Michael Jackson – The Thriller Handbook

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Thrilling Facts

About Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson was a man known for many things, including his music, his pelvis-centric dance moves, and the fact he was able to wear a fedora without looking like an idiot. But a man as complex and unique as the King of Pop could never be summed up with a list of just three things. So here’s a list of 10, starting with …

 10. He Personally Leaked Some of the More Bizarre Stories About Himself

Jackson, in stark contrast with the innocent child-like persona he adopted in public, was a calculating and efficient self-promoter behind the scenes. For example, he is known to have leaked several stories about himself to the press to ensure he continued to receive column inches in the world’s papers when he wasn’t actively making music.

Stories known to have been planted by Jackson himself include the one about him sleeping in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber to make himself look younger; the news that he’d made a bid to purchase the skeleton of John Merrick, better known as the Elephant Man; and the fact he shared his bathroom with his pet monkey, Bubbles. While these stories undoubtedly gave Jackson unprecedented levels of media coverage, it eventually backfired when the press simply began making stuff up themselves, much to his annoyance. When the British media began referring to Jackson as “Wacko Jacko” he made the conscious and probably wise decision to stop leaking false stories to the news about his personal life.

9. He Wrote All of His Songs With His Voice

Despite being credited as the sole writer on virtually his entire discography and having a hand in the composition of much of the music to his back catalogue of hits, Michael Jackson rather surprisingly had little affinity for music. By this we mean that although Jackson understood how to compose a song, he could neither play an instrument nor read sheet music. To get around this, Jackson would instead compose his songs entirely in his head and then “sing” them to session musicians while recording his albums.

To this end, Jackson carried around a tape recorder with him at all times, and when inspiration struck – whether it be a musical hook or a guitar riff – he’d sing it into the recorder or, in the event of a bassline, beatbox it. Jackson would then layer all these elements together to create what amounted to acapella versions of his songs. Notoriously secretive, few examples of these recordings exist with there being, to our knowledge at least, a single recording of Beat It in which you can hear Jackson demonstrate this. He also demonstrated the technique in court to shut down a plagiarism suit.

As an example of just how talented Jackson was at emulating the sounds of various instruments with his voice, musicians who worked with him reported that he could “sing” chords and layer his voice skillfully enough to eerily replicate an entire string section.

8. He was an Actual King

For a guy known worldwide as The King of Pop, it’s kind of weird that few people ever talk about that time in 1992 when Michael Jackson actually became a real king.

You see, in the early ’90s Jackson embarked on a tour of Africa, during which he encountered a small kingdom on the Ivory Coast called Sanwi. The people of Sanwi were enamored with Jackson and the tribal chief told him that mystics had foretold that the singer was actually a direct descendent of the Sanwi royal bloodline.

So in a small, but nonetheless extravagant ceremony, the nation crowned Jackson King (an official title he had to sign papers to confirm) and even allowed him to sit in a golden throne set aside for royalty. Jackson’s official title was later reduced to Crown Prince, and his kingly duties were taken up by another man, but he was for all intents and purposes considered genuine royalty from that point on. Sanwi even held a royal funeral for him and declared two days of mourning when he died.

As for why you’ve probably never heard this, Jackson simply never talked about it. In an interview with Ebony magazine in 1992, Jackson was humble about his new found status as a king, telling an interviewer asking how it felt to be a real king:

“I never try to think hard about it.”

7. He Earns More Money Dead Than We Will Alive

Now you’d think that being dead would, for most people, put an end to their ability to make money. Employers are notoriously picky when it comes to hiring people who aren’t alive. Michael Jackson is an apparent exception to this rule, being recognized as the highest earning dead celebrity, earning close to a billion dollars in 2016, more than seven years after his death.

Jackson’s ability to earn unbelievably fat stacks of cash despite the normally insurmountable hurdle of being dead is mainly due to sales and licensing of the vast catalogues of music he owned. Along with his estate owning the rights to his own hits and albums, which continue to make millions, Jackson also bought the rights to his favorite songs during his lifetime, so he earned money when people bought those albums, too (most famously, he bought the rights to the Beatles catalogue in 1985, though Sony has since acquired full ownership, including Jackson’s remaining 50% stake last year). We don’t know if that’s smart or just selfish, but either way we’re mad impressed that a skeleton earns more than us thanks to business decisions it made a decade ago. Speaking of Jackson’s skeleton …

6. His Death Broke Google

Like the Moon landing and losing your virginity, the death of Michael Jackson is an event where you remember exactly where you were when it happened. It was a global event that resulted in an almost immediate outpouring of grief. We say almost, of course, because people had to check Google to make sure the news was accurate.

