THE GUITAR RIFF
Verb play riffs.
A guitar riff is defined as a cluster or sequence of notes or chords that is used in a song. It can be repeated over and over again, or it may only be heard once in, say, a lead guitar solo. Riffs can be minor decorative elements or they can be the basis of a song. Many riffs are very memorable — they usually are the most immediately recognizable thing about a song — and that is why they are so important. I recently watched a great BBC4 documentary on the guitar riff and its history. As well as being very informative it was a great insight into a very important musical instrument. To me the guitar is the best musical instrument and I would love to be able to play it. There are endless lists of best guitarists, too many actually I found out when trying to narrow it down. From our very own Mark Knofler to Slash, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Dave Davies and Brian May the lists are endless. But after a little bit of data analysis I seem to have been able to find an average. The 5 chosen are not my choices but what the world deems as the best guitarists. We all have our own views and I am not a musical specialist. I know what I like and so from the 5 top artists on average I have chosen my 5 tracks I like them playing/singing. Take time if you can to watch this programme its good I enjoyed it.
As they say ‘The Riff is the DNA of Rock and Roll’
CHUCK BERRY – JOHNNY B. GOODE
Charles Edward Anderson “Chuck” Berry was born 1926 in St Louis. America. Guitarist, singer and songwriter, and one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. Berry has refined and developed rhythm and blues into the major elements that made rock and roll distinctive. His utilizing guitar solos and showmanship that would be a major influence on subsequent rock music. Born into a middle-class family in St. Louis, Missouri, Berry had an interest in music from an early age and gave his first public performance at Sumner High School. By early 1953, influenced by the guitar riffs and showmanship techniques of blues player T-Bone Walker, Berry began performing with the Johnnie Johnson Trio. His break came when he travelled to Chicago in May 1955, and met Muddy Waters, who suggested he contact Leonard Chess of Chess Records. With Chess he recorded “Maybellene”—Berry’s adaptation of the country song “Ida Red”—which sold over a million copies, reaching number one on Billboard’s Rhythm and Blues chart. By the end of the 1950s, Berry was an established star with several hit records and film appearances to his name as well as a lucrative touring career. He had also established his own St. Louis-based nightclub, called Berry’s Club Bandstand. Berry was among the first musicians to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on its opening in 1986, with the comment that he “laid the groundwork for not only a rock and roll sound but a rock and roll stance.” Though not technically accomplished, his guitar style is distinctive—he incorporated electronic effects to mimic the sound of bottleneck blues guitarists, and drew on the influence of guitar players such as Charlie Christian and T-Bone Walker to produce a clear and exciting sound that many later guitar musicians would acknowledge as a major influence in their own style. Berry’s showmanship has been influential on other rock guitar players, particularly his one-legged hop routine, and the “duck walk”, which he first used as a child when he walked “stooping with full-bended knees, but with my back and head vertical” under a table to retrieve a ball and his family found it entertaining; he used it when “performing in New York for the first time and some journalist branded it the duck walk.” John Lennon is quoted in saying , “if you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry’
“Johnny B. Goode” is a 1958 rock and roll song written and originally performed by Chuck Berry. The song was a major hit among both black and white audiences peaking at #2 on Billboard. The song is one of Berry’s most famous recordings, has been covered by many artists, and has received several honours and accolades. It is also considered to be one of the most recognizable songs in music history. The song is ranked as number seven on Rolling Stone’s list of “the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”
Great song and one of those intros that everyone knows and makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up on end. Chuck is an iconic performer and set a standard for true rock n roll.
JIMI HENDRIX – PURPLE HAZE
James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix born, 1942 was an American musician, guitarist, singer, and songwriter. Although his mainstream career spanned only four years, he is widely regarded as one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music, and one of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame describes him as “arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music”. Born in Seattle, Washington, Hendrix began playing guitar at the age of 15. At Horace Mann Elementary School in Seattle during the mid-1950s, Hendrix’s habit of carrying a broom with him to emulate a guitar gained the attention of the school’s social worker. After more than a year of his clinging to a broom like a security blanket, she wrote a letter requesting school funding intended for underprivileged children, insisting that leaving him without a guitar might result in psychological damage. Her efforts failed, and Al refused to buy him a guitar. In 1957, while helping his father with a side-job, Hendrix found a ukulele amongst the garbage that they were removing from an older woman’s home. She told him that he could keep the instrument, which had only one string. Learning by ear, he played single notes, following along to Elvis Presley songs. In mid-1958, at age 15, Hendrix acquired his first acoustic guitar, for $5. Hendrix earnestly applied himself, playing the instrument for several hours daily, watching others and getting tips from more experienced guitarists, and listening to blues artists such as Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf, and Robert Johnson. The first tune Hendrix learned how to play was the theme from Peter Gunn.
