X-List: The greatest guitar riffs of all time

22 December 2019, 17:00 | Updated: 22 December 2019, 17:01

Johnny Marr in 2013
Johnny Marr in 2013. Picture: Steven C Mitchell/EPA/Shutterstock

We here at Radio X love a good riff. Let's take a look at some of the greatest axe moments that can be copied the world over on air guitar or a good old tennis racquet.

  1. Guns N' Roses - Sweet Child O' Mine

    The minute Slash chimes in with this unforgettable riff, you know you're in the presence of rock greatness. The rest of the song is almost an afterthought.

  2. AC/DC - Back In Black

    The riff as a blunt instrument. AccaDacca bounced back from the death of original singer Bon Scott  with a new yelper, Brian Johnson, and this legendary stonker. It's almost impossible to sing along, but incredibly easy to so the Angus Young heads-down thrash.

  3. The White Stripes - Seven Nation Army

    Jack White astounded the world when delivered this pounding riff that opened the Elephant album.

  4. Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit

    A simple wacka-wacka riff, but one that changed the world.

  5. The Strokes - Reptilia

    Albert Hammond Jr's nagging riff makes this a Strokes favourite and a tune that went global when it featured on Guitar Hero.

  6. The Smiths - This Charming Man

    Knocked out by Johnny Marr one afternoon, the combination of a memorable intro and looping main riff created an instant classic.

  7. Queens Of The Stone Age - No One Knows

    Josh Homme virtually attacks his guitar on this classic QOTSA track.

  8. Smashing Pumpkins - Today

    Billy Corgan claimed that the memorable, ringing riff that opens Today was the very LAST part of the composition to be written.


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