The 20 best southern rock guitar solos of all time


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Anthemic songs and relevant lyrics are a big part of the appeal of southern rock. Decades after their release, tracks like “Whipping Post” by the Allman Brothers and “Tuesday’s Gone” by Lynyrd Skynyrd still connect with people ranging from bankers to painters, college students to stay-at-home dads.

But these songs wouldn’t touch us so much without the killer guitar solos. Of course, they would still be awesome. Not so great.

Southern rock guitar playing can be expansive, straightforward, blues, country, psychedelic, lucid, raw, or refined. But the most enduring stuff all comes from a touching and expressive place.

You could rightfully fill a list of the 20 best southern rock guitar solos entirely with performances by the Allman Brothers. The group casts this great shadow on the genre. The playing of Duane Allman and Dickey Betts on classic Allmans material is extraordinary and timeless. (And today’s Allmans guitarists, Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks, are two of the most gifted players to emerge in the past 30 years or so.) Legends and unsung heroes. And the playing of these other musicians is also essential to the history of southern rock.

For the sake of our list, we’ve only pulled official studio and live albums, so no random bootlegs or live YouTube clips. Readers are strongly encouraged to disagree with this list. Can’t see your favorite southern rock solo here? Let us know the song and band in the comments section below. Without further ado, here are the 20 best southern rock guitar solos of all time.

By Matt Wake | [email protected]

20. Truckers by car “Decoration day”
Extract from the album “Decoration Day” of 2003
Why it’s great: Jason Isbell’s slide game evokes lightning and during the coda, a real tornado.

19. “Rockin ‘in the night” 38 special
From the 1980 album “Rockin ‘Into the Night”
Why it’s great: Enough melodic phrasing and momentum, courtesy of Jeff Carlisi, to light up FM radio for over 35 years.

18. “Whiskey Man” Molly Hatchet
From the 1979 album “Flirtin ‘With Disaster”
Why it’s awesome: Dave Hlubek and the Company’s Triple Guitar Nebula.

17. “Space Wrangler” Widespread panic
From the 1998 album “Light Fuse, Get Away”
Why it’s awesome: Michael Houser’s game goes from starry twang to flames.

16. “Train, Train” Blackfoot
Extract from the album “Strikes” of 1979
Why it’s great: Slithering, Rickey Medlocke licks the bottleneck that will serve him much later as a member of Lynyrd Skynyrd.

15. Atlanta’s “Spooky” Rhythm Section
Extract from the 1979 album “Underdog”
Why it’s great: The smoldering overtones of Barry Bailey and the slippery octave slides of JR Cobb.

14. “Hamburger Midnight” Small feat
Extract from the 1971 album “Little Feat”
Why it’s great: Lowell George’s funky, lyrical slide, which he played using a socket wrench. (And yes, even though Little Feat was from Los Angeles, their sound was definitely southern rock.)

13. “Sahib Teri Bandi / Maki Madni” Derek Trucks Band
From the 2004 album “Live at Georgia Theater”
Why it’s awesome: Derek Trucks takes the bottleneck guitar to India and back, creating a mystical Southern instrumental.

12. “Mule” Gov’t Mule
Extract from the album “Gov’t Mule” from 1995
Why it’s great: Warren Haynes gives Allmans-style blues leads a metallic 3D update.

11. “While waiting for the bus” ZZ Top
Extract from the 1973 album “Tres Hombres”
Why it’s great: Billy Gibbons makes his wah-wah pedal do nasty Technicolor stuff.

10. “No Speak No Slave” Black Crowes
Extract from the album “The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion” from 1992
Why it’s awesome: Sex and violence intertwine in the breathtaking solo of cult guitar hero Marc Ford.

9. “Simple Man” Lynyrd Skynyrd
Extract from the 1976 album “One More From the Road”
Why it’s great: Toothy unison lines that surround themselves like hawks in a sunset sky.

8. “Can’t you see” Marshall Tucker Band
From the 1973 album “Marshall Tucker Band”
Why it’s great: Toy Caldwell’s fluid bursts are about as heartfelt as the Southern rock guitar.

7. “Dreams” Allman Brothers
Extract from the album “The Allman Brothers Band” from 1969
Why it’s great: Duane Allman, the high priest of the slide guitar, soars into interstellar overdrive.

6. “Jessica” Allman Brothers
Extract from the 1973 album “Brothers and sisters”
Why it’s great: Dickey Betts often mounted a shotgun while Duane Allman was alive. But after Allman’s tragic death in 1971, Betts, of whom “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” was one of Allman’s first stars, stepped up with the cheerful “Jessica”.

5. “Sometimes Salvation” The Black Crowes
Extract from the album “The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion” from 1992
Why it’s great: It’s rare for a solo to be both breathtaking and concise. If you like, you poke fun at Marc Ford who has two top 10 solos. He’s not the most famous guitarist on our list, but Ford’s work during the Black Crowes of the 90s can hold up. kick off with any other main player here.

4. “Beer drinkers and hell breeders” ZZ Top
Extract from the 1973 album “Tres Hombres”
Why it’s great: The liquid mercury sound and Billy Gibbons’ pre-Van Halen finger tapping.

3. “Blue Sky” Allman Brothers
Extract from the album “Eat a peach” from 1972
Why it’s great: Duane Allman squeezes the ecstasy out of his Gibson for 77 seconds. Dickey Betts joins him for a soft weave and his own sunny run before Allman returns for a tinted double guitar final.

2. “The free bird” Lynyrd Skynyrd
From the 1973 album “(pronounced ‘Leh-‘nérd’ Skin-‘nérd)”
Why it’s awesome: The “Free Bird” solo opens with long, stunned hair. By the time Gary Rossington and Allen Collins were done, about four minutes later, their fingers had turned a supernatural glare.

1. “Statesboro Blues” Allman Brothers
From the 1971 album “At Fillmore East”
Why it’s great: the tone. Taste. Tenacity. It’s all there in Duane Allman’s molten slide playing on “Stateboro Blues”. It’s not the fastest or technically complex game of all time, but every note Allman hits is flawless and perfectly executed. Almost like the voice of a great soul singer. Don’t sleep on Dickey Betts’ buttery, well-paced solo on this track, either. There is a staggering amount of iconic southern rock solos, many of which weren’t on this list. But basically, there’s Duane Allman on “Statesboro Blues” and then there’s everything else.


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