Top 10 Jimmy Page Guitar Solos
There’s no denying that Jimmy Page is one of the most important rock guitarists of all time, as well as one of the most versatile. His playing is rooted in the blues, but also encompasses elements of world music, jazz, folk, pop and classical, and of course his heavy riffing is the prototype for much of the heavy metal that followed, though Page himself is not a metal guitarist. Part of Page’s versatility is no doubt due to his years as a session player, but despite a long career before and since, when we think of his greatest solos, we don’t have to look any further than his tenure in Led Zeppelin. Zeppelin was such a perfect vehicle for Page’s diverse musical interests that it provided a framework for almost any kind of guitar playing he might care to explore — as you’ll see in our list of the Top 10 Jimmy Page Guitar Solos.
‘Fool in the Rain’
The final single of Zeppelin’s career was ambitious, incorporating a polyrhythmic Latin groove with a pop vocal melody. It’s a special track over which Page recorded one of the most unusual guitar solos ever to grace mainstream radio. His bizarre-yet-melodic playing intermingles passages of rapid picking with more lyrical phrases to create a performance that is both improvisational and structured. Page employed an MXR Blue Box to get the distinctive “octave” effect for the track, which readily qualifies as one of the Top 10 Jimmy Page Guitar Solos.
‘Achilles Last Stand’
Page has often displayed an avid interest in multi-layering guitar tracks to obtain an orchestrated sound, and nowhere is that more evident than on ‘Achilles Last Stand.’ The guitarist overdubbed a dozen guitars for this 10-minute-plus epic, which he has named as his favorite Zeppelin track. Incredibly, Page performed all of the overdubs for the track’s massive guitar orchestra during a single session in Munich. The solos range from multi-tracked harmony lines to single-track lead lines that represent some of Page’s most lyrical recorded work.
‘Black Mountain Side’
Page is undoubtedly best known for his blues and rock playing, but he displayed his interest in both folk and Eastern music early on with the acoustic ‘Black Mountain Side’ on Zeppelin’s first album. Credited solely to Page, the song actually owes a huge debt to ‘Black Waterside’ by folk guitarist Bert Jansch — one of Page’s main influences. Page performed the track on a Gibson J-200 acoustic tuned to DADGAD to simulate the sound of a sitar, betraying an interest in world music that later Zeppelin albums would build upon.
‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’
No matter how much Page wanders around stylistically, his musical home has always been the blues, and ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’ is a prime example of his free-form improvisational powers in that genre. Written as a showcase for all four members of Zeppelin, the track features an incendiary solo from Page that displays both his rapid picking, and the deep bending that lends his playing such passion. Guitar World magazine placed ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’ at No. 53 in its list of the 100 Greatest Solos of All Time, so it certainly deserves a spot in our Top 10 Jimmy Page Guitar Solos.
‘Dazed and Confused’
The first Led Zeppelin album is so groundbreaking and filled with great guitar work that we could virtually dedicate this entire list to it, but one of the obvious standouts is ‘Dazed and Confused.’ The track features a dark, descending heavy guitar riff and a section in which Page uses a violin bow to produce eerie, atonal groans on the guitar, but it is the guitar solo that builds the song to its musical climax, with a screaming tone, bends in unison with the vocals, and the kind of almost-out-of-control-flurry-of-notes playing that marked some of Page’s best work.
‘Black Dog’ is a musically complicated song that centers around a snaky riff that turns back on itself, with a call-and-response between the instruments and vocal. Page’s main guitar tracks consist of triple-tracked Les Pauls plugged through a direct box into the mic channel on the board, then put though compression. But his solo at the song’s end is pure Page improvisational magic, culled from four takes of Page just wailing away over the outro. The result is yet another prime example of the way Page marries lines of compositional integrity with pure jamming to create a result that is bigger and better than both.
One of the most often-imitated elements of Page’s style is the flashy rapid-fire picking technique that he popularized, which then became the norm for rock guitarists. When Zeppelin’s first album was released, ‘Communication Breakdown’ was so far ahead of its time, it might as well have dropped out of the sky from another planet, due in no small part to Page’s out-of-this-world solo. The guitarist ran his Fender Telecatser through a fully closed Vox wah-wah pedal to create the track’s wickedly distinctive lead tone, leaving us no choice but to include it in our Top 10 Jimmy Page Guitar Solos.
‘You Shook Me’
Coming out of a blues background and a stint with the Yardbirds, it was inevitable that Page would include some authentic old-school blues on Zeppelin’s first album. He delivered in spades with with ‘You Shook Me,’ much to the dismay of former bandmate Jeff Beck — who had also recorded the classic blues tune for his recent album ‘Truth.’ But the Zeppelin track is undoubtedly the definitive track, featuring a unison and call-and-response guitar line between Page and Robert Plant, and topped off by a Page solo that is just raw, unadulterated plug-in-and-play genius.
Page helped pave the way for subsequent generations of shredders with this track from Zep’s second album, which features an unaccompanied guitar solo in which the guitarist employs a series of hammer-ons and pull-offs intermingled with rapid-fire picking. Page told Guitar World magazine that the entirely improvisational solo was recorded separately from the rest of the track and inserted in the middle. It is the first recorded example of the guitarist playing his Gibson Les Paul through a Marshall stack, which would become part of his signature sound.
‘Stairway to Heaven’
What else could it be? ‘Stairway to Heaven’ not only tops off our list of the Top 10 Jimmy Page Guitar Solos, it is almost universally regarded as one of, if not the single greatest electric guitar solo in rock music history. The climactic passage of a long, intricate track that improbably juxtaposes folk, Renaissance music and hard rock, Page performed the solo on his 1959 Fender Telecaster after working out a few of the phrases in advance. The solo as it appears on record incorporates everything that’s so special about Page’s playing, from his tone to his melodic ability, ending appropriately in a rapid flurry of notes that is inarguably one of the cornerstone licks of modern rock guitar playing.