Learn The Fascinating Stories Behind These Classic Rock Guitar Riffs

Sources: MTV – By Frank Donovan| All Things Michael


Usually we’re told that rock stars make their success only look easy, when in reality long, hard hours are spent behind the scenes in the studio crafting their masterpieces. But sometimes, writing a riff that sticks really is as effortless as they make it seem.

For some of music’s biggest names, classic riffs have come to them while trying to create a “filler” track, in a dream, or while aimlessly “messing around” on the guitar.

Riffing (no pun intended) on other artists and genres, like Eric Clapton, Michael Jackson, and the Beatles have done, is also a common approach that’s yielded some of music’s most memorable riffs. If you ask us, it’s downright unfair how quickly some artists have slapped together a song that’ll last forever.

Here are 10 such stories behind rock’s most memorable riffs!

“Birthday” by the Beatles (1968)

One night when the Beatles were recording The White Album, the 1956 musical comedy The Girl Can’t Help It was airing on TV. One of the younger studio engineer had never seen the movie, so they took a field trip to Paul McCartney’s house to watch. When they returned to the studio, they were so inspired by the simple ’50s rock sound that they wrote “Birthday” on the spot in the studio.

“Beat It” by Michael Jackson (1982)

Producer Quincy Jones asked MJ to come up with a song along the lines of The Knack’s “My Sharona.” Makes sense now, doesn’t it? Jackson clearly delivered on Jones’ request with an upbeat electric guitar riff that gets everyone on the dance floor–just like MJ wanted. He once told Ebony that with “Beat It,” he wanted to write a rock and roll song that kids of all ages would enjoy.


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