Sixties songwriting moved beyond acoustic pop love songs and started to include social consciousness and political statements.
The electric guitar moved front and center right along with this new music direction to become a focal point of this new style...
With great guitar riffs and licks to propel this new musical movement, some of the coolest guitar-driven songs were written in the 1960s. From instrumentals, to rock-blues classics, to pop tunes with killer riffs and solos, the 1960's produced a number of guitar classics. Here are 10 guitar driven songs from the 1960's that shaped modern electric guitar.
#1). “Purple Haze” Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced?, 1967 Hendrix’s second single (following “Hey Joe”), its opening chord of two riffs followed by an interval of flattened fifth (D5 or “tritone,”) is now considered his trademark. A Roger-Mayer-built Octavia created the then-cutting-edge fuzztone with upper-octave harmonics. Get the TAB here.
#2). Misirlou Dick Dale and his Del-Tones, 1962, In the case for Dick Dale claiming the title of “King of the Surf Guitar”; he released five singles before grabbing this Greek tsifteteli dance and giving it the business with the help of his Fender Stratocaster, a ton of reverb, and the world’s first 100-watt Fender amps (with 15″ JBL speakers made especially for him). His unique style was the product of his playing guitar lefty without re-stringing it, and the fact he used very heavy strings. Get the TAB here.
#3). “Born To Be Wild” Steppenwolf, 1968, Written by Mars Bonfire (real name Dennis Edmonton, who though not a member of Steppenwolf, was the brother of the band’s drummer, Jerry Edmonton), he recorded the lick using a Fender Telecaster. The song started life as a spacey folk-pop song on a Bonfire album made up of demo recordings, but was dressed up by the band and producer Gabriel Mekler, then immortalized as the penultimate “biker song” after it was used on the soundtrack to the 1969 cult-classic film Easy Rider; its bombastic guitar-driven intro supplanted only by its lyrics, which included the first use of the term “heavy metal” in a musical context. Get the TAB here.
#4). “Oh, Pretty Woman” Roy Orbison, 1964. Released as a single, later on Orbisongs. Its lick was inspired by Orbison’s wife, who entered the room while he was writing. Van Halen also scored a #1 hit with it in the early ’80s.get the TAB here.
#5). “Whole Lotta Love” Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II, 1969 The band’s first U.S. charting single led off with a monster lick by Jimmy Page (playing his ’58 Gibson Les Paul Standard) that segued into one very heavy rhythm-section groove. The song’s psychedelic midsection break sets up one of Page’s career-defining solos. Get the TAB here.
#6). “You Really Got Me” The Kinks, The Kinks, 1964 Giving the Kinks cred amongst the influx of British Invasion bands, some rock writers say this song “invented” heavy metal. Written by Ray Davies, guitarheads know the lore about how Ray’s brother, the 17-year-old Dave Davies (not Jimmy Page!) played the solo on a Harmony Meteor through an Elpico amp that he had “customized” by slicing the speakers with a razor blade to create a fuzz-like effect. The elder Davies says the goal was to write a big, crowd-pleasing/show-topper song. It worked so well, the band copied itself with its second single, “All Day and All of the Night,” and within a year, the Stones had recorded “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and the Who did “I Can’t Explain,” both with the same intent. Van Halen’s version – its first single – was recorded in 1977. Get the TAB here.
#7). “Day Tripper” The Beatles, Yesterday… and Today, 1965 Debuting with “We Can Work It Out” as the record industry’s first “double A-side” single, the track is introduced and driven by a lick created and played by John Lennon (likely on his Rickenbacker 325), doubled by Paul McCartney’s bass. As rock songs go, it’s a counterculture classic, with lyrical references to sex, drugs, and phony hippies. Listen closely during the instrumental break/bridge (starting at 1:20) and you’ll hear a funky ascending-chord accompaniment dubbed under George Harrison’s solo, which was recorded using a Gibson ES-345. To say Lennon’s lick “inspired” Nazareth’s hit single “Hair of the Dog” would be something of an understatement. Get the TAB here.
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