Top 10 Guitar Solos by Adrian Smith

A special article to celebrate the 60th birthday of Iron Maiden's guitarist.

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Ultimate Guitar
Top 10 Guitar Solos by Adrian Smith
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Iron Maiden's guitarist turns 60 today and we'd like to honor this considerable milestone by making a compilation of songs with his best solos. Of course, the list is not complete, as it would be impossible to include all the great solos of his on one list, but we tried to pick the best 10 of them. Enjoy!

10. Paschendale

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The screaming solos in 'Paschendale' are enough to bring a man to tears. 'Paschendale' is a tribute to the eponymous battle in WWI, attempting to give the same sense of grim reality that 'The Trooper' gave the Crimean War. During live performances of this song, lead singer Bruce Dickinson would dress in the type of uniform worn by World War I era British  Infantry men. He would then act out the lyrics of the song by faking his own death onstage, as if he were a soldier being gunned down.

9. Alexander the Great

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The solos are amazing in this piece. It has by far has the most compelling and virtuosity of solos than most Maiden songs. The song has the classic slow and atmospheric overture before it turns into a powerfully rhythmic affair with an incredible vocal performance and a chorus for the ages. What makes this song stand out are the guitar solo passages in the bridge which are one of the most beautiful sounds guitars have ever made in the history of heavy metal music.

8. The Trooper

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So, we've got The Trooper. We've all heard The Trooper. The joint solos seem to follow the standard for this period of Maiden. If you listen to the album in it's whole, it would seem as if the guitars were trying to make similar patterns throughout, and basically tie together all the leadwork.And if you want to play it like Adrian check out our Complete Guide to "The Trooper"

7. Two Minutes To Midnight

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The solo is typical Maiden style, being fast and powerful, except done even better than usual hough it's short, it shows a great creativity and mastery. The title is a reference to the Doomsday Clock, which was created in 1947 by the magazine Bulletin Of Atomic Sciences. It was set at 7 minutes to midnight, indicating that due to the threat of nuclear war, the world was running out of time. As tensions escalated over the years, the clock was moved forward, but has been set back several times as treaties are signed and the threat decreases. In 1958, the United States and Soviet Union were both testing hydrogen bombs, and the clock was moved up to 11:58 - the closest it ever got to midnight.

6. The Wicker Man

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The Wickerman is one of the stronger tracks on Brave New World, as it nicely combines the elements of old and new Maiden. It's fast and very catchy, and it of course features the outstanding sing-along chorus. It was more than just a collection of catchy riffs, idiomatic leads, and musical devices, it was a loud declaration that the Maiden of old has returned with a vengeance.The lyrics are based on the 1973 British horror movie The Wicker Man, which has become a cult classic and was remade in 2006. The solo is great. The 2006 movie... not so much.

5. When the Wild Wind Blows

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The solos in this song are phenomenal and many in number, usually flinging a mass of notes the listeners way so fast that it is hard to comprehend. This is just another day at the office for Maiden.

4. Wasted Years

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Thiis song was written by Adrian Smith himself. "Wasted Years" was the first single from the album, and is one of Maiden's most accessible and mainstream-sounding songs. It is probably as close as they can get to the mainstream and still retain their unique Maiden sound. There is a long and very melodic chorus by Maiden standards.

3. Stranger in a Strange Land

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Maiden’s second single from Somewhere in Time once again was a Smith penned track. This time one of his heavier ones. Based around a simple yet effective main riff and a bass line which is almost too simple for Harris to play. It’s a song that was extremely different from the rest of the album yet still immensely heavy, catchy and therefore Maiden-worthy.

2. Seventh Son of the Seventh Son

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This underrated masterpiece from the brilliant concept album of the same name takes the 2nd place. This song was inspired by a series of science fiction novels by Orson Scott Card. They are about Alvin Maker, the seventh son of a seventh son (the first book in the series is called Seventh Son), who is born with second sight and the ability to use "folk magic" in an alternate reality. The song describes how his birth was eagerly anticipated by his siblings and how the forces of good and evil struggled over him.

