our Greatest Guitar Solos of the '70s top.