Remembering Jimi Hendrix: His Five Greatest Guitar Solos

Posted by Michael Mueller on September 20, 2010 at 10:13 AM

Jimi Hendrix guitar tabThis past Saturday (September 18) marked the 40th anniversary of Jimi Hendrix's tragic death at the age of 27. To commemorate his passing and unmatched legacy, here are our five favorite Jimi Hendrix guitar solos. Click on the title to get the official guitar tab.

5. "Red House" Are You Experienced (1969)
While Hendrix is widely considered the greatest rock guitarist of all time, his thick, incendiary lines in "Red House" make a good argument for naming him greatest electric blues guitarist as well.  Jimi so nailed the essence of electric blues guitar in this tune that it is now considered a blues "standard," containing some of the greatest must-know blues licks ever.

4. "The Wind Cries Mary" Are You Experienced (1967)
This solo exemplifies one of Jimi's great contributions to rock guitar—R&B-style double-stop slurs in the style of his idol Curtis Mayfield that are cooler than the underside of the pillow.

3. "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" Electric Ladyland (1968)
In the final 1:32 of this tune, Jimi puts it all on the line. In one of his most visceral moments—and Jimi had many of those in his too brief career—he rides the wah pedal and whammy bar with the reckless abandon and sheer power for which he is known.

2. "All Along the Watchtower" Electric Ladyland (1968)
Jimi's 32-bar solo on this Dylan classic is brilliantly arranged in four distinct sections that flow seamlessly from one to the next. From his signature to minor pentatonic lickery to a spacey slide interlude to the wah-drenched octaves and Mixolydian motifs to riding the changes with double stops and the climactic unison bends, it's one of Jimi's most captivating performances—and that's saying something!

1. "Machine Gun" Band of Gypsys (1970)
Take all the passion, abandon, and brute force heard in "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" and multiply it by a factor of, oh, say, infinity, and you get an approximation of what Jimi achieved on the live recording of this Band of Gypsys opus. But don't take our word for it. A few years ago, Joe Satriani told this to Guitar One magazine: "To me, 'Machine Gun' is still the holy grail of electric guitar performance." And Robin Trower said, "Jimi's solo in 'Machine Gun' took guitar playing to a new level. It was bluesy, soulful, primal, and tormented." And finally, jam master Trey Anastasio imparted the following: "To me, 'Machine Gun' is the greatest example of pure soul. It's as if Jimi broke free of human constraints for about five minutes. To say it went beyond scales and riffs is a gross understatement; it was an outpouring of humanity."

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