These top classic rock bands were all hit-makers of their time and have rightfully earned a spot on this list of legends. Some of these famous bands have devoted followers decades after they called it quits (Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd), some are considered icons of music (singers like Eric Clapton and bands like The Beatles, Queen), and some are even still touring (Rolling Stones, Aerosmith) despite the AARP status of their core members. These old school rock bands are still rocking, what have you done with your life?
No matter which line-up of the band you hear, the music is cohesive and stellar. David always surrounds himself with top-notch musicians. Haven’t heard a song I don’t like. Even the most recent albums sound better than anything else out at the moment. The purple album rules! I loved the Mach 3 & 4 line-up’s of deep purple. My son who is 6 years old has watched Whitesnake – made in Japan every night at bath time for over a year. Another generation of Snake fans is born!
A tallied and organized countdown of the best and most influential songs of Classic Rock history. From The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Pink Floyd to Bad Company, Jethro Tull and Elton John. Now you be saying, those are all well known bands and everyone loves them, but we’re not forgetting the lesser known guys. Check it out.
This band showed astounding talent in every aspect of music. Listen to any of their songs to listen to Robert Plant’s triple octive voice. Listen to Kashmir or Moby Dick to hear John Bonham’s drum skills or The Lemon Song to hear one of the greatest bass lines ever.
Performed by The Doors, a quartet from Los Angeles, “Light My Fire” has a jazzy verse and impressive keyboard riffs at the beginning and end of this tune, which was played throughout that wonderful, peace-and-love summer of 1967. In July of that year, “Light My Fire” ascended to #1 for three weeks on the Billboard Hot 100. Interestingly, when playing the song live, The Doors performed a much longer version of the song with solos for guitar and keyboard. Of course, frontman/singer/poet Jim Morrison, aka the Lizard King, always put on a show with his powerful voice and offbeat stage antics.
When you consider that this song is made up of a simple riff repeated many times over, a pretty non-existent chorus and a drum solo which lasts for half the song, it really is spectacularly brilliant.
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Kick back to some magic mix Jones, in his beer and cigarette haze, concocted to feed our Sinatra and 80s technopop…jones. And we turn it waayyy up during the mics, just to see the Drone fume at the banter between Glen and the Shakespearean wise…
Most songs on this list were singles but, at least at first, this one wasn’t. Hey, the Zep didn’t do singles! Yet Atlantic Records released it as a promotional single in 1972. Appearing on Led Zeppelin’s fourth album, “Stairway to Heaven” is a song in three parts, each one increasing in tempo and volume, until the thunderous crescendo, punctuated by guitarist Jimmy Page’s orgasmic trills, and then the tune slowly fades away with an acoustic coda. This breathtaking tune was picked as #3 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Rock Songs compiled in 2000. Incidentally, the rock band Spirit claimed it had created the song’s signature riff, but Spirit lost the copyright infringement lawsuit in 2017.
What’s the recipe for becoming one of the Top 100 classic rock artists? It takes sweeping influence, longevity, groundbreaking importance and a certain indelible quality. But being a huge presence doesn’t necessarily mean that all of these qualities must be present at once.
The critics say AC/DC songs sound the same. Tell me, does BACK IN BLACK (1980), For Those About to Rock (1981) sound like Rock and Roll Train (2009) and Rock Or Bust(2014)? Their sound is theirs. It’s that AC/DC sound that only the Young brothers can produce. It’s actually a subset of rock n roll. You have metal, blues, Rock, Pop, and AC/DC. Plus, they have never made music for the critics. They make it for their Fans. Put it this way: if AC/DC ever listened to their critics at least ONE TIME, I believe they wouldn’t be where they are today. Still making music for soundtracks. Still selling out stadiums at world record pace. I get a kick out of those who say “oh they’re losing a step. They’re getting old”. Haha! Of course! They’re human! But losing a step? I disagree. If they lose a step then they’re hiding it very well. Not bad for guys in their 60’s pushing 70! I can barely get out of bed at 40 sometimes but here they are rocking still. Numbers don’t lie and neither do the …more
Wonderful 1970’s rock, soul and country; Tom Johnstone’s wonderful vocals gave the Doobies their unique sound. They lost it a bit when Johnstone left in 1976 and was replaced as vocalist by Michael MacDonald, a great singer, but he just didn’t fit the sound.
