The Best Classic Rock Songs ever performed originated mostly during the decades of the '60s and '70s. I am a huge classic rock fan and grew up glued to the music of this era. My personal favorite rock band of all time has always been the Beatles, but there are numerous other solo artists and groups that I loved listening to while growing up. A shortlist of my other faves are Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Mountain, The Kinks, Boston, ELO, The Doobie Bros., CSNY, Jethro Tull, and Fleetwood Mac.
There were numerous other great artists during this era, but these stick out in my mind, mainly because they had so many great tunes. When I rate favorite artists, albums, or songs I use a fairly simple formula. The music must sound great and strike a personal chord within my life. Also, it needs to sound as good to me now as it did when I heard it for the first time. Usually, I am not swayed by highly commercialized tunes such as "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin. I once loved this song until I heard it for the 5,000,000th time. Sorry to you purists out there. This is only my humble opinion.
All of the artists listed above have countless tunes on my top 500 list, but for simplicity, I will not include them all here. Also, I find it difficult to rate songs in a specific order, because my preferences might change as time passes and more memories are created linking my feelings to these tunes. One more thing to remember is that these are the Best Classic Rock Songs in My Opinion Only. Don't be offended if I left your favorite Rock Band or Classic Rock Hit off of the list. I have listened to many thousands of hits over the years from this era, and these are the most memorable to me.
My list begins with "Barracuda" by Heart. This is one of many songs that really show off the vocal ranges of Ann Wilson, who I believe has one of the strongest voices among female rock & roll performers of all time, behind only a few like Grace Slick, and Janis Joplin. Of course, Aretha would be up there, (possibly #1) but I consider her mainly soul & blues rather than classic rock.
Crosby,Stills,Nash & Young
The next tune I will list is "Celluloid Heroes" by the Kinks. Ray Davies and the Kinks are another great classic rock band from the British invasion era and this tune is a great ballad dedicated to past movie stars and their hopes and dreams.
"Nantucket Sleighride" and "Mississippi Queen" by Mountain are also on the list. These songs show off the smooth vocals of the late Felix Pappalardi and the hard rock rasping voice and guitar of Leslie West. As a producer, Pappalardi has known for his work with the psychedelic blues-inspired rock trio the Cream. One of the members of Cream was Eric Clapton. I consider Clapton to be one of the greatest electric guitar magicians of our time, second only to Jimi Hendrix. Two of Clapton's tunes and one from Cream are on my list. The classic "Layla" and "Mainline Florida" are awesome singles by this blues-rock great. "Badge" is a smooth tune from his early group Cream. My favorite song from Jimi Hendrix is "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)", which is a must for any connoisseur of rock & roll guitar. A footnote here for those of you who are BB King fans. I believe he is the greatest strictly Blues, guitar player of all time, but will include him as an inspirer to Hendrix and Clapton, not as a classic rock act.
The unique vocal chemistry of CSNY (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young) also produced a vast number of hits. My four favorite CSNY tunes, also making the list, are "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" (dedicated to Judy Collins), "Deja Vu", "Woodstock", and "Ohio".
Led Zeppelin, a supergroup from the '70s featured powerful vocals from Robert Plant and incredible guitar work from Jimmy Page. Besides the aforementioned "Stairway to Heaven" which I believe to be highly overplayed, they had many unforgettable songs. My favorites are "Black Dog", "Kashmir" and the "Immigrant Song".
Jethro Tull was a Grammy award-winning British Rock band that formed in the late '60s. Their music is marked by the distinctive vocal style and lead flute work of frontman Ian Anderson. Three of my favorites from them are "Living in the Past", "A Christmas Song". and "Thick as a Brick"
"White Rabbit", an amazing vocal performance, was belted out by Grace Slick of the California-based psychedelic rock group the Jefferson Airplane later known as the Jefferson Starship. I would also include her among the greatest female rock vocalists of all time.
"Funk #49" was a classic Joe Walsh guitar riff performed when he was with the James Gang. He later performed the hot guitar solo at the end of "Hotel California" when he was with the Eagles.
