Top 20 greatest guitar riffs of all time – Sweet Child o’ Mine tops the list | Music | Entertainment

“Sweet Child o’ Mine” by Guns n’ Roses has the best guitar riff of all time – more than 35 years after it was released, a study has found. 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.

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

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 spokesman 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 playlist.

“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 percent said they prefer music with guitars in it – so it is perhaps no surprise that 81 percent said a memorable guitar riff was vital to a good rock song.

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

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

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

The “golden age” of the riff was the 1970s, according to 30 percent of music fans – while 21 percent felt the 80s had the most to offer.

Worryingly, more than half (53 percent) said the guitar riff is dying out – with 74 percent of those believing this is a bad thing.

But there’s still hope yet, as a whopping 65 percent 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 percent), ahead of the drums (58 percent) and bass (41 percent).

A spokesman 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.”

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