Nobody could have predicted the far-reaching success that Guitar Hero would achieve. The game prompted even non-gamers to purchase a gaming console to get in on the action.
If you’ve never played this classic, you’ll definitely want to seek out a copy for your own enjoyment. The following songs are some of the best cuts on the entire soundtrack and are sure to keep you coming back for more.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Spanish Castle Magic
Considering that Jimi Hendrix single-handedly reinvented how the electric guitar would be played, it’s only right to include a track of his. Spanish Castle Magic might not be his most famous track, but it definitely highlights the things he is known for as a guitarist.
Like many of his songs, Spanish Castle Magic’s guitar part variates between lead and rhythm parts. The verses especially rely on a distinct rhythmic strumming (which is arguably the easiest part of the song).
You’ll encounter this song about midway through the game. Fortunately, your chops will likely be sharp enough by then to master this song without much of an issue.
Black Sabbath – Iron Man
Would any guitar-related game be complete without a Black Sabbath song included on the soundtrack? The developers at Harmonix thought not, including one of the group’s most iconic songs into the game.
Iron Man is easily recognizable, even to those who do not regularly listen to Black Sabbath’s material. The intro is especially memorable, due in part to the robotic voice and signature guitar riff.
Iron Man makes its appearance in the game toward the beginning during the game’s 2nd level. Once your chops are up to snuff, you’ll probably use this as a sort of warmup song.
Deep Purple – Smoke On The Water
If you’ve attempted to learn the real guitar, you know that Smoke On The Water has a riff that must be learned. In fact, many guitarists consider Smoke On The Water’s riff a sort of rite of passage.
Guitar Hero’s developers were in on this knowledge when they included Smoke On The Water on the soundtrack. Ironically enough, the song actually appears at the beginning of the game.
You won’t be able to get by just playing a simplified version of the main riff. Unlike real life, you’ll actually be playing through the entire song here.
Cream – Crossroads
Cream is usually considered to be one of the first supergroups in the history of rock music. The band’s live recording of the Robert Johnson song, Crossroads, displays what the band is known for.
Being in a trio is no small feat, but Cream managed to have a very full sound. That full sound definitely comes across in Crossroads, which is chock full of improvisation on every member’s part.
Crossroads is one of those songs that you’d want to have in your repertoire if you actually played the guitar in real life. You’d be able to bust it out at an open jam and other people would likely be able to play along.
Ramones – I Wanna Be Sedated
If a video game is to cover rock music’s history in its entirety, it’s only fitting to include some punk music. While many bands are fitting of inclusion, putting a Ramones track in Guitar Hero makes quite a bit of sense.
The Ramones are undoubtedly one of the greatest American punk groups in the history of modern music. So many of their songs have become instant hits, with I Wanna Be Sedated being one of those tracks.
Fortunately, this song is actually rather easy and appears at the beginning level of the game. I Wanna Be Sedated is more about hip aesthetics rather than flashy, difficult techniques that make you bust a sweat.
Sum 41 – Fat Lip
For a somewhat simplistic musical subgenre, punk music has had quite an evolutionary journey in sound. Like every other popular genre, punk music began to get infused with pop music sensibilities in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
There are many noteworthy pop punk bands from the turn of the century, with Sum 41 being a prominent example. Their song, Fat Lip, became one of the biggest unexpected hits of 2001.
Fat Lip appears in the 4th level of Guitar Hero, when things start to become slightly more difficult. It’s still relatively easy compared to many of the other songs that are on this mammoth soundtrack.
Megadeth – Symphony Of Destruction
Megadeth is undoubtedly one of the biggest names of 1980s and 1990s metal. To the average person, however, the band doesn’t have as many well-known hits compared to its contemporaries.
One song that anybody who was alive during the early 1990s probably remembers is Symphony Of Destruction. Upon its release, the track had a memorable music video that eventually became too risqué without proper editing.
If you’re more accustomed to the later games released in the Guitar Hero chronology, you’re probably familiar with this song. The song made an appearance in Guitar Hero 5, along with 3rd game of the game series’s rival, Rock Band.
Judas Priest – You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’
If you’re like me, you probably have fond memories of cruising around the streets of Vice City listening to V-Rock. One of the many excellent songs on that station’s playlist was You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’, by Judas Priest.
It’s only fitting that the song would find its way into the soundtrack for the original Guitar Hero game. After all, Judas Priest was one of the pioneer bands pushing the sound of British metal to mainstream audiences.
ZZ Top – Sharp Dressed Man
If you’re looking for a fairly easy song that is more hip than difficult, ZZ Top’s Sharp Dressed Man will fit the bill. You will want to make sure you have a pair of sunglasses handy when you attempt this track.
Of course, that’s not to say that this song is an absolute breeze. Despite appearing near the beginning of the game, it could throw you for a loop if you aren’t prepared.
Boston – More Than A Feeling
Despite the entirety of Boston’s catalog sounding similar, the debut album remains an all-time classic. This debut album produced nearly every Boston track that still receives radio play to this day.
More Than A Feeling is one of those tracks and is almost orchestral in its use of layered guitar parts. With this many iconic riffs in one song, it’s only fitting that it should be included in Guitar Hero.
This is a pretty easy song that you’ll have access to once you complete the game’s first level. It’s a song you’ll probably return to every now and again when you’re looking for something easy but enjoyable.
Stevie Ray Vaughan – Texas Flood
Stevie Ray Vaughan didn’t write Texas Flood, but he surely made the song extremely popular. Including it in the original Guitar Hero is a noteworthy choice by the game’s developers.
