Top 40 Rock & Roll Songs of All Time

Feb 16, 2007 (Updated Apr 15, 2009)

The Bottom Line Some of you may not agree with my list, but I tried to encompass sixty years of music down to forty selections.

I read the #1 review on Epinions and it's another person's idea of what the top 20 Rock & Roll songs (of all time) are. While I agreed with some of his entries, I think he missed some. So I'll take a crack at it. Try to imagine that this is a list you might bring along to a deserted island or on a long plane ride if Rock is your favorite genre of music. Some of these tunes might be very over-played and you might be sick of them, but they were over-played for a reason.

When you make a list of ALL TIME, that should encompass ROCK music from the 1950's until present day. I tried to be fair and list only one song from a particular artist or band.

This list will NOT include Alternative, Pop, Rockabilly, Swing or Punk.

**Previously, I said that I will not include Metal in this list. Well, there are selections on my list that hover on the line of Metal vs. Rock, and since many genres of music blur the genre line, I feel like leaving my selections on this list and apologize to the Metal heads.  One could say that Metal is really Rock & Roll on steroids.

Without any further ado...

40: Edgar Winter: "Frankenstein" A powerhouse funkadelik instrumental. Words aren't needed in this frenzied rock tune.

39: BTO: "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet" Bachman Turner Overdrive gave us many pulse-pounding tunes. This one stood out even with its infectious stuttering.

38: The Beach Boys: "409" An anthem for guys who love their cars and the beach. Giddy up, Giddy Up, 409!

37: Golden Earring: "Radar Love" Listen to the drum work on this tune. It made me want to take drum lessons. I can't tell you how many times I played "air drums" to this song.  For those of you who remember him, as a small lad I studied drums with Louie Belson.

36: Janis Joplin: "Take Another Piece of My Heart" This woman poured her heart and soul into every tune. I feel this one is her crowning achievement.

35: The Mammas & The Pappas: "California Dreaming" Their  melodic tunes captured the ears of a great many people. 

34: Judas Priest: "You've Got Another Thing Coming" Don't laugh. These guys had a great sound, even though they never spawned any mainstream fashion trends. Some call this Metal, I call it a butt-kicking tune.

33: Queen: "We Will Rock You" While some might argue that this is not Queen's best work, the next time you're at ANY sporting event, this song always gets the crowd going. You can't argue with that logic.

32: Dion & The Belmonts: "Runaround Sue" A classic heard by millions on jukeboxes and at Sock Hops everywhere.  It's still a toe-tapper.

31: Bad Company: "Feel Like Makin' Love" Ok, here's a subtle love ballad.  I think many have "made out" or roller skated to this tune over the years.

30: Lynyrd Skynyrd: "Free Bird" Another powerful standout classic. Enjoy it for its all-out guitar tracks.  I can tell you that trying to keep up with this song on "Guitar Hero" is pretty tough... I can only im,agine what it was like to actually create the tune with actual instruments.

29: The Eagles: "Hotel California (LIVE VERSION)" What an amazing version of a classic tune. The crowd makes it even more enjoyable and I'm not fond of live tunes over studio versions most of the time.

28: The Doors: "Break on Through" One of the Doors' more powerful less-esoteric Rock tunes.  The tune has a very rough driving beat that is sure to make anyone get a speeding ticket.  I know I did once.

27: Wilson Pickett: "Land of 1000 Dances" The groove master makes everyone groove with this tune. "Na na na na, na na na na na na na na na." She's lookin' good!

26: Dire Straits: "Sultans of Swing" Mark Knopfler's melodic guitar is showcased in a tune that always lifts my spirits.

25: Kansas: "Dust in the Wind" Melodic tune complete with violins...wait, violins in a rock tune from the 1970s? This song even found its way onto Muzak - that's how popular it was.

24: ZZ Top: "Tush" Yeeeee Hawwwww this is just good ol' Rock n' Roll with a Southern twist.

23: Guns n' Roses: "Welcome to the Jungle" This tune makes me want to suit up and go into combat. With raunchy vocals and a hard-driving beat, it would make most anyone scream and clench their fists with a fervor.

22: Ted Nugent: "Stranglehold" It was a tough call between this song and "Cat Scratch Fever," but at 8:24, this track is all around groovy stuff lead by a very sweet bass track.

21: Ramones: "I Wanna Be Sedated" While I consider the Ramones closer to a Punk band, this tune has more of a Rock feel and was another standout from my early days. "Rock n' Roll High School" was a close second.

20: Boston: "Piece of Mind" Another great song from a great band that met its demise far too soon.  Boston's melodic tunes mixed with a very distinctive sound made them a very popular band.

19: The Who: "My Generation" It was a tough call between this and Baba O'Riley but I feel this Who tune speaks to the younger generation and was, for a time, a great anthem for young Rock & Rollers worldwide.  After working with Roger Daltry, I can tell you that he's one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet.

