My Girl by The Temptations has been named the best riff of all time

Beating out other greats such as Whole Lotta Love and Smoke On The Water.

As riffs are such an integral part of guitar playing, spanning any and all genres, figuring out the top of all time is always going to be a big endeavour – and you could apply countless different criteria to work out what makes a riff the best. The character of the playing, the impact of the riff across time and the greatness of the song it serves can all change how ‘great’ a riff can be.

The latest to compile a set of top riffs is Independent music correspondent Roisin O’Connor, whose pick for top riff of all time was the hypnotic clean guitar line to The Temptation’s My Girl.


Played for the 1964 track by Motown Records’ in-house band member Robert White, the walking pattern was chosen as “proof you don’t always need to make a load of noise in order to leave an impression.”

“The riff has such a gorgeously rich yet easy-going tone,” O’Connor continues, “it’d melt even the flintiest of hearts. Smokey Robinson was inspired to write the song by his wife, Miracles member Claudette Rogers Robinson, but said it was ‘written with all the women of the world in mind’.”

The Temptations track joins riffs such as The Damned’s Life Goes On, Led Zeppelin’s eternally swaggering Whole Lotta Love, and guitar-store favourite Smoke On The Water.

Read the full piece here. Do you agree with the top pick?

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