That’s not us being facetious, by the way. According to stats released by Google themselves minutes after news of the singer’s death broke, so many millions of people tried to search his name that it brought the monolithic website to its knees. Yes, Michael Jackson’s death caused so many people to panic and google his name that it broke Google!

Then again, this is hardly surprising given that a few months before his death news of him touring again caused …

 5. People Scalped His Tickets (That Didn’t Exist Yet) for Hundreds on eBay

News of Michael Jackson’s death was partly shocking because it occurred just weeks before he was due to embark on what he insisted was his last ever set of concerts at the London O2 Arena. The aptly named This Is It concert was set to be the singer’s last hurrah, and consisted of 50 straight sold out shows at the same venue, with people flocking from across the world to see it.

Initially the concert only had 10 shows booked, but the instantaneous selling out of tickets and tidal wave of complaints the venue received for not having enough prompted Jackson to schedule 40 more, all of which, again, sold out minutes after tickets going live.

Demand for tickets was such that Jackson’s official website offered fans a chance to enter a pre-sale draw, essentially securing them a chance to purchase a ticket ahead of time so they wouldn’t have to sit on the ticket website the day they were announced and hit refresh over and over. The offer crashed the website, with a reported 16,000 people trying to apply for the draw every second for several hours.

This unprecedented level of enthusiasm saw people who managed to secure a place in the pre-sale draw able to sell their tickets (which didn’t exist yet) on eBay for upwards of $500 a piece. Then again, it’s not surprising people were so keen to see Jackson perform considering he once …

4. Danced the Moonwalk So Hard Fred Astaire Called to Congratulate Him

Though he didn’t necessarily invent the Moonwalk (the genesis of the move is traced back to dancer Cab Calloway, and is thought to have been perfected by mime Marcel Marceau), he is arguably the person who showed the world just how cool it could look to see a man effortlessly glide backwards like he was just pushed onto a greased air hockey table.

Jackson reportedly learned the move from a pair of dancers named Casper Candidate and Cooley Jaxson, whom he saw perform it on the show Soul Train while sporting dangerously awesome afros. Jackson perfected the dance move and debuted his enhanced version atMotown 25 to a visibly and audibly shocked crowd who couldn’t believe what in the hell they were seeing.

Sitting at home watching the show was an 84-year-old Fred Astaire who, upon seeing Jackson glide across the stage, picked up his phone and called him to gush over how amazing it was. Jackson, a massive fan of Astaire’s, fanboyed down the phone for several minutes before quickly rushing to a nearby bathroom and vomiting in excitement.

3. The Glove was to Hide a Skin Condition

Few artists have a “look” as well defined and iconic as Michael Jackson’s. Everything from his pimpin’ fedora to his needlessly high socks have become ingrained in pop-culture as integral parts of the Jackson mythos. Arguably his singular most defining item of clothing though was his single glove.

Custom made by the same guy who made the gloves for Kate Winslet in Titanic, Jackson’s sported many different styles of gloves over the years. While many assumed that glove was simply for style, because it admittedly does look pretty fly, according to those close to Jackson it was actually used to hide the early stages of vitiligo (a disease which caused the skin to change color and often starts with unsightly blotches on the hands and feet).

While this became somewhat unnecessary in later years as Jackson’s skin tone changed from a deep chocolate, to a creamy mocha, to that of anemic skim milk, the glove was nonetheless an important tool used by the singer to hide something he felt self-conscious about.

2. He Composed an Unknown Amount of the Soundtrack for Sonic 3

Released in 1994, many fans of the blue hedgehog consider Sonic 3 to be one of the best games in the series, partly because it lets you play as Knuckles and partly because that soundtrack though. Well for any fans of the game, you may be pleased to know that Michael Jackson had a hand in creating it, though exactly how much is hotly debated.

The story goes that during development, Sega brought in Jackson to compose the soundtrack for the game, a move that was seen as being in no way weird in the ’90s. Shortly after production on the game began, though, the first allegations of child abuse were leveled at Jackson, prompting Sega to distance themselves from the artist. Today the company denies Jackson had anything to do with the game or its music.

This doesn’t exactly fit with other reports, though, which claim that Jackson had a direct hand in creating a number of tracks for the game, but ultimately became frustrated with the limited range of the sound chip in the Sega Genesis, leaving the project of his own volition. As a result the extent of Jackson’s involvement with Sonic 3 isn’t clear, but for anyone curious, the songs often thought to be the ones most likely to have been composed by Jackson, at least in part, are Carnival Night Zone, Hydrocity Zone, and Ice Cap Zone.

