100 best classic rock songs that have to be in your playlist
Classic rock songs from the 1960s, 70s, and 80s had a definitive guitar-driven rock sound. Bands such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones produced classic rock music at the beginning of this era. Later, the likes of Led Zeppelin, The Who, and The Doors took over the genre from earlier bands.
For most music lovers, owning a good collection of classic rock songs is a must. Music from this period was considered original, upbeat, and simply fun to listen to. If you do not have a collection yet, we have got you covered with some of the best classic rock tracks.
The best classic rock songs of all time
Here is a look at the top 100 classic rock hits of all time.
100. Like a Rock by Bob Seger
This track from the similarly-titled 1986 album was well-known for its appearance in Chevrolet commercials throughout the 1990s.
99. Misunderstanding by Genesis
The song was originally written by Phil Collins and later ‘donated’ to Genesis for the 1980 album titled Duke.
98. Young Turks by Rod Stewart
The song’s title referred to a rebellious young person whose behavior went against societal expectations.
97. Please Forgive Me by Bryan Adams
This is probably one of the best classic rock songs by Bryan Adams from the 1993 album, So Far So Good.
96. That's All by Genesis
That’s All depicts the members of Genesis as homeless people taking shelter near an abandoned factory.
95. Ramblin' Man by The Allman Brothers Band
Ramblin’ Man was the lead single from the band’s 1973 album, Brothers and Sisters.
94. Proud Mary by Creedence Clearwater Revival
This was one of the top classic rock hits released in 1969. The song performed excellently on the US Billboard chart on its debut year.
93. Black Water by The Doobie Brothers
The Doobie Brothers are renowned for their amazing songs, especially those from the 1970s. Black Water should undoubtedly be part of any good classic rock playlist.
92. California Girls by The Beach Boys
The song was written for The Beach Boys by Mike Love and Brian Wilson. It featured in the 1965 album, Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!)
91. Stuck in the Middle with You by Stealers Wheel
This is arguably one of the best Scottish rock and roll classic rock songs. Stealers Wheel performed the track in May 1973 on the British show Top of the Pops.
90. In the Year 2525 by Zager & Evans
This was one of the best-performing songs released by the American rock band, Zager & Evans, in 1968.
89. I Need a Lover by John Mellencamp
Mellencamp released this 1978 hit under the stage name Johnny Cougar. The track was inspired by his friend’s departure to college.
88. Dust in the Wind by Kansas
Dust in the Wind was released in 1977 by the progressive rock band, Kansas. The track was part of their album titled Point of Know Return.
87. Born To Run by Bruce Springsteen
The track was influential in the success of Springsteen’s similarly-titled album in 1975. The song and album went on to become massive commercial successes.
86. You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet by Bachman-Turner Overdrive
This amazing 1974 single was released alongside Free Wheelin, one of the Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s other popular tracks.
85. Rock And Roll All Nite by Kiss
Rock and Roll All Nite was part of Kiss’s album, Dressed to Kill. It soon became the band’s signature track.
84. Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival
This was the lead single from the group’s 1969 album titled Green River, although the track was released a few months before the album.
83. Edge of Seventeen by Stevie Nicks
The song was inspired by a conversation between Nicks and a lady named Jane. She told the story of meeting her love at age 17 but her strong accent made it feel like she was at the ‘edge of seventeen.’
82. Follow You, Follow Me by Genesis
This is arguably one of the top classic rock songs that touch on love. Follow You, Follow Me was part of the hugely successful 1978 album titled …And Then There Were Three…
81 Message in a Bottle by The Police
The song tells the heart-warming story of a castaway on an island who sends out a message in a bottle looking for love.
80. Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton
This is one of Clapton’s most sorrowful tracks. The celebrated singer wrote Tears in Heaven after his son’s tragic death in New York.
79. Your Love by The Outfield
Your Love is one the best tracks from The Outfield’s debut album titled Play Deep.
78. Another Day in Paradise by Phil Collins
This is arguably one of the most played classic rock songs of all time. Another Day in Paradise is a protest song in which Phil Collins takes on a third-person perspective urging people not to ignore the homeless.
77. Money by Pink Floyd
Money was on the B-side of Pink Floyd’s 1973 album titled The Dark Side of the Moon.
76. Funk #49 by James Gang
The track is about a wild girlfriend who the singer cannot tame. Much of Funk #49 is instrumental, focusing on Jim Fox's drumming, Dale Peters's, bass work, and Joe Walsh's guitar.
75. Fascination by David Bowie
Fascination was written by two legendary musical minds, Luther Vandross and David Bowie, for the latter’s 1975 album, Young Americans.
74. Amanda by Boston
Amanda was recorded in 1980 and released six years later. The track is a fantastic power ballad that tells the story of the singer’s lost love.
73. Oh, Pretty Woman by Roy Orbison
This 1964 single spent several weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 from September 1964.
72. (Don't Fear) The Reaper by Blue Öyster Cult
This track was from the band’s 1976 album, Agents of Fortune. It explores the inevitability of death and the allure of eternal love.
