classic rock history | classic rock songs all time

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.
Queen is no question the best band ever. They have the greatest singer ever, Freddie Mercury, also a amazing piano player. For example, Bohemian Rhapsody, Killer Queen, Seven Seas of Rhye, and The March of the Black Queen. One of the best guitarists ever. For example, Bohemian Rhapsody, Killer Queen, The Prophet Song, Hammer To Fall. One of the best bassists. For example, Another One Bites The Dust, Killer Queen. Queen is my favorite band ever! I am in a queen cover band! – CalebMusic
Rock ‘n’ roll all night … and party once a week! Hosted by Pat Francis, Rock Solid is the comedy/music podcast that brings you music “both new and classic,” plus lots of laughs and musical guests. Joining the fun are Producer Kyle Dodson and Pat’s…
One of many Aerosmith hit singles in the 1970s, “Walk This Way” is a hard rock tune appearing on the band’s third studio album, Toys in the Attic, which is their highest selling album to date. “Walk This Way” jumped to #10 on the Billboard Hot 100. Then, during the 1980s, when Aerosmith hit a lull in popularity, the rap group Run-D.M.C re-made the song, with Aerosmith vocalist Steven Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry making guest appearances in the tune and on the video. Surprisingly, this version of the song did even better on the Billboard Hot 100, climbing to #5, and also helped spawn a new genre – rap rock.
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!
I get it they are not everyone’s cup of tea and people get tired of hearing their names mentioned. But when people mention old music and everyone thinks of The Beatles, doesn’t that say something? Let’s give John, Paul, George and Ringo some credit.
“Ideologically, ‘classic rock’ serves to confirm the dominant status of a particular period of music history – the emergence of rock in the mid-1960s – with its associated values and set of practices: live performance, self-expression, and authenticity; the group as the creative unit, with the charismatic lead singer playing a key role, and the guitar as the primary instrument. This was a version of classic Romanticism, an ideology with its origins in art and aesthetics.”
A Grateful Dead concert is unlike any other. I saw then in the form of Dead & Company, and it was awesome! Every song is complimented by a long, improvised jam while the deadheads with dreadlocks dance. I’ve seen more dudes on acid that night than I will ever see again – ryanrimmel
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.
One of the top rock bands in 1980, Journey produced a classic tune for their seventh album, Escape. Sometimes referred to as the perfect rock tune, “Don’t Stop Believin’” is a song with a complex structure, awesome guitar runs, and sang by a Steve Perry, who may have one of the greatest voices in the world of rock. The song smashed the charts in the US, UK and many other parts of the world, and its subsequent popularity throughout the world cannot be overstated. Also, in 2009, the Glee TV series version of the song did very well. Among many other tunes on this list, this song is a solid gold rock favorite.
Jump up ^ Leigh, Frederic A. (2011). “Classic Rock Format”. In Sterling, Christopher H.; O’Dell, Cary. The Concise Encyclopedia of American Radio. Routledge. p. 153. ISBN 1135176841. Retrieved August 2, 2015.
Chuck Berry – Another one of the pioneers of rock and roll was the exciting Chuck Berry, who got started in his career in 1953. He got his big break in 1955 with “Maybellene” and “Ida Red”, but his biggest hits came in 1956 with “Roll Over Beethoven” and then later with a series of top 10 hits including the iconic “Johnny B. Goode.”
The Beatles – The British Invasion began with The Beatles coming to America in 1964. They completely changed the way that kids listened to music when they arrived and are the best-selling musical artists in the history of music and hold the record for the most number one hits with 20.
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.
Guns N’ Roses began their career with a big bang. Their first single, “Welcome to the Jungle,” arrived on their debut album, Appetite for Destruction, and both kicked some serious tail. “Welcome to the Jungle,” a tune about the mean streets of Los Angeles, soon catapulted to #7 on the Billboard Hot 100, while Appetite for Destruction eventually sold 30 million copies, the eleventh best-selling album in the US. And, in 2009, VH1 picked “Welcome to the Jungle” as the number one hard rock song of all time.
^ Jump up to: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah Cardillo, Mike (22 Jul 2015). “30+ Classic Rock Songs I Never Want to Hear Again”. The Big Lead (USA Today). Retrieved 26 January 2016. “The ‘Classic Rock’ genre is the most tired in all of music. Often the only purpose it serves is to prove you’re getting older and that you no longer drive the cool car you used to drive when you were in high school, or something. Part of me dies inside when I hear a Nirvana tune — and I don’t even really like Nirvana’s music all that much — sandwiched between Foreigner and Steve Miller Band on the local classic rock station. … The following is but a sample of some of the songs that could be stricken from the airwaves and we’d all be better off for it.”
