The 42 best classic rock songs of all time

best classic rock songs of all time

We have again worked with CLASSIC ROCK UNIVERSE, one of the largest Facebook groups in the world, and listed the best 42 classic rock songs of all time for you. A total of 100 people participated in the voting and we selected the best classic rock songs.

Top 10 classic rock songs of all time

  1. Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin (Released: 1971)
  2. Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple (Released: 1972)
  3. Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen (Released: 1975)
  4. Dream On by Aerosmith (Released: 1973)
  5. Hotel California by Eagles (Released: 1976)
  6. Whole Lotta Love by Led Zeppelin (Released: 1969)
  7. Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd (Released: 1973)
  8. Hey Jude by The Beatles (Released: 1968)
  9. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones (Released: 1965)
  10. Baba O’Riley by The Who (Released: 1971)

Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin

  • Released: November 8, 1971
  • Written by: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant

Led Zeppelin was an English rock band formed in 1968. The guitarist Jimmy Page, bassist John Paul Jones, drummer John Bonham, and singer Robert Plant formed the band. The band had a unique and innovative style, composed of influences of blues, folk rock, psychedelic rock, and rock ‘n’ roll.

Released in 1971 by the legendary rock band Led Zeppelin, Stairway to Heaven is an iconic rock ballad known for its intricate guitar work and powerful vocals. It has achieved immense success over the years and is considered one of the best classic rock songs of all time.

The song is on the album Led Zeppelin IV which has sold over 37 million copies in the United States alone.

Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple

  • Released: May 1972
  • Written by: Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Jon Lord, and Ian Paice

Deep Purple was formed in the year 1968. The band was launched in Hertford, Hertfordshire, England, and is known for its contribution to the development of hard rock and heavy metal.

Released in 1972 by Deep Purple, this hard rock classic song is one of Deep Purple’s signature songs.

It was released as a single and reached number 4 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song lyrics of Deep Purple are about a group that came to Montreux on the shores of Lake Geneva to record music. Unfortunately, a building was destroyed by a fire caused by a signal rocket.

Deep Purple’s album Machine Head, which includes the song, has sold over 7 million copies globally.

Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen

  • Released: October 31, 1975
  • Written by: Freddie Mercury

Queen’s epic rock masterpiece Bohemian Rhapsody was released in 1975. It became a massive commercial success and is one of the best-selling singles of all time.

In mid-1975, the band rehearsed the song for the first time at Ridge Farm Studio in Surrey. Then they took another three weeks in Hertfordshire to fine-tune it. By the end of August, they were ready for the studio recording, which took place on the 24th of that month at the famous Rockfield Studios in Monmouth, Wales. May described that moment afterward as “just the biggest buzz.”

Mercury has never clarified the song’s title’s meaning, as he disliked delving into the meanings of his lyrics or song titles. There are rumors that the song is about Freddie Mercury’s upbringing.

Queen’s album A Night at the Opera, featuring the song, has sold over 6 million copies worldwide.

Dream On by Aerosmith

  • Released: June 27, 1973
  • Written by: Steven Tyler

Dream On marked Aerosmith’s breakthrough in 1973. The song’s emotional lyrics and Steven Tyler’s distinct vocals left a lasting impact.

Aerosmith’s self-titled debut album, including Dream On, has sold over 2 million copies in the United States.

best classic rock songs of all time
Dream On by Aerosmith – Album cover

Hotel California by Eagles

  • Released: February 22, 1976
  • Written by: Don Felder, Glenn Frey, and Don Henley

The Eagles were one of the most successful US bands of the 70s. The song Hotel California, has contributed a lot to the success of the band. The meaning of the song is not clear. Don Felder, who co-wrote the song, wrote in his autobiography that everyone can interpret the song the way they want.

Released in 1976, Hotel California is a defining track by the Eagles. The song achieved critical and commercial success, contributing to the album of the same name’s massive sales of over 32 million copies worldwide.

Whole Lotta Love by Led Zeppelin

  • Released: November 7, 1969
  • Written by: Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, John Bonham, and Willie Dixon (credited for adapted lyrics from his song “You Need Love”)

Another Led Zeppelin classic, “Whole Lotta Love,” was released in 1969.

The song’s creation also showcases Page’s prowess in the recording studio. The guitarist who created the sound of “Whole Lotta Love” and the groundbreaking AOR album Led Zeppelin II narrates the tale of the song’s composition and introduces that iconic riff.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Page said:

I came up with the guitar riff for “Whole Lotta Love” in the summer of ’68, on my houseboat along the Thames in Pangbourne, England. I suppose my early love for big intros by rockabilly guitarists was an inspiration, but as soon as I developed the riff, I knew it was strong enough to drive the entire song, not just open it. 

Led Zeppelin II has sold over 12 million copies in the United States alone.

Top 10 classic rock songs of all time
Top 10 classic rock songs of all time

Freebird by Lynyrd Skynyrd

  • Released: November 3, 1974
  • Written by: Allen Collins and Ronnie Van Zan

Lynyrd Skynyrd’s epic rock ballad Freebird came out in 1973. It’s known for its emotional guitar solo and powerful vocals.

