I was making brunch in the kitchen this morning when I heard an interview of Alex Chadwick on NPR’s Weekend Edition. He’s a wonderfully talented guitarist from Chicago, who performed 100 riffs on his guitar, all in one fluid take, and in so doing, takes us through a brief history of Rock N’ Roll from 1952 to today. He’s featured on YouTube. (Please put your speakers on full if you like this sort of thing.)
You will go through memory lane with the earlier snippets like: Mr. Sandman, Johnny Be Goode, Rumble, Summertime Blues, Pipeline, Miserlou, and Wipeout. Then there’s the group after with Day Tripper (Beatles), Satisfaction (Rolling Stones), Black Magic Woman (Santana), Communication Breakdown (Led Zeppelin). There were some more familiar ones like Layla, Fortunate Sun, Bohemian Rhapsody, Strangehold, Don’t Fear the Reaper, and Barracuda.
Interestingly, Beat It by Michael Jackson made it to the cut. At least he included a U2 song (Where the Streets Have No Name), one of my all-time favorite bands, and Guns N Roses (Welcome to the Jungle). He had two Red Hot Chili Pepper songs, Give It Away and Scar Tissue (played sweetly). Sex and Candy by Marcy Playground was in and so was Seven Nation Army (White Stripes). And towards the end, I was entertained by his version of Are You Gonna Be My Girl by the Jets (The song Louie said he’ll sing to me in his PJs) and Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day, another favorite band.
Quite visibly absent was Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin. Alex was asked if this is true among guitarists, especially those who work in guitar stores. And yes, it is! If you will recall, in the movie Wayne’s World, the character of Mike Myers sees as sign while in a guitar store that says, “No Playing Stairway to Heaven.” Hahaha!
There you have it! Do take a few minutes to listen if you are so inclined to these quirky inclinations. Alex deserves a standing ovation!
P.S. While looking into guitar riffs, I came across guitar licks. Are you as confused as I am? Being a novice in these terms, I looked it up. I found out that a “lick” in jazz or rock is like a patter or a phrase, a series of notes used in solos or melodic lines. A “riff,” although related is more a repeated progression of chords.
- A History Of Rock And Roll, As Told Through 100 Riffs Selected By A Guitar Store Employee Who Really Likes Jack White (blogs.villagevoice.com)
- Alex Chadwick, Chicago Music Exchange Guitarist, Offers Rock History Lesson In 100 Riffs (VIDEO) (Huffingtonpost.com)
- 100 Riffs: A Brief History of Rock N’ Roll (milkandcookies.com)
- Sixty Years of Rock N’ Roll Summed Up in 100 Famous Guitar Riffs [Video] (gawker.com)
- The history of rock ‘n roll in 100 riffs (holykaw.alltop.com)
- 100 Guitar Riffs In 12 Minutes: A Brief History of Rock-N-Roll (treeofmamre.wordpress.com)