Books & Music Top 25 riffs: modern rockers 'can't make great guitar riffs'


tPF Bish
Jul 7, 2006
Last Updated: 12:01pm BST 02/04/2008

When it comes to rock classics, it seems they just don't make them like they used to.

Just seven songs penned in the last two decades have made it on to a list of the greatest guitar riffs of all time.

Chosen by students from London music schools, the top 25 is dominated by "middle-aged" guitar riffs from more than 20 years ago, including Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix (1967), My Generation by The Who (1965) and Eye Of The Tiger by Survivor (1982).
British rock band Deep Purple top the list with their 1973 hit Smoke on the Water.
Among the more recent riffs is Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit (1991), in second place, and Wake Up by Rage Against the Machine (1992) in 16th.
The Red Hot Chilli Peppers have two entries, Under The Bridge (1992) at 9 and Give it Away (1991) at 21.

However, not one song written since 2003 made the short list.
John Wheatcroft, spokesman for music school Guitar-X, which commissioned the poll, said the lack of modern rock music in the list didn't spell disaster for the next generation of guitar heros.

A lot of the choices were based on nostalgia, he said.
"It's possible that you have to wait until the dust settles before we can truly consider a riff's eligibility for classic status.

"Today, there are undoubtedly loads of fantastic artists that continue to feature the electric guitar as the prominent feature of their sound."

Songs by American writers claimed the majority of places in the top 25, but seven of the songs on the list were written by British artists.


On to the list! I highlighted my favorite songs in purple! - caitlin1214


Mar 20, 2008
Those are songs the masses hear on the radio, it has nothing to do at all with good guitar playing just popularity. There are some good guitar players on the list (Hendrix, Iommi, Hammet and Slash are the standouts) but could anyone seriously rate anything played by people like Satriani, Petrucci, Vai, Demiola, Clapton, Santana, etc lower than these guys?

I liked your choice of Marc Bolan but if I had a vote for dead rockers from across the pond I think I'd go with Rory Gallagher. But I could see why you would choose him, he was great.


Apr 6, 2008
Metallica, Pantera and RATM are awesome. Metallica is one of my favorite bands. It's a shame Dimebag from Pantera was killed though because I would have love to seen them live.