PHOTO: Edu Andrade/CON / Getty Images
10 Easy Rock Songs to Learn on Guitar
From the Smashing Pumpkins to the Strokes to ZZ Top, here are some simple rock tracks that you can pick up in minutes with Fender Play.
By Mike Duffy
In the seven decades since the term “rock and roll” came to be, the broad genre has split into countless tributaries.
Blues rock, folk rock, surf rock, punk rock, psychedelic rock, glam rock, indie rock … the list goes on.
But as rock evolved over the years through luminaries like Buddy Holly, Eric Clapton, David Gilmour, Keith Richards, Peter Buck and Billy Corgan, to name just a few, electric and acoustic guitars have always played key roles in creating some of the most emotionally and socially charged music ever.
For those rockers that are just beginning to play the guitar, it’s OK if you’re not Clapton just yet. There are a lot of simple rock songs that you can learn in minutes from Fender Play.
Check out a list below of 10 easy rock songs that will help you get closer to your rock and roll dreams.
1. Bob Marley & the Wailers: "One Love”
An international icon and transcendent artist, Bob Marley made reggae a staple for music lovers, delivering hit after hit of his percussive, catchy and beautifully uncomplicated arrangements. Marley's "One Love" is as poetic in its message as it is catchy in its melody. The track is one of the reggae legend's most popular, as it became a seminal anthem for worldwide peace and is still used to this day.
2. Jimmy Eat World: "The Middle”
"The Middle" was a breakthrough for emo-rockers Jimmy Eat World, who saw it reach the top five on Billboard's Hot 100 chart. “The Middle” reflects on the time after Jimmy Eat World was dropped by their label and includes down-but-not-out lyrics like “don’t write yourself off yet” and “it’s only in your head / you feel left out or looked down on.”
3. Ritchie Valens: "La Bamba”
The first Chicano rock star, Ritchie Valens pioneered a blend of rock and Latin music that climbed the charts and put LA on the map. “La Bamba” is an energetic combination of rock music and Latin riffs. This Top 40 hit is one of rock's most recognizable songs.
4. Muse: "Knights of Cydonia”
British rockers Muse composed the anthemic "Knights of Cydonia" for their 2006 release Black Holes and Revelations. The album peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard 200 Charts and the song hit No. 10 on the U.K. Singles sharts. Try to play this one while mimicing frontman Matt Bellamy's trademark falsetto.
!--Begin banner placement-->
5. ZZ Top: “Tush”
VH1 named ZZ Top’s “Tush,” the only single from fourth album Tush, the 67th best hard rock song of all time, and it definitely deserved to be on the list. A 12-bar bluesy rocker, it took John Lee Hooker’s rhythm approach and added modern hard rock picking and lead work. Fender Play instructor Scott Goldbaum breaks it down to a campfire version to give you a three-chord (D, G, C) rhythm progression.
6. The Rolling Stones: "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction”
With arguably the most recognizable guitar riff ever, “Satisfaction” is a fine example of why the Rolling Stones' rock-meets-soul strut got them dubbed the “greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in the world.”
7. The Smashing Pumpkins: “Cherub Rock”
The Smashing Pumpkins earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Hard Rock Performance after releasing “Cherub Rock,” the first single from the seminal Siamese Dream. Frontman Billy Corgan's knack for combining hard rock riffs and pop hooks comes together nicely under the chugging rhythm guitar pulse of this hit. In this video, you’ll get a look at single note playing and moveable power chord shapes to bring back memories of the ‘90s.
8. The Strokes: “Last Nite”
The Strokes brought punk and garage rock back to the charts in the early 2000s with their debut single, “Last Nite,” and its upbeat dancey rhythm. When it entered the American charts, it even reached the top five. Take a stab at the New York City band’s groundbreaking hit in a lesson that gets you familiar with chord anticipation and 16th note strumming patterns.
9. The Smithereens: “Blood & Roses”
The Smithereens had a hit on their hands with “Blood & Roses,” the first single off debut album Especially For You. Fender Play instructor Barrett Wilson takes you through this classic that has five chords (E minor, G, C, D and A minor). In this lesson, you’ll use pivot fingers and 8th note alternate strumming.
10. Buddy Holly: “Not Fade Away”
Buddy Holly’s 1957 recording of “That’ll Be the Day” with his band, the Crickets, achieved widespread success and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998. In this tutorial from Fender Play instructor Nikki Stevens, you can use down strums or work up to a more percussive alternate strum through the three chords (E, A, and D major).
Check out our list of easy songs and beginner chords by genre and instrument: Pop Songs l Folk Songs l Rock Songs l Blues Songs l Country Songs l Songs for Electric Guitar l Songs for Acoustic Guitar l Songs for Ukulele l Songs for Bass