1. He Promised to Write a No. 1 Single… for Bart Simpson

Michael Jackson was a massive fan of The Simpsons, famously lending his voice to the episode “Stark Raving Dad“, which features a man who delusionally thinks he’s Michael Jackson, voiced by… erm… Michael Jackson.

It’s noted that Jackson personally reached out to the staff of the show to ask for a bit part and took his role extremely seriously, taking part in line readings with the rest of the cast and refusing the use of a special trailer set aside for him. During his time with the Simpsons staff, Jackson explained to Matt Groening that Bart was his favorite character and that he wanted to write the troublesome 10 year old a number 1 hit single. Groening laughed, assuming Jackson was joking. He wasn’t joking.

 Jackson, true to his word, went home and composed the basic idea for the song, Do The Bartman, a rap single from the point of view of Bart Simpson. Due to contractual obligations with his label at the time, Jackson had to remain uncredited as a composer, but went against his label’s stipulations and performed back vocals to the track because it’s not like anyone was going to believe the King of Pop would slum it with the voice cast of cartoon. Jackson, seemingly just because he could, also got Bart to namedrop him in the song he was singing in for no apparent reason. Sadly for Jackson the song never became a number one hit in the US, only topping the charts in territories like Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. Though that’s mostly because it was never actually released as a single in the States.

Michael Jackson

– The Thriller Handbook

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 45

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 45

“We are tracing the signal, we believe it originated somewhere in the Middle East.”…


Broken Signal by Carlo Formisano

“The future of the great Space Colony depends on my speaking with Roy Crippen.”

The remarkable power of a single laminated business card is opening doors Afridi did not know he would be walking through. Now, whether or not -whoever picks up- at Lovell Space Center or Galveston Launch will be as receptive, that remains to be seen. If and it is a big IF he can pull it off, Afridi will be breaking Image result for radio transmissioninto the secure frequency band used by the Space Colony mission; highly irregular and extremely illegal.

Rashid the Turkish METEOR Radyo-master gives the earnest scientist a quick run-through of all the pertinent buttons and switches of the equipment, then leaving him to the fate of the frequency. He is fairly sure that the station’s anonymity will be untraceable; thereby absolving it of culpability. Unless, that is, if this guy saves the world, in which case he would gladly share in the glory.

Aldona looks back at Fatima, who throws him a good-luck kiss. He then takes a deep breath and initiates his long-range pirate transmission.

“Mission Control, come in. This is an urgent matter,” he urges in his bifurcated English intonation.


“What was that? I don’t recognize that voice,” Sampson is distracted, “did you hear that Crip?”

The Mars landing sortie was supposed to be a private party.

“We are tracing the signal, we believe it originated somewhere in the Middle East.”

“I was thinking the man has a Jupiter accent,” chimes too kool for his spacesuit Sam.

“There was a large solar flare a couple days ago, probably a piggyback transmission,” Celeste speculates.

“Let them take care of that Cel, let’s get closer to this thing,” Sam’s eyes are trained on the forty foot high blinding-lightunnatural object that had stolen their attention, before they were rudely interrupted.

As they move in, a blinding flash engulfs the landscape, bright enough to light the already daylight Mars landscape. Horrified at the unsavory possibilities, Sampson McKinney switches to Tycho’s skyward monitor, perhaps to catch an incoming meteor. Debris is pelting the ground around them.

“What in God’s name!?” That could have been voiced by anyone of them.


Episode 45

page 59 (end ch. 2)


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 44

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 44

…“The future of the great Space Colony depends on my speaking with Roy Crippen.”…

Meteor Radyo

Mehmet Erim leads the Afridi’s into the radio station, the empty halls echoing the voices, of many anxious voices, over the over-the-air loudspeakers. His brother-in-law Abad sees Mehmet as an opportunist, always looking to make a fast Turkish Lira or having married his sister out of hunger.103.00 METEOR RADYO FM utilizes the tallest spire on a deserted building with a sole lonesome announcer at the microphone. Image result for radio studio telephonesThere is a citywide buzz about the fracas at Sultan Ahmet Mosque; dead bodies always generate high audience participation.

“What do you want Erim? Make it quick; can’t you see that all the lines are lit up like the Sultan Mosque?” In the midst of a cluttered newsroom, he is short with Mehmet and before he gets a response, he asks, “Who are these people and why do you bring them here?”

Sometimes, when his wife’s brother talks down to him, he feels like rubbing his smug egotistical face into a dj-001wall, but this time it is he who is holding the trump card, an insider mosque story that will boost the ratings on The Mad Morning Turk Show. He cannot wait to see the look on his face when he realizes it.

“Abad, these good people were at the mosque in Galata. They are Talibanistani defectors wanting to talk with the man in charge of Space Colony 1.”

