Most "rocking" guitar in nonrock song

I heard Donna Summer’s 1979 hit “Hot Stuff” on the radio this morning. One thing that struck me is that the guitar solo on the song (starts at 2:24)was louder and more raucous than much AOR guitar of that era. So I started thinking which soul/jazz/country/easy listening/etc. songs have guitar that sounds like it belongs on a rock record. Got any candidates?

The song mentioned in the OP was the exact song I thought of when I saw the title of the thread. “Hot Stuff” and “Bad Girls” both have amazing guitar solos. But both songs are arguably “rock”, albeit rock with a heavy dance beat.

My nominee is Kazumi Watanabe’s amazing solo on Ryuchi Sakamoto’s “Thousand Knives”.

*Classical Gas
Dueling Banjos
Come to think of it, a bunch of bluegrass music.

I vote for Stevie Ray Vaughn’s guitar in Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”, because that particular Bowie song is pop.

Pretty much anything by Parliment or Funkadelic.

Won’t even start with the blues since that should be self evident.

Maybe we ought to talk about what “rock” is, because I would have thought “Let’s Dance” would be rock, even if it is also pop. If something is pop, is it automatically not rock?

Yeah, I would put “Let’s Dance” somewhere in the rock spectrum. Well, dancy kind of rock. “Pop” is not automatically rock, though. Pop can be anything. It’s just popular music.

Eddie Van Halen rocking out in Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean”

“Beat It”, as I’m sure you meant. Probably the prime example of a famous rock guitarist appearing on a pop track, but again it is at the rockier end of the Michael Jackson spectrum.

Please allow me to formally submit my “D’oh!”.

I hope these qualify: Ernie Isley of The Isley Brothers, and Tony Peluso on The Carpenter’s ‘Calling Occupants Of Interplantery Craft.’ ETA: and ‘Goodbye To Love’.

These Michael Jackson songs fit my personal definition of rock but I’ll put them forward because Michael himself is not generally considered a rock artist:

‘Beat It’ from Thriller - guitar by Eddie Van Halen
‘Dirty Diana’ from Bad - guitar by Steve Stevens
‘Give In To Me’ from Dangerous and ‘D.S.’ from HIStory - guitar by Slash

plus ‘Black Cat’ from Rhythm Nation 1814 by his sister Janet.

This is what I thought of when I saw the thread title.

The one I first thought of. Comes out of nowhere, and is totally out of place with the rest of the song. But definitely fits the criterion of the OP.


That’s a cover of a Klaatu song. They were a rock band (ostensibly).


The Summer The Slum by the Five Royales, an R&B tune from 1958, specifically the solo beginning at 1:17.

The first thing I thought of was Eddie Van Halen on “Beat it.” Kind of the canonical example (and EVH was seen as edgier at that time than he is now).