Some web poll purports to list the Top 20 Guitar Riffs, and it’s probably not as arguable as it could have been; I don’t know if I’d put Hendrix’ grinder from “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)” at the very top, but then again, most of what Jimi did wasn’t all that riff-driven, “Purple Haze” being the major exception.
As for the rest, well, even those of us who have no business even being in the same room with a guitar have picked out some of them before. A few I’d add, were this my list:
- The Kingsmen, “Louie Louie”
- The Rolling Stones, “Gimme Shelter”
- J. J. Jackson, “But It’s Alright”
- Jethro Tull, “To Cry You a Song”
- Rick James, “Super Freak”
- The Kinks, “All Day and All of the Night”
- Marvin Gaye, “I’ll Be Doggone” (probably played by Marv Tarplin)
- The Move (and later, ELO), “Do Ya”
Riffs, of course, predate rock guitar; Bird was thriving on one back in the Forties.