“So would I Mehmet. Many of my listeners are following Turkey’s contribution to the Mars Colony… great story.” In a ratings driven industry, it’s all about the buzz. “There is a trail of blood following these innocent looking persons. What makes you think that I can help them?

space-colony-banner-001“If the exalted Abdullah Ashtaar gives you his blessing, who am I to doubt you, Mehmet.” He never calls him by his first name.

“This,” simply stated and effective = Abdullah Ashtaar, “and the fact that you control the world’s most powerful narrowband radio signal. Mr. Afridi here knows the frequency that the American Space Program uses.”

“The future of the great Space Colony depends on my speaking with Roy Crippen,” pleads Afridi.



Episode 44

page 56


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 43

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 43

…“Tough pickle very tough pickle, Saied,” the taxi driver states the obvious…


“There are others who want me dead.” claims Afridi.

“Lucky for you, I stayed on this side of the Bosporus. So someone is after you, I don’t care that you are a criminal, I like you. How can such a nice man be in such a pickle? I will take you anywhere you want to go, no charge.”

“I do not know where to go… I mean I know where I want to go, but there one continent and an ocean to cross to get there. You see, I have valuable information for the Americans, but cannot seem to talk to the right people.”

“Tough pickle very tough pickle, Saied.” Mehmet stops to decide whether any of his connections could possibly assist this pathetic man and his mysterious dilemma. “What do you have to trade, maybe I can find a way……stolen jewels, smuggled drugs, American dollars?”

“I only have this,” Aldona reaches for his left ankle.“

“That is a nice shoe, but the people who might help will require more.”abdullah-ashtaar-001

He hands his 3×5 “key to Istanbul” over to him.

“OOOooooo, Abdullah! This is better than money, a favor cashed in.”

“But what does this get me?”

“Who do you want to talk to and where?”

He gives over a meaningless name in a place in the United States.

“Oh really, you will need more than a telephone for this. Get into my taxi you Afridis, I think I know a way to talk to Galveston Texas. Hang on now.”

During their excursion through Istanbul’s maze-laden streets, Mehmet Ali explains where they are going. It turns out that he knows the operator of Turkey’s state owned radio station, his brother-in-law actually and if anyone could make this long distance connection, he could.

Three mosques, two idled street markets, and 20 minutes later, Mehmet and his passengers motor up to a dj-001building, topped off not with a dome but several antennae of different configurations. It is still early, 2:30 in the morning early, but this is a station that does not sleep.

103.00 METEOR RADYO FM utilizes the tallest spire on a deserted building with a sole lonesome announcer (Abad the Mad Morning Turk) at the microphone. There is a citywide buzz about the fracas at Sultan Ahmet Mosque; dead bodies always generate high audience participation.



Episode 43


page 55


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #294

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #294

…I have become a big Constance Caraway fan… and that Ace Bannion, he cracks me up; reminds me of Bob Ford, in a rugged sort of way…

Image result for miami airport in 1950

Miami International Airport 36th Street Terminal

Within hours, Lyn Hanes is walking down the corridors of Miami International Airport. Although Coppertoneshe was a Floridian, she had never been this far south. She is amazed how different it is from the Panhandle, both in climate and population. It is very warm and very military, the latter left over from WWII, and it is currently holding Robert Ford in a bunker below ground.

          As it turns out, they were looking for her to show up, not because Ford told them she would be coming, just because they had been digging for dirt on their detainee. “Please come this way, Miss Hanes.”

          She does not resist and ends up in a room by herself. It reminds her of their experience in New Mexico. It should. Old friend, Sgt. Vincent Smith comes in, flanked by new recruits.

Meet again “We meet again, Miss Hanes.”

“So nice to see you Sergeant.”

“You know I had a feeling we would be seeing more of each other. And imagine Image result for good old timesRobert Ford being here too. Just like old times, wouldn’t you say?”

“Good old times?”

“Good, only if you aren’t looking for the truth. In the meantime, I have become a big Constance Caraway fan. And that Ace Bannion, he cracks me up; reminds me of Bob Ford, in a rugged sort of way.” He is slightly sarcastic in his undertones. “Tell me, Miss Hanes, how did you ever dream up that whole space ship thing? That’s pretty far fetched stuff for Constance to get involved in.”

“I was listening to a rebroadcast of “War of the Worlds” on the radio and it gave me this idea for Constance to investigate a spaceship crash.”

“Something inspired you, but I believe it is what you didn’t tell me then and what you aren’t going to tell me now, that gave you the idea. And good old Newt Swakhammer, you know you can’t make up a name like that.”

          “There is no Newt Swakhammer in my book.”

