Rock’s Greatest Guitar Intros? (a.k.a. Another Stupid List?)

“Top however many of whatever” lists are designed to generate ire & promote discussion.  This one undoubtedly has in many circles.  Spreading around the internet like herpes, here’s the latest from some radio station somewhere:

What are The Top 10 Greatest Guitar Intros in rock?  Well, someone compiled a list and put it on the Internet.

All the songs were released between 1967 and 1990.

Here’s the list:

10.)  “School’s Out”,  Alice Cooper  (1972)

9.)  “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love”,  Van Halen  (1978)

8.)  “Thunderstruck”,  AC⚡DC  (1990)

7.)  “Sweet Home Alabama”,  Lynyrd Skynyrd  (1974)

6.)  “Heartbreaker”,  Led Zeppelin  (1969)

 5.)  “Working Man”,  Rush  (1974)

4.)  “Layla”,  Derek and the Dominos  (1970)

3.)  “Suffragette City”,  David Bowie  (1976)

2.)  “Purple Haze”,  The Jimi Hendrix Experience (1967)

1.)  “Eruption / You Really Got Me”,  Van Halen  (1978)

Source: Wise Brother Media/ Radio 96.1

What?  Shenanigans I say!  I bet you say it too.  I mean, there are some stellar songs on that list, but also glaring omissions.  Some other yahoos are taking a poll.  Gibson made a list a while ago that grabs some more timeless tracks & grabs “Sweet Child O’ Mine” which would be close to or at the top of my list & really, who could forget “Crazy Train”?  And neither list makes note of the banes of guitar stores’ existence “Enter Sandman” or “Smells Like Teen Spirit“.  And where the hell is Black Sabbath?  “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” has to be one of the coolest intros ever, among so many more.  What about “Welcome to the Jungle”?

If you’re gonna include “Sweet Home Alabama”, why not “Stairway to Heaven”, or even that one Pearl Jam song that’s all jangly and has that sweet tone where Vedder mumbles incoherently.  Hendrix’s version or “Hey Joe” or “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”?

“Eruption”?  Clearly awesome, but it’s its own song, isn’t it, not an intro?  I mean, what are the rules here?  Why not just throw in some bass like “Bassically“/”N.I.B.” or “Anesthesia [Pulling Teeth]”/”Whiplash”?  A bass is arguably a guitar, right?

Nothing by Heart?  “Sunshine of Your Love” anyone?  “Start Me Up”?  “Hair of the Dog?”  No ZZ Top?  Nothing by Aerosmith?  No “Talk Dirty to Me?”  Ha ha.  Just making sure you’re paying attention.  What about some more metal stuff?  No Pantera?  No Slayer?  No Metalli-freakin’-ca?  No punk rock?  Well, I guess not a bunch of punk has blazing riff like intros.

What is rock?  Can rap or funk be included?  What about some crazy stuff by guys like Carl Perkins or Willie Nelson?

It’s clear my friends that we need to make our own list.  I dig Velvet Revolver’s “Set Me Free”, but I may be in the minority there.  Remember, this is guitar intros, not riffs.  I’m guessing we should aim for guitar-only intros, or we would all have to concede to “Rock You Like a Hurricane” for being the most powerful.   There’s also that one Avenged Sevenfold song…  it’s got a killer riff at the beginning, but I think there’s some drums right at the beginning.  If these are OK, is there room for “No Sleep till Brooklyn” or “Fight For Your Right”?

Start naming songs.  We’ll figure out some ground rules, set a number, set up some brackets & some votes.  We’ll even name it something classy like “The Actual Best Rock Guitar Intros of All Time (Not Chosen by Idoits)”.  Then, we’ll spark more idiots to have more useless arguments discussions.

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26 thoughts on “Rock’s Greatest Guitar Intros? (a.k.a. Another Stupid List?)

  1. Haha whilst reading that list, songs kept popping in my head. As soon as you started commenting on it, you thought of all the songs/groups I was thinking needed to be on that list. Why did we both think the same? Because THOSE are the ultimate songs that should’ve been on that list. That list was fair, but lacking. Crazy Train was one of the first to come to mind. This is my music genre, so give me a couple days and I’ll be able to think of a my own list that I’ll contribute to your ultimate list.


    • Ha ha.

      …you thought of all the songs/groups I was thinking needed to be on that list. Why did we both think the same? Because THOSE are the ultimate songs that should’ve been on that list.

