Is The Guitar Solo Dead?

In a recent interview KISS bassist and serial shagger Gene Simmons recently claimed that Rock is dead.


This sparked a row in the rock and metal community, with Dave Grohl and Nikki Sixx proudly stating that rock is alive and well.

But does Mr Simmons have a point?

Is the age of the rock star coming to an end?

Somebody killed the Rockstar

Upon scratching the surface it does seem that the glamorous rock ‘n’ roll dream of limousines, groupies and TVs being thrown out of the window is well and truly over.

In the 70s and 80s bands such as Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Motley Crue and Gun N Roses were notorious for epic tails of debauchery and destruction.

That all seemed to come to an end when Nirvana reshaped the music scene in the early 1990s.

Since then we have had Noel and Liam Gallagher have a skuffle in a Manchester back alley and Pete Doherty spend much of the “noughties” acting like a complete and utter twat.


Hardly sex, drugs and rock n roll, eh?

Well, maybe the drugs…

However, in regards to the actual rock music scene, everything seems to be alive and kicking.

Muse, Foo Fighters and Green Day are still flying the flag and newbies such as The Black Keys and Royal Blood seem to be prepared to carry that baton on to the next generation.

But where are the epic, genre defining solos?

Royal Blood don’t even have a guitarist in the band so it’s unlikely that they are going to give us the new Sweet Child O’ Mine solo.

Is the solo a no-go?

Great guitar solos have never been about amazing technique or fret board wizardry.

They have always been about evoking emotions in the listener.

Stairway To Heaven, November Rain, Livin On A Prayer… none of them contain extreme fret board acrobatics.

However, the mix of legato, vibrato, string bends and excellent note choice make us feel them.

Nowadays, when we do hear a guitar solo in a song it is either a pathetic three or four note repeating pattern or so shreddy that a pedophile in a playground would struggle to match it in terms of wankery.

Put it this way… how many solos, since 1994, can you sing off the top of your head?

One example that may have popped into some of your heads is I Believe In A Thing Called Love by The Darkness.

Luckily for us motherpluckers, Justin and Dan Hawkins have lovingly supplied us with some great guitar solos, as has Noel Gallagher.

Would any of these solos make it in to the top 50 solos of all time?

Only time will tell.

Radio Blah Blah

If a song is to be successful these days it must get exposure on the radio.

Unfortunately that means a song should last approximately three minutes and 30 seconds.

How are we able to squeeze a eargasmic solo into that?

If that was the case in years gone by we would never have heard Stairway To Heaven, Sweet Child O’ Mine or Bohemian Rhapsody.

So maybe the world’s greatest guitar solo just hasn’t been heard yet?

Slowly, guitars are cropping up in the mainstream.

Even X Factor has allowed acts to audition with guitars.

However, Mr Cowell’s childish smashing of a guitar invoked images more akin to a toddler needing a new nappy rather than Kurt Cobain and Pete Townsend.


But it’s exposure, nonetheless.

Maybe, just maybe, this exposure could inspire the next Slash.

OK, so it is unlikely that X Factor will ever inspire any credible music.

But the guitar is starting to rear its head in the mainstream once again.

It may not be in the form of gloriously performed extended guitar solos, but it’s a start.

The children and teenagers who watch X Factor will grow out of that phase once puberty strikes and the prominence of the guitar in these shows can only sway them in the direction of great guitar music.

It could a few years, but the guitar solo could start to rear its head on the radio again.

Dramatic Climax

There are guitar solos to be heard everywhere if you look hard enough.

The question is, are they truly great solos that can stand the test of time?

Slowly and surely guitar music is creeping back into the charts and hopefully this will spark the rebirth of the guitar solo.

We may still be waiting for the next Slash, Jimmy Page or Jeff Beck.

But that’s OK, as things stand, Rock ‘n’ Roll is in a very healthy place.

New bands are climbing their way up the chart and the guitar is still the most popular instrument to learn.

Anyway, we don’t want Rock N Roll to become too mainstream.

We don’t want X Factor fans turning up at our festivals and making the air smell fresh with perfume and deodorant, do we?

Over To You

What do you think?

Is rock music and the guitar solo dead?

Disagree with literally everything I have to say?

Hit me up with a comment below!