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Led Zeppelin's Whole Lotta Love voted greatest guitar riff of all time

Jimmy Page
(Image credit: Robert Knight Archive/Redferns)

Naming the greatest riff of all time is no mean feat. But you – the loyal readers of Total Guitar and Guitar World – have done it. And you've chosen Jimmy Page's riff from Led Zeppelin's Whole Lotta Love as your number one.

The Led Zeppelin II cut places ahead of the Randy Rhoads-penned lick from Ozzy Osbourne's Blizzard Of Ozz classic Crazy Train, followed shortly after by AC/DC's Back in Black, written by late rhythm guitar legend Malcolm Young.

“In 1969, the year Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon, Jimmy Page launched his own giant leap for mankind,” Total Guitar writes in its July 2021 issue, which is out today (June 4).

Whole Lotta Love's guitar figure took just 2.7 seconds to play, but it immediately projected music into another decade. While everyone else was still playing the '60s, Zeppelin were now playing the '70s.”

It continues: “It wasn't the first great riff, but it is the defining one. It's why riffs became central to guitar music, the reason bands search for the guitar hook that can propel a whole song – or even a whole career.”

The rest of the 50-strong list's top 10 comprises Deep Purple's classic – and guitar store favorite – Smoke on the Water in fourth, Van Halen's Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love in fifth, Metallica's Enter Sandman in sixth, Black Sabbath's Iron Man in seventh, Pantera's Walk in eighth, ZZ Top's La Grange in ninth and Jimi Hendrix's Purple Haze in 10th.

Other riffs featured in the list include Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit, Rage Against the Machine's Killing in the Name and Slipknot's Psychosocial, although you'll need to pick up a copy of the latest issue of Total Guitar to find out where they placed – to do so, head over to Magazines Direct.