Don’t Know Much About Rock & Roll History

Handy Youtube Video Takes You on Rollicking Tour of the History of Rock

So you want to learn more about the history of rock and roll but you don’t have time to go back to school or take a class at the Learning Tree? It’s not like they offer online courses in rock history from Phoenix University, at least that we know about. Even if they did we’re not giving up our whole summer to memorize facts about how many girls Eddie Van Halen nailed on tour in 1987.

How about this instead– you give Alex Chadwick 12 minutes and he’ll play it for you, in chronological order. Seems fair.

The Chicago-based guitar player has become an overnight viral hit in his effort to play 100 famous guitar riffs offering a rock n’ roll history dating from 1952 to present day — all in one take. Usually you have to do something super embarrassing to reach this level of internet fame so you know he must be stoked.

Chadwick, an employee of the Chicago Music Exchange, seamlessly shreds through the familiar riffs from songs by artists ranging from Chet Atkins “Mr. Sandman” to instantly recognizable classics like “Wipeout” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” – on a 1958 Fender Stratocaster.

There is something in there for everyone from early rock to grunge to metal to alternative. Chadwick admits two important things about the video, which has been viewed over 1.4 million times since it went live early last month. The first is that he was not the first person to come up with the brilliant idea. He was the first to put the songs in order though, so we give him credit for that, as well as his honesty. The second and far more important admission is that he accidentally forgot to add Radiohead to the list. We thought we were losing our minds there for a minute. We’re glad he cleared that up, because skipping them is a crime. He also said he meant to include “Wild Thing” and “Ziggy Stardust” and will probably do follow up videos to cover his mistakes.

The video was created to promote a contest at the store he works at – “the Ultimate Vintage Giveaway” – but the response it’s gotten is way bigger than they ever expected.

“The reaction has been overwhelming,” Chadwick told “I don’t think anyone here expected it to take off the way it did, and we’ve had a ton of positive feedback.”

While Chadwick did play all the riffs in one take, effortlessly switching from song to song, it took more than just one try to get it that way.

“I ruined a few good takes just by knocking over the slide I had to use on a few tracks, and I completely missed one of the re-tunings on one take,” he said. Since he’s a practiced musician, his fingers weren’t sore after the marathon session and all the practicing that led up to it, but admits “my shoulder was pretty destroyed after weeks of running through the tunes.”

Try closing your eyes the first time you listen to it and seeing how many you know from heart. It’s much harder than you think. Enjoy. Discuss. Share.