MARTY FRIEDMAN Clarifies Recent Comments About 'Traditional Guitar Solos' Dying 'A Slow And Painful Death'

March 7, 2024

Former MEGADETH guitarist Marty Friedman has clarified his recent comments in which he said that hoped the traditional guitar solo would die "a slow and painful death".

In an interview that was originally conducted in October 2023 and then published in the March 2024 print issue of Guitar World, Marty stated about his approach to soloing: "Usually, the lead guitarist comes in, gets an eight-bar solo, plays a bunch of stupid licks, maybe adds something hot and fancy that will impress, and then they get out. But I'm replacing the vocalist when I'm soloing, meaning I sing with my guitar. So, rather than saying, 'Here's the obligatory eight-bar solo,' if necessary, I'll be selfish because that's exactly what I want instead of a boring old solo."

He added: "I hope the traditional guitar solo dies a slow and painful death. Guitar solos need to be inventive. They need something to keep listeners involved, especially those who are not learning to play and only listen. Because when you're learning to play, you tend to be impressed with anything you can't do, right? And if you're young and just catching the guitar bug, that excitement can be magical. It's, like, 'How do they do that!?' That element is awesome… but it means less than zero in everyone else's eyes."

After the Guitar World interview came out, Friedman claimed that his words were misconstrued, leading him to disavow the original feature via X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, and the accompanying news article. In response, Guitar World sought to clear the air by conducting a follow-up interview on March 5 in which he discussed in depth his feelings about what a guitar solo should be in the 21st century, along with a host of other topics.

Asked to clarify once and for all if guitar solos they dead and whether he hopes the traditional solo dies, Marty said: "I'm not going to give you any kind of sensational headline in this answer. [Laughs] You know, as long as people exist, people are going to want to hear music that makes them feel good. So, whatever instruments it takes to get there are what the instruments are going to be. And if guitar solos evolve into something that modern people can enjoy, then that's how it's going to be."

He continued: "I try to do my best. In my music, if you listen to my music, they've [solos] always played a purpose of trying to make you feel something when you're listening to the entire piece of music. That's all I can do. At the end of the day, it's the listeners who decide whether, you know, a particular instrument is in vogue or not. But for us as guitarists, we all hope that it continues to thrive; it lasted longer than the sax did, and that's a good thing. But I love the sax solos of the '50s, especially the sax solos of a guy named Jimmy Wright, who was just, like, the craziest sax player. And he was just like, I don’t know — like Eddie Van Halen of sax in the '50s. I don't know how to describe it, but back then, sax was the guitar. And now, it's still guitar, but it's our responsibility to do things that draw people to want to listen to our instrument. And that's really where I stand on this very, very important topic."

Marty recently completed recording his new solo album for a tentative late 2024 release.

He previously described the upcoming LP as similar to his 1992 effort "Scenes". "It's kind of in that vein, but much more modern," he explained. "And it's got all the things that I've added to my musical — I don't know how to say it — palette, or what I'm trying to do musically. It's basically a grown-up version of 'Scenes', really."

Marty's latest album, "Tokyo Jukebox 3", came out in April 2021 via The Players Club/Mascot Label Group. The record, which was made available in Japan in October 2020, is the third in a series that began with "Tokyo Jukebox" in 2009, and then "Tokyo Jukebox 2" following in 2011. The trilogy presents Friedman's inspired performances to Japanese repertoire he's chosen to cover.

Marty's presence in the world of music, the world of guitar and Japanese pop culture is mystifying, bizarre, and nothing short of inspiring. His first major impact in music was in the game-changing guitar duo CACOPHONY, which he founded with equally enigmatic and now-legendary guitarist Jason Becker. He then spent 10 years as lead guitarist in the genre-defining thrash metal act MEGADETH before moving to Tokyo due to his love for Japanese music, language, and culture.

Following his move, he landed a starring role for a new TV comedy "Hebimeta-san" ("Mr. Heavy Metal") and its spinoff, "Rock Fujiyama", which ran for six seasons and propelled him into the living rooms of Japan's mainstream. He has since appeared in over 800 TV shows, movies and commercials, including a two-year campaign with Coca-Cola for Fanta, authored two best-selling novels and was the first-ever foreigner to be appointed as an ambassador of Japan heritage and perform at the opening ceremony for the Tokyo Marathon in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2022.

At the same time, Marty has continued his career in music with several solo albums in addition to writing and performing with the top artists in Japanese music, racking up countless chart hits, including a No. 1 with SMAP, two No. 2 songs with MOMOIRO CLOVER, a No. 2 with SOUND HORIZON — just to name a few.

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