Yeah, yeah, yeah, this list is all wrong. We left off all your favorites. What about this one? And this one? And this? Think you can do better? Write your own list and send ’em our way. Maybe we’ll write another story highlighting your choices. Meanwhile, chew on this:

“Crossroads,” Eric Clapton on Cream’s Wheels of Fire (1969). This is truly a Homeric solo, with that classic major intro switching to a minor scale improvisational 100-yard dash through an overdriven string-bending duel with the devil that resolves into one of the greatest riffs of all time. Clapton’s core lick is so essential, in fact, that it’s still a must-learn for budding guitarists 39 years later. It’s obvious that Clapton is as aware of this live performance’s epochal role in his career as the rest of us. He borrowed its title for both his guitar festival and his retrospective box set.
“All Along the Watchtower,” Jimi Hendrix on Electric Ladyland (1968). The guitar break in Hendrix’s version of this Bob Dylan gem is a triumph of texture over technique and proof that a great blues solo isn’t necessarily about the notes. With his slide and wah-wah stretching the emissions of his amp like an elastic band, Hendrix warps time and space. It was a concept that was hard to execute. Hendrix cut many versions before hitting his mark, but afterwards even Dylan himself adopted Hendrix’ interpretation of the song as the standard.
“Texas Flood,” Stevie Ray Vaughan on Texas Flood (1982). Vaughan cemented his place in the Avalon of Texas blues with his cutting take on this Larry Davis number, full of leads that dig deep into the flatlands dust and a gravel-toned solo packed with causal finger-slides, searing stops, and tension-choked bends all sailing on the curl of feedback. There’s not a single guitar note on this track that’s less than awesome.
“The Things That I Used to Do,” Guitar Slim single (1953). A young Ray Charles was the arranger, but this song and solo are ripped right out of the soul of Eddie Jones, a.k.a. Guitar Slim, a Louisiana wildman who was playing with house leveling distortion—plugging his guitar into a full p.a., no less?a good decade before most rock guitarists said hello to saw-tooth waves. Slim’s solo, full of beautifully needling staccato notes, captures the tune’s hesitance and heartache poignantly. It’s not much of a stretch to say that Jones’ prickly style wasn’t truly matched until the punk rock era, when his habit of sporting green, red, or blue hair came into vogue, too.
  “T-Bone Shuffle,” T-Bone Walker single (1947). Walker’s blend of confidence, swing, and sheer propulsion make this song a classic that’s still covered by virtually every contemporary jump blues band. Plus, it’s a key part of the map Walker handed younger acolytes like B.B. King and Chuck Berry. And check out that solo: T-Bone’s slippery tone, staggering repeated partial bends, rippling pentatonic lines. It’s a chorus of angels channeled through an ES-250.
“Shine on You Crazy Diamond,” David Gilmour on Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here (1975). If you’ve got ears you already know that Gilmour is one of the greatest blues players ever to heft a Strat, with an impossibly distinctive tone. And his finest playing is laced throughout this two-part song suite. Gilmour’s keening, crying bends; his graceful melodies; his accents and chopping chords—they all add up to an elegy for his friend Syd Barrett that’s far more profound than anything mere words could express.
“Whipping Post,” the Allman Brothers Band on At Fillmore East (1971). Gregg Allman’s song of struggle first appeared on the band’s 1969 debut, but it’s the live version?an entire 23-minute side of the original double-LP At Fillmore East package?that earned the Brothers their ranking as the best ensemble rock band America’s ever had. The whinnying, roaring duel leads of Dickey Betts and Duane Allman fully explore the realm of modal rock guitar playing, with each six-stringer blasting into interstellar overdrive and then twining their instruments like writhing cobras.
“The Thrill is Gone,” B.B. King on Completely Well (1970). This isn’t just King’s biggest hit. The smash’s solo is a compendium of his guitar vocabulary?ringing single notes expertly shaken (not stirred), a slinky crying melody, tearful bends, dizzying vibrato and sustain. It’s all here, and when the strings come in their sweetness brings out even more of King’s sensitive six-string soul.
“Born Under a Bad Sign,” Albert King on Born Under a Bad Sign (1967). The Flying V master’s big-boned sound and down-to-the-knees southpaw bending make this one of the funkiest soul blues tunes ever. King nailed the solo?with its stinging stops, wrenching bends, and singing vibrato?with so much greasy precision that Eric Clapton lifted it wholesale for Cream without adding a drop of extra weight.
“The Sky is Crying,” Elmore James single (1960). James had already created the most instantly recognizable riff and sound in slide guitar with “Dust My Broom” in 1951. But for sheer ringing sensitivity and emotional oomph, he smashed his own title with “The Sky is Crying,” where his slide breaks?and deliriously heartbroken tone?show how much impact and humanity both rhythm and melody slide playing can deliver.