History of Rock & Roll In 100 Riffs

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

stratocaster-red-hotFor something different from the news, here is a history of Rock & Roll in 100 riffs.

This repertoire played by accomplished guitarist Alex Chadwick begins with
Mr. Sandman by Chet Atkins and concludes with Cruel  by St. Vincent.

In addition to presenting a tribute toward the changing techniques and styles of pop guitar music, I found it good at predicting which generation the listener belongs based upon where their interest begins and where it wanes. So from the silent generation to millennials, enjoy!


The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.

18 thoughts on “History of Rock & Roll In 100 Riffs”

  1. Greetings, my first time replying, if this goes through.

    Kudos indeed to Mr. Chadwick and thanks Mr. Smith for sharing. Music is always a welcome interlude/diversion for sure.

    I particularly liked the inclusion of Lenny Kravitz. Lots of good ones in there and some I really didn’t know.

    I have to agree with Warspite that although such things are subjective, I did miss having some of the progressive artists. Maybe something from the Moody Blues? And isn’t there a great riff in “Ebony Eyes” by Bob Welch? How about a riff from “Free Ride” by Edgar Winter? And yes, how about something from Bowie – like a riff from my fave Bowie song, “Suffragette City?” And maybe a riff from a song that ALWAYS takes me back – “All Right Now” from Free?

    One thing it also reminds me is that there are so many great songs we never seem to get to hear on the radio anymore. I don’t know about what others hear on their stations, but I get tired of the same few songs over and over…

  2. Zappa could catch Frank. Bring on the next set.


    Pay attention, you expect it.

    1. Zappa belongs as a guitarist, but recognizable riffs?

      Interesting that so few politico-heads know anything about R&R. I guess that explains who bought Billy Joel, Michael Bolten, Chicago, etc., etc.

  3. neighbordave: “I guess the Dead didn’t have any riffs!”

    Actually, the Grateful Dead was represented in this riff compendium. They all just necessarily go by very fast, so any given riff is easy to miss.

    For an interesting quiz, see how many of the riffs you can identify without the benefit of seeing the text.

    1. Leaving out a riff from the Dead would have been fine. The video is sadly deficient on West Coast sound 1967-70, and the Dead hardly fill that spot. Jefferson Airplane or Quicksilver M.S. would have been far better choices than anything courtesy Garcia. Blue Cheer played out of SF and how about a guitarist in a small LA band, the Doors?

      The Grateful Dead? A joke on this list.

  4. neighbordave: “Thanks for sharing. As a client once told me, “It’s no good unless you share it.””

    Well, yes and no . . .

  5. I guess the Dead didn’t have any riffs!
    Someone with some skill should but together a montage of some of the greatest free flowing segments out of songs, just as the riffs were done. Could start with the middle of Sugar Magnolia from Europe 72, Bell Bottom Blues, Almon Bros., Santana, way more available (I know them when I hear them LOL)

  6. Many great guitar riffs here, but too many forgettable ones as well. For some truly amazing guitar playing, however, try the guitar prodigy extraordinaire, Tina S. The young lady has more than 14 million plays of her rendition of Edward Van Halen’s classic solo, “Eruption.” Here’s Tina S. playing her “Vivaldi Tribute”:

  7. I am impressed that anyone can stroll threw those pieces. He must have had a list on the ground in front of him or something. Amazing.

  8. If someone put:

    “Fun-but awfully black and ‘street’ as well”

    does that sound ok?

  9. Cool video. I agree with Warspite, he left out some big ones. Don’t double(or more..) up on those artists and make room for some other names.

    Other than that subjective complaint, I thought he did a great job. From 1- about 80 I only didn’t know one song. Then from there to the end I didn’t know about twelve.

  10. On something so subjective there can never be agreement. Here is what stood out for me as missing:

    Bill Haley, Elvis, The Kinks, Dylan, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Blue Cheer, Pink Floyd w/Syd, Crimson, The Doors, Ten Years After, Bowie, Mott the Hoople, Genesis (w/Hackett), The Faces, Sex Pistols, Richard Thompson, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest Motörhead, Pantera

    I get the R&R HOF’ish distaste for Prog, as dumb as that may be (No Robert Fripp? Come on!). Ditto the fashionable looking askance at Metal, though the playing is supposed to be Rock & Roll.

    The no excuses absences are Elvis, Bowie with Ronson, and the entire West Coast late 60’s. A Garcia lick is representative of nothing. Jorma, John C, Robby Krieger? No Sex Pistols is inexcusable and just plain odd. Ditto no Dave Davies. Especially when stuff from Camper Van Beethoven? Nugent? Kansas? Bon Jovi? Didn’t Camper Van Beethoven just nick from Status Quo?

    Putting in anything from Kansas or Bon Jovi, but nothing by Satriani, Yngwie, Joe B and such? Again, this is supposed to be about R&R, right??

    Kudos for the Mac-Santana linkage nod, and triple kudos regarding the TRex lick, though more than 3 seconds would have been nice. I also appreciated the acknowledgement to post-2000 Metal and Hard Rock.

    Of course, you could put it to 200 licks and people would bitch.

  11. Thanks, Darren. And I am not good w/ colors but did notice the purple font. Our daughter lives in Minneapolis. Despite all his fame, Prince remained a homeboy. I like that.

  12. I am not sure which generation I am from. I liked all styles. But to be square with current American morality I am color blind, deaf, dumb and intelligent but quiet and do not wear intimidating clothing, footwear or arm bands which might offend. I sprech nach except when allowed. If I need information I ask my Missouri mules. Or I consult Merkel.

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