Best Guitar Solos of the 60s (with Tabs)

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Best Guitar Solos of the 60s

Let’s have a look at the best guitar solos of the 60s! In the 1950s, the popularity of the guitar as a rock instrument increased, but it was the 1960s in which the guitar achieved absolute dominance as a rock instrument. The 60s saw the formation of the most influential bands in history. Think of The Beatles, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Pink Floyd, The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, The Rolling Stones, The Who and The Yardbirds, The Kinks, The Animals and Cream.

Thanks in part to innovative use of guitar effects in psychedelic rock such as distortion, wah, fuzz, reverb and delay, we were introduced to guitar sounds and guitar solos like we had never heard before. A subgenre in the 1960s was folk rock, with Bob Dylan as the great performer, joined by Neil Young, The Band, The Byrds, and Simon & Garfunkel.

Below you’ll find the best guitar solos of 60s. For the best guitar solos of other decades, check these posts:

10. Keith Richards – Sympathy For The Devil

Recorded with The Rolling Stones in 1968.

Keith Richards may not be the most technical guitarist, but he makes that up in sheer rock and roll vibe that nobody can match. The song is attributed to Jagger and Richards, but it is likely that Jagger is largely responsible for the song. Richards suggested changing the tempo and adding extra percussion in the form of a sinister samba rhythm. Or in the words of Richards: ‘I was just trying to figure out if it was a Samba or a goddam folk song’.

The Rolling Stones - Sympathy For The Devil (Official Video) [4K]

The song is written from the perspective of Lucifer, the devil. The devil explains that for centuries he has witnessed the violence people use against each other, often in the name of religion. The song was controversial because some interpreted the song as a call to worship the devil. Another interpretation is that it is a protest song against the Vietnam War. The song was later performed by Bryan Ferry (1973) and Guns ‘n Roses’ (1984).

Download Guitar Tabs for Keith Richards – Sympathy For The Devil.

9. Eric Clapton – While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Recorded with The Beatles in 1968.

This song was written by George Harrison who was inspired by the book the Ching. The central (Eastern) concept in this book, according to Harrison, was that everything is connected to everything as opposed to the (Western) idea of everything being based only on chance. Harrison decided to write a song based on the first words he would read when he opened any book. Those first words he read were “gently weeps,” and he immediately began writing.

George Harrison and Eric Clapton - While my guitar gently weeps

He invited Eric Clapton to add a solo to the song. Clapton initially refused, saying, “Nobody ever plays on the Beatles’ records. Fortunately, Harrison managed to convince him, resulting in one of the most iconic solos in guitar rock history.

Download Guitar Tabs for Eric Clapton – While My Guitar Gently Weeps.

8. Eric Clapton – Crossroads

Recorded with Cream in 1968.

This cover of the original Robert Johnson song is seen as one of the most magic four minutes of live rock ever recorded.

The song was recorded by Johnson in 1937 as Cross Road Blues and has its origins in the Mississippi Delta Blues. Johnson died suddenly at the age of 27 due to an unknown illness. This gave the song a mysterious and occult dimension.

Cream - Crossroads (1968)

Cream, consisting of Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton, play the song according to a familiar structure and know what to expect from each other. Within that framework, the members of the power trio are all free to improvise. Clapton’s solo is spread over five verses. He starts in the low register and gradually climbs over the following verses, biulding up tension and excitement. After another verse of solos, he comes back for the second round of solos, hever repeating himself he pulls out never ending wild, soaring blues licks.

Download Guitar Tabs for Eric Clapton – Crossroads.

7. B.B. King – The Thrill Is Gone

Recorded as a solo artist in 1969.

This song was not written by B.B. King (Riley Benjamin King, 1925-2015), but by Roy Hawkins and Rick Darnell in 1951. B.B. King recorded his version in 1969 and modified the original notably by adding violins. It became one of his biggest hits. The song is written in B minor and has a sad but smooth feel, following a 12 bar blues form. B.B. King speaks of the guitar as his second voice in this song: one voice comes through my throat, while the other comes through my fingers’. Referring to the fact that he never played and sang at the same time, B.B. King said: ‘When one voice is singing, the other wants to listen.’

The Thrill Is Gone

Download Guitar Tabs for B.B. King – The Thrill Is Gone

6. Terry Kath – 25 OR 6 TO 4

Recorded with Chicago in 1969.

Terry Kath is one of the greates guitarist of the classic rock era. He is one of the founders of the jazz-rock band Chicago. This song features Kath’s exteded guitar solo with the generous use of the wah-wha pedal. Jimi Hendrix was blown away with the guitar playing of Terry Kath and thought that Terry played the guitar better than he did and called him ‘the best guitarist in the universe’.

Chicago - 25 or 6 to 4 - 7/21/1970 - Tanglewood (Official)

The songs is about trying to write a song in the middle of the night. The title of the song refers to the time at which the song is set: 25 or 26 minutes befor 4 AM. The song was the first song of Chicago to reach the top five in the US song charts.

Download Guitar Tabs for Terry Kath – 25 OR 6 TO 4.

5. George Harrison – Something

Recorded with The Beatles in 1969.

