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100 Famous Guitar Riffs August 28, 2009

Posted by Michael in Music.

This is amazing.

Wait a frickin’ minute. Did he just do 100 famous guitar riffs with no Santana? Which number was Santana?!?

If he did Santana, I missed it.

UPDATE: I listened twice, and I still didn’t hear Santana! How can you do 100 famous guitar riffs and skip Santana? Jeebers, that’s almost as bad as skipping Clapton — which he did not do, Clapton appears at #5 (Layla) and #30 (Sunshine Of Your Love).

I mean, dang. I think that’s Dave Matthews at #3, and he is just an average rhythm guitar, plus Iron Butterfly at #36 is so dull it does not even deserve to be called a “riff.”


Oh well, at least Mark Knopfler finally showed up at #82 (Sultans of Swing). Probably the best riff ever. I also like that he got some real vintage classics in there, like the riff from House of the Rising Sun (Dylan, Eric Burden and the Animals, others). See if you youngsters can recognize which one that is.


1. Enas Yorl - August 28, 2009

He really, really likes to do the last one.

2. Michael - August 28, 2009

#49 is Rick Derringer’s riff from Rock ‘n Roll Hootchie Coo. That’s both antique and obscure, but I really like that riff.

3. Larry - August 29, 2009

Big Van Halen fan, he. Was that five or six I counted? One of those could be attributed to Roy Orbison as well, of course.

4. Larry - August 29, 2009

Oh…and one of those Van Halens was a Kinks, too.

5. pendejo grande - August 29, 2009

Kinda like playing that ‘Name That Tune’ game show from the fifties or sixties or whatever. About the time I started getting a whiff on some of those he moved on to the next one.

I never thought of Deep Purple’s “Hey Joe” as being a famous song.

Thought maybe the opening riff from Heart’s “Barracuda” might crack the list.

Otherwise, very entertaining.

6. Vmaximus - August 29, 2009

Or DP’s Smoke on the water. Doesn’t everyone play that in the 1st 5 min of picking up a guitar?
I heard 2 or 3 ZZ Top. NTTAWWT. I like ZZ

7. Michael - August 29, 2009

Dave can’t name any of these, of course, because he plays the bass. Bass players pretty much just stand in the back and thump out notes at random. The bass guitar is basically a percussion instrument for people who don’t have the manual dexterity to play drums.

He did “Pretty Woman” at #66. Another classic. I can’t figure out #67.

8. Michael - August 29, 2009

#66 is “Pretty Woman.”

#67 is killing me. I recognize it, but can’t place it. It’s so brief.

9. Michael - August 29, 2009

OK, I got it.

#67 is “Day Tripper.”

10. Enas Yorl - August 29, 2009

Yah 67 sounds vaguely familiar, but I can’t place it either.
Heh, this are actually only 99 riffs and/or licks here. He’s smelling like teen spirit on 11 and 70.

11. Enas Yorl - August 29, 2009

this are = there are

12. Jeff M - August 29, 2009

“Hey Joe” was played by a number of people. Since he played five or six other Hendrix riffs, I’m going to assume that was the version he was playing.

And “House of the Rising Sun” was number 95.

13. Michael - August 29, 2009

And “House of the Rising Sun” was number 95.

Congrats to you, Jeff M. You win the contest!

C’mere, and I’ll tie a blue ribbon to your walker.

14. Russ from Winterset - August 29, 2009

What? No Hound Dog Taylor? Heretic.

He did seem to have a bit of a preference for Van Halen, which is OK. I also heard “Hells Bells” from AC/DC, but isn’t the opening riff from “You Shook Me All Night Long” more of their signature? Or maybe even “Highway to Hell” or “She Got The Jack”?

#99 was purely mandatory. Any list of riffs omitting that one is just itching for a beatdown.

15. Michael - August 29, 2009

We are still lacking a Santana riff in there anywhere.

That’s just wrong.

16. Michael - August 29, 2009

What was #100?

I think I have heard it, but I have no idea what that was.

17. Russ from Winterset - August 29, 2009

Wasn’t that “Eruption” from Van Halen?

18. Michael - August 29, 2009

Beats me. I’ve never really paid attention to Van Halen.

19. Michael - August 29, 2009

It seems to me that #38, “Don’t Fear The Reaper,” should have been included with the softer stuff at the end where he ditches the finger pick at #96 to do “Dust in the Wind” and “Rhiannon” with meat on the strings.

20. skinbad - August 29, 2009
21. skinbad - August 29, 2009

Black Magic Woman #6. He gave it short shrift.

22. Russ from Winterset - August 30, 2009

#60 was the theme from “King of the Hill”. Excellent choice.

23. Mac - August 30, 2009

#38 needed more cowbell

24. Jones in CO - August 31, 2009

First of all, the guy played 2 Kansas riffs. KANSAS. But he has mad skillz so I’ll let it go.

I was waiting for a CCR riff- maybe the opening to ‘Proud Mary’- but the closest Guitarzan got was ‘Suzie Q’ which CCR covered on their first album; had a minor hit with it, as I recall.

25. daveintexas - August 31, 2009


Funny you would mention “Pretty Woman”, since the bass doubles the lead guitar riff.

But then that’s the sort of thing a clarinet player really wouldn’t know.

26. Michael - August 31, 2009

Actually, Dave, I almost always make a point of listening to the bass line in a bar band, and I appreciate the good ones, i.e., the ones who are actually playing music and are not just what I call “thumpers.”

27. Don Miguel - September 4, 2009

FYI, the “Sunshine of Your Love” riff is actually a Jack Bruce riff, not Clapton’s. Clapton wrote the chorus.

And yes, Michael — #67 is “Day Tripper.”

28. educated - September 16, 2009

Excuse me. #6 is Santana. DUH Black Magic Woman… come on… it’s really short, but def Santana.

And I cheated http://www.brodiecumming.com/events.html

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