      You may be on to something! Ha ha. Another one I forgot is “Paranoid”. What fan of rock n’ roll doesn’t recognize that riff? Again, the bass comes in right away… so maybe that doesn’t count? What kind of rules do we need here?

      They need clearly explained I guess. Ha ha. Are other instruments permissible? Is there a prescribed length?

      I look forward to your suggestions.


  2. Speaking of the Scorpions, I would also consider nominating “The Zoo”. Some of the entriess on this list are valid; “Thunderstruck” has a very cool intro for sure. I question the validity of some of these as ‘guitar intros’ though. When it’s just the main riff that’s played throughout the whole song (“Heartbreaker”, “Sweet Home”, “Layla” etc), played once through before the vocals kick in or whatever, is it really an intro?

    Anyway, I’d also submit for your consideration “Crazy on You” (awesome intro, meh song), “La Grange”, and perhaps the best guitar intro ever (they picked the wrong song from this band) “Spirit of Radio”


  3. Not sure it would be on everyone’s list, but I always loved the intro to “Someone to Shove” by Soul Asylum. Also need a Pantera on the list, but I hate to nominate respect, although it is an immediately recognizable riff, which I consider part of the definition of “great”, when it fires up, and you immediately know the song.


  4. There are so many that I can think of. A whole lot of Dinosaur Jr. songs, because J Mascis is a badass. There are a good many Descendents and ALL songs, especially if you allow for bass guitar. The bass intro to Myage is damn near perfect.


  5. From an email…

    haven’t been able to post, but that guitar intro thing you linked is
    missing, among things, “bad moon rising” by CCR. that D chord alone
    is more epic than most everything else on that list. 😉

    Good call. I can hear that in my head as I was reading it.


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  7. For me, the greatest guitar intros are those that stick with a person and if you start humming it or playing it or whatever, everyone automatically goes, “OH! I know that song!!!” just by its intro. Some might be very short, and not very popular and amazing, but they are songs where I hear just the guitar playing in my head.

    Songs that rock my socks and agonize me by getting stuck in my head whether they truly are list worthy or not:

    Currently, and for years, I’ve loved Bullet for my Valentine. They aren’t the most remarkable intros, but they always have a great guitar intro at the beginning of every song.

    Coheed’s Welcome Home–Well, I just love that one. Good sound and great song.

    Gun’s n roses kills with Sweet Child O’ Mine & Welcome to the Jungle, no doubt have to both make the list!

    ACDC is failproof. Pick a song and it’s good. I think Highway to Hell sticks with me quite often.

    Nirvana has a habit of lodging itself in my brain as well as Pearl Jam-love Alive and Even Flow!!!

    I like Disturb’s Stricken; Godsmack’s got a couple goodies; Kamelot w/ Wings of Despair, Forever, When The Lights are Down; Metallica’s Enter Sandamn and One; Motorhead Ace of Spades; Slipknot Before I Forget; System of a Down’s BYOB; Kashmir/Immigrant Song-Led Zepplin; Disposable Teens – Marilyn Manson; Rob zombie’s Never Gonna Stop; Panama by Van Halen; Seven Nation Army by White Stripes; Man In The Box by Alice in Chains;

    *Crazy train, Iron Man, and Paranoid take a big piece of the cake for me.

    Cliffs of Dover will forever be my ultimate favorite. Eargasm right there. It’s the entire song, though, but the intro reeeally gets me!!!

    I also have to throw in Baracuda from good ol’ Heart 😀

    …There are other great songs that aren’t rock, but they need a separate list.
    Eye of the Tiger; Sweet Home Alabama; Livin’ on The Edge; Same Old Song and Dance; Beat it; Bleed it Out; Escuela de Calor; Black Betty; Higher Ground;
    Collective Soul; Greenday; The Killers (LOVE their stuff!); No Doubt;

    I’m missing tons of stuff both rock n not, but so many songs overwhelmed my head, I couldn’t type out all of them.


    • Ha ha, that’s an impressive list! We’D have a lot of similarities… but I can’t get into Godsmack or Collective Soul.

      “Beat It” does have one hell of a riff. I know Steve Lukather (of the band Toto) played the rhythm guitar on the track, not sure if he created that riff. Eddie Van Halen gets all the credit, & all he did was the solo.


  8. Haha well, what can I say? Being bored in highschool and in the Pittfall control booth would have me playing air guitar to all of those songs, so I had a good built list :b
    I wouldn’t put Godsmack on the list, just a couple songs with good guitar gets stuck in my head. Collective soul, def not, but December and Heavy are itty bitty goodie ones for being who they are.


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