Former Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman shared his opinions about the ‘death of lead guitar’ in a recent interview with VWMusic.
Marty Friedman worked with the heavy metal band Megadeth for ten years between 1990 and 2000. The guitarist first appeared on the band’s ‘Rust In Peace,’ nominated for Grammys, and his last work with the band was ‘Risk,’ released in 2000.
Friedman has also been known for his collaboration with guitar virtuoso Jason Becker from 1986 to 1989. He became a part of Becker’s more than ten albums and tours. The musician currently lives in Japan and is focusing on his solo works.
As a successful guitarist, Friedman shared his opinions about the lack of attention to lead guitar when the interviewer mentioned the subject. Friedman explained that data showed the audiences passed the song when the guitar solo came.
According to the musician, the lead guitar was not dead. However, if the released data was accurate, creators should have given more importance to guitar solos in the songs. The guitarist mentioned that musicians in Japan prioritize the guitar by putting it in every genre of music.
When asked about the lead guitar’s death, Marty Friedman responded:
“I think what happened was, a couple of weeks ago, for some reason, the words’ guitar solo’ was trending on Twitter here in Japan, and I thought that was interesting. So I looked at what it said, and it said something to the effect that with subscription services like Spotify, they’re finding that people have been skipping guitar solos when they listen to the songs.
The data shows that when it gets to the guitar solo, listeners pass it and go on to other songs. I don’t know how this data got collected or if it was just a made-up sound bite, but I thought it was interesting.
Moreso, I thought it was interesting that so many people were talking about it. I put my own two cents on it, and it seems to have gotten people talking to the point that many people have asked me about it here in Japan since then. It’s interesting that it got all the way to you.”
“I don’t think it’s the death of lead guitar, so to speak. But I think if that data is true, and even if it’s fake, it shines a light on the importance of why guitar solos have to be good in the first place. I don’t think if anything was good, it would be passed over. I think what happens here in Japan is not so much in the States, but in Japan, the guitar is very much alive in pop music, rock music, metal music, dance music, everything.
In Japan, the guitar is a staple, so much so that it’s almost like an obligation to have a guitar solo in the song. What happens is a lot of times, producers and music creators are kind of on autopilot. It’s like, ‘Okay, the solo goes here. Let’s just put a solo in here. That’ll be a chance for people to take a break while singing karaoke.’
While it’s good for the overall balance of the song, and it’s just an important tool, what they seem to forget, or what they seem to skimp on, is the quality, the purpose, and the meaningfulness of the guitar solos’ content. It’s more like, ‘Well, it’s time for a solo; let’s just put anything in there.'”
According to Marty Friedman, the lead guitar was still alive, but more attention needed to be given to it, as explained in the interview. As the audience becomes increasingly conscious of their chosen music, the lead guitar has to be in a strong enough position to connect them to the song.