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The man with 100 riffs

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July 16, 2012|By Mick Swasko, RedEye

Alex Chadwick was ecstatic when a video of him shredding through 100-guitar riffs got 10,000 views on YouTube. About a month and a half later, almost 3 million people have watched the Rogers Park resident rip his way through rock history.

"We ended up making kind of a cool history lesson; we didn't expect it to take off like it did," he said. After going viral, the 28-year-old has done interviews on MSNBC, WGN and NPR about the video, which begins with Chet Atkin's "Mr. Sandman" and ends with St. Vincent's "Cruel."

Chadwick said the making of the video, posted on The Chicago Music Exchange's www.100riffs.com wasn't easy. There was no editing involved, and the entire 12-minutes was one fluid take. Chadwick, in guitar sales at the Exchange, said he rehearsed for weeks to get the rhythm and movements for the pedals just right, and did research to choose the right songs to give the most complete rock history lesson he could. As for the final product, it took more than a few takes to nail down.  

"There was one take where it was perfect, I went to do some drop-tuning and completely screwed it up," he said. "It was definitely a struggle."

Aside from a sore shoulder, the positive reaction on the Internet and from those who recognize him in the store has been "crazy" for Chadwick, who has been playing guitar since he was 12. He said he's not sure what video he'll do next to follow up, but he is planning on doing some studio recording this week with his band Chadwick. He said he hopes the attention to the video boosts attendance at his shows.

"If it gets three more people out to one of my shows I'll be thrilled," he said.

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