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What are the best old rock bands? You decide! This list of good classic rock bands is here for you so you can vote on who should be the greatest classic rock band of all time. Don’t think one of the bands here should even be in the running for top classic rock band? Vote them down! And if you don’t see your favorite classic rock band on the list, make sure to add them to the list so other people can discover classic rock artists who may mean something to them. 
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…
Jimi Hendrix – From Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin to Brian Jones and Jimi Hendrix, it seemed that the most interesting musicians were all dying young in the 70s. Hendrix was best known for his guitar work and many of today’s best guitarists owe their careers to Hendrix, who died at the age of 27, the exact same age that Morrison, Joplin and Jones all died at.
Although classic rock has mostly appealed to adult listeners, music associated with this format received more exposure with younger generations of listeners with the presence of the Internet and digital downloading.[3] Some classic rock stations also play a limited number of current releases which are stylistically consistent with the station’s sound, or by heritage acts that are still active and producing new music.[4]
You could win a getaway vacation to one of the world’s music capitals in AccuRadio’s “Workday Getaway Ten-Day Giveaway!” Each weekday through February 24th, we’ll offer three fantastic music-oriented destinations. Pick the getaway you’d prefer to win and you’re automatically entered for that day’s drawing!
14 Rush Rush is a Canadian progressive rock band that was formed in 1968. Even though the only founding member still in the band is Alex Lifeson (Guitar), the band is most well-known for their current members Neil Peart (Drums) and Geddy Lee (Bass, Vocals). …read more.
If you missed it, no problem! Catch where all your favorite Classic Rock tunes fell on our countdown with the full Top 500 playlist below. We’d love to hear from you in the Facebook comments at the bottom of each list segment.
36 Foreigner Foreigner is a British-American hard rock band, originally formed in New York City in 1976 by veteran English musician Mick Jones and fellow Briton and ex-King Crimson member Ian McDonald along with American vocalist Lou Gramm.
Writer Jim Sullivan talks to rock drummers who followed in Ringo Starr’s wake and discovers a unanimous praise for his skills, groove, swing and time on the kit – a too often overlooked secret to the success of The Beatles.
Played by masters of metal AC/DC, “Back in Black” has an incredibly infectious beat nobody can resist. (Listen to it right now and see if you can keep from gleefully jumping up and down.) Appearing on an album of the same name, the album sold 50 million copies – the second highest selling album ever – while “Back in Black” the song peaked at #37 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. A tribute to former lead singer Bon Scott, who died young at 33, Brian Johnson, Scott’s replacement, was asked to write the song and then the band created one of the most memorable hard-rock tunes of all time.
“Freebird,” a power ballad by Lynyrd Skynyrd, quickly became a rock and roll classic, particularly its long three-part guitar solo at the end of the tune. Released as a single and also as a longer version on the album, “Freebird” has become the band’s signature song and is generally played at the end of each concert appearance, lasting as long as 14 minutes, give or take. The group solo itself rose to #3 on Guitar World’s 100 Greatest Guitar Solos. Interestingly, the song is dedicated to Duane Allman and Berry Oakley, members of the Allman Brothers who died in motor cycle accidents in the early 1970s, and then became “freebirds.”
As you take a glance at the list below you’ll probably notice that size DEFINITELY counts, with not one of the Top Ten boasting a running time of less than five minutes (in the original – i.e. best – form). In fact the average running time for the top ten is a massive SEVEN MINUTES NINE SECONDS.
Should be #1. Not only Ozzy but also the Heaven and Hell days with Dio and even the Martin era wasn’t bad. Nobody has this longevity and still making great music. What other band here put out an album as recently as Devil You Know that is near that quality?
^ Jump up to: a b Strong, Catherine (2015). “Shaping the Past of Popular Music: Memory, Forgetting and Documenting”. In Bennett, Andy; Waksman, Steve. The SAGE Handbook of Popular Music. SAGE. p. 423. ISBN 1473910994.
Queen and Skynyrd were the runners up with their own trademark epics, while bands such as AC/DC and Rush largely missed out in the upper echelons of the charts because votes were split over an enormous number of songs rather than focused on a handful of individual tracks.
Don Henley of the Eagles wanted to write a song about life in Los Angeles, California, particularly its emphasis on fame, hedonism and money. Henley wrote, “It’s basically a song about the dark underbelly of the American dream and about excess in America, which is something we knew a lot about.” Henley wanted the song, decidedly somber, and played in harmonic minor, seem like an episode of the Twilight Zone, which it certainly does. Apparently the song worked on many levels, because it won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 1978. And the dueling guitars coda was rated the greatest guitar solo by Guitarist magazine in 1998.