Mott the Hoople was a 1970s English Rock and roll and glam rock band with strong R&B roots. They are best known for the unique classic rock song "All the Young Dudes" which was written for them by their mentor and fan David Bowie, who later performed "Heroes" which is ranked 46 on Rolling Stone magazines 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
The Electric Light Orchestra also known as ELO were a rock group from England that released eleven studio albums starting in 1971. They used cellos, violins, horns, and woodwinds to give their music a classical sound, to take rock music in a new direction. Two of my favorites from them are "I Can't Get it out of My Head" and "Turn to Stone"
"Don't Look Back" and "Foreplay - Long Time" are two amazing tunes performed by the great 70's rock band Boston. They were led by the innovative MIT engineering graduate and musical research genius Tom Scholz. The late lead singer Brad Delp had one of the most amazing vocal ranges of all time. He also put together a Beatles tribute band known as Beetlejuice.
"China Grove", "Long Train Runnin" and "Listen to the Music" were three powerful tunes performed by the American rock band, The Doobie Brothers.
Tom Petty is a rock artist that reminds me very much of a more "Rocksy" and less "Folksy" Bob Dylan. He has the perfect rock and roll voice. His best hits (in my opinion), were "Don't Come Around Here No More", "Into The Great Wide Open" and an unbelievable duo with Stevie Nicks (from Fleetwood Mac), which is one of my all-time favorite rock combo tunes: "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around". Fleetwood Mac, who led all rock groups in intergroup romances and breakups, had some very memorable hits like "Rhiannon", "I'm So Afraid" and "Tusk".
Bruce Springsteen "the Boss" another great rock and roll showman, put New Jersey on the map when he produced what I consider one of the best rock albums of all time, "Born to Run".
The Moody Blues were a British band from the '60s who had some beautiful and melodious hits such as "Ride My See-Saw", "The Story in Your Eyes" and "Nights in White Satin".
Van Halen is currently performing a few reunion concerts (if they survive it), with David Lee Roth in the lead. They were a very memorable "MTV Generation" rock group with colorful and humorous videos. I loved three in particular: "Jump ", "Hot For Teacher " and "Panama".
U2 is an Irish band that has been raising tons of money for hunger around the world. My favorite's by them is "Where The Streets Have No Name" and the two powerhouse hits "Beautiful Day" and "Vertigo"
Pink Floyd is an English rock band that initially earned recognition for their psychedelic rock music, and, as they evolved, for their progressive rock music. They are known for philosophical lyrics, sonic experimentation, innovative cover art, and elaborate live shows. My favorite songs by them are "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" and two unique tunes "Pigs" and "Sheep" which came from their innovative "Animals" album. This is my all-time favorite classic rock album.
The 60's also produced tons of memorable music by the groups that I consider the founders of classic rock sounds. I consider the 5 founders or most influential classic rock groups to be the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, BeeGees, and Doors. These artists have produced so many of my favorite classic rock songs that I couldn't list them all here so I will try to limit them.
"Tell All the People" and "Peace Frog" are my favorite tunes by Jim Morrison and the Doors. They were one of the most controversial bands of their time, due mostly to Morrison's cryptic lyrics and unpredictable stage persona.
"Good Vibrations" was a breakthrough sound created by Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys, considered by some to be the American version of the Beatles, It was the first 3 minute plus song released as a single. Two other favorites of mine from them were "Heroes and Villains" and "I Get Around".
The Rolling Stones are an English band whose rhythm and blues and rock and roll-based music became popular during the "British Invasion" of the early 1960s. They are still going strong in their FIFTH Decade of music. "Brown Sugar", "19th Nervous Breakdown", "Let's Spend the Night Together" and "Street Fightin Man" is my all-time Rolling Stones favorites.
