Top 10 Rock Guitar Outros of All Time
Posted by Michael Mueller on September 30, 2016 at 3:22 PM
There's nothing like a monster rock guitar solo to close out a killer tune. And though it's always been a fairly common device in rock 'n' roll, there's no denying that the examples in the following list rank among the most epic endings of all time. Which is your favorite?
Click on the titles below to get the note-for-note guitar tab or song lessons for each.
"Rosanna" by Toto
The main guitar solo on this Toto smash is one of the greatest ever laid down on a pop song, but what you didn't hear on pop radio—due to song time constraints—was Steve Lukather's wailing outro solo. In fact, in February of this year, on the morning show of L.A.'s KSWD, upon hearing an iso track of Luke's outro solo, one of the deejays described it as "like 53 guitar solos in one."
"The Ocean" Led Zeppelin
To quote Robert Plant's closing lyrics, "Oh, it's so good." "The Ocean" is built on a a rather progressive 15/8 main riff and features some pretty dissonant 7ths intervals in places, yet for the outro, the band transitions to a 12/8 doo-wop shuffle. This ending may not be as "epic" as other entries here, but it's certainly crafty and memorable.
"Fade to Black" Metallica
Inspired by the relentless repeating licks of "Free Bird" and "Sultans of Swing," guitarist Kirk Hammett crafted a metal maelstrom for the ages with his high-octane outro guitar solo for Metallica's ode to hopelessness and death.
"Layla" Derek & the Dominos
For such a classic rocker, "Layla" is actually a rather heart-wrenching tell-all of Eric Clapton's unrequited love for Patti Boyd—wife of his best friend, George Harrison. And man did guitarist Duane Allman capture that anguish in his poignant outro slide guitar solo—with an indispensable assist from drummer Jim Gordon's gorgeous piano part.
"Starship Trooper" Yes
Recognized primarily for the spotlight strumming of a sliding C-chord shape with the 5th on both the low and high E strings, this Yes epic goes out riding the fleet fingers of guitarist Steve Howe in the section titled "Würm." This is a textbook example of how a rock guitarist should "play the changes," much like a jazz guitarist does.
"Comfortably Numb" Pink Floyd
This outro gem, along with Gilmour's mid-song solo, composes what is widely considered one of the greatest guitar solos ever recorded. But interestingly, Gilmour says this solo was pieced together from about six different takes. Still, there's no denying Gilmour's deft touch and his flair for musical drama and dynamic.
"Let's Go Crazy" Prince
Channeling his inner Jimi Hendrix yet making it all his own, Prince went from R&B pop star to guitar god with the searing outro to "Let's Go Crazy," mixing scorching pentatonic-based licks with jazzy bebop lines. The Afterworld is rockin'.
"Sultans of Swing" Dire Straits
Two words: "Those arpeggios!" Guitarist Mark Knopfler is one of the tastiest guitar players in rock history, known more for making his guitar "cry and sing" than for screaming fits of virtuosity. But like all great musicians, Knopfler knows just when to turn up the heat and burn an indelible mark into the fabric of classic rock guitar, as he does in the outro of this Dire Straits classic.
"Hotel California" Eagles
Elegantly simple and precisely composed to follow the chord changes, Don Felder's masterpiece is arguably the most melodic and memorable outro guitar solo of all time.
"Free Bird" Lynyrd Skynyrd
Though Gary Rossington has forever been the face of the Lynyrd Skynyrd guitar team, it was Allen Collins that blast out this epic bad boy. "The whole long jam was Allen Collins himself," Rossington told Guitar World magazine. "He was bad. He was super bad! He was bad-to-the-bone bad." Truth!
"Paradise City" by Guns N' Roses
Talk about a tour de force! Building on the song's main riff, Slash absolutely shreds this double-time outro, combining blues scale runs, pentatonic licks, chromatic climbs, wild bends, and nasty double stops to create what is best described as controlled chaos.