Popular 1-4-5 Chord Progression Songs

The 1-4-5 chord progression is a common pattern that shows itself in music time and time again. Understanding what it means and how to use it opens up a world of possibilities for guitar players.

Not only do some of the most famous songs use this progression, but some songs use only a 1-4-5 progression from beginning to end. This, in itself, should illustrate what a powerful concept it really is.

Learning to identify these songs can show you how to apply this to your own music. In the beginning, however, identifying them may be a challenge.

With that in mind, let’s explore some of the most popular songs using a 1-4-5 chord progression that you can play on guitar.

Also, check out these famous pentatonic scale song examples…

What Is A 1-4-5 Chord Progression? (I-IV-V)

Before we dive into the songs that use a 1-4-5 chord progression, let’s first identify what this chord progression is and why it is such a valuable concept for guitar players to understand. 

A 1-4-5 (or I-IV-V) chord progression uses the First, Fourth, and Fifth chords from the Major scale in any given key. The result often produces a strong, memorable piece of music, which is why it has been used in so many big hits.

These hits include songs like Crazy Train, Twist And Shout, Wild Thing, I Love Rock n’ Roll, and Fortunate Son – just to name a few.

This chord structure can be played in any key while keeping the same feel, so long as the chord order remains unchanged.

(For a complete and detailed explanation of the 1-4-5 chord progression, check out this article.)

Popular Songs Using A 1-4-5 Chord Progression

There are thousands of songs that make use of the 1-4-5 chord progression, and we couldn’t possibly name enough to do this list justice. We have, however, gathered some of the most popular that you’re bound to know.

It may be helpful to grab your guitar, and open a second browser tab. This way you can look up the chords or tab for each example, to better understand the application.

Randy Rhoads playin guitar on Crazy Train
Randy Rhoades” by Ted Van Pelt is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

1. Crazy Train – Ozzy Osbourne

Key: A Major

Chords: A Maj | D Maj | E Maj

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Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne is among the greatest rock songs of all time. It’s also one of the most widely recognized songs.

Randy Rhoads was a legendary guitarist and this hit from 1980 helped cement his name into rock n’ roll history. While he was a musical genius, he wasn’t immune to the simple, yet effective, I-IV-V.

During the song’s verse, Rhoads plays 1-4-5 chord progression using A Major, D Major and E Major. The progression is specifically A – E – E – A.

This is one example showing that the chords don’t have to necessarily go in a strict 1 – 4 – 5 order, and you’ll see that they often will not.

2. Fortunate Son – Creedence Clearwater Revival

Key: G Major

Chords: G Maj | D Maj | C Maj

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Fortunate Son by CCR is an iconic anthem of classic, southern rock music. It also happens to make excellent use of a 1-4-5 chord progression in the key of G. 

The chorus section of Fortunate Son follows the progression G Major, D Major, and C Major, which are all the chords in the First, Fourth, and Fifth positions of the key. 

You should be noticing now that the 1-4-5 chords out of order creates dynamics and tension within the progression, which can alter the entire feel of the song.

3. I Love Rock n’ Roll – Joan Jett & The Blackhearts

Key: E Major

Chords: E Maj | A Maj | B Maj

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I Love Rock n’ Roll has become one of the most covered songs in the entire world and is a great jam for every guitarist to learn. It has everything that all rock guitarists love – a catchy hook, a simple yet punchy chord progression, and a fun little solo. 

The main three chords used in this song as E Major (I), A Major (IV), and B Major (V). This is among the many songs that follow these three chords for almost the entire piece, which makes it a good example of how powerful this progression can be. 

4. Wild Thing – The Troggs

Key: A Major

Chords: A Maj | D Maj | E Maj

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Released in 1996, Wild Thing was originally written and performed by The Troggs but has since been covered by many big names in the industry and has also appeared in countless films. Most importantly, I would consider this the perfect example of a I – IV – V chord progression.

Wild Thing is in the Key of A Major and predominantly uses the 1-4-5 chords from the key, A Major, D Major, and E Major. You’ll see that they do throw in a G Major chord during the verse section also. 

Wild Thing is a simple song and a fun jam, even for the most experienced guitarist. This holds true still over half a decade after its initial release.

5. Twist And Shout – The Beatles

Key: D Major

Chords: D Maj | G Maj | A Maj

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This song will always reminds me of Ferris Beuller’s Day Off. Absolutely the best moment of the entire movie involved Ferris singing Twist and Shout on stage during a parade he crashed. If you haven’t seen this, you should probably stop whatever you’re doing right now and watch it. Otherwise, I’ll just leave a clip for you below!

While having been made overwhelmingly famous by the Beatles, Twist And Shout was originally written by Phil Medley and Bert Berns. It was initially recorded by The Top Notes, and then the Isly Brothers also released a version in 1962.

The Beatles didn’t release their cover of Twist And Shout until 1963 on their debut studio album. Very soon after they took the world by storm and, by 1964, Twist and Shout became synonymous with the term Rock n’ Roll. 

This song is in the key of D Major and uses D Maj, G Maj, and A Maj all the way through, adding A Dominant7 during some sections as well. There is a bridge part to the song that strays from the progression, but the majority of the piece uses the 1-4-5 progression only. 

6. Rock and Roll – Led Zeppelin

Key: A Major

Chords: A Maj | D Maj | E Maj

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Rock And Roll hit the scene on Led Zeppelin’s untitled fourth album released in 1972. It became a crowd favorite and was often played as their opening song after that.

Meanwhile, it has remained a legendary rock song and is a piece of musical history. If you aren’t familiar with it, you’ve at least heard it. If you haven’t heard it, trust me you’ve heard it…

This song is a true example of a 1-4-5 progression, as the entire thing is played using the First, Fourth, and Fifth chords from A Major. 

While A Major, D Major, and E Major are the only chords in this song, the order of the chords changes depending on the song section. The foundation of the song is simple, but the complexity comes in the attitude and execution. Jimmy Page certainly had that part covered.

7. Stir It Up – Bob Marley & The Wailers

Key: A Major

Chords: A Maj | D Maj | E Maj

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Stir It Up is a great reggae song from Bob Marley that uses exclusively the 1, 4, and (you guessed it) the 5 chord.

This song is in the Key of A and is played A Major, D Major, and E Major for the whole song. The trick to playing this song well, despite the minimalistic approach to the chords, is to rely on the rhythms, feel, and tone of the genre to carry the song.

Stir It Up makes excellent use of simple chords played in an interesting way to create a unique piece of music. 

8. Folsom Prison Blues – Johnny Cash

Key: G Major

Chords: G Maj | C Maj | D Maj

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Folsom Prison Blues by Johnny Cash is a rite of passage for all guitar players who enjoy playing blues. This song is not very challenging to learn, but it is a weighty piece of music that teaches guitarists how to bring emotion and style into what they are playing. 

This song is almost identical to a 12-bar blues progression, but it actually comes out at 11 bars. It uses only the 1-4-5 progression from G Major, using the chords G Major, C Major, and D Major, but it also makes use of the G Dominant7 and D Dominant 7 chords as well.

No other chords are used in this song, and it keeps the music consistent and ideal for vocal accompaniment, making this song ideal for guitar players who are learning to play and sing simultaneously.

Conclusion 

The 1-4-5 chord progression is an important concept that every guitarist should master. Using this chord progression unlocks simple song transposition and enables guitarists to learn songs quickly, regardless of the key. 

Take the time to master the 1-4-5 progression in every Major key, and you’ll have hundreds, if not thousands, of songs at your fingertips. This is a worthwhile way to spend a practice session, as it will stick with you for a long time to come.

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