15 absolutely virtuoso performances from rock and roll history

Rock and roll lends itself to great individual performances and here are 15 of the best.
Thin Lizzy At The Marquee
Thin Lizzy At The Marquee / Michael Putland/GettyImages
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I’ll admit it. I’m a song guy. I like old-fashioned, well-constructed songs. Something with a couple of good hooks, and clever lyrics. Something I can sing along to. (In the privacy of my car, shower, or man cave, because I can’t sing.) That may not seem like much of an admission, but I have become aware over the years that other people gravitate toward different types of musical artists because they are looking for something different.

Perhaps you are one of those fans. Perhaps you seek a more immersive audio experience in which sounds envelop you. Maybe you don’t even like “songs” at all. At least not songs with lyrics and choruses and recognizable structure. Maybe you just chill out with “Beck’s Bolero” or bang your head to “Orion.”  For the record, I have done both of those things, but more often than not, I am chilling to John Prine, or banging to Husker Du. You know – songs.

There’s no right or wrong answer to how you enjoy the music you enjoy. But I think there is value in stepping outside your comfort foods every so often to engage another piece of your brain, heart, or ears – whatever organ(s) you listen with.

These rock and roll performances are not to be missed

And I’ll start. Today, I want to mention 15 absolutely virtuoso performances in rock & roll that have little to do with the song in question. Instead, they are all about musical artistry. Here’s how it will work.

I’m choosing four instruments – the four basic instruments that make up a rock & roll band’s arsenal. Voice, guitar, bass, drum. I will pick three stellar performances that show off the length and breadth of what outstanding musicians can achieve. That adds up to twelve. (Let me check that for a moment. I don’t want to take anything for granted here. I just watched Rory McIlroy blow the U. S.  Open by taking short putts for granted. Four times three – yep, that’s twelve.)

Then I have three more miscellaneous instruments. Because rock bands use other miscellaneous instruments.  That gets us to fifteen. As with all of these lists, I am not saying these are the absolute best performances of all time. I’m just saying they are pretty darn spectacular.

Oh, and I decided to add a little variety, so I tried to vary the musical genres represented, and in each group, I looked for at least one entry a bit off the beaten path. So some of these are fairly well-known and popular, while others – not so much.

Let’s start with the one sure to cause brawls at your local club or frat house.