          “Oh, you’re correct, I keep getting the real and the made up, mixed up. Old Newt seems to have a fuzzy recollection of a man and a woman, an airplane and missing government property. Constance Caraway had a strangely similar episode. It’s funny how art imitates life.”

Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #294

page 277

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Contents 5-2016

Famous Guitar Riffs – WIF Music

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Most Famous

Guitar Riffs

of All-Time

Years ago, my lifelong friend started learning piano by ear. I remember going over to his house. He dragged me into the living room and said, “Listen to this.” He proceeded to bang out the guitar riff to “Day Tripper” flawlessly. I was blown away. This was about a week after taking up the instrument (he has since become an extremely accomplished musician and music producer).

The riffs below represent some of the best ever written. They not only define the song, they are the song. Music is supposed to invoke feelings. As composers, this is our job. Some of these are mean, dirty, and nasty sounding. Some are happy and upbeat. Whatever the mood they create, these songs would not exist without them. This list is nowhere near complete, nor are these necessarily the “best,” but there is no denying they are a huge part of rock guitar history.

from contributor 

10. “TNT” – AC/DC

When my daughters were in public school, it was a ritual to crank up this song in the car on the way home. It was always, “Dad, not again,” and then, “I’m dirty, mean and mighty unclean.” Although my ex-wife was not impressed, it was extremely funny hearing two young girls singing these lyrics at the top of their lungs. Written by lead singer Bon Scott and Angus and Malcolm Young, the tune defined Scott. The man lived hard and fast, true to the lyrics. The song has been featured in numerous movies, TV shows, and video games. Many sports teams and pro wrestlers have used the tune to fire up their fans.

Where would rock music be without the mighty power chord? The riff is only three chords in the first measure and two with a single note separating them in the second bar. The effect is thunderous, like a summer storm directly overhead.

9. “Enter Sandman” – Metallica

There seems to be no middle ground when it comes to Metallica, they are either loved or hated. Beginning with The Black Album (the unofficial title for the fifth studio record, released in 1991), their sound took a new heavily compressed, polished direction under the guidance of Canadian producer Bob Rock. Many fans have accused them of selling out, claiming their music had become lame compared to the rawness of the previous albums.

Whatever your opinion is, this is the tune that put Metallica on the map, shipping over one million copies in the US and driving The Black Album to sales of over thirty million worldwide. The signature-opening riff has a menacing feel due to the dissonance created by the fourth note, the flat fifth. This dark sound sets the tone for the rest of the song. Very creepy.

8. “Iron Man” – Black Sabbath

The members of Black Sabbath would quietly pass fans chanting and indulging in devil worship and witchcraft, lining the halls of their tour hotels. They had trouble containing their laughter once they were out of sight in their rooms. It is show business after all, folks. Agents, managers, and bands will go to outrageous lengths to cultivate and maintain an image.

While working a factory job as a teenager, founding member guitarist Tony Iommi lost the tips of his middle and ring fingers of his right hand (his fretting hand, since he is left handed). This limited his technique and defined his minimalistic style.

“Iron Man” is arguably Sabbath’s most famous song. Green day, NOFX, Cancer Bats, Sir Mix-A-Lot, and even William Shatner (yes, Captain Kirk) have all given the tune a go. Sabbath relied heavily on distorted guitar riffs, often stringing four or five together in the same song. This riff is based entirely on two note power chords. It’s one of the most requested riffs by beginner guitar students.

7. “Day Tripper” – The Beatles

The Beatles rarely relied on riffs as a vehicle for their songs. “Taxman,” a George Harrison composition, and “Paperback Writer” come to mind, but neither of those equal “Day Tripper” in the memorable riff department. John Lennon wrote most of the song and cites “Watch Your Step” from Bobby Parker as the inspiration for the famous guitar line. The riff even found its way into the end of “I Like To Rock” by Canadian rock band April Wine.

The song begins in the 12 bar blues structure, then segues into more of a rock format, chugging along with palm muted power chords in the chorus. The riff structure is from the combination scale (a mixture of the minor and major pentatonic scales), a staple in blues and rock guitar.

6. “Cat Scratch Fever” – Ted Nugent

The Motor City Madman has certainly lived up to his nickname. Love him or hate him, the man pulls no punches and frequently finds himself in the middle of controversy. Whether he is going on about politics, gun control, or simply telling everyone how wonderful he is, he manages to create a buzz every time he opens his mouth.

The rawness of the song combined with the sexual connotations implied in the lyrics is perfectly suited towards his personality. It’s really Ted’s anthem, if you will. The guitar riff is based in the natural minor scale and comprised of inverted power chords in parallel fourths. Listen for the little scream when the drums kick in. It’s an absolute classic.

