Did Grunge Kill Guitar Solos?
There are some in the rock community who feel the grunge movement was responsible for making guitar solos less popular. However, this is an example of “If you repeat a lie enough times, it becomes the truth.” It’s up there with Elvis stealing music from black people.
The fact is, grunge did not kill guitar solos. Some people think this was the case because Kurt Cobain became the poster boy for the movement, and he wasn’t known to be a great guitar player. But then what about guys like Jerry Cantrell, Kim Thayil, and Mike McCready? Personally, Alive by Pearl Jam is one of my favorite guitar solos.
It’d be more accurate to say guitar solos were considered somewhat less important during the grunge movement. With 80’s metal, there was a big emphasis on virtuoso guitar playing. With grunge, it was more about the songwriting, the vocal melodies, and the mood and sound of the song in general. When solos were played, they had more in common with rock and roll’s blues-based roots than virtuosity.
The feeling that guitar solos are less popular today is also untrue. Guitar solos can still be heard in a wide variety of genres, especially within the metal and blues communities. In fact, there are probably more virtuoso guitar players now than any other point in rock’s history. This is including the 80’s. The internet has made it very convenient to be a musician when it comes to developing your musical skills.
It is true that you won’t hear very much lead playing on the radio. But then again, there’s not much rock to be heard on the radio anyway. There’s a wide, complex variety of reasons why this is the case. That said, a person can still find great guitar players if they know where to look.