The Only No. 1 Beatles Hit That Features a John Lennon Guitar Solo
If you asked someone who played lead guitar in The Beatles, the simple answer would be George Harrison. However, that didn’t mean John Lennon (the rhythm guitarist) wouldn’t take a solo now and then. John had done so in the early days on tracks like “Long Tall Sally” and “You Can’t Do That.”
By the time the Fab Four got to the White Album sessions (1968), the every-man-for-himself situation meant more solos for John. On that double album, you’ll find him taking the lead on “Yer Blues,” “Happiness Is a Warm Gun,” and even Paul McCartney’s “Honey Pie.”
Over the years, only a handful of tracks with guitar solos by John went out on Beatles singles, and they were usually B sides. That happened in the White Album era as well, when Paul’s “Hey Jude” had the heavy version of “Revolution” (with a solo by John) on the B side.
Of all the No. 1 hits by the Beatles in America in the ’60s, only one had a guitar solo by John. And it took until the very end of the decade.
You hear John’s lead on ‘Get Back,’ which hit No. 1 in May 1969.
As per usual with late-’60s Beatles stories, something crazy happened for John to end up playing lead guitar on “Get Back” (a track Paul wrote and sang). During the rehearsals for the song, George had it out with Paul and left the studio claiming he’d quit the band.
In George’s absence, the band had some unproductive jam sessions with Yoko Ono joining in before getting back to work in the following days. With George still gone, they ran through “Get Back” with John learning the lead part and taking the solo.
Later, after George agreed to rejoin the band — at a new venue and with keyboard player Billy Preston coming aboard — John kept playing the lead. When you see the band head to the roof and play their last live set as The Beatles, John is the one taking the solo.
And when the track went out as a single a few months later, it still had John on lead. “Get Back” topped the Billboard charts in May of ’69. On the 7-inch record, fans found a unique credit: “The Beatles With Billy Preston.”
‘Get Back’ featured a Billy Preston organ solo as well.
“Get Back” was the only Beatles single to feature another artist billed alongside the Fab Four. Preston, who performed on several other Let It Be and Abbey Road tracks, more than earned that credit with his sterling electric piano solo on “Get Back.”
On the UK charts, there would be another No. 1 hit that would feature a guitar solo by John. That came the following month (June ’69) on the song he wrote about his wedding, “The Ballad of John and Yoko.”
In that case, John didn’t take the solo because George had left the studio in a huff or anything like that. It just so happened that George and Ringo were out of town when John pulled Paul into the studio to record it in early ’69.