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Most recognized rock riffs


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bad reputation - thin lizzy

billion dollar babies - alice cooper

can't you hear me knowckin - stones

carry on wayward son - KS

cherry pie - warrant

crazy on you - heart

free bird - lynyrd skynyrd

hangar 18 - megadeth

heart-shaped box - nirvana

hush - deep purple

jessica - allman bros

killing in the name - rage

last child - aerosmith

madhouse - anthrax

mesage in a bottle - police

misirlou - dick dale

monkey wrench - foo fighters

mother - danzig

shout at the devil - motley crue

stop - jane's addiction

strutter - kiss

surrender - cheap trick

sweet child of mine - GnR

rock this town - stray cats

psychobilly freakout - reverend horton heat

tattooed love boys - pretenders

tonight i'm gonna rock you tonight - spinal tap

war pigs - black sabbath

woman - wolfmother

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To sum up: these (aforementioned in the thread)are undoubtedly amongst the most universally recognisable guitar riffs in "rock".

Smoke On The Water

Smells Like Teen Spirit

Whole Lotta Love



Sweet Child O'Mine.

Beyond that, there are loads of great and distinctive riffs whose universality may be compromised by demographic and geographic factors, widely known to those of a particular generation or tribe, but not to others.

For example: quite alot of people might consider "Human Fly" by The Cramps to have a great and distinctive riff, but, by and large, the general public remain blissfully oblivious to its charm.

My suggestion for a recognisable riff which transcends generation, geography, gender and genre-preference is "Walk This Way" - Aerosmith / Run DMC. Everybody knows that one, whether they like it or not.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I taught music lessons at a summer camp this year and found it funny how every kid there knew how to play Smoke On The Water but didn't know what it was called or who it was by, or even how the rest of the song went. That single riff is probably more important than Deep Purple's entire discography.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Nobody mentioned Sunshine Of Your Love??


You Really Got Me

Livin Lovin Maid

Whole Lotta Love

Hey Bulldog

Roadhouse Blues

Sweet Home Alabama

Black Night

Jump (not a guitar riff!!)

Jailbreak, TNT, Dirty Deeds,...

I don't think there are any others ;-)


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  • 11 months later...

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