10 Great Guitar Solos From The 80s And 90s

10 Great Guitar Solos From The 80s And 90s


Our mate and all-round top bloke Dave "Higgo" Higgins is gracing us with his time today to run through 10 of his favourite guitar solos from the 80s and 90s, and this is a cracking list! Being a predominantly rock crowd, you'll know Higgo's voice best from his years at Triple M, but since 1999, he's been a been a radio announcer, copy writer, producer, content creator, and interviewer across Triple M, Fox FM, 2Day and 97.3 FM One thing is for sure, he knows his rock n roll! 

Over to Higgo, with a recommendation to crank the volume...

When I was growing up, one of the best things about rock music was grabbing your old wooden tennis racquet and belting out the wailing guitar solo from your favourite songs. I went through my collection and to bring you 10 kick arse guitar solos from the 80s and 90s.

10. "Hot Dog And Shake" - David Lee Roth 

After the split of David Lee Roth from Van Halen, I, like so many others, kept following Dave, and when he teamed up with Billy Sheehan (bass), Steve Vai (guitar) and Greg Bissonette (drums) I was hooked. With that in mind, "Hot Dog and a Shake", from Skyscraper, is great lyrically, and off the charts when it comes to Steve Vai soloing.

Check it out, the solo launches at 1:24

9. "Hot For Teacher" - Van Halen

You know that if I’m starting with Vai, things are serious. I’m not messing around here AND speaking of Van Halen, this list wouldn’t be complete without Mr Eddie Van Halen and the monstrous tune "Hot For Teacher". Some may (rightfully) argue that "Panama" should be on this list, but here’s why "Hot for Teacher" pips it. The clip is killer, so is the narrative, it’s a higher energy song than "Panama" (I do bloody love "Panama" though), and it’s my list. Remember, this was 1984, brilliant!

No skipping, watch the whole clip.

8. "Sweet Child O' Mine" - Guns n Roses 

We were spoilt for choice when it came to guitar heroes in the 80’s and 90’s, and one bloke who still enjoys monumental guitar god status is Slash. Nothing more needs to be said, and no discussions will be entered into when including him and the solo from Sweet Child O’ Mine to the list. BOOM.

7. "Hallowed Be Thy Name" - Iron Maiden 

As little an argument could also be said for the very mighty Iron Maiden, who’s guitar combos have always been spot on, be it Dave Murray and Adrian Smith (as it was on The Number of The Beast album) or with Janick Gers and Dave Murray, or in fact all three guitarists together as it has been since 2000! With them re-issuing 12 albums on vinyl right now, available here, including the 1982 album mentioned moments ago, enjoy this solo from one of the best heavy metal songs of all time. "Hallowed Be Thy Name". 

(4:50 in, but just listen to the whole thing, really).

6. "Brothers In Arms" - Dire Straits

Mark Knopfler is another guitar legend who shall be added. And no, it’s not the solo from "Money For Nothing", although this song comes from the same album. In fact, this solo is from the title song and is so hauntingly beautiful, it proves the rule that solos should serve the song. There’s a few in this masterpiece, and Knopfler remains one of my favourite guitarists.

5. "Damage, Inc" - Metallica 

Arguably the biggest metal band in the world is Metallica. They were doing things that their bay area thrash buddies weren’t, what was it exactly that made them stand maybe half a step ahead of  Exodus, Testament, Forbidden and Death Angel? The perfect combination of players? The songwriting and vicious vocal spitting of James Hetfield, which by 1986 had truly found power?
Whatever the case may be, when I first heard Master Of Puppets, I stood, mouth agape. Blown away by the blistering speed of Damage, Inc. that closed out the album. The solo that Kirk Hammet lays down is a blinder. 

(3:48 if you just want the goodness)

4. "I Could Have Lied" - Red Hot Chili Peppers

Ya know how I was talking about Mark Knopfler earlier and said that the solo must serve the song? Well, this next one is short and sweet, but it does what it’s supposed to. Creates some chaos, in an otherwise mellow environment, a perfect juxtaposition yet reflects the narrative beautifully. 

John Frusciante from Red Hot Chili Peppers, and his solo in "I Could Have Lied".

3. "Man In The Box" - Alice In Chains

When MTV started playing Alice In Chains – "Man In The Box", it was a giant killer. Nominated for awards, the song launched Alice In Chains into the vernacular of everyday music listeners. Just kinda handy that Jerry Cantrell is a bloody guitar superstar too, coz his solo is great in this. Short, but great. Love this band. Love this solo.

2. "Bulls On Parade" - Rage Against The Machine

Cast your mind back to the first time you heard Rage Against The Machine. The power, and radical spitting lyrics, and the guitar artwork of one Tom Morello. He did stuff with his guitar that no one had done on that level. And people emulate it to this day. But there is only one Tom Morello, and only one "Bulls On Parade". They were the biggest live band at their peak. The energy and funk made you move regardless of your will. This is HUGE. Don’t skip to 2:32 to just hear the solo, live through this from the start.

1. "Domination" - Pantera 

Rounding out my most kick arse solos from the 80’s and 90’s, it would be utterly remiss, tardy, disrespectful, and heinous to not include Dimebag Darrell from Pantera, and his solo from "Domination" from the album Cowboys From Hell. In particular, this version of it. Performed in Moscow in 1991. Dime was a showman, but never at the expense of his solos, which were seemingly always note perfect, live. He is sorely missed and is a true guitar legend. Sit back and enjoy the whole thing, or skip forward to the 3-minute mark, then witness the heaviest moment in live music history.

I fully expect there to be a battle of words over this list, and that’s exactly what it’s supposed to do. Remind us all of what we bloody love, share it with others and get talking about how rad rock and metal still is. There’s a gazillion bands I didn’t have room for here, so load up, shout it out, and get involved on our Facebook page, here. 

- Dave "Higgo" Higgins 

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