Lynyrd Skynyrd’s album Pronounced ‘Leh-‘nerd ‘Skin-‘nerd, which includes the track, has sold over 2 million copies in the United States.

Freebird by Lynyrd Skynyrd - Album cover
Freebird by Lynyrd Skynyrd – Album cover

Hey Jude by The Beatles

  • Released: August 26, 1968
  • Written by: Paul McCartney (credited to Lennon-McCartney)
  • Album: The song was released as a single and also later appeared on The Beatles’ compilation album “Past Masters.”

The Beatles released Hey Jude in 1968, becoming one of their most beloved and recognizable songs. The single achieved great success and contributed to The Beatles’ continued popularity.

Upon release, Hey Jude enjoyed tremendous commercial success. It became one of The Beatles’ best-selling singles and reached the top of the charts in a number of nations. It is one of the singles with the most lifetime sales thanks to its popularity and enduring appeal.

The song’s prolonged coda, which includes the well-known “na-na-na-na” refrain, is frequently embraced by audiences and used as a sing-along moment during live performances. Revolution, the single’s B-side, attracted attention for its more upbeat and political tenor.

The Beatles’ Hey Jude has a unique place in the hearts of music lovers. Generations have found solace and support in its timeless message, and its enduring popularity is largely due to its enduring melody and sing-along appeal.

(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones

  • Released: May 6, 1965 (in the UK), June 6, 1965 (in the US)
  • Written by: Mick Jagger and Keith Richards
  • Album: The song was initially released as a single and later appeared on the album “Out of Our Heads” (US version) and “December’s Children (And Everybody’s)” (UK version).

Released in 1965, “Satisfaction” is a classic rock song by The Rolling Stones. It became an instant hit and is considered one of the greatest rock songs ever recorded.

“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” was an instant success upon its release. It topped the charts in multiple countries and became The Rolling Stones’ first No. 1 hit in the United States.

The song’s exact sales figures are not readily available, but it has contributed to The Rolling Stones’ overall album sales of over 240 million copies worldwide.

Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones - Album cover
Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones – Album cover

Baba O’Riley by The Who

  • Released: August 14, 1971
  • Written by: Pete Townshend
  • Album: The song appears on The Who’s fifth studio album, “Who’s Next.”

Released in 1971, Baba O’Riley is a notable track by The Who, known for its synthesizer-driven intro and energetic sound. The song has become a staple in rock music and contributed to The Who’s album Who’s Next sales of over 3 million copies worldwide.

The Who’s Baba O’Riley has grown to be one of their most popular and enduring tracks. It paved the path for the creation of the electronic and synth-rock genres with its inventive usage of synthesizers and melding of rock and electronic components. The Who frequently performs this song live due to its upbeat and anthemic nature.

Although Baba O’Riley wasn’t made available as a single in many places, its inclusion in Who’s Next helped the album receive positive reviews and become a commercial success. The song continues to be a favorite among both fans and critics thanks to its enduring popularity.

 The Who’s album Who’s Next has sold over 3 million copies worldwide.

best classic rock songs of all time
Baba O’Riley by The Who – Album cover
  1. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones (1965)
  2. Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band/Little Help From My Friends by The Beatles (1967)
  3. Heard It in a Love Song by The Marshall Tucker Band (1977)
  4. Gimme Shelter by The Rolling Stones (1969)
  5. Roundabout by Yes (1971)
  6. A Whiter Shade Of Pale by Procol Harum (1967)
  7. Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting by Elton John (1973)
  8. Conquistador by Procol Harum (1967)
  9. Kashmir by Led Zeppelin (1975)
  10. Purple Haze by The Jimi Hendrix Experience (1967)
  11. Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd (1974)
  12. More Than A Feeling by Boston (1976)
  13. Carry On Wayward Son by Kansas (1976)
  14. You Shook Me All Night Long by AC/DC (1980)
  15. All Along the Watchtower by The Jimi Hendrix Experience (1968)
  16. Born to Be Wild by Steppenwolf (1968)
  17. Run Through the Jungle by Creedence Clearwater Revival (1970)
  18. L.A. Woman by The Doors (1971)
  19. Piece of My Heart by Janis Joplin (1968)
  20. Ace of Spades by Motörhead (1980)
  21. Money by Pink Floyd (1973)
  22. Voodoo Child (Slight Return) by The Jimi Hendrix Experience (1970)
  23. Roadhouse Blues by The Doors (1970)
  24. Across the Universe by The Beatles (1970)
  25. Lady Jane by The Rolling Stones (1966)
  26. Have You Ever Seen the Rain by Creedence Clearwater Revival (1970)
  27. Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd (1975)
  28. Child in Time by Deep Purple (1970)
  29. Just a Song Before I Go by Crosby, Stills & Nash (1977)
  30. Dreams by Fleetwood Mac (1977)
  31. Dog & Butterfly by Heart
  32. Still Loving You by Scorpions

We thank the members of the Facebook group CLASSIC ROCK UNIVERSE for their votes and support.


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