There’s been a survey. Are these the best guitar riffs of all time?

Sky Arts, the TV channel out of the UK, conducted a survey of the greatest guitar riffs of all time. Here’s how things shook out. Thoughts?

  1. Guns N’ Roses, Sweet Child O’ Mine
  2. Prince, Purple Rain
  3. Dire Straits, Sultans of Swing
  4. Deep Purple, Smoke on the Water
  5. Dire Straits, Money for Nothing
  6. Kinks, You Really Got Me
  7. Michael Jackson (well, Eddie Van Halen, really), Beat It
  8. Police, Every Breath You Take
  9. Aerosmith, Walk This Way
  10. Lynyrd Skynyrd, Sweet Home Alabama
  11. Rolling Stones, Satisfaction
  12. Steppenwolf, Born to Be Wild
  13. Led Zeppelin, Whole Lotta Love
  14. Jimi Hendrix, Purple Haze
  15. Chuck Berry, Johnny B. Goode
  16. David Bowie, Rebel Rebel
  17. White Stripes, Seven Nation Army
  18. Beatles, Day Tripper
  19. AC/DC, Back in Black
  20. AC/DC, Thunderstruck

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37808 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

4 thoughts on “There’s been a survey. Are these the best guitar riffs of all time?

  • Hate to be pedantic, but it was actually Steve Lukather who was responsible for the riff on Beat It. Eddie only did the solo. Great story about how Luke and Jeff Pocaro had to rescue that entire track too…

  • Ozzy Osbourne – Crazy Train

    43 years – still holds up

  • There are a lot of great riffs…. And these surveys can leave out a lot of great stuff. One of the best guitar riffs I can think of would include Mean street by Van Halen (really anything Van Halen is a great guitar riff mine), Flying High Again by Ozzy… Where the Streets have no name by U2… lots of great stuff gets left out.. I can think of some Hip tunes… New Orleans is sinking… 50 Mission cap…Great acoustic work by Blue Rodeo… And what? No Spirit of the Radio?


Let us know what you think!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.