The best rock ‘n roll riff (and possibly the most influential)

Categories Music

I posed a question to my Facebook friends yesterday, what is the best rock n roll riff of all time? I got some great answers, but they were all wrong.

My Facebook friends have some excellent taste in music. Some of their answers were:

Black dog – Led Zeppelin
Knights of Cydonia – Muse
Sultans of swing – Dire Straits
Freebird – Skynyrd
You shook me all night long – ACDC
Yankee Rose – David Lee Roth
American Anthem – Hendrix
Layla – Clapton
When I come around – Green Day
Money for nothing – Dire Straits
More than a feeling – Boston
Echoes – Pink Floyd
Black Betty – Ram Jam
Down by the River – Neil Young.

All very excellent guesses, but they were all wrong. The question came to me whilst listening to an unknown gem, ACDC Riff Raff. The Riff was an aggressive mix of blues and in your face rock. I realised at that point that the classics like this would not have been possible without the best Riff ever, Johnny B Goode by Chuck Berry.

Many of you will be thinking that Chuck Berry is not a rock legend compared to the modern guitar heroes like Slash, Plant and Gilmour. Granted most of his riffs have a similar sound, but let’s examine the facts about how Rock n Roll Chuck Berry was.

  • His biggest guitar idol was Muddy Waters
  • He was arrested on several occasions
  • He once punched Keith Richards for playing his guitar
  • His songs have been covered by basically everyone (Beatles, Rolling Stones, Judas Priest, Beach Boys and Sex Pistols to name a few)
  • The melody of The Beach Boys’ classic ‘Surfin’ USA’ is almost identical to the melody of Chuck’s 1958 classic ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’.
  • Johnny B Goode was played by Marty McFly in Back to the Future
  • Between 1948 and 1955, Berry worked as a janitor at the Fisher Body auto assembly plant, trained to be a hairdresser at the Poro School, freelanced as a photographer, and assisted his father as a carpenter.
  • Chuck always gets paid in cash. He was once caught in Sydney Airport with $50,000 in a suitcase

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