Five Songs That Forever Changed Electric Guitar

Electric Guitar Hasn’t Been The Same Since…

It’s a rare occurrence when a single song changes everything, but I’m going to list five songs that forever changed how the electric guitar was played.

While Jazz musicians had been using electric guitars since the 1930s, the latter half of the 20th century saw the emergence of the electric guitar in mainstream music. This new spin on an old instrument provided the guitarist with more versatility over his instrument.  The guitarist also had the ability to alter and change the sound by using effects that enabled new experimentation.

Through the years a plethora of great electric guitar music has hit the airwaves, but the gems of songs found on this list stand out as turning points in the direction of the instrument. These songs did not create quickly fading fads but changed how people played the electric guitar for all time.

So, without further ado…

The List:

“Johnny B. Goode” by Chuck Berry

This song’s blazing opening provided rock ‘n’ roll music with a template for guitar domination. Berry’s influence was heavy through the 50s and 60s and artists such as The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix often played songs popularized by him and used his music as a starting point for their own styles.  It’s simply the penultimate rock ‘n’ roll song with plenty of electric guitar swagger. Plus, it’s the song you pull out of the bag when you really want to impress. Just ask Marty McFly.

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“(We’re Gonna) Rock Around The Clock” by Bill Haley & His Comets

Could it be?  Is this the first “shredder” solo? Speed became a new focus for the electric guitarist after this technical demonstration from guitarist Danny Cedrone. It’s widely considered one of the greatest rock and roll guitar solos of all time. The solo may be tame by today’s standards and Danny Cedrone may not be a household name in today’s culture, but its influence can still be felt today.

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“Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix

Holy cow! Did you hear that? Not only was Hendrix technically brilliant on guitar, but he offered new sonic landscapes never before heard with the use of cutting-edge effects. Purple Haze launched an army of Hendrix clones and sent millions of guitarists to the music shops to get the hardware need to recreate the sounds introduced by Hendrix. He remains probably the most influential electric guitarist of all time.

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“Eruption” by Van Halen

Jaws dropped. Guitars were thrown out the window. A new technique was popularized. Many feelings ran through the guitar players everywhere when this song was first heard. Most people could tell you exactly where they were and what they were doing.  “Eruption” was the 2nd song on Van Halen’s debut album and lasted less than 2 minutes, but those two minutes changed everything. It spotlights Eddie Van Halen’s use of tapping that had, until then, never been heard, and by the end of the 80s, everyone was doing it. You can still crank this song up to full blast today and get chills running up and down your spine.

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“Texas Flood” by Stevie Ray Vaughan

Vaughan started a revolution. It wasn’t that he was playing anything new. Heck, he was just playing traditional blues music and blues runs borrowed from his predecessors. No, it wasn’t what he played, but HOW he played it. It was his unparalleled intensity. It was his ability to shake and bend the strings that drove millions of players back to the basics found in the blues. It was as if he was an open channel to all the blues greats of the past. He, and he alone, revived blues music for years to come. “Texas Flood” was the slow blues song that first found the ears of the masses and exposed his soul-wrenching solos.

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