Johnny Marr’s 10 greatest riffs

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The Smiths - ‘This Charming Man’: One of the most instantly recognisable opening riffs in British pop history, The Smiths’ first hit proper signalled that ambition and even virtuosity were acceptable aspirations for independent British bands. Landing at no.25 in the charts in October ‘83, it heralded the arrival of Marr the guitar genius (singer Morrissey wasn’t bad either).

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Talking Heads - ‘Nothing But Flowers’: Marr’s brilliance in The Smiths hadnt' gone unnoticed outside of the UK; he was soon in demand by legendary New York artrockers Talking Heads. ‘Nothing But Flowers’, with it’s afro pop-inflected rhythms and Bhundu Boys style guitar line, was the catchiest and most memorable highlight of the band’s last album, ‘Naked’.

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Electronic - ‘Get The Message’: When Johnny Marr and Bernard Sumner formed this Manchester duo, they united two of the most influential figures from three of the world’s most influential bands; despite unreasonable expectations they hit dizzying heights at times. ‘Get The Message’ with its open-chord strumming is simplicity itself.

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The The - ‘Dogs of Lust’: Marr’s musical promiscuity continued apace, and he was an active member of Matt Johnson’s The The for six years (recording two albums between ‘88 and ‘94). No guitar refrain sounds more iconic than the angry sirens at the outset of ‘Dogs of Lust’, made from twisted notes and his own harmonica playing. Together they sound like dogs of war!

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10Leeds Festival 2013

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Johnny Marr - ‘The Messenger’: Johnny Marr fronted the Healers at the beginning of the century, but it was late 2012 - 30 years into his career - that he finally emerged as a solo artist. ‘The Messenger’ was everything we could have expected and more, with a stunningly iconic guitar line at the outset and a formidable pop tune throughout.

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