18: Metallica: "Enter Sandman" Yes, the theme song to the Tom Leykis Show, it just gets into my spine and rattles it for a while. And yes, this tune is on the cusp of Metal, but it's another one of those "gray area" tunes.

17: Stevie Ray Vaughan: "The House is Rockin" Another gifted guitar icon, Stevie Ray Vaughan has a gruff style that could be called a Southwestern/Bluesy Rock flair with hard-driving tunes and sultry Blues tunes.

16: Eric Clapton: "Cocaine" While his rendition of "Layla" was a great tune, I think Cocaine beats it by a nose (wink wink).

15: Pink Floyd: "Money" I think Dark Side of the Moon defined an era for me. For me, Pink Floyd's music was my drug. I used to trip out on Pink Floyd tunes on my headphones while watching my fish tank. Their hypnotic sounds, voices and music made growing up that much better.

14: Bruce Springsteen: "Born To Run" A great road trip song and one that will always ignite my spirit with its hard-driving beat.

13: Alice Cooper: "School's Out" Remember the guy who used to wear make up and dance around with a large snake around him? That guy was way ahead of his time. This song was played very loud every time school went on Summer break.

12: Credence Clearwater Revival: "Fortunate Son" From the band that brought us tunes like "Bad Moon Rising" and "Born on the Bayou", they defined 1960s Rock with their Earthy/folksy/gutsy style.

11: Led Zeppelin: Wow, harder to pick a standout song than a Rolling Stones tune. While I lost my virginity to their song "Kashmir", I think that "Nobody's Fault But Mine" rocks the house even more than "Black Dog."

10: Van Halen: "Panama" I love Van Halen (not to be confused with Van Hagar) and this song always made me rock out with my 1969 Fender Air Guitar.  Songs like this were made for Guitar Hero.

09: George Thorogood: "Bad to the Bone" Say what you will about this guy, his mean guitar licks and raspy vocals equal a Rock sound that is part Blues, part trailer park coffee and part molten lava. His rendition of John Lee Hooker's "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" was a close second.

08: Billy Idol: "Rebel Yell" What other song made you stand up and fight for your right to party? Ooops that was someone else's tune. Anyway, Billy Idol had an amazing voice but wasn't quite the actor some wanted him to be. (I worked with him on "The Doors" and I can say that Billy is a cool cat.

07: U2: "Where the Streets Have No Name" What a sumptuous fast-paced brass balls anthem. Another great road trip song. Their tune "I Will Follow" was a very close second.

06: Elton John: "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting" While some might consider Elton John a Pop artist who writes and sings love ballads, his Rock & Roll prowess was quite obvious in the 1970s. Saturday Night's Alright For Fightin' was a song we all rocked to... Still do.

05: The Rolling Stones: After a very long time and a long list of candidates including "Jumping Jack Flash", "B1tch" and "Rip This Joint", I have chosen "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" as the Rolling Stones song that defines the band's endless energy and style.

04: Aerosmith: "Walk This Way" While I know some of you are sick of this over-played song, it really is a great tune. It was a tough decision between this and "Train Kept a Rollin" though.

03: Jimmy Hendrix: "Fire" "Let me stand next to your fire." This man was gifted with the guitar. Always imitated - never duplicated in style. This song just rocks!

02: Chuck Berry: "Johnnie B. Goode" Many who heard this song were inspired to pick up a guitar and learn to play and many have copied his style since. If this Honky-Tonk toe-tapper does not stir your soul, you're void of a spine.

01: Steppenwolf: "Born To Be Wild" Get your motor runnin' 'cause this song will make you speed. From the band that gave us "Magic Carpet Ride" this high-energy anthem is a must for any road trip or guy's night out. It just defines the American spirit.

Honorable Mentions:

Carlos Santana:  Their sound is like the smoothest bottle of Tequila.  His masterful guitar work has got to be one of the best of all time.

Rob Zombie: While I consider him Goth Rock, his sound is undeniably Rock at its hard core.

Filter: I just love this band's sound. Mixture of Rock/Alternative and Grunge?

Deep Purple: Smoke on the Water

Kiss: "Rock n' Roll All Night"

Rush: I loved this band, but nothing really stood out from the rest.

AC/DC: I loathe this band, but I recognize they had talent.

The Beatles: While I believe this band was a Pop band, they did leave a mark on Rock music. My fave Beatles song? "Oh Bla Di, Oh Bla Da." Not sure why.


As a side note to the younger readers: I don't think that much of today's Rock has the soul or style that Rock from the 1950s to the 1980s had. Sorry, it's just my Epinion.

For those of you who wonder why I didn't include Elvis Presley: I refuse to recognize "The King" for what he did to the black community. His atrocities should make him the King of nothing but plagiarism.

Anyone who loves Rock & Roll knows that the decade that produced the most memorable Rock music is the 1970s.

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