The BeeGees were a singing trio of brothers - Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb, that became one of the most successful musical acts of all time. "Tragedy" and "Night Fever" are my all-time favorites performed by them. They also performed an amazing sounding tune with Celine Dion called "Immortality"
My favorite Classic Rock band of all time was The Beatles. They were only around as a group for 8 years but their body of work was the most amazing ever created in the history of Rock and Roll. I don't believe there was ever such an influential band in the history of music. It was also my opinion that they were so great because of their ability to create catchy, thought-provoking, and harmonious tunes that were performed in so many styles that they could represent 6 or 7 genres of music. My favorites from these lads from Liverpool, England were:
"I Feel Fine", "We Can Work it Out", "Day Tripper", "Paperback Writer","A Day In the Life", "Back in the USSR", "Birthday", "Get Back", "Hey Jude", "Across the Universe" and "Let it Be"
The Best Classic Rock Songs might have generated a huge list of great music here, but I feel that I could not do the body of work from the '60s and '70s justice by omitting any of these tunes. Look some of them up and enjoy them just like I have over the years.
The James Gang - Funk #49
Rolling Stones - Brown Sugar
Mott the Hoople - All the Young Dudes
The Bee Gees Tragedy
Favorite Classic Rock Band
Poo head on March 25, 2019:
This a bad list what about queen or Toto or journey
Edward Lane on May 28, 2017:
Love Doors! Fleet wood Mac super! Great list!!!
You don't like Light my fire?
Thanks for sharing!!!
joe on May 23, 2012:
CSNY are much better then Rush in my opinion. But Rush is also a very good band. The downfall to Rush is it's over play were CSNY you don't hear as much. I mean carry on,old man take a look at my life,wooden ships, and ohio the list goes on and on and this is just CSNY not just Crosby or CN or CSN their list is like Steely Dan A mile long but very good.
amber r on September 02, 2011:
my favorite band is also the beatles but probably my favorite song by them would be i am the walrus since its weird funny and a good tune
Joanne Rocks on July 23, 2011:
@ Yano, I remember New England well, their song was "Don't Ever Wanna Lose Ya" which barely cracked the top 40 in 1978, I've been in touch with their management, can you believe they are still alive and kicking?
Yano on July 15, 2011:
Wow great list,I understand this is your personal list but just want to say 2 of my favorites Stealin when I should have been buying,Uriah Heep and gonna hitch a ride boston.Do you rember a 1 hit band named New England from the late 70's ? would you know the name of the hit?Only group that I can rember the name of but cant rember the name of the song.I cant even rember how it goes but do rember them havin a hit. Yano
zura on March 27, 2011:
Preston on January 05, 2011:
Kashmir greatest zeppelin song ever
semore butts on December 20, 2010:
the beatles duh no one better
rymiraflores on August 24, 2010:
Mountain ........my favourite band of my life...but what about Free, Cream, Uriah Heep, Nazareth ?
billyaustindillon on April 06, 2010:
Kashmir still sounds current - great hub
d luck on March 14, 2010:
'Let It Be' is a great inspiring song.
hglick (author) from Riverhead,NY on December 15, 2009:
mimi, they were great guitar players. I loved crazy on you as well.
mimi on December 15, 2009:
dude oh man i love heart, you're so right, althoughhhh i like crazy on you better, simply because of the acoustics. watch it live, they were amazing guitar players
parismarie224 from cicero,illinois on November 26, 2009:
im a fan of the beatles aswell but i perfer michael jackson
hglick (author) from Riverhead,NY on September 16, 2009:
Rob, Thanks that's an excellent version of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida - I found the youtube link
Rob Lattin from Born in Chicago, now I'm in the Quad Cities on September 16, 2009:
You mention Iron Butterfly - great original music. Have you ever heard Mike Pinera (former guitarist in Iron Butterfly)with his Classic Rock All Star Band doing In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida? His version with him singing it is great. Too bad record companies won't release new versions of old songs by established artists anymore. Even if they did, I doubt any of the major rock stations would play anything. Even when Styx and Chicago, (and even Hall and Oates) put out a new album, radio stations won't play them. In Chicago, they only play Pink Floyd and ACDC. What a shame. Keep up the interesting hubs.
hglick (author) from Riverhead,NY on August 31, 2009:
I love your hubs
Especially the crazy cat one
short and loaded with catdventure
elisabethkcmo from Just East of Oz on August 31, 2009:
I like your musical taste, great hub!
hglick (author) from Riverhead,NY on June 15, 2009:
Check out some of my other classic music hubs like https://hubpages.com/entertainment/Top-Classic-Roc
I talked about Grace Slick , who is one of my favorites along with the powerful hit "White Rabbit"
Lina on June 15, 2009:
Ann Wilson, who I believe has one of the strongest voices among female rock & roll performers of all time, second only to Janis Joplin. Of course Aretha would be up there.
