In terms of underrated guitarists in rock history, Dave Navarro ranks near the very top of the list. The man who provided memorable licks for Jane’s Addiction and Red Hot Chili Peppers remains criminally under the radar, especially when you look closer at some of his greatest hits.
Maybe the gentle acoustic strums of ‘Jane Says’ have clouded most casual fans’ perceptions, but don’t let the occasional laid-back moment fool you: Navarro is a shredder. During a time when heave metal bands prided themselves on speed and fluidity, Jane’s Addiction was creating a strange blend of rock, funk, metal, and pop that just so happened to be accentuated with screaming lead guitar.
It’s not hard to find, either. Major hits like ‘Been Caught Stealing’ and ‘Mountain Song’ have Navarro’s face-melting licks right up front, while fan favourites like ‘Three Days’ and ‘Ocean Size’ show off Navarro’s unmatched abilities to change dynamics, speed, and style at the drop of a hat. Even though Jane’s only had two albums before splintering during their initial heyday, Navarro somehow packed in an entire career’s worth of memorable riffs over the course of just two hours.
If there’s one song that proves just how technically gifted Navarro is, though, it has to be ‘Stop’. Fusing dissonant chord shapes with wild wah-wah solos and mind-boggling string runs, ‘Stop’ is as densely packed a song can be while retaining enough earworm punch to become a staple on alt-rock radio. It’s amazing that Navarro’s furious fretwork doesn’t overshadow the entire song, but it all fits in perfectly.
He’s lost none of his shedding ability with age, either. That’s proven by the footage of him opening up Jane’s Addiction’s set at the 2016 Lollapalooza Festival with an air-tight version of ‘Stop’. Navarro nails all the intricate parts of the song, including the wild solo that leads into the vocal breakdown, with the added pressure of having a GoPro attached to his guitar’s headstock. If he messed up, someone would have easily caught it. Instead, he’s right on the money for every single note.
Check out the footage of Navarro playing ‘Stop’ down below.