‘Thee best lead guitar solo from the ‘60’s

Here at SMS we’ve frequently examined the question of what makes a great record? Talent, Creativity, an original lyric, a beautiful melody, with a soulful vocal and tight harmony’s, all, on top of a great groove. But, we believe there is one element that is “The Closer” when creating a great recording. A searing, driving, ear-splitting, LEAD GUITAR SOLO! a solo you’ll always wait in great anticipation for, one you’ll play “Air Guitar” with for the rest of your life! But first, before we go any further, we need you to concentrate, and listen very closely…Do you hear it? Are you paying attention? Ahh, wait there it is “The sound of Sixties Music Secrets” slowly opening a “CAN OF WORMS” you hear it now don’t you? Cuz you know what’s coming; What do YOU think is thee’ greatest guitar solo from the 1960’s? We realize it’s kind of a Sophie’s choice” but you can do this, you know what it is and we’d love to debate the point with you! Here are the only rules, the solo had to ORIGINALLY be recorded and released in the ‘60’s NO BOOTLEGS, But, live recordings are O.K. As long as the recording was originally released in the 60’s As great as he still is, we don’t want to hear about Keith Richards improvised solo from The Stones most recent World tour! We know you get the drill, but to get things started we’ll share what WE believe is thee’ greatest solo from the 60’s. HANDS DOWN, it’s got to be “KEEF’s Sparse, yet smokin’ Lead licks on “Sympathy For The Devil” from “Beggars Banquet”in 1968! so deliberate and improvised at the same time! AND, did you ever notice that there’s no trace of Keith until he unfurls his great solo nearly 3 minutes into the recording!  Meanwhile, check out this great live version with Keith “Killing it”! Here’s “Sympathy For The Devil” Enjoy it, but then we gotta know what YOU BELIEVE is Thee Greatest Solo From The 1960’s


  1. That is an amazing solo, vocal and guitar Alvin Lee did. I was in Detroit in a hotel next to the hospital where my dad was. I was depressed and saw that film was showing in the neighborhood. It was an inspiration at a low time.

    • Yeah, Libbie Jo. The power of music! I can’t tell you how many times I saw “Woodstock” upon it’s original release in 1969, but I know that the first three times I watched it, I went back just to see Alvin Lee’s performance…
      Thank you Libbie Jo

  2. Yep, another great topic/question/brainteaser….My pick WOULD have been Stephen Stills on the long version of Buffalo Springfield’s “Bluebird.”…But it wasn’t released until their comp in 1973.

    And I’m not sure the finger-pick part of the break in “Turn, Turn, Turn” qualifies as a solo (being buried in the mix)…so…

    I’ll go with another Roger McGuinn special…



    • Hey Johnny…..You are Awesome! I gotta admit, the first time I read your blog ( which I highly recommend to everybody ) The Round Place In The Middle, I knew you were an original thinker! And your pick for best guitar solo certainly reflects that!
      Let’s begin with your first choice, The solo from the long version of “Bluebird” excellant, unfortunately it was released in the early seventy’s. However we think Stephen Stills is one of historys’ greatest guitar players who never got the incredible recognition he deserved But Yeah “Bluebird”, what a sultry, Smokey performance! But then “Eight Miles High” and Roger McGuinn, I’m going to bet that you are the only reader to include a solo played on a 12 STRING!…Whoa! The first the time I heard it my friends and I thought, WAIT! This is “way too psychedelic, but after listening over and over again we all began to realize, that it wasn’t as sloppy as we had originally thought, but that McGuinn had CREATED a classic “Call and Answer” on a 12 STRING. We’re impressed! A Brilliant Call
      Thanx Johnny, we always appreciate your insight and always original thoughts

  3. “live recordings are O.K. As long as the recording was originally released in the 60’s”
    Hmmmmm, Band Of Gypsys came out in March 70 & Woodstock May of that year.
    Does that technically disqualify both of the above?

    • Wow mjf3,
      We really like your style! You’re certainly accomplished at finding what falls between the cracks You make a good point, but it’s so close and when we factor in the detail that Woodstock happened in 1969 , which is when Jimi’s performances were recorded we gotta say “Hell Yeah” they do qualify! Great choices! It’s hard not to include so much of what the great Jimi Hendrix recorded, and your choices are “ICONIC”
      Thanx, do come back and join in our further conversations!

  4. Jeeze Jimmy, now you got me reconsidering MY choice. I gotta admit Lee and Co. really delivered in this performance and with a running time of 11 mins and 24 secs you really get your money’s worth. I can vividly recall my buddies and I leaving the theater and we started talking about Ten Years Afters’ performance and we didn’t stop for weeks. Thanx Jimmy , excellant choice…Alvin Lee from Woodstock… Iconic and powerfull !

    • You got it, my friend. An absolute EPIC performance. So grateful that it was captured on film for us to ENJOY. Hard to believe it’s coming up on 50 YEARS since Woodstock happened in the summer of 69.

  5. Hey Rick,

    GREAT Topic. Dig your choice. As much as I LOVE Hendrix / Clapton / Beck / Page / For me, hands down, I gotta go with the Mighty Alvin Lee & Ten Years After at Woodstock in 69. Enjoy:

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