Thursday, December 31, 1981

The Top 100 Classic Rock Songs, 1964-1981

Classic Rock:

Top 100 Songs, 1962-1981

This originated as a post on Dave’s Music Database Facebook page and was updated in April 2012 as a response to Ultimate Classic Rock’s Top 100 Classic Rock Songs list (which employed the maddening criteria that each act could only have one entry on the list). The DMDB list is the result of aggregating 71 best-of lists focused on classic rock songs. See the sources at the bottom of the page.

This list has also been published in the Dave’s Music Database book Charting the Classic Rock Hits 1962-1981, available at Amazon. It analyzes the aforementioned classic-rock best-of lists to gauge how classics like Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” the Eagles’ “Hotel California,” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” might have fared had a classic rock chart existed then.

Click here to see other genre-specific song lists.

1. Led Zeppelin “Stairway to Heaven” (1971)
2. Eagles “Hotel California” (1976)
3. Derek & The Dominos “Layla” (1971)
4. Queen “Bohemian Rhapsody” (1975)
5. Lynyrd Skynyrd “Free Bird” (1974)
6. The Rolling Stones “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” (1965)
7. The Who “Won’t Get Fooled Again” (1971)
8. Aerosmith “Dream On” (1973)
9. Pink Floyd “Comfortably Numb” (1979)
10. Boston “More Than a Feeling” (1976)

11. Lynyrd Skynyrd “Sweet Home Alabama” (1974)
12. Deep Purple “Smoke on the Water” (1972)
13. The Jimi Hendrix Experience “Purple Haze” (1967)
14. Pink Floyd “Another Brick in the Wall Part II” (1979)
15. The Who “Baba O’Riley” (1971)
16. Led Zeppelin “Whole Lotta Love” (1969)
17. Aerosmith “Sweet Emotion” (1975)
18. AC/DC “You Shook Me All Night Long” (1980)
19. Steppenwolf “Born to Be Wild” (1968)
20. Led Zeppelin “Kashmir” (1975)

21. John Lennon “Imagine” (1971)
22. The Doors “Light My Fire” (1967)
23. The Rolling Stones “Sympathy for the Devil” (1968)
24. Pink Floyd “Money” (1973)
25. Kansas “Carry on Wayward Son” (1976)
26. The Jimi Hendrix Experience “All Along the Watchtower” (1968)
27. Queen “We Will Rock You” / “We Are the Champions” (1977)
28. The Beatles “Hey Jude” (1968)
29. Bruce Springsteen “Born to Run” (1975)
30. Bob Dylan “Like a Rolling Stone” (1965)

31. AC/DC “Back in Black” (1980)
32. Blue Öyster Cult “Don’t Fear the Reaper” (1976)
33. Pink Floyd “Wish You Were Here” (1975)
34. Pink Floyd “Time” (1973)
35. Led Zeppelin “Rock and Roll” (1972)
36. Free “All Right Now” (1970)
37. Led Zeppelin “Black Dog” (1971)
38. Dire Straits “Sultans of Swing” (1978)
39. Steppenwolf “Magic Carpet Ride” (1968)
40. Cream “Sunshine of Your Love” (1967)

41. Rush “Tom Sawyer” (1981)
42. Van Morrison “Brown-Eyed Girl” (1967)
43. Aerosmith “Walk This Way” (1976)
44. The Rolling Stones “Gimme Shelter” (1969)
45. Rod Stewart “Maggie May” (1971)
46. Kiss “Rock and Roll All Nite” (live, 1975)
47. Fleetwood Mac “Go Your Own Way” (1976)
48. The Police “Roxanne” (1978)
49. Black Sabbath “Paranoid” (1970)
50. The Guess Who “American Woman” (1970)

51. Cream “White Room” (1968)
52. The Kinks “Lola” (1970)
53. Heart “Barracuda” (1977)
54. ZZ Top “La Grange” (1973)
55. The Who “My Generation” (1965)
56. The Rolling Stones “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” (1969)
57. Eric Clapton “Cocaine” (1977)
58. Ozzy Osbourne “Crazy Train” (1980)
59. Steve Miller Band “The Joker” (1973)
60. The Beatles “Let It Be” (1970)

61. The Rolling Stones “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” (1968)
62. Kansas “Dust in the Wind” (1977)
63. Journey “Don’t Stop Believin’” (1981)
64. Don McLean “American Pie” (1971)
65. The Beatles “Come Together” (1969)
66. Boston “Foreplay/Longtime” (1977)
67. The Beatles “A Day in the Life” (1967)
68. Buffalo Springfield “For What It’s Worth” (1967)
69. The Doors “L.A. Woman” (1971)
70. Led Zeppelin “Over the Hills and Far Away” (1973)

71. The Who “Behind Blue Eyes” (1971)
72. Golden Earring “Radar Love” (1973)
73. The Rolling Stones “Honky Tonk Women” (1969)
74. The Rolling Stones “Brown Sugar” (1971)
75. David Bowie “Space Oddity” (1969)
76. The Animals “The House of the Rising Sun” (1964)
77. AC/DC “Highway to Hell” (1979)
78. Santana “Black Magic Woman” (1970)
79. The Rolling Stones “Paint It Black” (1966)
80. Yes “Roundabout” (1971)