5. “Lager And Ale” – Kim Mitchell

Kim Mitchell is a Canadian singer and songwriter. He has managed to achieve success both as a member of Max Webster (an iconic Canadian rock band) and as a solo artist. Since a lot of attention has been focused on his vocal and songwriting ability, he is sometimes overlooked (much the same as Frank Zappa is) for his outstanding, virtuoso guitar work. He is currently working as a DJ for Q107, a radio station out of Toronto.

“Lager And Ale” is an ode to every barfly out there. With the lyrics “Over to the jukebox, I staggered” and “I hope you’ll nod at this drunken bar slob,” the tune fortifies Kim’s stature as Canada’s foremost party rock musician. He spent much of his younger years touring around Ontario’s resort areas in the summer months. It was during this time that he built up an enormous fan base and reputation. The signature riff is based in the A minor pentatonic scale around a standard blues pattern.

4. “Crazy Train” – Ozzy Osbourne

Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” features one the best rock guitar intros ever written, and is just an overall great song. Randy Rhodes has long been recognized as one of the greatest guitarists to have ever lived. Based entirely in F minor (relative to A Major: they share the same key signature), this is definitely a classic riff.

I remember attending the MIAC show in Toronto, Ontario. Michael Angelo was performing at a clinic for Dean Guitars. He was doing his trademark, two handed playing on a double neck guitar. It was truly amazing. If you have never seen it, check it out. He was going through a pile of riffs. When he hit this one, everyone started nodding their heads.

3. “Sweet Child O’ Mine” – Guns N’ Roses

Guns N’ Roses first and only number one single. The song started as a string skipping exercise composed by lead guitarist Slash. It is quite difficult to execute cleanly due to the fact that it is a continuous eight notes with no breaks. There is a video on YouTube where Slash himself screws it up three times before he actually gets it right.

The cover band I play with does this tune. Every time we start this riff, no matter what age the crowd is, they go crazy pumping their fists and screaming. It’s a true monster of a song.

2. “Thunderstuck” – AC/DC

There is an ongoing debate about the execution of this riff. In some videos it looks as though lead guitarist Angus Young is picking every note. In others it appears as if he is employing a one-handed technique known as hammering on and pulling off. Either way it is played, this is a killer riff.

On the studio recording, the second half of the phrase is repeated throughout most of the song, sometimes in the forefront, sometimes buried back in the mix. When they perform it live, Angus only plays it when it is needed, switching over to rhythm guitar for much of the song. Although AC/DC are known as a riff based band, it is the rhythm guitar work that sets them apart. Angus and his brother Malcolm Young are so in sync with one another, they manage to make two guitar parts sound like one.

1. “Smoke On The Water” – Deep Purple

This is the big one, the king daddy of all rock guitar riffs. Even Lars Ulrich (Metallica’s founding member and drummer), called this the “riff of life.” Every guitar teacher has heard this Deep Purple classic played wrong more than any other piece of music.

 Comprised entirely of inverted two note power chords (the fifth is on the bottom and the root is on the top), this riff should go down in history as the most overplayed song on guitar. Forget “Stairway To Heaven,” there should be a sign in every music store: “NO SMOKE ON THE WATER!”

Famous Guitar Riffs –

Music in History

WIF Music

Hollywood Voice Actors – WIF Edu-tainment

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Famous Voice Actors

Who Helped Shape


You probably don’t know their faces, but millions of people know their voices better than they do the voices of their own family. For nearly the past century, these performers brought life to iconic cartoon characters and excited audiences about upcoming films and shows, all without having to spend any time in the hair and makeup department.

Just to clarify the content, we’re restricting the content to people that haven’t had a major role where they are best known as a writer, creator, or performer in front of the camera. That’s why there are no performers like Orson Welles, Mark Hamill, Parker and Stone, Seth MacFarlane, and so forth.

10. Don LaFontaine

There’s not a particular role that general audiences knew him for, but all Don LaFontaine needed were the three words that became his trademark: “In a world.” Although he began working tech jobs, like editing, and also some creative gigs like writing, his true calling was doing voice overs for trailers and other ads, a number of which he wrote himself. By some estimates, over the course of his career, he did hundreds of thousands of these, sometimes as many as 25 in a day.

His personal favorite was when he did the trailer for The Elephant Man, which was kind of a shame because it was 28 years before the end of his career. If that sounds at all like something trivial, bear in mind that at the time of his passing in 2008, he had an estimated net worth of roughly eighty million. He’d also connected with audiences enough that his catchphrase was used as the title for the 2013 hit indie movie In a World.