The mindset underlying classic rock was regarded by Christgau as politically regressive; he said the music eschewed ironic sensibilities in favor of unintellectual, conventional aesthetics rooted in Victorian era Romanticism, while downplaying the more radical aspects of 1960s counterculture, such as race, African-American music, politics, and pop in the art sense. “Though classic rock draws its inspiration and most of its heroes from the ’60s, it is, of course, a construction of the ’70s”, he wrote in 1991 for Details magazine. “It was invented by prepunk/predisco radio programmers who knew that before they could totally commodify ’60s culture they’d have to rework it—that is, selectively distort it till it threatened no one … In the official rock pantheon the Doors and Led Zeppelin are Great Artists while Chuck Berry and Little Richard are Primitive Forefathers and James Brown and Sly Stone are Something Else.” Regarding the development of classic rock, Christgau points to the compromised socioeconomic security and diminishing collective consciousness of a new generation of listeners in the 1970s and on, who succeeded rock’s early years during baby-boomer economic prosperity in the United States. “Not for nothing did classic rock crown the Doors’ mystagogic middlebrow escapism and Led Zep’s chest-thumping megalomaniac grandeur. Rhetorical self-aggrandizement that made no demands on everyday life was exactly what the times called for.” Shuker attributed the rise of classic-rock radio in part to “the consumer power of the aging post-war ‘baby boomers’ and the appeal of this group to radio advertisers”. In his opinion, classic rock also produced a rock music ideology and discussion of the music that was “heavily gendered”, celebrating “a male homosocial paradigm of musicianship” that “continued to dominate subsequent discourse, not just around rock music, but of popular music more generally.”
47 Judas Priest Judas Priest are a British heavy metal band that formed in Birmingham, England, in 1969. They are often referred to as one of the greatest metal bands of all time, and are even commonly called “The Metal Gods”, after one of the songs on their 1980 album “British Steel”. …read more.
Sometimes the best songs have the simplest licks. Guitarist Keith Richards created the main guitar lick in “Satisfaction,” a three-note riff played with a Gibson fuzzbox, which made the guitar sound like a saxophone, with which Richards hoped to replace it at some point – but the producers said no way Jose. Anyway, the song was performed live for the first time on Shindig!, an American TV show on which everything was performed live. You gotta love it! Many Boomers probably remember watching this memorable show. Not surprisingly, Rolling Stone magazine picked “Satisfaction” #2 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
The Eagles – One of the biggest bands to cross from rock to country and back again, The Eagles were another band who splintered after their biggest success. Interestingly, Don Henley said that their reunion was easier because classic rock radio played them continuously after they broke up, always keeping them in the public eye.
Give me a break. Why is The Who anywhere close to Rush? Same with Heart, Journey, and the Beatles, I just don’t understand how any band especially the ones I’ve listed, could top off Rush. The only band that comes anywhere close to Rush is Van Halen, but they’re half as good at best. Rush has by far the most variety, The most music, and I honestly haven’t heard a rush song that I don’t like. RUSH FOR LIFE!
The song which put Rush into the UK singles might have been a loveletter to great radio but it was also a prophetic warning about the commercialism creeping into the medium. While the song is the band’s biggest single, it’s no less complex or arresting than the rest of their work – musically prodigious and melodically profound, it’s everything that rock should be.
The sound of a band who have nothing left to prove. Apparently written in minutes on a tour bus, this remains one of the all time great driving songs. It is also pretty notable for containing not only an enormous keyboard solo but also an outrageous guitar solo from Ritchie Blackmore.
31 Alice Cooper Alice Cooper was an American rock band formed in Phoenix, Arizona in 1964. The band consisted of lead singer Vince Furnier, Glen Buxton, Michael Bruce, Dennis Dunaway, and Neal Smith.
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The Doors should definitely be higher on this list. Morrison gets all the hype, but Ray Manzarek is one of the greatest musicians to play rock and roll to this date. Just listen to there last song ever recorded (Riders on the Storm) and tell me they should still be #12.
