Guitar Center riffs are real and have been the butt of many jokes over the years. While they're certainly annoying to hear at high volumes (and usually played badly), it does speak to a certain level of fame the riffs have attained.
In an interview with Knotfest, Slipknot vocalist Corey Taylor called Metallica's "Enter Sandman" is one of the classic Guitar Center riffs, and puts it up there with classics like "Stairway To Heaven" by Led Zeppelin and "Smoke On The Water" by Deep Purple.
"One of the first songs I ever learned how to play on guitar was 'Enter Sandman'," said Taylor. "Because that was kind of our generation's 'Stairway To Heaven' or 'Smoke On The Water'. It's one of those riffs that… I like to call it the Guitar Center virus. Anybody who comes in is either playing 'Sandman', 'Crazy Train', 'Smoke On The Water' or 'Stairway' or 'Whole Lotta Love'… You have those gateway riffs where you go, 'Oh, I figured it out.'
"I sat down one day, as I got better at guitar, and I went back and listened to the first four Metallica albums and just started woodshedding and learning all these riffs. And it became a sort of language that you could speak to other musicians when you're jamming for the first time. If you kicked into 'Blitzkrieg' or something, or if you kicked into 'Ride The Lightning' and just started [playing the opening riffs of the song], and they kicked in with you, you knew you were off to the races, because you don't just learn that riff; you learn the whole tune and you just go for it.
"So it was almost like an initiation in a weird way; you knew how to do it. So I played Metallica in almost every band that I've been in; it's always just been there. I mean, from my first sort-of-real band Criminal Mischief all the way up to my solo band."
Taylor was one of the many artists to participate in Metallica's Black Album covers album, called The Metallica Blacklist, with a cover of "Holier Than Thou". You can also check out our review of The Metallica Blacklist here.