If someone mentions guitar solo to you, what comes to mind? A musical god commanding a stage? A puffy haired, spandex clad dude making silly faces? Do you see a duck walk? A burning guitar?
The guitar as an instrument evokes so many feelings, even for those not musically inclined. The guitar solo, is also a topic of heated debates. What makes a good solo? Is it the ability to compliment a song, or to be a showcase for self-indulgence?
And while the guitar solo seems synonymous with rock and roll music, its roots are embedded in jazz and blues.
Jazz is not only responsible for the birth of cool, but it also gave birth to the guitar solo. Guitars were originally acoustic. Because of their lack of volume they were rarely seen on a concert stage. If they were on stage they were stuck in the rhythm section.
It was George Beauchamp inventor and cofounder of Ro Pat In Corporation, which later became Rickenbacker, that changed the way a guitar would be heard. In 1931 he developed the pickup and the first electric guitar.
Besides George Beauchamp, another pioneer of the electric guitar was jazz guitarist Charlie Christian. Most famous for his work with The Benny Goodman Sextet, his string technique along with the amplified instrument brought the guitar to the forefront. Charlie Christian paved the way for Les Paul, Eddie Cochran, B.B. King, Chuck Berry, and T Bone Walker.
T Bone Walker did for the blues what Christian did for jazz. They changed the sound and style drastically. Walker took the electric guitar to the Mississippi Delta Blues and set the template for what would become known as the Chicago Blues sound.
Most electric guitars were hollow bodied. They gave the guitarist volume, but at a price. At high volume they would feedback. It was guitarist and inventor Les Paul who put strings on a 4x4, put some pickups under them, and attached a set of wings. This design was originally rejected by Gibson. However in 1951 Gibson decided to collaborate with Les Paul. 1952 brought the world the Gibson Les Paul, and ushered in the rock/pop sound.
Leading into the 1950s there are many who contributed to the formation of what became know as rock and roll. It is Chuck Berry, however, who many believe personifies rock and roll. His 1955 recording Maybellene is considered the start of rock and roll guitar, and Johnny B. Goode has one best solos in rock history.
Meanwhile over in Britain there was a band called The Shadows. They preceded the Beatles by five years, being active from 1958-1968. They were mainly an instrumental band and hand a distinct sound. Hank Marvin, lead guitarist had a very clean sound, also used vibrato and echo. The Shadows were one of the first to be labeled with the "surf rock" tag. They have influenced the likes of Mark Knopfler, Neil Young, and Carlos Santana.
The sixties may be rock and rolls golden age. With new solid guitars, huge amplifiers, a new breed of musicians took to experimenting with different styles,...