Like movies, rock songs sometimes feature some awesome cameos where iconic musicians pop up to tear it up in the way that only they know how. The best is when it totally come out of nowhere to blow your mind! Sometimes these guest solos are cast with specific people in mind, and other times they merely happen by chance. In any event, the results are always unforgettable. Head down below to check out 15 of our very favorites in rock history!
15. Stevie Wonder’s harmonica solo on “There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart) by Eurythmics (1985)
Stevie and his distinctive harmonica harmony have guested on stacks of hit songs over the years, most notably on Elton John’s “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues” and “Brand New Day” by Sting. Our favorite has to be his contribution to this tune from the ’80s new-wavers.
14. Elton John’s piano solo on “All Of The Lights” by Kanye West (2010)
Yeezy loaded this standout cut from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy with guest stars. Rihanna famously sings the hook, and there’s also vocal help from the likes of Alicia Keys, Kid Kudi, The-Dream, John Legend, Drake and Fergie. But for us, Elton’s manic piano break steals the show.
13. Kerry King’s lead guitar on “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” by The Beastie Boys (1986)
While recording License To Ill, producer Rick Rubin approached the Slayer guitarist to put some heavy guitar work on this cut. Rubin had previously worked with Kerry King when he produced Slayer’s breakthrough album Reign In Blood and signed them to his Def Jam label. With metal music popularity at an all-time high in the mid-80s, crossing genres seemed like a good way to expand the Beastie Boys’ audience. He was right, as the song was destined to become one of their most famous singles. But Kerry wasn’t done – he also appeared in the Beastie’s iconic music video, a parody of the over-the-top hair band lifestyle.
12. Duran Duran guitarist Andy Taylor’s solo on “Addicted To Love” by Robert Palmer (1985)
All of Duran Duran were huge admirers of Robert Palmer, but especially bassist John Taylor and guitarist Andy Taylor. They two actually formed a side project with Palmer called The Power Station alongside Chic drummer Tony Thompson. So when Palmer needed some searing electric guitar to go on his next solo hit, he knew who to call. All this time we’d assumed it was one of the ladies in the video…
11. Jeff Beck’s guitar solo on “Blaze Of Glory” by Bon Jovi (1990)
Jon Bon Jovi brought some heavy hitters to play on the album of the same name. Elton John and Little Richard contributed piano and vocals, and guitar god Jeff Beck provided the slide guitar work on the title track. Also if you listen closely, that’s Randy Jackson on bass!
10. Paul Weller’s lead guitar on “Champagne Supernova” by Oasis (1995)
Never shy about wearing their classic influences on their sleeves, Noel Gallagher of Oasis went right to the source and called upon Modfather Paul Weller to provide the swirling guitar figures, as well as backing vocals in whistle solos, for the anthemic closer to their 1995 record (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?.
9. George Harrison’s slide guitar solo on “Leave A Light On” by Belinda Carlisle (1989)
We NEVER saw this one coming! According to his wife, the former Beatle wanted to appear on Belinda’s song simply because he really loved her voice. He apparently wrote producer Rick Nowels a note after the sessions saying he hoped they liked his guitar work, because got a blister playing it!
8. Dave Navarro’ s lead guitar and Flea’s bass on “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette (1995)
We guess there’s no designated “solo” on this track, but it blew our minds to learn that the crunchy lead guitar work was provided by none other than Jane’s Addiction’s Dave Navarro. If that’s not enough to satisfy your ’90s alt-rock fix, Red Hot Chili Pepper’s bassist Flea lends a hand, too! “Flea and I did that song together in the studio. It was already written with different instrumentation and we were asked to kind of re-write the music,” Narvarro said of the recording. “It was just a good time and we basically jammed until we found something we were both happy with. Alanis was happy too.”
7. Sex Pistol’s guitarist Steve Jones on “Dancing With Myself” by Billy Idol (1981)
From one punk to another, Idol got the the Sex Pistol help out during recording but apparently something went awry. According to legend, Jones had a drug related seizure and had to be carried out of the studio on a stretcher after the session!
6. Chet Baker’s trumpet solo on “Shipbuilding” by Elvis Costello (1983)
Costello tapped legendary jazz bad boy Chet Baker to deliver the solo to his gorgeous track, rumored to be among his last studio performances.
5. Stevie Ray Vaughan’s guitar solo on “Let’s Dance” by David Bowie (1983)
Things with his band Double Trouble were beginning to take off, but Stevie Ray tasted his first mainstream success with his guest spot on this transatlantic hit. Bowie offered the guitar virtuoso a spot in his touring band, but Stevie decided to focus on his own work. Wise move.
4. Jimmy Page’s solo on “With A Little Help From My Friends” by Joe Cocker (1968)
Before achieving musical immortality with Led Zeppelin (and possibly the occult), Jimmy Page was one of the most sought-after sessions musicians in England, if not the world. He played on a truly staggering number of diverse records, from The Kinks and The Who, to Tom Jones and film scores. Even HE has lost track of all the dates he’s played, but pride of place has to go to the bone crushing lead guitar work on Joe Cocker’s version of the Beatles tune. We’ll think of him the next time we enjoy a rerun of The Wonder Years.
3. Eric Clapton’s guitar solo on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” by The Beatles (1968)
Eric Clapton was originally pretty reluctant when his buddy George asking him to play lead guitar on his new song. “Nobody ever plays on the Beatles’ records,” was the first thought that ran through his head. But he borrowed back the Les Paul he recently gave Harrison as a gift, and delivered a howling wail of a solo that helped make the cut a classic.
2. Clarence Clemons’ sax solo on “The Edge Of Glory” by Lady Gaga (2011)
The Big Man gave new meaning to the term “epic” with this solo, which is made all the more spine tingling when you consider that it was one of his last musical offerings to the world. Mother Monster asked the E Street Band leader to grace the sessions, and then flew him up to New York from Florida to record his part that very same day. “We’ll put the tape on and you just play,” she apparently told him. “Play from your heart. Play what you feel.” He did just that, laying down a deeply emotional passage. Just days after appearing in the accompanying music video, he suffered a fatal stroke.
1. Eddie Van Halen’s guitar solo on “Beat It” by Michael Jackson (1982)
The Van Halen shredder actually thought he could keep his contributor to the King of Pop’s record busting Thriller album secret from the press and his band. The rest of the band was out of town, and he thought he could sneak it for a little bit and lay down a solo…for FREE, no less. “I said to myself, ’Who is going to know that I played on this kid’s record, right? Nobody’s going to find out.’ Wrong!” he said in an interview last November. Yeah, it didn’t exactly happen like that. But he’s probably proud to have the world know that one of the greatest solos in rock history came out of his guitar!
Bonus: Paul McCartney’s celery solo on “Vegetables” by the Beach Boys (1967/2011)
The eccentric Beach Boys composer Brian Wilson spent weeks working on a song chronicling his love of veggies for the aborted Smile project. One day in April 1967, he heard that the future Sir Paul was in town and invited him to stop by the session for the tune. To lend some authenticity to the recording, he gave Paul a stalk of celery to chomp in rhythmically. It’s fitting when you consider that McCartney has gone on to become one of the most famous vegetarians on the planet!