“Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple
If there is ever a song that you can recognize by the first 10 seconds, it’s “Smoke on the Water.” It’s a simple riff, but it has withstood the test of time. The riff with the drum at the very beginning is one of the best intros to a song in the history of music. This song is just so good thanks to the guitar play in it. Without the guitar aspect, it wouldn’t be as iconic as it is today. The riff plays throughout the song and it helps tie the song together. Again, it’s simple but so important to hold the song together.
“Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne
Some say that this is the best riff in all of music history. This is another song that has withstood the test of time and is still played at live events. I went to an Ozzy concert and when “Crazy Trai” started and the opening riff happened, the arena exploded. It is something about Ozzy and this riff put together that just sounds right. It is another simple riff but when it is played you know what you’re about to get. This is a riff that you can headbang to and trust me, its a lot of fun to headbang to. You should try it sometime.
“Iron Man” by Black Sabbath
This song has so many good riffs it’s hard to pick just one. The opening riff is so recognizable that it’s hard to not know. I have found that people who don’t listen to rock music know this song by the riffs that are played. It does help that “Iron Man” was the ending of the Marvel Iron Man movie so now more people know this song. “Iron Man” is one of those songs you catch yourself humming at random times and that’s ok because it is such a good song.
“Seven Nation Army” by the White Stripes
Ok, so, this is not one of my favorite songs but I can not leave it off this list. I have heard the opening riff on so many occasions because it has gained attention on many different platforms. I have heard it at basketball games andintroductions of athletes and speakers. There is just something about this riff that is catchy and gets you hype. When you listen to this song and the riff that ties it all together you get excited. You don’t even need the words. All you need is the music and it does something to you. With “Seven Nation Army”, the riff is unusual because it is made with a bass guitar which gives it a cool sound compared to the other riffs on this list.
“Voodoo Child” (Slight Return) by Jimi Hendrix
I couldn’t do a list on riffs without adding the one man who I think is the master of riffs, Jimi Hendrix. There are really no words to describe the feeling you get when you hear this riff at the beginning of “Voodoo Child.” This song became well known to wrestling fans when Hulk Hogan used it as his entrance music in the early 2000s. This riff at the beginning was all that was needed to have arenas on their feet knowing who was coming to the ring. Besides this, it’s not a really known riff or song and that’s a shame. More people should listen to this song and experience the master of the guitar which is Jimi Hendrix.