Do you remember these guitar riffs? Of course you do!
These five iconic guitar riffs were definitely at the forefront of the 90’s sound. They became a part of the sound of a generation that was driven by rock guitars. These riffs are some of the best in the bunch!
These iconic riffs not only were at the forefront of the 90’s sound but also shifted the momentum from 80’s shred-style guitars to more melodic, harmonious style guitar playing. Gone were the epic shredder solos and in were the riffs that complemented the song and the singers instead. Most guitar players in the 90’s focused on making the guitar riffs more catchy and attainable. These riffs are absolute examples.
1. Lenny Kravitz “Are You Gonna Go My Way”
Criminally underrated is the guy that owns the riff and solo to Lenny Kravitz hit song “Are You Gonna Go My Way,” Craig Ross. He is one of my favorite guitarists to come out of the 90’s era as he manuevered solos old-school style but with modern overtones. Speaking of tones, have you heard his guitar tone on this track? It’s insanely awesome! If you ever have a chance to catch Lenny Kravitz live, make sure you do and pay attention to Craig Ross. You won’t be able to miss him anyhow, his guitar tone will cut right through your ear.
2. Sublime “What I Got”
How could a simple beginning be so good? This song is one of those songs that once you hear the first 3-5 seconds, you will instantly know what song it is. That is the magic of this song. It does not need to get past a certain number count to be known which song it is. Couple the song with Bradley Nowell’s freakin’ awesome guitar solo and you have yourself a hit song you can never tire of. I miss this band, O.G. Sublime…they had so much more to give.
3. Smashing Pumpkins “1979”
This riff needs no introduction. Influential from the start, the riff to Smashing Pumpikins’ “Today” is an alternative pop dream all in itself. The simplicity of octaves as the main guitar riff is just beautiful. Many will think it’s something they could’ve come up with or something that’s not so impressive at all but let me be the one to tell you that the riff is genius. If you don’t get it by now, you never will. That riff set the 90’s on fire.
4. AC/DC “Thunderstruck”
Remember that mention I made above about a band that came from the 70’s? Well, they did and their name is AC/DC. There’s obviously no introduction needed for this band. Their history, influence and music will be followed, copied and replicated for years to come, even after the whole band decides to call it quits. So why is this riff on this list? This riff is on this list because it made AC/DC untouchable after Thunderstruck aired on MTV. they were already legends and on a different plateu than most but this riff cemented their legacy forever, thanks to AC/DC leader and legendary hall of famer guitarist, Angus Young. “THUNDER!” I mean c’mon! Yes!
5. Temple of the Dog “Hunger Strike”
This song caught my ear as soon as I heard Chris Cornell’s voice, as I didn’t care much for Eddie Vedder’s. But when I went back to listen to the song in full and in the quiet of my residence, the riff just resonated so loudly. It’s such a beautiful riff that one can wonder how no one came up with it long time ago. It’s clean, crispy and crystal clear. Then you get the heavy in the middle, only to come back up for air in the electrified riff. No one knew who Temple Of The Dog was but after this song, paired with that beautiful riff, the planet all of a sudden knew who Temple of the Dog were.
There it is! Five iconic guitar riffs from the 90’s. I’m compiling another list that I can hopefully pump out more sooner than later. But in the meantime, what iconic guitar riff from the 90’s captured your ear for years? Let me know below!