YOU FORGOT GRACE SLICK!! One of the first and best female rockers.
Joseph Degnan on April 15, 2009:
Im a young guy but love old music. I cant tell you how many times I've heard the songs listed above but had no idea of the names. Its a great list of music, the time period of classic rock is the best music in creation til this day, and classic rock will never die. Thanks for the music!!!
David in Maine on April 06, 2009:
Great piece man, I saw Uriah Heep up here in Maine in "73 and I gotta say " The Wizard", and "Sunrise" were two great tunes !
will on March 13, 2009:
i definatly think that rush is a bigger band then CSNY
hglick (author) from Riverhead,NY on March 03, 2009:
Bruce Springsteen is indeed a great rock artist due to his "Born to Run" album which was one of the greatest of all time. Sorry for the oversight. I will include him in my next update of this hub
Lori on March 02, 2009:
It is unforgivable to leave Bruce Springsteen off the list but include Heart on the List. I like Heart but they are just not in the same league as Springsteen. Rather you like him or not he was and continues to be a great influence in Rock music. Shame on you!
hglick (author) from Riverhead,NY on February 21, 2009:
IMS - I love CCR - Fortunate Son and Proud Mary were both great songs CCR Also did a great remake of "I heard it through the Grapevine"
lms 456 thats what time it is on February 21, 2009:
i didn't see ccr a.k.a credeence clearwater revivel
what about their good songs bad moon rising,have you ever seen the rain,fournate son,proud mary,midnight special,and who will stop the rain.
hglick (author) from Riverhead,NY on November 28, 2008:
More commercial stuff can be OK as long as it's not played over and over until you can no longer bear listening to it.
In 2007 I saw Todd Rundgren open for Hall & Oates, and he had some nice tunes. Al Kooper, and Little Feat were also pretty decent. I can name tons of lesser know bands that I love as well, like Poco, Grand Funk Railroad, the Guess Who, Iggy Pop, BTO, Bad Company, the Guess Who, Iron Butterfly, the Rasberries, Badfinger, Tommy James, etc. etc. etc. I can probably list hundreds of these bands. Hmmm, that's a good idea for a future blog. Thanks for giving me the idea.
jld3336 on November 28, 2008:
You say you aren't swayed by the more commercial music but everything you mention is "Top 10". How about some of less well known stuff musicians liten to, like Todd Rundgren, Al Kooper & Little Feat?
hglick (author) from Riverhead,NY on October 01, 2008:
MIKEM and The MilkMan, Thank You for your comments. MIKEM Rush was definitely a nice band and I especially enjoy "Tom Sawyer", but they were not (In My opinion) a "Best Classic Rock Band". TheMilkMan, I covered Neil Young in "Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young" Many of the other groups you mention definitely have "Best Classic Rock Songs" when you survey most people. However this is only an OPINION PIECE
TheMilkMan from Vermont on September 25, 2008:
And The Allman Brothers Band, and The Grateful Dead, and others.
sorry for being anoying
TheMilkMan from Vermont on September 25, 2008:
I love the list, but where's Neil Young and Crazy Horse? And, what about ZZ Top, Blue Oyster Cult, Stevie Ray Vaughn, The Who, Bon Jovi, and Aerosmith?
MIKEM on September 24, 2008:
some great choices,i agree. But how could Rush have not made the list?
hglick (author) from Riverhead,NY on September 13, 2008:
Those are a nice group of songs - I commented more thoroughly on your Hub
Adam B on September 03, 2008:
Check out my list of top rock songs here: https://hubpages.com/hub/Greatest-Rock-Songs-of-Al... I like a lot of the songs on your list!