71. Blinded by the Light by Manfred Mann
The original Blinded by the Light was recorded by Bruce Springsteen in 1973. Manfred Mann’s Earth Band did a cover in 1977 which went on to become a huge commercial success.
70. MainStreet by Bob Seger
This was the fourth single from the 1977 album, Night Moves.
69. Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton
Clapton wrote this ballad about Pattie Boyd as he waited for her to get ready for a party.
68. Surfer Girl by The Beach Boys
Surfer Girl was composed in 1963 by Brian Wilson who drew inspiration from the song When You Wish Upon a Star.
67. Free Fallin’ by Tom Petty
This 1989 track makes references to the San Fernando Valley region in Los Angeles. It was the opening track in Tom Petty’s debut album in 1989.
66. Leather and Lace by Stevie Nicks featuring Don Henley
The track is about an amazing yet incongruent couple. It was inspired by Stevie’s past relationships with Lindsey Buckingham and Don Henley.
65. Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) by The First Edition
The song intended to warn people against using the hallucinogenic drug, LSD.
64. Still the Same by Bob Seger
This famous single is about the blend of different characters that Seger came across when he went to Hollywood.
63. Somebody's Baby by Jackson Browne
Released in 1982, Somebody’s Baby was Browne’s highest-charting single of his career.
62. Don't Stand So Close To Me by The Police
The track is about a love affair between a schoolgirl and her teacher. The track was part of the band’s 1980 album, Zenyatta Mondatta.
61. Born To Be Wild by Steppenwolf
Born to be Wild was featured in the 1969 film, Easy Rider. The track’s lyrics were widely regarded as depicting the care-free biker attitude.
60. Black Magic Woman by Santana
The song first appeared in 1968 as a Fleetwood Mac track before Santana’s version in 1970.
59. Magic Carpet Ride by Steppenwolf
Released in 1968, Magic Carpet Ride is one of the most upbeat classic rock songs of all time.
58. Roxanne by The Police
Roxanne was part of the band’s 1978 album, Outlandos d'Amour. It tells the story of a man who falls in love with a prostitute.
57. Hey Joe by The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Every list with the greatest rock songs of all time is bound to have something by The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Hey Joe tells the story of a man on the run after murdering his cheating wife.
56. Long Train Runnin' by The Doobie Brothers
The track was released as a single and as part of The Doobie Brothers’ album, The Captain and Me.
55. Touch Me by The Doors
The song was popular for its last line ‘stronger than dirt’ which was in reference to an Ajax commercial.
54. Mary Jane by Rick James
This is the second track from Rick’s debut studio album titled Come Get It!.
53. Wouldn't It Be Nice By The Beach Boys
This is one of the good rock songs about love. Wouldn't It Be Nice is about two lovers who feel too young to run off and get married but still fantasize about how nice it would be if they were adults.
52. Simple Man by Lynyrd Skynyrd
This is one of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s best-selling songs of all time.
51. Lay Lady Lay by Bob Dylan
Lay Lady Lay has been redone by numerous artists and bands since its initial release in 1969. Those who have done covers include The Everly Brothers, Ministry, and Lorrie Morgan.
50. Take It Easy by Eagles
This was the opening track in the Eagles’ debut album in 1972. It has since become one of the band’s signature songs appearing in all compilation and live albums.
49. Run to You by Bryan Adams
This is a song about infidelity from the perspective of a man who continues to see his mistress despite having a wife.
48. All Along the Watchtower by The Jimi Hendrix Experience
This is irrefutably one of the most famous rock and roll classic rock songs by The Jimi Hendrix Experience.
47. Her Strut by Bob Seger
Her Strut is one of the most controversial Bob Seger songs, accused of objectifying women in its lyrics.
46. Heaven by Bryan Adams
Heaven features what is arguably the best vocal performance by Bryan Adams.
45. Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys
The track was characterized by a complex sound arrangement and episode-centred structure making it one of the most expensive songs of its time.
44. Break On Through (To the Other Side) by The Doors
Released in 1967, the track is a concert staple for The Doors.
43. Like A Rolling Stone by Bob Dylan
The track has confrontational lyrics inspired by Dylan’s exhausting tour of England in 1965.
42. Reelin' in the Years by Steely Dan
Reelin’ in the Years was one of the best songs from Steely Dan's 1972 album, Can't Buy a Thrill.
41. Rock'n Me by Steve Miller Band
The track was written by the band’s leader as the second song in their ninth studio album.
40. Dancing in the Dark by Bruce Springsteen
The song tells of Springsteen’s isolation and state of mind after the massive success of his album titled The River.
39. I Won't Back Down by Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers
The track was part of Tom Petty’s first solo album, Full Moon Fever.
38. The Seeker by The Who
The song is about desperation and the quest for death to ease someone’s pain.
37. Piece of My Heart by Janis Joplin
Piece of My Heart was first recorded by Erma Franklin in 1967 and covered by Janis Joplin in 1968.
