harley davidson

Top 14 Guitar Riffs For Harley Riders

The weather is getting warmer where I am (St. Paul, Shoreview, Arden Hills, Roseville) which means the bikes are getting louder. We've been working hard to collect a few of the artists and tunes that are most popular with Harley Davidson riders. Some of them might surprise you but remember, lots of different people ride Harleys. Other selections might come as no surprise. Have fun with this and share it with someone who might like it. Maybe you'll even find some new music that you like!

1. Bad To The Bone- George Thorogood

Nitty gritty danger, that's what this one's about. The no-holds-barred distorted slide guitar makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. George Thorogood's storytelling in this song is the stuff of legend-- bold, larger than life, sometimes almost comical.

2. Rebel Yell- Billy Idol

Written by Billy Idol and guitarist Steve Stevens, this song is said to have been inspired by an event that Billy attended where Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Ronnie Wood of The Rolling Stones were taking swigs from a bottle of Rebel Yell bourbon whiskey. He liked the name of the brand and decided to write a song about it. This single reached #46 in the US and was named one of the best hard rock songs of all time by VH1.

3. I Can't Drive 55- Sammy Hagar

Addicted to speed, or the power of having it available. You like to break the rules because you can. Or, the sheer command of having it and not using it. Have you checked out Sammy's signature Red Rocker Harley? You can also rock out to this as you ride along highway 55 in either Minneapolis or St. Paul.

4. Margaritaville- Jimmy Buffett

This one isn't as badass as the other songs, but it's a crowd pleaser and everyone at the party is bound to know it and sing along. Plus, you can connect with it on the topics of wasting time, long lost love, and partying to your heart's content. Songs about sunshine are also welcome for 5 months out of the St. Paul MN year.

5. Take The Highway- Marshall Tucker Band

Another road song from the great southern american songbook.

6. Here I Go Again- Whitesnake

If you were a teen in the 80s, you probably rocked out to this song once or twice. It peaked at #1 in 1987 and the music video featured iconic model and David Coverdale squeeze Tawny Kitaen. 

7. Born To Be Wild- Steppenwolf

This is pretty much your theme song. The open highway, heavy metal thunder, and the relentless pursuit of adventure all speak to you on another level.

8. Rockin Into The Night- 38 Special

This song was the first big hit for this southern rock band, off of their album by the same name. Written by members of Survivor: Jim Peterik, Gary Smith and Frank Sullivan. Jeff Carlisi and Don Barnes are both credited with playing guitar on this album.

9. Midnight Rider- The Allman Brothers

This is your song for riding off into the night without a care in the world what might happen. You love the open road, the cover of night, and not getting caught.

10. Green Grass and High Tides- The Outlaws

Outlaws founding member and guitar player Hughie Thomasson describes how this song was written: I wrote that song in St Augustine, Florida. We went to a cookout on the beach and everybody forgot to bring their guitars. I was standing by the ocean and there was a breeze and the words kept coming to me. It’s about all the rock stars I liked that died had come back and were playing a show just for me. Like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison. And eventually more of course.

11. Bad Reputation- Joan Jett

This one and the next song are for the girls out there...you ride too! VH1 named "Bad Reputation" the 29th greatest hard rock song of all time, making it the highest ranked song on the list by a woman. The music video is a reenactment of Jett's rise to the top and the 23 record labels that rejected her.

12. Crazy On You- Heart

This was Heart's first commercial hit and it became one of their signature songs for the rest of their career. It features hall-of-fame worthy guitar work by Nancy Wilson.

13. Voodoo Child (Slight Return)- Jimi Hendrix

This one is a shoo-in. With its raw guitar tone and fiery guitar work and lyrics fit for a legend, Jimi Hendrix gets a pass :)

14. Welcome to The Jungle- Guns 'N' Roses

Come on, who doesn't like Slash?!?! Plus, this has an epic echo-laden guitar intro. 



There's More!

Running Down a Dream- Tom Petty

Released in 1989, this song achieved moderate commercial success and topped out at #23 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It's a great driving/riding song and you've probably heard it at major sporting events too. Mike Campbell is Tom Petty's long time guitar player.

Man In Black- Johnny Cash

How much black is in your closet? Or should I ask, what percentage of your closet is black? From Wikipedia: 

The song is a "protest statement against racism, the treatment of poor people by wealthy politicians, the condemnation of drug users and prisoners, and the war in Vietnam."

Real talk.

Cat Scratch Fever- Ted Nugent

A song about cats! Mostly the stray ones that go from place to place.

Full of innuendos and double entendres, this one is as raunchy as they get. The original shock rocker, Ted Nugent has made his own special brand of rock. Don't forget he's also a very skilled guitar player. Have you listened to the Pantera version?

Black Dog- Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin is the original supergroup. Each member is a legend on their instrument with a very unique and famous sound.

Robert Plan describes the inspiration for this song: 

"Let me tell you 'bout this poor old dog because he was a retriever in his early days, and the only thing he could ever find in his late days was his old lady who lived two houses away from where we were recording. And he used to go see the old lady quite regularly, but after he'd "boogied" and everything else he couldn't get back. And we used to carry him back."

Whole Lotta Love- Led Zeppelin

This song's release in the US was the band's first hit and peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was later certified Gold for having sold one million copies. A lawsuit was settled in 1985 which decided that parts of the song originated from "You Need Love" by Willie Dixon, resulting in a payment and credit on subsequent releases.

That Smell- Lynyrd Skynyrd

Probably my favorite Skynyrd song, the guitar playing and production are solid on this one.

The reason the song was written is perhaps not so positive. Culminating with the evening when guitarist Gary Rossington got drunk and high and crashed his new car into an oak tree in Florida, singer Ronnie Van Zant was inspired to write the song as a warning against the abuse of drugs and alcohol. Three days after the song was released on 'Street Survivors', the band was devastated by a plane crash that killed several members including Van Zant.

Simple Man- Lynyrd Skynyrd

Since becoming available for digital download, this song has become Skynyrd's third best selling song after Free Bird and Sweet Home Alabama. It describes life wisdom passed down from mother to son, emphasizing spirituality, love, and simple living over wealth and life in the fast lane.

Enter Sandman- Metallica

Enter Sandman was the first song that was written for Metallica's self-titled album, famously referred to as 'the black album'. The lyrics revolve around the themes of a child's nightmares.

Sad But True- Metallica

I couldn't choose just one Metallica song, so I chose this one too. It's heavy, it's scary, it's dark. What's not to like?

Thunderstruck- AC/DC

What would testosterone-fueled rock and roll be without AC/DC? They're old-school, larger than life, and still going strong. And they're loud too! Just ask Brian Johnson.

Back In Black- AC/DC

If you've heard this song, and I still need to explain it to you, you're in the wrong place. But you made it to the end! Congratulations.