April 30, 2024

About the Author: Cameron Hayes

Cameron Hayes is a guitar educator at the London Guitar Institute, teaching a wide range of styles such as rock, metal, blues, jazz, folk, RnB, acoustic, and many more! He teaches a large volume of students on a weekly basis and always looks to provide outstanding value in each and every lesson!

Looking to take a break from practising guitar and relax over watching a film? How about seeing some of these greatest guitar solos used in movies? Here is a list to get you started.

Back to the future

One of the most talked about guitar scenes in movies that I am aware of, and in fact the movie that is the reason why many guitar players first picked up the instrument, is Back To The Future (1985), with its infamous “Johnny B. Goode” scene.

This scene sees character Marty McFly playing the Chuck Berry classic at his parents high school dance, to which he has time traveled back to the year 1955 from the current day 1985. When a member of the house band for the event injures his hand, Marty offers to fill in and take his place, suggesting to the group that they play “Johnny B. Goode”, which he describes as “a blues riff in B”.

After playing a few rounds of the tune in its original style, McFly then launches into an improvised shred solo, something that the teens of 1955 aren’t used to hearing!

We as audience members of the movie don’t mind these Eddie Van Halen-style licks at all however, many of us coming away from the scene inspired.

A few fun facts that may appeal to the guitar nerds; although McFly calls out to the band that the tune is in the key of B, they actually play it in the key of Bb (as is the original recording).

And another one for the super geeks: the guitar used in this scene is a 1958 Gibson ES-345 which although is a stunning guitar, is historically inaccurate for the scene set in 1955. But hey, who’s complaining?

Top gun anthem

A timeless movie with a timeless and epic theme song, Top Gun (1986) is packed full of action with its epic ‘Top Gun Anthem’ theme song.

Composed by Harold Faltermeyer, also known for his work on Beverly Hills Cop with the theme “Axel F”, ‘Top Gun Anthem’ features the face melting guitar work of Steve Stevens.

This name may be familiar to you for Stevens work as Billy Idol’s guitarist and collaborative songwriter. Give it a listen!

Crossroads guitar duel!

A must see movie for all guitar nerds for a bit of history into blues music and all other things guitar, Crossroads (1986) features an epic guitar duel scene between characters Eugene Martone (Ralph Macchio) and Jack Butler (played by Steve Vai!).

The movie itself is full of big guitar names such as Ry Cooder, known for being a pioneer of slide and blues guitar, as well as Adrien Roth who was Macchio’s guitar coach during the shooting of the film to ensure a realistic performance. He and Macchio would work together for 2 hours a day whilst Macchio was simultaneously working with a karate instructor for the shooting of Karate Kid 2.

Although the movie explores the story of Robert Johnson selling his soul to the devil at the crossroads, director Walter Hill decided to go against Ry Cooder’s original vision of having this guitar duel be a slide guitar contest between himself and Maccchio.

Instead Cooder was replaced with hard rock guitarist Steve Vai (then of the band Alcatrazz) which although wasn’t in line with the rest of the music style of the movie, would hopefully appeal to a wider audience as it featured the popular music of the time.

Whether you’re a fan of this move or not, Crossroads has something for everyone in terms of musical styles, showing pieces from the blues, hard rock and classical genres.

School of rock

Our first non-80’s movie of this list, School of Rock (2003) starring Jack Black is a must see for music fans of all ages.

The film follows Black’s character Dewey Finn, an aspiring rock guitarist who finds himself taking a substitute teacher job after being fired from his band in order to be able to afford his rent.

The only issue is that Finn isn’t a qualified substitute teacher and instead poses as his roommate Ned Schneebly (played by Mike White, who was also a writer on the film) in order to take the job.

Unsure of what to teach them, Finn decided to share his passion for music with the class, working with the students to write songs which are then showcased in a local battle of the bands contest.

This performance hears the group play their song “Teachers Pet” which features guitar solos by student Zack Mooneyham (Joey Gaydos) and Mr Schneebly/Dewey Finn (Jack Black) which leaves the audience and parents of the students both shocked and proud.

The pick of Destiny

The early to mid 2000’s were a busy time for Jack Black, as 2006 also saw the release of Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny, which featured Black and his fellow Tenacious D bandmate Kyle Gass.

Black’s character JB meets Gas’s character KG in a park after seeing KG busking, where the pair decide on forming the world most awesome rock band. There are a few hurdles on this quest however such as trying to pay their rent, and realising that all of the rock gods use the same guitar pick, the pick of destiny.

After managing to steal this pick from the rock & roll museum, they then accidentally break the pick right before going on stage at a local contest, the winnings of which they were planning on using to pay their rent.

The only other option for them is to challenge Satan to a ‘rock-off’, which with a successful outcome would force Satan back to hell and him having to pay their rent.

Although a wild plot for a movie, it does funnily enough follow a similar storyline to School of Rock, and features an epic soundtrack full of musical styles.

Fun fact: although not featured in the rest of the movie, the devil from this scene is played by none other than musical legend Dave Grohl (of Foo Fighters/Nirvana).

This is spinal tap

Heading back to the 80’s now, another must-see guitar movie is This Is Spinal Tap (1984), the mockumentary following fictional English rock band Spinal Tap around their American tour.

Although the film does follow some comical but epic guitar solos by lead guitarist Nigel Tufnel, it is probably more well known for the infamous quote “these go to eleven”.

After showing off his guitar amp to a reporter, Tufnel explains that how ‘most blokes’ are only playing on 10, so to get ‘that extra push over the cliff’ he turns his amp up to 11 to go ‘one louder’ than 10.

Tags: Guitar films, Guitar movies, Guitar solos in movies

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Tags: Guitar films, Guitar movies, Guitar solos in movies