9. Nancy Cartwright

In the early ’90s, it surprised the world over and over again to learn that cartoon child megastar Bart Simpson was played by a grown woman. Indeed, during the 1991 season premiere for the show, she got to leave attendees feeling a bit odd when she announced, in Bart Simpson’s famous voice, that she was nine months pregnant and on the verge of delivery. In 2000, she was still milking that joke really effectively by publishing her bestselling autobiography, My Life as a Ten Year-Old boy, and then performing her book as a one-woman show.

Cartwright’s success got her future jobs, such as Chuckie Finster on Rugrats and supporting character/naked mole-rat Rufus on Kim Possible, but it’s very unlikely she’ll ever escape The Simpsons anymore. As Al Jean pointed out on a commentary for an episode of the show, it makes one of her earliest roles, a bit part in The Twilight Zonemovie, all the more appropriate: she played a woman who gets trapped in a cartoon world.

8. John DiMaggio

Modern cartoon fans know may know John DiMaggio best from Adventure Time as Jake the Dog, a transforming companion to the protagonist, Finn, who’s in his late twenties in “magical dog years.” His bits of down-to-earth philosophy, like “Sucking at something is the first step to being sort of good at something,” have certainly become widespread online. Others are likely to know him from the long running (as in, seven seasons with four movies) science fiction cartoon Futurama as the breakout character Bender, the lovable, emotionally vulnerable, drunken robot. More than a few may know him from the DC movie Batman: Under the Red Hood, where he did a very creepy rendition of the Joker. If we have any gamers in the audience, he was also Marcus Fenix through the Gears of War series.

Such is John DiMaggio’s commitment to his career that he wasn’t content with just starring in a number of popular cartoons. He also cowrote, coproduced, and narrated a 2013 documentary on voice acting called I Know that Voice, which includes interviews with numerous performers featured in this article. Anyone with any interest in the subject matter can’t afford to miss it.

7. Tara Strong

A generation of kids grew up hearing her as Timmy Turner on Fairly Odd Parents, which has been running for sixteen years. During that time she was also characters like the dark, serious teen Raven on Teen Titans, and protagonist Ben Tennyson onBen 10. For fans of more adult cartoons, there’re the years she spent as Princess Clara on the raunchy reality show parody Drawn Together. For those who like stuff that’s halfway between being mostly targeted to younger children and being sort of edgy and violent, there were the seven years she spent as the cute and cuddly Bubbles in The Powerpuff Girls. She’s also voiced one of the most beloved Batman villains, Harley Quinn, in the Arkham video game series.

But undoubtedly her largest and most loyal following are fans of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, where she plays the bookish protagonist, Twilight Sparkle. Although she had no idea that she would get a bunch of adult fans from doing that particular show, she has decided to embrace this particular group, including in one on one, online chat sessions with people who’d been heavily bullied. Presumably, she didn’t feel any need to do that for her fans from Drawn Together.


6. Jim Cummings

How’s this for range: a guy who can voice both Winnie the Pooh and Goofy’s gruff nemesis/best friend Pete in numerous Disney cartoons. Although he was a supporting character in pretty much every Disney cartoon from the late ’80s through the ’90s, such as playing the tough mouse Monterey Jack on Rescue Rangers or the goofy wolf villain Don Karnage, he also got to play the titular character in several original cartoons. He was the bumbling but reliable Darkwing Duck, and the cat half of the rather nightmarish, but fun, CatDog by Nickelodeon.

For decades he was pretty much inescapable on televised cartoons, but eventually he found his way into theatrical animated films, sometimes in surprising ways. It’s probably not so surprising, after you’ve heard his gravely villainous voice, that he played several characters in Aladdin who were obsessed with cutting the hands off of thieves. But did you know that in The Lion King, he didn’t just play the insane hyena Ed, but got to sing a duet with Jeremy Irons? Okay, no, what happened was that Ironsblew out his voice during the epic villain song “Be Prepared” and Cummings had to step in and finish it for him. It’s a real testament to his skills as an impersonator that barely anyone noticed in the movie’s original run.

5.Tara Strong

For the past few decades, it seems like it’s been impossible for a cartoon to air on television without featuring Tress MacNeille in either a prominent recurring role, or even as the star. On The Simpsons alone she regularly plays Seymour Skinner’s mother, Crazy Cat Lady, Bart Simpson’s regular bullies Dolph and Jimbo Jones, and several others. On Matt Groening’s other cartoon, Futurama, she voiced fifteenrecurring characters, most notably Mom, the closest thing the show had to a villain. If your tastes are a bit more in favor of those early ’90s WB cartoons, she was Dot Warner, one of the three titular characters in Animaniacs. Not a bad career of voicing cartoons for someone who started out pursuing a gig as a DJ.