Led Zeppelin earn the penultimate spot on our Top 100 Classic Rock Songs list with ‘Kashmir,’ a stately, epic masterpiece that refuses to acknowledge that rock music should have any uncrossable boundaries.
As the story goes, The Beatles movie needed a title, something other than Beatlemania, so the Beatles suggested a comment made by Ringo might work. Ringo had said they’ve worked so hard night and day that it’s been a hard . . . day’s night, kind of a malapropism. Eureka! Then, once the producers had a title for the movie, they also needed a theme song. So John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote it and the Beatles recorded it the next day. In July 1964, “A Hard Day’s Night,” the single and album, soared to #1 on the charts in both the US and UK, the first time a musical group had achieved such a feat.
42 Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are an American rock band from Gainesville, Florida. In 1976, the band’s original lineup was Tom Petty as the lead singer and guitar player, Mike Campbell as the lead guitarist, Ron Blair on bass, Stan Lynch on drums, and Benmont Tench on keyboards.
One of the greatest artists of the 20th century. the only artist to be honoured in both the Jazz and Rock and Roll hall of fame. Deep in a mess of dissonant Avant Garde notes, biting satire and a cynical sneer existed of the greatest rock guitarists of all time with a timeless classical sensibility.
Classic rock was originally conceived as a radio station programming format which evolved from the album oriented rock (AOR) format in the early-1980s. In the United States, this rock music format now features a large playlist of songs ranging from the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s, with some stations including a limited number of current releases.
Dark Side of the Moon. The Wall. Wish You Were Here. Animals. Meddle. Pink Floyd was at the top of the pack thematically, musically, and lyrically. Their music is enjoyable to listen to and often requires many listens to discover it’s meaning. The Dark Side of the Moon is hailed as one of the greatest albums of all time and has themes of insanity, death, wasted time, and materialism. The Wall is very different than TDSoTM, but just as good, in it’s own way. It is a long album that follows a singer named Pink as he isolates himself and builds a metaphorical wall between himself andd the outside world. The rock opera also features the crowd favorites Comfortably Numb and Another Brick in the Wall pt. 2. Animals is only 5 tracks long but full of good music. It has roots in the book Animal Farm by George Orwell and it basically compares Brits to Dogs, Pigs, and Sheep. Wish You Were Here is essentially dedicated to Pink Floyd’s first lead singer Syd Barrett, who tragically went insane. The …more
They were a very talented band. However, they had the potential to be SO much more. Seriously, they only had six studio albums, and one of them was a cover album. Instead of producing albums once or twice a year, they just partied their minds out, and ended up having only a few great songs.
There could be only one, couldn’t there? We asked Planet Rock listeners to name the Greatest EVER Rock Song and Zeppelin’s ’71 classic came out on top. Stairway To Heaven was, in the end, one of TEN Zeppelin songs that appeared in the top 100.
3 Queen Queen are an English rock band formed in 1970. Members were Freddie Mercury (Vocals and Piano), Brian May (Guitar, Vocals), Roger Taylor (Drums, Vocals), and John Deacon (Bass Guitar, Vocals). Before forming into Queen, Brian May and Roger Taylor had played together in a band named Smile. Freddie Mercury …read more.
Performed by the Rolling Stones and written and sang by Mick Jagger, who narrates the song as if he were the devil himself, declaring that he’d wreaked havoc on humanity over the centuries. Interestingly, Jagger’s inspiration for the song came from the books of Baudelaire and Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel The Master and Margarita. Jagger’s intention was that it would be a kind of Bob Dylan song. But it was guitarist Keith Richards’ idea to increase the tempo of the song, add percussion, and give it a samba-like feel. The result – a ballistic rock classic!
Van Halen has some of the most infamous songs in rock history out there, but we do have to remember, this is one of those rare bands that have more than one hit. In fact, they have a good handful of songs that you can call your favorite, definitely not a one hit wonder!
Perhaps the greatest compliment you can pay Free Bird is that when that fade starts to happen about 30 seconds before the end you simply don’t want it to end. It’s like five minutes of foreplay followed by an almighty explosion of duelling guitar solos and Southern rock brilliance.