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The 3 guitar riffs Angus Young said are examples of great ones

Angus Young


The 3 guitar riffs Angus Young said are examples of great ones

When it comes to guitar riffs, AC/DC is certainly one of the bands that music fans will often mention as one of the most influential in that subject. Formed by the brothers Malcolm and Angus Young in Australia back in 1973, the band became one of the best-selling of all time with an estimated amount of more than 200 million records sold worldwide.


Although many critics say they write the same album over and over again, they certainly know how to compose a great guitar riff. In an interview with Tiny TV back in 2020, Angus was asked what is a good guitar riff in his opinion. To explain, he mentioned three AC/DC riffs that he believes are good examples of great guitar riffs.

The 3 guitar riffs Angus Young said are examples of great ones

“Riff Raff”

“Well, I would say just listen to our album ‘Powerage’ (1978). There’s a song on there called ‘Riff Raff.’ That’s a cooking guitar riff. So that’s a good example of a guitar riff,” Angus Young said.

As Angus said, “Riff Raff” was released on the band’s fifth studio album “Powerage”. Like all the tracks from the album, the song is credited to Malcolm, Angus and the late legendary vocalist Bon Scott. Although is not one of the band’s biggest hits, the track continued to frequently be featured on their live setlists. That record still had other famous tracks like “Rock N’ Roll Damnation”, “Down Payment Blues” and “Sin City”.

At the time, the band also had Cliff Williams on bass and Phil Rudd on drums.

“Bad Boy Boogie”

“Let me see, on ‘Let There Be Rock,’ (1977) I would say ‘Bad Boy Boogie’. (It) has got a flavor because it’s got a little bit of a twist in it. It sounds easy but Malcolm had a little twist that I don’t think many could do.

“Even when I do it today, I’d still listen again to how clever was he (Malcolm). How clever was he to do that. I still play it just for the fact that he just changed that little note around. It just made all the difference. And that’s how he was too when you would work with him, doing things like guitar riffs. He was great!” Angus Young said.

From the band’s fourth album “Let There Be Rock”, “Bad Boy Boogie” was also written by Angus, Malcolm and Bon. Although it is one of the greatest tracks from that record, it was overshadowed by songs like “Dog Eat Dog”, the title-track and “Whole Lotta Rosie”. Those were the three singles released at the time.

Besides Bon, Angus, Malcolm and Rudd, the band was also formed at the time by Mark Evans on bass.

“Back In Black” (The whole album)

“Another great example is ‘Back in Black’ (1980). Some of the guitar pieces and the way he did them. That’s what I used to say, ‘I don’t know how you conjure them up. I really don’t.’ Because the first time I ever heard that, he had done that on an acoustic guitar. He put it on a cassette, and we were touring doing ‘Highway to Hell.’ He came in my room and he said, ‘I’m clearing.’

“Because he wanted to clear. He’d filled up so many cassettes with riffs and stuff. He was wanting to go over some of them, and he was wanting to clean out a few cassettes, and get rid of what he thought was rubbish. And he said, ‘I’ll play a couple of the ideas.’ He put that on and I said, ‘What – you were going to get rid of that?! If you’re going to get rid of that – give it to me! I’ll say I wrote it, give it to me!’ (Laughs)” Angus Young said.

Of course the track “Back In Black” represents what Angus Young was trying to say about what makes a good guitar riff. But in his answer the musician talked about the 1980 album as a whole. It’s not only AC/DC’s best-selling album, but one of the best-selling records in the history of music. It sold an estimated amount of more than 50 million copies worldwide.

Almost every track from the album is a real classic that was played by the band live over the decades. Besides the title-track, it has “Hells Bells”, “Shoot To Thrill”, “You Shook Me All Night Long” and “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution”.

I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG

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