• Inspired by Guitar Player’s article on the 40 most influential guitar solos, here are the 10 that have influenced me the most.

Before I get into this list, let me emphasize that, unlike Guitar Player's list, these are not the solos I believe have been the most influential in general, but rather the solos that have been the most influential to me. In other words, they have somehow influenced my playing, and since I cannot shred, you will see no mention of stuff like Sails of Sharon, by the Scorpions. I love that solo and it blew me away the first time I heard it, but just can’t play that fast. Or Walking on a Wire, by Richard Thompson, which is possibly the best solo I’ve ever heard but again, so far beyond my ability as to be useless to me as a player. So, in no particular order, here are the top ten most influential solos for yours truly.

Powderfinger, Neil Young, Rust Never Sleeps version
I was tempted to pick The Stranger, but I can’t play The Stranger, whereas I can get pretty close to this one. I credit this solo with getting me used to soloing in the A cowboy shape and using more major thirds, instead being just a pentatonic peasant. Also, Neil Young’s tone is, um, unique. It’s like his amp is sitting in a vat of hot grease laced with dirt, shards of glass, and ground up car parts.

Honky Tonk Women, The Rolling Stones, Brussels Affair version
Slow, relatively easy bends, wicked-cool two-string stuff, what’s not to love? I’ll tell you what’s not to love, it’s in open G which is damn confusing. How Keith played this high on coke, smack, weed, booze and god-knows-what-else is beyond me.

Fire and Water, Free, studio or live version, both are cool
I think trying to learn  this solo really got me started on using vibrato. 20 years later, I’m still no Paul Kossoff, but I’m better than I was.

Train Kept a Rollin’, Aerosmith, Get Your Wings version
For the most part, Joe Perry plays stuff I could only dream of, but on this tune he lays down riffs I can grok.

Love in Vain, The Rolling Stones, Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out version
To this day, I cannot play this solo, but I will die trying. Gives me the blues.

Oh Carol, The Rolling Stones, Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out version
I learned most of my Chuck Berry licks from this song, which seems dumb, I mean, why not just listen to Chuck? Subjective. I prefer Keef.

Freebird, Lynyrd Skynyrd, One More From the Road version  
I know what your thinking, which solo??? ALL OF ‘EM.

Time, Pink Floyd, studio version
Everyone raves about Gilmore’s work on Comfortably Numb, but for me, it’s all about Time.

Smoke on the Water, Deep Purple, studio version
For a metal solo, this one’s pretty easy, but what makes it so cool is Blackmore’s tone. There is nothing else quite like a Strat through a cranked up Marshall. Of course, you could say that about any guitar, but still.

Communication Breakdown, Led Zeppelin, studio version
For the lick that starts the solo. My friend Rich Erickson taught it to me around 1977 and I have been struggling with it ever since. Still can’t play it nearly as fast as Rich could.
That's it. I have a nagging feeling I forgot something though...