Power ballads are often treated as the Rodney Dangerfield of rock music, getting little respect. At their best, however, power ballads offer a litany of virtues: soaring vocals, hot-and-cold musical dynamics, and, more often than not, a guitar solo that supplies the “power” that gives the genre its name. Below are 10 such ballads that would stand tall in any genre. Not surprisingly, each of them features at least one Gibson guitar in the mix.

“Dream On” (Aerosmith)


Forty-five years after its initial release, this debut single from Aerosmith’s first album remains a classic-rock staple. Frontman Steven Tyler said the inspiration for writing it stemmed from memories of curling up beneath the family piano, listening as his father played. Guitarist Joe Perry eventually came appreciate the song’s power. “I didn't really appreciate the musicality of it until later,” he told Classic Rock, in 2002. “But I did know it was a great song, so we put it in our set.”

“All the Young Dudes” (Mott the Hoople)

As every glam-rock aficionado knows, David Bowie took less than an hour to write this anthem for Mott the Hoople, after learning that the group was on the verge of breaking up. Sometimes characterized as the glam-rock equivalent of The Beatles’ “All You Need is Love,” the song in fact boasts a chorus that’s strongly reminiscent of “Hey Jude.” Mott guitarist Mick Ralphs came up with the song’s distinctive six-string intro.

“Day after Day” (Badfinger)


This elegant ballad from Badfinger’s classic 1971 album, Straight Up, sold more than a million copies while reaching #31 on the U.S. singles charts. George Harrison, who produced much of Straight Up before giving way to Todd Rundgren, pitched in with some beautiful slide guitar. "Pete [Ham] and I had done the backing track,” guitarist Joey Molland later revealed, “and George came in the studio and asked if we'd mind if he played. It took hours to get those two guitars in sync."

“Ballad of Dwight Fry” (Alice Cooper)

This creepy 1971 ballad by the original Alice Cooper was an homage, of sorts, to horror-film actor Dwight Frye, who portrayed Renfield in the 1931 Dracula movie. In order to get into character while recording, Cooper asked that folding chairs be piled on top of him as he sang the line, “I wanna get out of here!” repeatedly during the bridge. For the song title, the band dropped the “e” from Frye’s name in order to avoid a potential lawsuit.

“Don’t Look Back in Anger” (Oasis)

This classic single from Oasis’s second album, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, was the first single by the band to feature Noel Gallagher on lead vocals. Gallagher, who also wrote the song, said he thought of it as a cross between “All the Young Dudes” and something The Beatles might have written. Some of the lyrical content was lifted from remembrances that John Lennon had recorded with the intent of putting his memoirs on tape.

“More Than a Feeling” (Boston)


This first single from Boston’s 1976 debut album announced to the world that band leader/guitarist Tom Scholz was a six-string force to be reckoned with. A notoriously diligent, consummate craftsman, Scholz spent five years perfecting the song before he allowed it to see the light of day. The Les Paul devotee has often cited The Left Banke classic, “Walk Away Renee,” as the song’s main inspiration.

“Ziggy Stardust” (David Bowie)

David Bowie’s most famous fictional character was brought fully to life in this propulsive 1972 ballad. Guitarist Mick Ronson, whose versatile six-string work and deft arrangements helped propel Bowie to fame, drives the song forward with slashing chords and a simple-yet-memorable riff. Even longtime Bowie sideman Earl Slick concedes that Ronson was “the best guitar player Bowie ever had.”

“November Rain” (Guns ‘N Roses)

Slash came up with one of his greatest solos for this GNR classic. After playing with elegant restraint through most of the track, he cut loose in the coda with a maelstrom that proved to be the perfect six-string send-off. “When it came time to do the record, I just went into the studio, played the solo through a Les Paul Standard and a Marshall and said, ‘I think that sounds right,’” he later told Guitar World. “It was as simple as that.”

“Ballrooms of Mars” (T.Rex)

Marc Bolan’s guitar playing has tended to get short shrift, but this celestial ballad from the 1972 album, The Slider, puts Bolan’s six-string prowess fully on display. Producer Tony Visconti helped orchestrate the song’s kaleidoscopic guitar solo. “Marc did five takes of the solo, and I could have made a composite from all of them,” he later said. “But instead, I threw up all five faders simultaneously, with all five tracks. Marc and I just looked at each other and said, ‘That’s it. That’s the way it’s going to go down.’”

“Bringin’ on the Heartbreak” (Def Leppard)

Original Def Leppard guitarist Pete Willis was initially embarrassed to play this ballad for the band’s manager, feeling the song was too soft and sappy. Fortunately, other opinions prevailed, and the song went on to help power the band’s High ‘n’ Dry album to multi-platinum sales. Producer Mutt Lange later said he felt Def Leppard was trying to create “a jangly, ‘Stairway to Heaven’ kind of thing.”