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Neil Peart, Geddy Lee & Alex Lifeson

Fri, Feb 21, 2020

Alex Lifeson picks his top guitar riffs in new interview

Mon, Feb 14, 2011@9:20AM | comments

[Alex Lifeson Picks Top Riffs of All Time] recently conducted a poll to determine the top guitar riffs of all time and published the results to their website last week. They also asked Alex Lifeson for his opinion on the subject:

In a new, soon-to-be-published interview with, we asked Rush guitarist extraordinaire Alex Lifeson what he thought was the greatest guitar riff of all time. Having just published a brand new poll on the subject, we were curious to hear what topped the list of the fretboard genius behind such monster riffs as “Limelight,” “Working Man” and “Passage to Bangkok.”

“Well, I would say there are two that are enduring,” said Lifeson. “One would be ‘Satisfaction,’ ’cause that was the first time I heard anything on a guitar that just blew me away. You know, the distorted sound and a simple riff, but it had so much power and it was slick and it was sexy and it had all that stuff. And even when I hear it now, maybe it’s because I make that connection to my youth, it still does that to me.”

“And ‘Smoke on the Water,’” he continued. “My God, everybody in the world recognizes and knows that riff and knows how to play it. So, I’d have to say those two would be at the top of that list.”

It turns out Lifeson’s picks were spot-on with the final poll, which had The Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” at #1 and Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” at #2.

“Is it really?” he laughed. “OK, well, yeah, there you go! Ha ha!”

In a cruel twist of irony, Lifeson somehow just missed the cut, with several of his masterpieces canceling each other out in the voting - an oversight one of our editors took to task ...

Thanks to BW&BK for the heads up.