One of the more amusing aspects of MacNeille’s career was one of her late ’80s jobs. On the Disney program Rescue Rangers, featuring the classic chipmunk characters Chip and Dale, she voiced Chip. Oddly, she also voiced the main female character, Gadget Hackwrench, making it one of the few times the same actor has played both halves of a potential romantic pairing.

4. Troy Baker

This list has been more about cartoons than anything else so far, but we’re going to take a little break from that to focus on video games, which in market terms have of overtaken cartoons in prominence. As far as prominence within video game voice acting goes, you really can’t beat Troy Baker. This former lead singer for the band Tripp Fontaine, and former voice actor for anime dubs, has given highly acclaimed lead performances in some of the highest profile and most acclaimed games in recent memory. His performance as the befuddled man of action Booker DeWitt in the surreal 2013 science fiction game Bioshock Infinite was one of the best of the year. That was accompanied by his performance as the dispirited protagonist, Joel, in the survival game The Last of Us. Little wonder then that he was named one ofEntertainment Weekly’s breakout stars of 2013, and that was not the sort of honor they were likely to give to a video game voice actor. He earned it, too: his performance for The Last of Us alone took him 80 days to complete.

Since then, he’s had roles like the rather kooky villain, Pagan Min, in 2014’s Far Cry 4. But his main new, steady gig has been roles in superhero games. Since 2013, he has voiced Batman, multiple versions of Robin, and the Joker in various DC Arkham andInjustice games. He was Superman in the 2015 game Infinite Crisis. There’s even a fun little clip where he compared his version of the Joker’s laugh with the aforementionedJohn DiMaggio’s.

3. Frank Welker

All of the performers we’ve mentioned so far have been extremely good when it comes to playing human (or at least humanoid) characters. Frank Welker, however, is not bound by only voicing characters that can talk. Some of his best performances have been Apu the monkey and Rajah the tiger in Aladdin, since he was fully believable as animals instead of just a human imitating them. He was even convincing as the cricket character Cri-kee in Mulan. When it comes to characters that can talk, he has been Fred Jones in pretty much every version of Scooby-Doo since 1969 – even in parodies, such as the ones done on Family Guy. He was the voice of the villain Megatron from the 1980s cartoon Transformers and made enough of an impression on fans that, after Hugo Weaving played the character in the 2007 film, Hasbro still had him voice the character for the Transformers games to appease the fans.

In 2011, Welker received a rather backhanded honor. When you took all the movies where he voiced either a speaking character or a regular animal, his performances made him the most successful actor ever, with grosses above six billion dollars. That’s not even counting all the money that had been made from his hundreds of roles on television. But the Guardian article that reported that still called him, “the most successful Hollywood actor you’ve never heard of.” Still, by voice actor standards, that’s probably quite an achievement.

2. Billy West

General audiences were first introduced to Billy West on the Howard Stern for several years, starting in 1989 and ending in 1995. By the time he left that show, he’d landed new jobs voicing both the titular characters in the Nickelodeon cartoon Ren & Stimpy and on the show Doug. He became the new voice of many of the most prominent Looney Tunes characters, such as Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd, including in the hit 1996 blockbuster Space Jam. He’s also the voice of the Cheerios bee in that company’s many, many commercials.

These days, he’s best known for starring in Futurama, along with John DiMaggio, in dozens of parts on the show. If you didn’t know better, you would never guess that protagonist Phillip J. Fry, Professor Farnsworth, and Dr. Zoidberg were all voiced by the same person (incidentally, his Fry voice is by far the closest to his real one).

1. Mel Blanc

As “The Man with a Thousand Voices,” Mel Blanc is the best known, most influential, and most respected of all voice actors. It was pretty much because of him that we know today who voice actors are for cartoons, instead of that being a secret (since studios like Warner Bros tried to suppress the names of voice actors in the hope of keeping their cartoons more believable). Since he was the original voice for Looney Toons characters ranging from Bugs Bunny to Tweety Bird to Elmer Fudd, he was able to get a screen credit. Of course, he wasn’t all that benevolent: he was the only onewho got a credit, and made sure of that.

In the ’60s, he was the original performer for numerous famous characters for Hanna-Barbera, such as Barney Rubble on The Flintstones and Cosmo Spacely on The Jetsons. These characters were so important to him that there’s a famous story saying that, after a horrible car wreck in 1961 left him in a semi-comatose state, the doctors were only able to get a response from him after a few weeks by addressing him as Bugs Bunny, prompting him to respond (while semi-conscious), “Myeeeeh. What’s up, Doc?”

Hollywood Voice Actors

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