It wasn’t so much that Hendrix was more technically accomplished than his peers. It was just that he made it all seem so much more natural. Effortlessly creative and cooler than any guitarist you care to mention, he embodied the music he performed. Hendrix was inspired musically by American rock and roll and electric blues. He favoured overdriven amplifiers with high volume and gain, and was instrumental in developing the previously undesirable technique of guitar amplifier feedback. He helped to popularise the use of a wah-wah pedal in mainstream rock, and was the first artist to use stereophonic phasing effects in music recordings. Holly George-Warren of Rolling Stone commented: “Hendrix pioneered the use of the instrument as an electronic sound source. Players before him had experimented with feedback and distortion, but Hendrix turned those effects and others into a controlled, fluid vocabulary every bit as personal as the blues with which he began.”
Purple Haze is from the ‘ From ‘Are You Experienced’ album 1967. It never charted in America, yet definitely became part of our cultural lexicon, inspiring everything from a brand of LSD to an unforgettable scene in the cult classic flick ‘Apocalypse Now.’ It also landed at No. 17 on Rolling Stone magazine’s tally of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.Funky psychedelic sound with great guitar what more could you wan, s’cuse me while I kiss the sky…………..
KEITH RICHARDS – ROLLING STONES – (I CAN’T GET NO) SATISFACTION
Keith Richards born 1943 is an English musician, singer and songwriter, and one of the original members of the English rock band the Rolling Stones. Rolling Stone magazine credited Richards for “rock’s greatest single body of riffs” on guitar and ranked him 4th on its list of 100 best guitarists. Fourteen songs Richards wrote with the Rolling Stones’ lead vocalist Mick Jagger are listed among Rolling Stone magazine’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” Richards’ guitar playing “direct, incisive and unpretentious”. Richards says he is focused on chords and rhythms while avoiding flamboyant and competitive virtuosity by not trying to be the “fastest gun in the west”. Richards prefers teaming with at least one other guitarist and has almost never toured without one. Chuck Berry has been an inspiration for Richards and with Jagger, he introduced Berry’s songs to the Rolling Stones’ early repertoire. In the late 1960s Jones’ declining contributions led Richards to record all guitar parts on many tracks, including slide guitar. Richards regards acoustic guitar as the basis for his playing, believing that the limitations of electric guitar would cause him to “lose that touch” if he stopped playing an acoustic. Richards plays acoustic guitar on many Rolling Stones’ tracks, including “Play with Fire”, “Brown Sugar” and “Angie”. All guitars on the studio versions of “Street Fighting Man” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” feature acoustic guitars overloaded to a cassette recorder which were then reamped through a loudspeaker in the studio.
“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” is a song by the English rock band The Rolling Stones, released in 1965. It was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards and produced by Andrew Loog Oldham. Richards’ three-note guitar riff – intended to be replaced by horns – opens and drives the song. The lyrics refer to sexual frustration and commercialism. In the UK, the song initially played only on pirate radio stations because its lyrics were considered too sexually suggestive. In Britain, the single was released in August 1965; it became the Rolling Stones’ fourth number one in the United Kingdom. The song opens with the guitar riff, which is joined by the bass halfway through. It is repeated three times with the drums and acoustic guitar before the vocal enters with the line: “I can’t get no satisfaction”. The title line is an example of a negative concord. Jagger sings the verses in a tone hovering between cynical commentary and frustrated protest, and then leaps half singing and half yelling into the chorus, where the guitar riff reappears. This song is a reason people will pay thousands to see Keith Richards play. Granted, this is no longer a man at the height of his powers, but it is a man who has penned an astonishing, enduring array of riffs and songs. His guitar playing has been consistently innovative, and his use of alternate tunings lies at the heart of the Stones’s sound. Another track that is instantly recognisable from the first riff
B KING – LUCILLE
B.B. King – Born 1926 From Indianola, Mississippi, Riley B. King was immersed in the blues from the beginning. His minimal style and clean phrasing have influenced generations of guitarists. Now 87, the king of the blues still appears in around 100 shows a year. King “introduced a sophisticated style of soloing based on fluid string bending and shimmering vibrato that would influence virtually every electric blues guitarist that followed.” King was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. King was also inducted into 2014 class of the R&B Music Hall of Fame. He is considered one of the most influential blues musicians of all time, earning the nickname “The King of Blues”, and one of the “Three Kings of the Blues Guitar” (along with Albert King and Freddie King). King is also known for performing tirelessly throughout his musical career, appearing at 250-300 concerts per year until his seventies. In 1956 it was noted that he appeared at 342 shows. King continues to appear at 100 shows a year. Over the years, King has developed one of the world’s most identifiable guitar styles. He borrowed from Blind Lemon Jefferson, T-Bone Walker and others, integrating his precise and complex vocal-like string bends and his left hand vibrato, both of which have become indispensable components of rock guitarists’ vocabulary. His economy and phrasing has been a model for thousands of players. King has mixed blues, jazz, swing, mainstream pop and jump into a unique sound. In King’s words, “When I sing, I play in my mind; the minute I stop singing orally, I start to sing by playing Lucille.” Lucille being his guitar.