During the mid-1980s, the classic rock format was mainly tailored to the adult male demographic ages 25–34, which remained its largest demographic through the mid-1990s.[15] As the format’s audience aged, its demographics skewed toward older age groups. By 2006, the 35–44 age group was the format’s largest audience[16] and by 2014 the 45–54 year-old demographic was the largest.[17]
Journey is one of the most under rated bands. Neil Shone, Jonathan Cain & Steve Perry wrote some of Rock’s best known hit’s. Perry has been called “The Voice”. Neil Shone is as good a guitar player as any & Cain a master on keyboards. Journey is Rock & Roll!
Beach Boys – While The Beatles broke boundaries with their version of British rock, The Beach Boys were hitting it big at the same time with music labeled as Americana. The songs were about surfing, cars and girls and the band remains one of the most popular in the history of music over 50 years later, as they still tour the country.
Graveyard return with video for Please Don’t – taken from their forthcoming album Peace: https://www.loudersound.com/news/graveyard-return-with-video-for-new-song-please-dont …pic.twitter.com/mcEFn3JZbV
21 Motley Crue Mötley Crüe was an American metal band formed in Los Angeles, California on January 17, 1981. The group was founded by bassist Nikki Sixx and drummer Tommy Lee, lead vocalist Vince Neil and lead guitarist Mick Mars.
Buffalo Tom will play dates across Europe later this year – watch video for their cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s The Only Living Boy In New York: https://www.loudersound.com/news/buffalo-tom-announce-european-tour …pic.twitter.com/TRoBXkquV4
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.
30 Fleetwood Mac Fleetwood Mac are a British-American rock band formed in July 1967, in London. The band have sold more than 100 million records worldwide, making them one of the best-selling bands of all time.
Brad Delp is right there with Freddie Mercury in his vocal abilities, and their sound is perfect with the rest of everything else. I have more than a feeling that Boston is ranked too low on this list.
If you’re particularly observant, you might also notice that a whopping 55% of the top 100 songs were recorded in the 70s and not a single song features from past the year 2000, proving that these songs really do get better with time.
Originally recorded by the Arrows in 1975, “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” was catapulted to the level of rock anthem by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts the following decade. Eventually climbing to number one for seven weeks on the US Billboard Hot 100, The Blackheart’s version of the tune has received many accolades, one of which a ranking of #56 on Billboard’s list of the 100 Greatest Songs of All Time; also, in 2016, it was inducted into the Grammy’s Hall of Fame.
Absolute Classic Rock plays the greatest classic rock songs of all time. If you love the likes of Led Zep, Queen, The Beatles, Rolling Stones then you’ll love this. Loads of artists come through our doors for interviews and we podcast them.
2 The Beatles The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. The members consisted of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. They were soon known as the foremost and most influential act of rock era. Rooted in skiffle, beat, and 1950s rock and roll, the Beatles later experimented …read more.
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.
6 The Rolling Stones The Rolling Stones are an English rock band formed in London in 1962. The first settled line-up consisted of Brian Jones (guitar, harmonica), Ian Stewart (piano), Mick Jagger (lead vocals, harmonica), Keith Richards (guitar), Bill Wyman (bass) and Charlie Watts (drums). …read more.
Acid rock Anatolian rock Art rock Baroque rock Beat music Blues rock Boogie rock Christian rock Comedy rock Country rock Electronic rock Experimental rock Folk rock Flamenco rock Garage rock Hard rock Heavy metal Jam Jazz rock Krautrock Power pop Progressive rock Psychedelic rock Raga rock Roots rock Samba rock Southern rock Space rock Surf music
Appearing on The Who’s spectacular album, Who’s Next, “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” was written by guitarist Pete Townshend, who said the song seeks to make a connection between music – highlighted by the use of a synthesizer throughout the song – and the teachings of Meher Baba and Inayat Khan. Thereafter, “Won’t Get Fooled Again” became a song The Who usually played at the end of their live performances, when Townshend destroyed his guitar and Keith Moon kicked over his drums, as the crowd squealed and hooted with delight.
Producing great music from the first minute, these guys took it to the limit! Made many legendary songs like Hotel California, Take It Easy, One Of These Nights etc. Etc. One of the best bands ever in rock, true legends!
I suppose it’s just a generation gap speaking, but I wouldn’t have included most of the 80s songs that you did. I’d have included songs like My Generation, Respect, What I’d Say, and Like A Rolling Stone. This list just goes to show that rock has a lot of classics.

Introducing the world to hardcore southern rock, Lynyrd Skynyrd was at the top of the mountain until a plane crash in 1977 prominently influenced the band to break up. Ten years later the band reformed with the former lead singer, Ronnie Van Zant’s brothers taking over the vocal duties. –
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