69 years ago today one of rock’s greatest and most influential guitarists was born, Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple and Rainbow fame. He is arguably the first “shredder” in rock n’ roll, melding nasty blues licks with classical melodicisms and unparalleled technique, delivered with a devil-may-care attitude. As important as his lead guitar playing was his ability to generate thick, memorable guitar licks that would serve as the framework for a rich catalog of hard rock and heavy metal classics. The riff is at the center of what we think of as hard rock and heavy metal music and Blackmore’s only rival is Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi when it comes to crafting those single noted repeating figures that get lodged in your skull and sound amazing when cranked through a mountain of Marshall stacks. Since these days Blackmore has eschewed Stratocasters and hard rock for mandolins and playing Renaissance fairs with his combo Blackmore’s Night, the time is right to count down his 10 greatest guitar riffs and before you start bitching about us not including “Highway Star” or “Child In Time,” keep in mind we’re talking about riffs, not songs, though most of these would be on the list of his greatest songs as well.
10. “Perfect Strangers” (1984)
The title track to one of hard rock’s greatest comeback albums showed Deep Purple still had plenty to teach the ‘80s metal generation about riff re-generation.
9. “Long Live Rock N’ Roll”
This barnstorming anthem is the leadoff track to Rainbow’s 1978 album of the same name is one of the more straight forward licks in the Blackmore riff cannon.