Lucille is the name given to B.B. King’s guitars. They are usually black Gibson guitars similar to the ES-355. .B.B. King wrote a song called “Lucille” in which he talks about his guitar and how it got its name. The song was first released as part of Lucille and is included on the B. B. King Anthology 1962–1998 album In the winter of 1949, King played at a dance hall in Twist, Arkansas. In order to heat the hall, a barrel half-filled with kerosene was lit, a fairly common practice at the time. During a performance, two men began to fight, knocking over the burning barrel and sending burning fuel across the floor. The hall burst into flames, and the building was evacuated. Once outside, King realized that he had left his guitar inside so he went back into the burning building to retrieve his beloved $30 Gibson guitar. Two men died in the fire, and King learned the next day that they had been fighting over a woman named Lucille. King subsequently named that first guitar Lucille, as well as every guitar he has owned since, as a reminder never again to do something as stupid as run into a burning building or fight over women. Great story and what better way to tell your story when you’re the King of the Blues.
ERIC CLAPTON –LAYLA
Eric Clapton – The only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Clapton revolutionised the way guitar was played, introducing feedback, sustain and – more importantly – volume. His style is indebted to legendary blues guitarists like Buddy Guy, B. B. King and, later, to reggae artists like Bob Marley. Jump to: navigation, search Eric Clapton Eric Patrick Clapton, born 1945 is an English musician, singer-songwriter and guitarist. Clapton has been referred to as one of the most important and influential guitarists of all time. Clapton ranked second in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” and fourth in Gibson’s “Top 50 Guitarists of All Time”. He was also named number five in Time magazine’s list of “The 10 Best Electric Guitar Players” in 2009. In the mid-1960s, Clapton left the Yardbirds to play blues with John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers. Immediately after leaving Mayall, Clapton joined Cream, a power trio with drummer Ginger Baker and bassist Jack Bruce in which Clapton played sustained blues improvisations and “arty, blues-based psychedelic pop”.For most of the 1970s, Clapton’s output bore the influence of the mellow style of JJ Cale and the reggae of Bob Marley. His version of Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff” helped reggae reach a mass market. Two of his most popular recordings were “Layla”, recorded while he was a member of band Derek and the Dominos; and Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads”, recorded by band Cream. Following the death of his son Conor in 1991, Clapton’s grief was expressed in the song “Tears in Heaven”, which featured in his Unplugged album. In 1998, Clapton, a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, founded the Crossroads Centre on Antigua, a medical facility for recovering substance abusers.
Layla” is a song written by Eric Clapton and Jim Gordon, originally released by their blues rock band Derek and the Dominos, as the thirteenth track from their album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs 1970. It is considered one of rock music’s definitive love songs, featuring an unmistakable guitar figure played by Eric Clapton and Duane Allman, and a piano coda that comprises the second half of the song. Its famously contrasting movements were composed separately by Clapton and Gordon.The song was inspired by the classical poet of Persian literature, Nizami Ganjavi’s The Story of Layla and Majnun, a copy of which Ian Dallas had given to Clapton. The book moved Clapton profoundly, as it was the tale of a young man who fell hopelessly in love with a beautiful, unavailable woman and who went crazy because he could not marry her. The song was further inspired by Clapton’s then unrequited love for Pattie Boyd, the wife of his friend and fellow musician George Harrison. “Layla” was unsuccessful on its initial release. The song has since experienced great critical and popular acclaim, and is often hailed as being among the greatest rock songs of all time. Two versions have achieved chart success, the first in 1972 and the second (without the piano coda) 20 years later as an acoustic “Unplugged” performance by Clapton. In 2004, “Layla” was ranked number 27 on Rolling Stone ’s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”, and the acoustic version won the 1993 Grammy Award for Best Rock Song.