For starters, SRV essentially reinvented how the electric guitar would be played within the blues genre. His debut album (also called Texas Flood) is what knocked every music fan out of their rocking chairs.
This song is definitely not the most difficult in the game but it will pose its own challenges if you’re not prepared. What else would you expect from a guitarist that possessed extreme expression combined with speed and perfect precision?
Queen – Killer Queen
Queen is, by far, one of the greatest bands to have ever included a sense of dramatic flair into its sound. Many of the group’s biggest hits all of some sense of dramatics, which propel the songs’ energy to exceeding heights.
Queen’s first international hit was the song, Killer Queen. This track provides the slightest taste of what Queen would become to be known for in terms of their sound.
Killer Queen has some unforgettable Brian May licks that are sure to get stuck in your head. The song is the definition of a bop.
The Edgar Winter Group – Frankenstein
Frankenstein is one of those songs that are extremely well-known among even casual classic rock listeners. But, to be fair, it is a bit of an unusual choice to have featured in a game that centers around guitar parts.
The reason for this is that Frankenstein is actually more notable for its use of a synthesizer. In fact, with this song, Edgar Winter essentially popularized playing the synthesizer in a standing position that mimics the guitar.
Maybe the developers at Harmonix thought it would be cheeky fun to include it in a game that utilizes a controller in the same manner. Either way, this is guaranteed to be one of your favorites in the game.
Franz Ferdinand – Take Me Out
There are very few tracks on the original Guitar Hero that could be deemed as “danceable”. The majority of the soundtrack leans toward headbanging rather than something that could make one move their entire body.
But if you’re one that enjoys a rock song that will move your feet, take Franz Ferdinand’s Take Me Out for a spin. This song has an undeniably catchy sound that fits right in with that dance-pop indie-rock sound from the early 2000s.
Queens Of The Stone Age – No One Knows
Queens Of The Stone Age hit an absolute grand slam with the release of the album, Songs For The Deaf. The album features a potent lineup and has some of Dave Grohl’s finest moments as a drummer.
No One Knows was one of the singles released to promote the album and displays some of the hallmark aspects of the band’s sound. This song is almost like a marriage between modern rock and 1960s pop music.
Pantera – Cowboys From Hell
It’s probably a little bit sacrilegious for most guitarists to actually attempt to play Cowboys From Hell in real life. Let’s face it, not everyone has the chops to pull off Dimebag Darrell’s demonic riffs.
Cowboys From Hell will throw you for a loop unless you’re already familiar with how the song goes. The track has a very unique rhythmic groove, which has become one of Pantera’s signature music traits.
Motörhead – Ace Of Spades
Sometimes, nothing hits quite like a metal song that pushes the limit on speed while packing in a hint of grime. Motörhead’s iconic track, Ace Of Spades, could be thought of as the epitome of that very notion.
Ace Of Spades definitely rocks harder than most of the songs within the genre’s era. You should prepare yourself to run into some difficulties if you’re playing through this on the expert difficulty level.
David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust
As a songwriter, David Bowie had a style that almost could not be replicated. His early works often incorporated ridiculous chord progressions that would be unexpected to any listener.
During the early 1970s, Bowie’s work became accompanied by guitar riffs, which is evident in Ziggy Stardust. This track has some of the greatest guitar riffs to come out of that golden era of rock music.
Blue Öyster Cult – Godzilla
If you’re a fan of kaiju films such as Godzilla, you’ll love playing this Blue Öyster Cult song in Guitar Hero. This is one of Blue Öyster Cult’s most famous tracks, largely because of its unforgettable lyrics.
There’s no doubt that you’ll have this one stuck in your head after playing through it.
Bad Religion – Infected
There are a number of songs that you’ll encounter when you play Guitar Hero for the first time. These songs are the easiest to be found in the game, though each can be a little challenging if you aren’t prepared.
Bad Religion’s song, Infected, is one of these songs you’ll find in the game’s opening level. This is a pretty straightforward track that features long, sustained notes mixed with some heavy rhythmic chugging.
Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – I Love Rock ’N Roll
One thing you’ll find in the Guitar Hero series is that the soundtracks often feature rock anthems. Joan Jett’s ode to the genre, I Love Rock ’N Roll, could be considered the start of this tradition.
You’ll encounter this song at the very beginning of the game due to its relative ease in difficulty. The guitar part mostly consists of simplistic rhythmic strums augmented by some semi-tricky riffs.
Ozzy Osbourne – Bark At The Moon
Judas Priest’s You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’ wasn’t the only track from Grand Theft Auto: Vice City to find its way to Guitar Hero. Ozzy Osbourne’s hit song, Bark At The Moon, is another V-Rock track that fits so perfectly in Guitar Hero.
While Ozzy was already technically featured in the game with a Black Sabbath song, his solo material definitely deserves its place. After all, Ozzy’s guitarists have all been named some of the greatest to have ever picked up the instrument.
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Higher Ground
Early Red Hot Chili Peppers often gets overlooked compared to the group’s later releases beyond the early 1990s. However, it’s these earlier releases that demonstrate the raw, funky energy that made the band so famous.
It’s actually quite surprising to see their cover of Stevie Wonder’s hit song, Higher Ground, on Guitar Hero. But you better be prepared, this song will stupefy you with its rhythmic difficulty if you aren’t ready for it.
Top Guitar Hero 1 Songs, Final Thoughts
Even though it’s almost been 20 years since Guitar Hero’s release, the game remains an absolutely legendary title. Surprisingly enough, the game still holds up quite well today despite the massive growth in video game standards.
Should you happen to come across an old copy with a controller, don’t sleep on the decision to purchase them. The game truly is a bundle of fun for anyone of almost any age who has an inclination toward music.