The 25 Most Rockin' Guitar Riffs

This blogger list of most rockin' guitar riffs, I list out his top 10:

The 25 Most Rockin' Guitar Riffs
Posted Thu May 29 11:17am PDT by Rob O'Connor in List Of The Day

I'm told that the good folks over at Rolling Stone.com have launched a list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Songs as a feature at their site to coincide with their Guitar Gods Issue that--like most great things in this world--is FOR SALE.

Click here to check it out.

As I write this, I haven't seen it, but I'm sure it's going to include a few listings that make me think "Oops, I left that one out." Because that's what this list business is all about. I write it up and then YOU remind me of the obvious ones I SHOULD'VE included. And I thank you for pointing out my stupid omissions. It won't improve my grade, but it makes me a better person and that's what this is all about.

According to the calendar hanging in my room, Keith Richards, the semi-living guitarist of Rolling Stones, Ltd., came up with the guitar riff for "Satisfaction" in a hotel room on May 6, 1965 and then fell back asleep. How Keith Richards could actually remember the exact date is a little suspect. If he hadn't played the riff into a tape recorder in the first place, it might've been lost forever.

But to celebrate, List of the Day undertook the task of picking out 25 infamous guitar riffs that depending on your era were among the ones you mangled when you joined your first band. I often got stuck on the organ, so I was always pushing for a little "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" action. Because, believe me, "Kick Out the Jams" sounds lame on the organ.

Some picks were for variety's sake. I could've picked 10 Hendrix tunes without pause. Or 10 Zeppelin. And the Ramones played mostly chords, so that sent them to the back of the line.

I haven't yet seen what RS.com picked. And I'd really like to see what your lists would be like. So feel free to throw your faves in the comments!

10) "Voodoo Child"--Jimi Hendrix:
Another great riff remembered as much for how many other people screw it up. Stevie Ray Vaughan could pull it off note for note, but the guys who show up to woodshed at the local open mics need to stop murdering this legendary lick. It's like a game of "Are You Serious?"

9) "Another One Bites The Dust"--Queen:
I didn't include any bass guitar riffs because I didn't want to make things more confusing but I had to include this one. It gave bass players a reason to live. And as readers of this fine column know, I'm well aware that bass players frequently suffer from low self-esteem and feelings that the other people in the band don't think very highly of them. This isn't paranoia. This is usually dead on.

8) "Born To Run"--Bruce Springsteen:
I don't usually associate Bruce Springsteen with great guitar licks. He has a few decent ones here and there, but for a guy with a band that now features FOUR guitar players, it's a wonder why. Then again, he also carries two keyboardists (RIP Danny Federici) and sticks Clarence with a tambourine when he doesn't have a sax solo lined up. In all that racket, can anyone actually hear the tambourine?

7) "Back In Black"--AC/DC:
It's a tad sad and ironic that AC/DC are considered to be a legendary band with their singer Bon Scott. Yet, the album for which they are most noted is the one made in tribute to him after he died. So, in a sense, most people are more familiar with the less legendary edition of the group, the one that went on to become massively more successful and has lasted many times longer than the original incarnation. Me? I like Brian Johnson as a singer just fine. He sounds like my cat when you step on his tail. What's not to like?

6) "Layla"--Derek and the Dominoes:
Eric Clapton has made many regrettable albums and it's easy to forget that he was once a fiery player who could reach true dynamic heights. Duane Allman, on the other hand, died before he could do any damage to his legacy. For practical reasons, I'll always choose living over dying, but immortality is better than anything Clapton's done in years.

5) "Iron Man"--Black Sabbath:
Black Sabbath are another band chock full of great riffs for aspiring guitar players. Guys who can't sing love to play Sabbath tunes because they know as the guitar player they get to be the real focal point of the band. So whether it's "War Pigs," "Paranoid," "Sweet Leaf," "Children Of The Grave," "Hole In The Sky" or "Iron Man," the guy holding the guitar controls the destiny of the band. Such power!

4) "Whole Lotta Love"--Led Zeppelin:
Just had to sneak one last Jimmy Page riff in here. His tone alone is shivering. The tension of the little snap-back you hear weirds me out. How many notes are actually happening here? It counts out as two, but feels like five.

3) "Purple Haze"--Jimi Hendrix:
I've heard hundreds of people play this lick. No one sounds like Hendrix. And it isn't just a matter of tone. It's a matter of feel. The word genius gets thrown around pretty carelessly. "Oh, look, Jim parallel parked the car today. He's a genius." No, that's luck. This is genius.