George Harrison- something Live.

Something appeared on the Beatles album “Abbey Road” and was an ode by George Harrison to Pattie Boyd. It is one of the most covered songs by the Beatles. Harrison isn’t showing off his guitar skills, but he is tastefully adding layers to the song. Without these guitar layers the song would crumble apart.

Download Guitar Tabs for George Harrison – Something.

4. Jimmy Page – Whole Lotta Love

Recorded with Led Zeppelin in 1969.

Led Zeppelin - Whole Lotta Love (Official Music Video)

Whole Lotta Love was Led Zeppelin’s first hit in the United States. The band sold as many as 1 million singles in 1970. Jimmy Page played the guitar riff for the first time in the summer of 1968 on his houseboat on the River Thames in England. Page used reverb before the sound rather than after the sound. He recorded the reverb separately and added it later. Wily Dixon was financially compensated in 1987 and added as a writer on later releases of the song. In fact, the song Whole Lotta Love was partly based on his song You Need Love, which was recorded by Muddy Waters in 1962.

Download Guitar Tabs for Jimmy Page – Whole Lotta Love.

3. Dave Davies – You Really Got Me

Recorded with The Kinks in 1964.

You Really Got Me was originally a more jazzy feel and arose from the piano playing of Ray Davies, Dave’s brother. Gradually the song developed into a solid rock song. Dave figured out that the central saxophone riff would sound much more solid on the guitar and so developed the song. According to band manager Larry Page, the riff came about after the band tried to play “Louie Louie” by The Kingsmen.
The song’s breakthrough is its use of power chords with distortion, which greatly influenced the development of heavy metal.

The Kinks - You Really Got Me (from One For The Road)

The best known cover of the song is that by Van Halen, released in 1978 and marked the start of their musical career.

Download Guitar Tabs for Dave Davies – You Really Got Me.

2. Jimi Hendrix – All Along The Watchtower

All Along The Watchtower was written by Bob Dylan and first appeared in 1967 on his album John Wesley Harding. Jimmy Hendrix released his version of the song six months later on the album Electric Ladyland. Earlier, Hendrix had performed another of Dylan’s songs, “Like a Rolling Stone,” in his own style. Hendrix was very impressed with Dylan’s work, especially his lyrics. Hendrix about this:

“All those people who don’t like Bob Dylan’s songs should read his lyrics. They are filled with the joys and sadness of life. I am like Dylan, none of us can sing normally. Sometimes, I play Dylan’s songs and they are so much like me that it seems to me that I wrote them. I have the feeling that Watchtower is a song I could have come up with, but I’m sure I would never have finished it.’

The Jimi Hendrix Experience - All Along The Watchtower (Official Audio)

Total Guitar magazine called it the best cover song of all time in 2008, and at the time Bob Dylan was quite impressed by the cover, so he made his own version ‘heavier’ and played it the way Jimi had recorded the song.

Download Guitar Tabs for Jimi Hendrix – All Along The Watchtower.

1. Jimi Hendrix – Voodoo Child (Slight Return)

Winner best guitar solos of the 60s

Recorded with The Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1968.

‘Voodoo chile’, at 15 minutes, is the longest song the Experience ever recorded. The song is a so-called ‘studio jam’ where Hendrix invited various people into the studio. According to Eddie Kramer, these seemingly spontaneous sessions were very carefully planned by Jimmy. Jimmie made sure he had the right people on board to make the music he heard in his head. Key musicians who participated in the ‘Voodoo chile’ recording are basest Jack Cassidy, organist Steve Winwood, and Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell.

Jimi Hendrix - Voodoo Child (Slight Return)

‘Voodoo Chile’ evolved from the song ‘Catfish Blues’, a medley of different parts of songs by Muddy Waters (‘Rollin’ Stone’, ‘Still a Fool’, ‘Rollin and Tumblin’. ‘Catfish Blues’ was a tribute to Muddy Waters, which Hendrix performed regularly in 1967 and 1968. Referring also to the lyrics of the song, music writer John Perry calls the song an “interstellar hootchie kootchie”: a blending of two of Jimi’s great loves: science fiction and Chicago blues.

A day after recording ‘Voodoo Chile’, ‘Voodoo Child (Slight Return)’ was recorded, a shortened version of Voodoo Chile. Hendrix sometimes used different names and different spellings for songs. ‘Chile’ is slang for ‘child’).

An ABC camera crew came to the studio to do a report on The Jimi Hendrix Experience. They ask the band to play something to which Jimi said ‘Okay, let’s do this in E’, to which the band began to play.  A total of eight takes of the song were recorded, with the final version ending up on Electric Ladyland.

In the song, Hendrix shows himself to be a master at using the wah-wah pedal. In 2015, the solo in the song was named the best wah solo of all time by Guitar World.

Download Guitar Tabs for Jimi Hendrix – Voodoo Child (Slight Return).

Be sure to check out our other posts in this series!

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Friso is as excited about playing guitar as the moment when he picked up the instrument for the first time, about 35 years ago. He is the founder of where he likes to share his knowledge about guitars, guitar gear and guitar playing.

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