36. Piano Man by Billy Joel
Piano Man was written from the point of view of a piano player at a bar reminiscing about the experiences with the people he has met.
35. Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd
Free Bird is over 14 minutes long (when played live) and is widely regarded as Lynyrd Skynyrd’s signature song.
34. Start Me Up by The Rolling Stones
No ultimate classic rock songs list can be complete with something from The Rolling Stones. The track is part of the band’s 1981 album, Tattoo You.
33. Hurricane by Bob Dylan
Hurricane is a protest track. Dylan complains about the imprisonment of Rubin Carter and the alleged racial profiling against him leading to a false conviction.
32. Baba O’Riley by The Who
The song’s title refers to two of Pete Townshend’s musical influences, namely Terry Riley and Meher Baba.
31. Witchy Woman by Eagles
The song was part of the band’s debut album in 1972. It was created when Don Henley and Henry Vine were living together near Hollywood Bowl.
30. More Than a Feeling by Boston
More than a Feeling is the lead single from Boston’s self-titled 1976 album.
29. Voodoo Child (Slight Return) by The Jimi Hendrix Experience
The track is part of the 1968 Electric Ladyland album
28. Somebody to Love by Jefferson Airplane
The track was initially written by The Great Society before Jefferson Airplane’s version in 1967.
27. Small Town by John Mellencamp
The track tells the story of Mellencamp’s childhood in the state of Indiana.
26. Another Brick in the Wall by Pink Floyd
Another Brick in the Wall is a protest song against a rigid schooling system. It is a 3-part composition of the rock opera titles The Wall.
25. The Way It Is by Bruce Hornsby and the Range
This 1986 Bruce Hornsby classic made references to the civil rights movement.
24. Learning to Fly by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
This 1991 hit is one of the best-written songs by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
23. How Long By Ace
This is one of the most amazing 70s classic rock songs. It is part of Ace’s 1974 album, Five-A-Side.
22. Hotel California by Eagles
Hotel California is arguably the most easily-recognizable Eagles song of all time.
21. Summer Of '69 by Bryan Adams
The track highlight’s the singer’s dilemma between settling down and becoming a rock star.
20. Listen to the Music by The Doobie Brothers
This 1972 track was a massive hit by The Doobie Brothers.
19. Pink Houses by John Mellencamp
Pink Houses was inspired by Mellencamp’s encounter with an old man sitting outside a pink house, holding a cat, and unbothered by the nearby traffic.
18. Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison
Brown Eyed Girl is a staple of modern-day radio. The track was released in 1967 and has since been covered by numerous artists and individuals.
17. Life in the Fast Lane by Eagles
This 1976 song tells the story of two lovers who take their excessive lifestyle to the edge.
16. House of the Rising Sun by The Animals
House of the Rising Sun is the sad story of someone’s life gone wrong in New Orleans.
15. Do It Again by Steely Dan
This was one of the tracks in the American rock group’s 1972 debut album Can't Buy a Thrill.
14. Abracadabra by Steve Miller Band
Abracadabra was allegedly inspired by Diana Ross, who Miller met on a television show.
13. In The Air Tonight by Phil Collins
Often cited as Phil’s signature song, In the Air Tonight is widely known for its amazing drum break towards the end.
12. Jack and Diane by John Mellencamp
This 1982 song was loosely based on a film titled Sweet Bird of Youth released in 1962.
11. Baby, I Love Your Way by Peter Frampton
Baby, I Love Your Way was released in 1975 as part of Frampton’s self-titled album.
10. Fly Like an Eagle by Steve Miller Band
Fly Like an Eagle was a track from the similarly-titled 1976 album by Steve Miller Band.
9. Purple Haze by The Jimi Hendrix Experience
This is one of the top hits by The Jimi Hendrix Experience that appears in many of the band's compilation albums.
8. Hurts So Good by John Mellencamp
This track was the brainchild of Mellencamp and his longtime friend, George Green.
7. Glory Days by Bruce Springsteen
Glory Days tells the story of a once-famous man who now looks back remorsefully at his glory days and those he used to know.
6. Don't Do Me Like That by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
This is the first single in the band’s 1979 album, Damn the Torpedoes.
5. Drift Away by Dobie Gray
Drift Away is irrefutably one of the sweetest tracks by Doobie Gray. It is well-known for its particularly mellow opening.
4. Hungry Heart by Bruce Springsteen
This was one of Springsteen’s most commercially successful tracks. It went on to be used in several films’ soundtracks.
3. The Boys of Summer by Don Henley
This was the lead single from Henley’s 1984 album, Building the Perfect Beast.
2. The Joker by Steve Miller Band
This track marked Steve Miller Band’s transition into a somewhat melodic, smooth rock/blues sound.
1. Layla by Eric Clapton
Top on the list of rock songs to have on your playlist is Layla by Eric Clapton. The track was part of the 1970 album titled Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. The song was inspired by The Story of Layla and Majnun.
The list above contains some timeless classic rock songs that are certainly worth giving a try. Which song or artist did you find fascinating?