The U.K. has provided the world with some of the greatest rockers of all time. The Beatles (to start), the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Blur, Pink Floyd, Arctic Monkeys, the Sex Pistols, Daft Punk, Clash, Elton John, Radiohead, I mean the list goes on. It stands to reason that they would know a great guitar riff when they hear one, which is exactly what listeners of BBC Radio 2 have voted on this past Monday, August 25th, 2014. The winner for best guitar riff goes to…. Led Zeppelin! The song that takes the honors is “Whole Lotta Love,” which frontman Jimmy Page said, “knocked him out.” He told BBC News, “I wanted a riff that really moved, that people would really get, and would bring a smile to their faces, but when I played it with the band, it really went into overdrive. There was this intent to have this riff and the movement of it, so it was menacing as well as quite sort of caressing.” Page couldn’t have pulled it off without bandmates Robert Plant and John Bonham.
The vote was was done out of 100 riffs, including ones from The Beatles, Daft Punk, Pink Floyd, and Arctic Monkeys, selected by a panel made of up of music critics, record producers, Radio 2, and six DJs. Voting closed on July 25th. Panellist and record producer Steve Levine said, “Whole Lotta Love is one of the most important guitar riffs of the 20th century. The moment you hear literally two notes of it, you know exactly what it is.” Superior guitar riffs could explain why so many artists and bands following the peak years of Led Zeppelin sound familiar, and often just plain similar to Led Zeppelin, including Thee Oh Sees, Kings of Leon, Radiohead, Queens of the Stone Age, Jack White, Jake Bugg, White Denim, Fleet Foxes, Tame Impala, The Black Keys, and Gary Clark Jr. to name only a few.
The following bands are the proud owners of the top ten guitar riffs of all time:
1. “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin
2. “Sweet Child O’Mine” by Guns’N’Roses
3. “Back in Black” by AC / DC
4. “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple
5. “Layla” by Derek and The Dominoes
6. “How Soon is Now?” by The Smiths
7. “Down Down” by Status Quo
8. “Money for Nothing” by Dire Straits
9. “You Really Got Me” by The Kinks
10. “Money” by Pink Floyd