“Non-musicians, who are the majority of the f**king listening world, are not going to remember guitar solos”: Kirk Hammett says average listeners care about songs and melodies, but not so much guitar solos

Even though many of his own solos live long in the memory, the Metallica icon thinks the average listener forgets them.

Kirk Hammett performing live

Credit: Scott Legato/Getty Images

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There have been some, frankly, massive guitar solos this year. But Kirk Hammett has suggested that – aside from musicians and serious guitar aficionados, nobody really remembers them.

Talking to Total Guitar in the mag’s end-of-year issue, the Metallica legend, who himself is responsible for some of metal’s most iconic solos (think One, just before the six-minute mark) says, “I hate to say it for all your readers out there, but non-musicians, who are the majority of the fucking listening world, they are not going to remember guitar solos.

“They are gonna helluva remember a great melody, and they’re really gonna remember a great song – especially a song that’s gonna bring them to a different place from where they were five minutes previously.”

He goes on to discuss the importance of prioritising a song itself over its individual parts, explaining that it was something he learned as a teenager.

He’d been playing guitar alongside his old guitar tech (and erstwhile Metallica fill-in guitarist) John Marshall for a matter of months when he told him that they needed to write “tunes” and gave KISS, Aerosmith and Van Halen as examples of bands who wrote all of their own songs. “So John and I started writing music,” he said. “And it was a load of crap, but it was something!”

At the end of last month, Hammett paid tribute to another of his influences, Killing Joke guitarist Kevin “Geordie” Walker, who died at the age of 64.

He said in an Instagram post, “Been playing old songs for old friends all day. Geordie Walker, RIP. He was a huge influence on me, the way he played that Gibson ES 295 … the way he played. My heart goes out to his friends and family, and his music is being played loud as hell. Killing Joke forever!”

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