Rock music has been the inspiration for hundreds of thousands of guitarists. Many were inspired to pick up a guitar after seeing and hearing their favourite bands jam on stage. When the spotlight illuminates the guitarist and he plays a captivating phrase — it can be awe inspiring.
Sometimes it can be a little tough to figure out where to begin, or where you should move forward. We’ve compiled a list of songs of varying difficulties that should be in every guitarists repertoire. Here are five must learn classic rock songs on guitar.
Deep Purple – Smoke on the Water
This is one of the first riffs many guitarists ever play — I know it was probably mine. It’s iconic, and if you walk into a guitar store there’s a 50% chance someone is playing this song. Well, maybe not that high, but the point is that it’s an incredibly popular song to learn.
It’s an easy power chord based riff and everybody recognizes it. When it comes to the basics and first starting out, this is the song you want to check out.
Nail the main riff, and then once you get better you can come back to it and learn the solo.
Eric Clapton – Layla
The opening riff to Layla is a huge attention grabber and will make anyone playing it feel like a huge badass. The verses aren’t as flashy but are a great way to develop your rhythm and strumming technique.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Purple Haze
Jimi Hendrix’s unique style of playing guitar was legendary. Utilizing chords and leads together in a lean and gritty performance, he became a cultural icon. Purple Haze is one of his most famous tunes and is perfect for any classic rock guitarist.
It’s a perfect example of quintessential Hendrix-style guitar playing and should be picked up by any guitarist looking to rock some socks off. Click here to learn more about Jimi’s songwriting process and more.
Led Zeppelin – Stairway to Heaven
Stairway to Heaven is arguably one of the greatest songs ever written. Jimmy Page created an instantly recognizable riff that develops into a beautiful piece of music. This song is so popular to learn that it has almost become a meme among guitarists. It even made its way into Wayne’s World — the guitar store has a sign that says ‘NO STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN’ because of how much people would play it. You can view the scene here. If I was an employee and I had to hear that riff dozens of times a day, I’d probably put up a sign too.
Save the song for at home — then learn it front to back and back to front, because this is the Holy Grail when it comes to classic rock guitar. Click here to learn more about the meaning behind this famous tune.
Lynyrd Skynyrd- Sweet Home Alabama
Another iconic riff — this bouncy, southern style guitar introduces an anthem that millions adore and love. It’s great to practice picking individual strings within a chord, and has plenty of guitar soloing to keep you busy for a long time. Check out the storied history of this famous song at the link here.