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AC/DC’s ‘Back in Black’ Named Top Riff of the 1980s

Angus Young
Frank Micelotta, Getty Images

In news that should surprise no one, the thunderous opening to AC/DC‘s ‘Back in Black’ was named as the top riff of the 1980s. The list was conducted by Gibson guitars, who, coincidentally, manufacture Angus Young‘s trademark SG.

“Brothers Angus and Malcolm Young cooked up some of the greatest riffs of their career on this magnum opus,” they wrote. “But none is more memorable than the hard and heavy title track.”
AC/DC narrowly beat out the Rolling Stones, whose ‘Start Me Up’ finished in second place.

Perhaps not coincidentally, five of the ten songs placed on our countdown of the Top 100 Classic Rock Songs. In addition to ‘Back in Black” (No. 4), the Scorpions‘ ‘Rock You Like a Hurricane,’ (No. 98), Def Leppard’s ‘Photograph,’ (No. 55), Ozzy Osbourne‘s ‘Crazy Train‘ (No. 17) and Guns N’ Roses‘ ‘Sweet Child O’Mine‘ (No. 12) also made the list.

Also unsurprisingly, hard rock from the early-1980s dominated the list. But two exceptions caused us to smile. The power chords that open The Clash’s smash hit ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’ placed in the No. 8 spot, while just ahead of it at No. 7 is the riff that propels Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It.’ So much has been made of Eddie Van Halen‘s genre-bending solo that it’s good to see Steve Lukather’s work in anchoring the song getting some well-deserved attention.

Gibson’s Top 10 Riffs From the 80s

1. AC/DC, ‘Back in Black’
2. Rolling Stones, ‘Start Me Up’
3. Ozzy Osbourne, ‘Crazy Train’
4. The Scorpions, ‘Rock You Like a Hurricane’
5. Def Leppard, ‘Photograph’
6. Judas Priest, ‘Breaking the Law’
7. Michael Jackson, ‘Beat It’
8. The Clash, ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’
9. Guns n’Roses, ‘Sweet Child O’Mine’
10. Rush, ‘Limelight’

Next: Top AC/DC Christmas Lights Displays

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