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Iconic rock band’s song is voted ‘best guitar riff of all time’ – beating Prince, Dire Straits and Arctic Monkeys


SWEET Child o’ Mine by Guns n’ Roses is the best guitar riff of all time – more than 35 years after it was released.

A poll of 2,000 music fans saw Prince’s Purple Rain voted in second place, with Sultans of Swing by Dire Straits taking third.

The 'golden age' of the guitar riff was the 1970s, according to the survey

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The ‘golden age’ of the guitar riff was the 1970s, according to the surveyCredit: Reuters
Two-thirds of Brits think the electric guitar is the coolest instrument you can play

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Two-thirds of Brits think the electric guitar is the coolest instrument you can playCredit: SWNS

Among the more modern tunes to feature in the top 40 were Sam Fender’s Seventeen Going Under, Pharell Williams’ Happy and Arctic Monkeys Do I Wanna Know.

The poll was commissioned by Sky Arts ahead of its new show Greatest Guitar Riffs, featuring axe legends Andy Summers, Tony Iommi and Nancy Wilson.

A spokesperson for the show said: “Do not fret – for here is the definitive run down of the great guitar riffs of all time showcasing top masters of the electric six string. It’s the ultimate air guitar play list.

“Whether it’s the late, great Jimi Hendrix, the stalwarts such as Iron Maiden and Led Zeppelin, or the new artists coming through, rock n’ roll will never die.

“There’s new talent coming through constantly. The appetite for new tunes and sweet riffs is as great as it ever has been.”

In fact, the research, carried out by OnePoll, found an overwhelming 83 per cent said they prefer music with guitars in it.

It’s perhaps no surprise 81 per cent said a memorable guitar riff was vital to a good rock song.

Queen’s Brian May was voted the greatest of all time (12 per cent), ahead of the iconic Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton.

Being unique (41 per cent) and helping you identify the song within seconds of it starting (37 per cent) were the other key factors in making a guitar riff great.

Other notable mentions include Mark Knopfler from Dire Straits and the Guns n’ Roses legend Slash.

The ‘golden age’ of the riff was the 1970s, according to 30 per cent of music fans, while 21 per cent felt the 80s had the most to offer.

Worryingly, more than half (53 per cent) said the guitar riff is dying out – with 74 per cent of those believing it’s a bad thing.

But there’s still hope yet, as a whopping 65 per cent felt the guitar is one of the coolest instruments you can play.

The electric guitar is considered the most important instrument to make a song truly great (58 per cent), ahead of the drums (58 per cent) and bass (41 per cent).

A spokesperson for Sky Arts said: “Among music fans, the guitar is absolutely essential to making sure you’re hitting the right notes.

“Across all genres, its impact is undoubted and its coolness unquestionable – as seen by our survey results.

“The new wave of guitarists have a lot to live up to, but we know there’s more great music than ever being made – it’s about making sure you’re looking and listening in the right places.”

GREATEST GUITAR RIFFS OF ALL TIME

  1. “Sweet Child o’ Mine” – Guns N’ Roses
  1. “Purple Rain” – Prince
  1. “Sultans of Swing” – Dire Straits
  1. “Smoke on the Water” – Deep Purple
  1. “Money for Nothing” – Dire Straits
  1. “You Really Got Me” – The Kinks
  1. “Beat It” – Michael Jackson (Eddie Van Halen)
  1. “Every Breath You Take” – The Police
  1. “Walk This Way” – Aerosmith
  1. “Sweet Home Alabama” – Lynyrd Skynyrd
  1. “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” – Rolling Stones
  1. “Born to Be Wild” – Steppenwolf
  1. “Whole Lotta Love” – Led Zeppelin
  1. “Purple Haze” – Jimi Hendrix
  1. “Johnny B. Goode” – Chuck Berry
  1. “Rebel Rebel” – David Bowie
  1. “Seven Nation Army” – The White Stripes
  1. “Day Tripper” – The Beatles
  1. “Back in Black” – AC/DC
  1. “Thunderstruck” – AC/DC

BEST GUITARISTS OF ALL TIME

  1. Brian May (Queen)
  1. Jimi Hendrix
  1. Eric Clapton
  1. Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits)
  1. Slash (Guns N’ Roses)
  1. Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin)
  1. Carlos Santana
  1. David Gilmour (Pink Floyd)
  1. Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones)
  1. Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters)
  1. Chuck Berry
  1. Angus Young (AC/DC)
  1. Johnny Marr (The Smiths)
  1. Eddie Van Halen
  1. Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath)
  1. Jeff Beck
  1. Kurt Cobain (Nirvana)
  1. B.B. King
  1. Pete Townshend (The Who)
  1. Joe Satriani
Queen guitarist Sir Brian May was voted as being the best guitarist of all time

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Queen guitarist Sir Brian May was voted as being the best guitarist of all timeCredit: Getty
Guns N' Roses' song Sweet Child o' Mine was voted as the song with the best riff in a poll

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Guns N’ Roses’ song Sweet Child o’ Mine was voted as the song with the best riff in a pollCredit: SWNS



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