During an appearance on 95.5 KLOS, Joe Bonamassa was asked to name his five favorite riffs of all time.
“The first Jeff Beck Group record Truth wrote the playbook for Zeppelin I and maybe II, but certainly Zeppelin I. But “Rice Pudding”, when I heard that, it changed my life.”
“And another thing too – when you hear “Let Me Love You”, which was a cover, but that sound that Jeff got… it just changes your life.”
“My other riff of all time – again, these are just my favorites, it’s the ones you can jam on for 20 minutes and never get tired of them – obviously, Blind Faith: the opening song (‘Had to Cry Today’) – that’s such a great track.
“And you know who doesn’t get a lot of credit for the guitar playing, especially on that song? Steve Winwood – because it sounds like Clapton’s playing when it’s actually both of them playing at the same time.
“It’s not just Clapton doubling himself or just playing two leads and overdubbing, it’s Steve Winwood, who’s a great guitar player, he’s known as an organist, and a piano player, and one of the greatest singers of all time but can shred on the guitar when he wants too.”
“He was just one of those iconic singers that when he sings, it’s like, ‘Where did that even come from?’ You’re blessed with that head voice.”
“The other one that I will say, I know it’s a lot of British stuff but again, it’s just stuff that you can play all day long. You can jam on that for 10 hours: Cream’s ‘Sunshine of Your Love’.
“They recorded it in New York with Tom Dowd; it’s on the corner of Columbus Circle and Broadway, and I can’t help when I walk there because I have a place in New York and I live close by that original Atlantic Studio building, it’s now a big hole in the ground…
“‘We’re gonna build condos!’ I’m like, ‘No, no! That’s what you don’t understand, this riff is where it came from!’ I guess it’s progress…”
“Here’s one straight out of Texas: ‘Waitin’ for the Bus’ by ZZ Top. One of the greatest one-two punches on a record: Tres Hombres, ‘Waitin’ for the Bus,’ hard cut with an edit ‘Jesus Just Left Chicago.’
“But when you hear this, it’s pure Billy Gibbons, and it takes you to a place in Texas. He just had that tone and that feel. When I first heard that, I was like, ‘This is just outer-worldly stuff.’
“Again, some of the most creative blues rock ever. We all start with the same guitar and the same three changes, it’s what you do with it. Gibbons and those guys are just so far ahead of everybody and have been for 50 more years, they’re still innovating and doing cool stuff.”
“And my last one is obviously a classic. Albert King didn’t write it but he certainly made it famous: ‘Born Under a Bad Sign.’ If that doesn’t encapsulate everything cool about a blues song with a heavy riff…”
“I’m an Albert guy, Albert to me was the most… Warren Haynes explained this the most eloquently to me. He goes, ‘He’s the most immaculate conception guitar player of all time because nobody played like him before.’
“You can study the blues until you’re an old person and never find someone who bends like that and had that take. He had all those bends.
“One of the theories is because he was a drummer. His name was Albert Nelson, and he played drums on some Jimmy Reed records and then decided to become Albert King, the Albert King that we all know and love.
“And he was able to just… with a lightning bolt, straight to your soul on every song. And ‘Born Under a Bad Sign’ with the Stax band, obviously, with all the cats.”