Drummer on August 12, 2008:
Great site! Thank you for visiting my Squidoo lens, and for your comments. You answered both trivia questions correctly. Wow! Not many people remember Question Mark & The Mysterians. Ha! Your song list is almost the same as mine would be. I'll "Get Back".
hglick (author) from Riverhead,NY on July 29, 2008:
Smilin Cat - "Dark Side" was a great album that I owned - The only thing though is that here in NY it got so overplayed I couldn't listen to it anymore
hglick (author) from Riverhead,NY on July 29, 2008:
Rondi - Sorry I can't place the song I need more hints - I'll keep thinking about it though
Also - yes I heard about that Joni Mitchell story -
In addition, "Suite:Judy Blue Eyes" was a song written by Stephen Stills about his relationship with Judy Collins
Rondi on July 29, 2008:
Hi, again. If anyone is interested in a fascinating look at rock history, get a copy of Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon--And the Journey of a Generation: by Sheila Weller. The sheer number of musicians who moved in and out of the lives of these women is amazing. You will love the story of how Crosby Stills & Nash was born one night in Joni Mitchell's California living room!
Rondi on July 29, 2008:
Enjoying your list. Do you perhaps know the name of a song with the lyrics: "mmmm mmmm It's all right, cheatin' on your woman; It's all right".....Most likely sometime during the mid-1970's? Driving me crazy.
Lists are so subjective, but yours seems to represent what was predominately played. Am I the only one who thinks that there is too much sludge being introduced into the market today and being passed off as meaningful music?
hglick (author) from Riverhead,NY on July 15, 2008:
Smiling cat - I did enjoy that album, but I also enjoyed a less popular album by Pink Floyd called "animals"
Smiling Cat from Deerfield Beach, Florida on July 15, 2008:
Dark Side of The Moon - The best album ever.
hglick (author) from Riverhead,NY on June 18, 2008:
Thank You Denzec
I listed mostly songs that (in my opinion) were the best tunes by each group. These were not necessarily the most overplayed or commercialized tunes. As I mentioned earlier in the hub, songs like "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin were great tunes up until I heard them for the 5,000,000th time.
denzec on June 18, 2008:
very impressive! I like that fact that some of your favorites are slightly more obscure than the hits the bands are usually known for. Can you narrow it down to a "top- ten" list!?
hglick (author) from Riverhead,NY on May 26, 2008:
Uh oh - Thanks for the heads up - I'll need to check all my other music blogs now
jered on May 26, 2008:
i hope you mean (Led Zeppelin) not led Zepellin
hglick (author) from Riverhead,NY on May 07, 2008:
Titsworth7 - The song you are looking for could be "Remember(Walking in the Sand)" by the Shangri-las in 1964 and later by Aerosmith (I believe in the 80's or 90's)
firstname.lastname@example.org on May 06, 2008:
I am looking for a son that was sun in the late 70's to early 90's. I want to say that Styx wrote the song,and I do not know the title. I remember that the son had lyrics like walking on the sand, and support from a girl. I can't tell you too much more. If I heard the song, I would recognize it. Can you help? I know that I didn' give you very much info, but if I don't find this song, I WILL GO CRAZY. Thanks
Tony Sky from London UK on May 05, 2008:
Excellent hub!! brought back lots of nice memmorys..
Kelley Marks from Sacramento, California on April 25, 2008:
Like a trip through yesterday! We pretty much concur on classic rock tunes from the 1960s and '70s. From 1965 to 1975 was definitely the classic period in rock. I like your text. Keep writing such. I also write about rock. Please check out my hubs.
John C on January 20, 2008:
Well written ....Thanks
hglick (author) from Riverhead,NY on December 21, 2007:
Thank You priti
The Bird is a Bald Eagle
priti kulkarni on December 21, 2007:
the bird is very beautiful but i didn:t know the name of the bird please tell me
hglick (author) from Riverhead,NY on December 20, 2007:
Thanks Zsuzsy for the compliments. You made me think of some groups and tunes that I forget which definitely belonged on the list, so I have amended the list - hglick
Zsuzsy Bee from Ontario/Canada on December 19, 2007:
hglick! I really have to write my comment fast before nostalgia set in in. Your list is really good there are only a few artist that I would have added. It's amazing of how much of yesteryear music is influencing today's. I'm going to go and dig out the old tunes.
Great HUB, I mean it, really great collection