1. Powerslave

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Now who would have any doubt? This song has three solos, which were designed of an amazing form, they represent Adrian and Murray's virtuosity. The first one it introduces us to a condition of peaceful, the beauty of this one only captures the attention of the person who is listening. The second solo shows a perfect balance between melody and the speed. Both are impressive, demonstrating one of the most beautiful compositions in the golden age of Iron Maiden.

Have something to add to these masterpieces? Leave your entries in the comment section below.

35 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Sandman4991
    As for Powerslave - there are 3 solos - 1. Murray, 2. Smith, 3. Murray (after interlude)
    Pretelethal
    "The Duellists" off Powerslave has an excellent and rarely talked about solo, too.
    truepiece
    Scrolled way too far down for this. The heavy use of diminished 5ths in the first 10 seconds makes it one of the heaviest traditional metal solos I've listened.
    forlornhope.lh
    My pick would be Rime of the Ancient Mariner for Adrians best. Hits like a ton of bricks when it comes in after that long bridge.
    Abacus11
    Excellent article! While Maiden is definitely NOT underrated, Adrian Smith's guitar playing absolutely is. Smith's leads always made me think of a metal David Gilmour... songs within songs that are technically interesting but never flashy, tasteful and memorable.
    WheelsOfSteel
    Mmm in first place should be Prodigal Son:
    How can you forgot it????? is the best Adrian's solo ever
    mim69
    Thank you, prodigal son was the song I was looking for. My absolute all time favourite Adrian solo without question. Just the tastiest solo to me up there with "another brick in the wall"!!!!!
    Jazz1992
    Good to see some underrated Maiden stuff getting mentioned (Paschendale, Alexander the Great, Stranger in a Strange Land). And Powerslave at #1 is no surprise - those solos are godly.
    SCopeland24
    One of the most underrated guitar players of all time. Also the lack of Bruce Dickinson and any non-Iron Maiden solos is disappointing.
    XCrusherX
    To me, the second one of Heaven Can Wait is still the king. Not sure if that one is from him though. Shows how many potentials good solos there are though!
    jonpinkerton
    It is good to see a selection of tracks that is not the standard Maiden go-to. It's good seeing newer songs like When The Wild Wind Blows, these albums do not get enough credit.
    crosskip
    Timestamps may be handy, with the long songs and the several solo's? Anyway, by far my favourite soloist of the band. I think he was at his peak with Somewhere In Time, which shows in this list with already 3 songs and not even including brilliants solo's as the ones in Sea Of Madness and especially Caught Somewhere In Time. Also don't forget his guitarwork on Bruce's records Accident Of Birth and The Chemical Wedding.
    silvermachine19
    Hi I'm Mike, I'm also an Iron Maiden fan I just call em maiden for short my favourite guitar solos are from Adrian Smith, and Dave Murray from one of my favourite maiden Albans Power Slave, Hey lets not foget theNumber of the Beast, & Piece of mind , (peace of mind )? i just love Power Slave, especially the opening credits, and Nicole'so Drum solo in the middle of the song the way he played those drums, was Mystical, (magical ) what type of drums was he using I'm convinced i heard Bongo drums in there , it had that almost north African feel too it, Voodoo like cheers, silvermachine1972
    silvermachine19
    Hi" hello again, I almost forgot to mention Bruce Dickinson's 👍🎵🎤🎸singing on Power Slave, absolutely excellent, Mike. silvermachine1972
    morgancalesero
    wtf? where is the evil that men do? that is pure Adrian! i dont really think you know about Adrian Smith
    Vince06
    I would have preferred to read a rundown of his best Maiden compositions, he is best known for that rather than his solo. I think Murray and Gers are better than him as lead guitarist.
    dennis.1960
    I love on Live After Death how Adrian and Dave's guitar parts are panned hard left and right (or is it right and left?) so you can tell who played what...anyway Happy Bday Adrian!