2) "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"--The Rolling Stones:
Here's the proof that sometimes what is simplest is best. Occam's Razor as it applies to music. The extra fuzztone helped, but really writing this lick must now feel like discovering water or having written "Happy Birthday." It's that obvious.

1) "Smoke On The Water"--Deep Purple:
I was never in a band that actually played this song. I've never known anyone who's been in a band that's played this song. But I've never met a guitar player who didn't play the opening lick for hours upon receiving their first electric guitar. It's so prevalent, it's more like a catchphrase than a riff.

You people agree or not? You have your own list? Maybe Malaysian version--- ada ka?

click here for the original posting


Blogger cmk said...

Salam bro. Zaid, Aziz & Shukri,

Dah berbelas tahun aku tak dengar lagu Belantara. Kali akhir tahun 1992 sebelum semua kaset aku tiba-tiba 'lenyap' sebab masa tu orang tua pindah rumah. Hari ni 'bertuah' sebab terjumpa blog ni ketika mencari maklumat tentang 'hutan hujan'. Terharu bila dapat tahu Belantara masih wujud selepas aku dah ada anak tiga...!!! Syabas kerana masih bertahan walaupun tiada album baru selepas Infiniti. Aku dah dengar 'Lena Yang Biru' - jauh lebih matang. Vokal Zaid masih mantap, susunan muzik sedap telinga dengar. Teruskan usaha memajukan muzik Belantara.

"Destinasi infiniti, bersama mencari"

4/6/08 9:44 PM  
Blogger amey said...

I like most of the songs in the list.. I just o'some..
Hey.. Check out this one too..


Too bad.. Depa tak listed any Belantara songs la... :-(

5/6/08 1:03 AM  
Blogger shuk said...


kami betul-betul hargai semua "belantarayans". Terharu kerana masih ramai yang setia. Perjuangan memang masih belum selesai---salut

nampak macam kriteria nya lebih kepada lagu polpular bukan solo yang mantap yang seimbang dengan ekspresi susunan musik dan penyampaian vokal.
Kami pun tak lah berjuang untuk "listing", tapi menghargai mereka-mereka yang dapat menghargai.

5/6/08 11:19 AM  
Blogger amey said...

Emmm.. Kalau gitu mungkin kena tukar kepada "Solo lagu terpopular.." :-)
Lagi satu Bro Shuk, rasa2 kena tengok jugak siapa penulis lagu tersebut.. Kalau penulis lagu sama, lenggok nyer pun lebih kurang sama jer kot.. (Rasanya lar..)
p/s- Tak list pun tak pe.. Saya terus layan lagu2 Belantara..

5/6/08 11:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear CMK, Thank you for being who you are, and please stay tune, foe what the future holds as far as Belantara is concerned. You will not be disappointed...Best Regards-Zaid

6/6/08 8:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear CMK, Thank you for being who you are, and please stay tune, foe what the future holds as far as Belantara is concerned. You will not be disappointed...Best Regards-Zaid

6/6/08 8:47 AM  
Blogger cmk said...

Salam Belantara & Belantarayans,

I am always and will always enjoy your tunes even though tarak dalam listings. Who cares about the list?

Awal pagi tadi aku perdengarkan lagu "Dewi" versi Belantara pada sorang junior aku yang hanya tahu agu "Dewi" versi Dewa 19. Hahaha.. lucu aku tengok muka dia yang tercengang2 & kagum. Baru dia tau penangan muzik korang ni.

10/6/08 11:45 AM  
Blogger shuk said...



please email a blank message to blantara@gmail.com so that we can update you with our latest news.

also to all other "belantarayans" please do the same to get into our mail listing.

10/6/08 5:01 PM  
Blogger Yezza said...

Shuq & Zaid,
Tak sabaq cheq nak dengaq "Bunga Matahari 2008" tp personally pour moi(4 me), 2 "anthem" Btara's yg "wajib" di-beri nafas baru r "Dewi" & "Jebat"!!! These 2 songs yg buat wa "head over heels" ngan Btara; pls pretty pls, do versi 2008 on these songs...maceh

14/6/08 1:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Yezza, We are indeed working on Bunga Matahari,however I have yet to hear the new sound that would top the original versions, at least not by our ears...But who knows. Anything is possible...Anyway, thanks for the suggestion and the 'offer' the other day...God-bless...Zaid

15/6/08 6:48 AM  

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