Raff not included

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.



  1. Jeffro »

    28 November 2009 · 2:10 pm

    Well, my musical knowledge could be placed on the head of a pin, leaving a lot of room for angels –

    I’d include “Train Kept A-Rollin'” just because so many have covered it and it’s recognizable. The good bar bands back in the day played it. I’m partial to the Yardbirds’ and Aerosmith’s renditions.

  2. smitty »

    28 November 2009 · 4:34 pm

    I demand Joe

  3. CGHill »

    28 November 2009 · 5:02 pm

    As Hendrix disciples go, he’s definitely among the most original. (At the other extreme: Frank Marino of Mahogany Rush, who is highly derivative but still enjoyable.)

  4. Jim - PRS »

    29 November 2009 · 1:27 am

    Mark Knopfler “Money for Nothing” comes to mind. If I think about this for five minutes, I could probably add a dozen more.

  5. Mark Alger »

    29 November 2009 · 8:46 am

    The list looks to me like one of those where the top vote-getters were those everybody recognized, rather than the most-meritorious.

    It may be sacrilege to say so, but I’m of the opinion that Hendrix has long ago been overtaken by his admirers, especially in quantity. Stevie Ray Vaughan comes to mind, but also Hendrix contemporary, Robin Trower. I’d also vote plus-one on Marino.


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