What Was the First Great Guitar Lick in Rock?

It may sound trivial, but it’s not the kind of lick you make to ice creams and lollipops. Guitar lick in popular music genres like blues, jazz, or rock music, is a “stock pattern or phrase” with short series of notes used in solos and melodic lines and accompaniment.

Playing rock and roll pieces is colored and highlighted with various techniques and styles in making licks. This is usually done solo to emphasize the skills played. With jazz, lick may also be performed during an improvised solo or accompanied solo chorus or in an unaccompanied solo break. Jazz licks are typically flexible short phrases to be used over a song’s changing harmonic progressions.

Riff vs. Lick: What’s the difference

Often, there are confusions between riffs and licks. But is it vital to determine the difference? Yes.

A riff, being thematic, serves as the main section for a song. It is mostly repeated and developed, sometimes with variations, sometimes in different keys. Think of Satisfaction, for example, or Smoke on The Water. A riff is always recognizable as the main idea or central part of the song.

On the other hand, lick is a portion of a riff, which means its nit the distinction of the song but just a part. A lick is often incomplete in musical terms but forms a theme (like a continuous main section in a song); essentially, the lick becomes a riff.

So, a lick is transferable because it is not a central theme of a particular song, and it doesn’t have that same association with the song. Technically, a lick can be used in other pieces without necessarily referring to the original lick.

First Most impressive Guitar Lick

It might be a question for guitar enthusiasts and experts and a debate who performed the first impressive rock lick on a popular song or famous album track. Some would argue that it’s James Hendrix, or others would say it’s Eric Patrick Clapton.

The answer is none of them because it was Danny Cedrone!

In 1954, Cedrone played a guitar lick in the middle of the song “Rock Around The Clock.” The guitar lick was incredible by any standards, let alone 1954 when this kind of thing was unheard of. Cedrone’s guitar solo on Bill Haley & His Comets’ 1955 hit “Rock Around the Clock” is a certified jaw-dropper.

Who is Danny Cedrone

Although you were born many decades after June 20, 1920, when guitarist Danny Cedrone was born, for sure, you have heard of the songs he had played a long time ago.

Born in Jamesville, New York, Cedrone began his musical career in the 1940s but came into his own in the early 1950s. He first as a session guitarist hired by Bill Haley and His Saddlemen.

Cedrone played lead guitar on their recording of “Rocket 88” in 1951, and one of the first acknowledged rock and roll recordings. By this time also, he formed his own group named The Esquire Boys. This is thought to be one of the reasons he never joined a full-time member of Haley’s group.

In 1952, Cedrone played an incredible lead guitar on Haley’s version of “Rock the Joint.” His swift guitar solo, combined a jazz-influenced first half followed by a lightning-fast down-scale run, was a highlight of the recording.

With Cedrone’s involvement with the Esquire Boys, he was kept off of Haley’s recording schedule for most 1952 and 1953. Instead, he had several recordings with the Esquires, most notably two versions of the Bill Haley composition, “Rock-A-Beatin’ Boogie,” several years before Haley would record it himself.

He decided to return to work with Haley’s group in 1954, and he renamed the group as The Comets. He had a significant role in the band’s first recording session for Decca Records on April 12, 1954, when they recorded “Rock Around the Clock” in New York City.

After about two months, Cedrone died after falling down a staircase, never had any idea that his playing would significantly affect the next few decades of popular music. Franny Beecher replaced him, who had played sessions with Haley before Cedrone’s death.

Cedrone, during his time, had showcased exemplary guitar prowess and had played a massive part in the guitar hero’s birth and rock and roll guitar evolution.