The Whole Thing is a Little Wild

15 May

Great guitar riffs usually sponsor succesful songs. An excellent guitar riff has the ability to latch on to a listener and make said listener hum it for days. Then, after enough listens (maybe even one), it becomes forever engrained in their minds. So when someone mentions “Smoke on the Water” or “Satisfaction” the mind immediately goes to that hard-hitting electric guitar and that incredible riff. Understandably, some of the most well-known guitarists are responsible for the greatest riffs. Among them are Ritchie Blackmore, who smoked on the water with Deep Purple, and  Keith Richards, who could not get any satisfaction with the Rolling Stones. There are many more known guitarists who created timeless riffs. But then there is a certain riff that wasn’t created by a world-famous guitarist, but rather a singer-songwriter whose riff was covered by a British band called The Troggs. The song promptly exploded. It, of course, is “Wild Thing.”

Yes, Chip Taylor is Mr “Wild Thing.” He is also Jon Voight’s brother and, therefore, Angelina Jolie’s uncle. The riff is actually a chord progression and it follows a simple A Major pattern of I, IV, V, IV – or in lettered chord names, A, D, E, D. Most great guitar riffs tend to be easy to play. Remember, it is important to get something recorded that others will want to listen to over and over again. Simplicity is key.

“Wild Thing” was first recorded by Jordan Christopher & The Wild Ones in 1965, but The Troggs absolutely knocked it out of the park with their version. Then, Jimi Hendrix burned the stage, literally, after performing “Wild Thing” and famously setting his guitar on fire at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. “Wild Thing” was also used in the movie “Major League” as the theme song for Charlie Sheen’s character Rick Vaughn.

The riff is unmistakable and mostly no one can tell you who originated it. Now you know. It is Chip Taylor. So the next time you see someone rocking out to the chord progression you can let them know that Angelina Jolie’s uncle is the man behind the song!

4 Responses to “The Whole Thing is a Little Wild”

  1. El Guapo May 15, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

    Excellent bit of music history.
    If you change the rhythm of that riff, it becomes a whole stack of other great songs too!

    • Matthew Coleman May 15, 2012 at 4:45 pm #

      Absolutely. That’s a great point. “Louie Louie” is borne from the same riff as well I believe

      • El Guapo May 16, 2012 at 1:37 am #

        As does Twist and Shout. Half the songs from the fifties are a 1 4 5 progression.
        The other half are a 1 6 4 5.
        And almost all of them are great!

      • Matthew Coleman May 16, 2012 at 6:30 am #

        It is an excellent progression, haha

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