81. Manfred Mann’s Earth Band “Blinded by the Light” (1976)
82. Thin Lizzy “The Boys Are Back in Town” (1976)
83. The Beatles “Revolution” (1968)
84. Led Zeppelin “Ramble On” (1969)
85. Bachman-Turner Overdrive “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” (1974)
86. The Jimi Hendrix Experience “Hey Joe” (1966)
87. The Kinks “You Really Got Me” (1964)
88. Pink Floyd “Brain Damage/Eclipse” (1973)
89. Bad Company “Bad Company” (1974)
90. The Jimi Hendrix Experience “Foxey Lady” (1967)

91. Big Brother & The Holding Company “Piece of My Heart” (1968)
92. The Moody Blues “Nights in White Satin” (1967)
93. Joe Walsh “Rocky Mountain Way” (1973)
94. Foghat “Slow Ride” (1975)
95. Bad Company “Feel Like Making Love” (1975)
96. The Doors “Riders on the Storm” (1971)
97. Heart “Crazy on You” (1976)
98. The Who “Who Are You?” (1978)
99. Creedence Clearwater Revival “Fortunate Son” (1969)
100. The Rolling Stones “Start Me Up” (1981)

Resources/Related Links:

  • Dave’s Music Database: “Other Genre/Category Song Lists

  • Are You on Something “Classic Rock Top 500

    Date and method of list creation unknown. Looks more like an individual’s list with songs that aren’t typically defined as “classic rock,” such as the Stooges, Ramones, Velvet Underground, etc.

  • CFMI (2007). “500

    Broken link.

  • CHRX (Dec. 1993). “Classic 600

    Vancouver radio station countdown. Only top 14 listed.

  • CKKQ 100.3 (2005). “Top 500 Thanksgiving Weekend Countdown

    Only top 40 listed.

  • (2002). “Top 500 Rock and Roll Songs

    Broken link.

  • Classic Rock magazine (Sept./Oct. 1999). “Readers’ poll

    A list of the top 50 classic rock songs of all time.

  • Classic Rock magazine (March 2000). “10 Songs That Changed the Face of Rock

    List only.

  • Cranbrook 99.5 (2005). “Top 300

    Radio station list. Location of radio station and means of compiling list unknown. Only top 40 listed at link above.

  • Digital Dream Door (9/9/2005). “200 Greatest Rock Songs

    Details of how list was created are unknown. Has links to hear songs.

  • (2010). “VA – Top 1000 Classic Rock Songs of All Time

    Link appears dead now.

  • FIQL (1995). “Top 50 Classic Rock Songs of All Time

    According to Jacobs Media. Published in Classic Rock book. Assume that FIQL is a radio station that broadcast this list, but don’t know the origins of the list.

  • Guitar World (2000). “100 Greatest Solos of All-Time

    This list of the greatest rock guitar solos of all time was compiled by editors of Guitar World magazine. The list gives the song titles and featured guitarists for each. Very classic rock in nature so included here.

  • KCFX 101 The Fox, Kansas City (Jan. 2008). “Top 1001 Rock Songs

    As voted on by listeners. Link broken.

  • KISW FM 99.9, Seattle (1994). “Top 1000

    Don’t know how list was generated. Only top 40 listed at above link.

  • Steve Knight (5/31/2007). “The Top 25 Rock Songs of All-Time are…

    Looks like just another blogger’s opinions. Details are sketchy on his credentials and background, but it appears he was a former radio DJ. Brief commentaries. Appears to now be a dead link.

  • KYYS, Kansas City, MO.

    A best-of-all-time list from a classic rock station. Date unknown.

  • KZOK 102.5 “Top 1000 Classic Rock Songs

    Radio station countdown. Location of radio station, when list was done, and method for compiling list unknown.

  • Tim Morse (1998). Classic Rock Stories: The Stories Behind the Greatest Rock Songs of All Time. New York, NY: St. Martin's Griffin.

    Stories about 225 classic rock songs from the makers of the songs (singers, songwriters, musicians). Broken into categories in unranked format. Also includes a list of the top 25 classic rock albums.

  • Q104.3 New York (2007). “Top 1043 Songs of All Time

    Radio station countdown. Compiled from listeners’ votes.

  • Q107 (10/12/2009). “Top 500

    Radio station countdown determined by listeners’ votes. Radio station location unknown.

  • Radio Gold “Top 20 Classic Rock

    Origin and year of list unknown. Greek-based site.

  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame “Top 10 Songs

    Broken link. How list was created and when is unknown.

  • Rock Radio (11/23/2004). “Top 25 Songs of All Time

    Los Angeles-based (?) radio station. List determined by listeners’ votes.

  • (2000). “Top 100

    Lists of the 100 best rock songs and albums of all time, as polled from visitors to the site.

  • “Top 500 Rock and Roll Songs

    Don’t know details about creation or date of list. Has guitar tab links for songs. Annoying list to navigate with only ten songs per page.

  • “Top 100 Rock and Roll Songs

    Don’t know when list was created and site only says that this list was generated from readers’ responses to the “Top 500” list (above). List leans a little toward heavy metal.

  • Ultimate Classic Rock (6/20/2013). “Top 100 Classic Rock Songs

    Top 100 list with the annoying criteria that each act can only have one song on the list. Detailed commentary on each song. Link is actually to the DMDB’s blog post featuring a list of all the songs.

  • WNEW (1996). “Firecracker 500

First posted 4/9/2010; last updated 9/11/2023.


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    1. Thanks for the positive feedback. Check the "index" and "best-of lists" links at the top of the page for the easiest navigation. I appreciate you reading!

      - Dave

  2. Q107 is in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

  3. This is one awesome list! I found all my favorites in top 20! Seldom do I see lists that include only the best. I must say Led Zep’s Stairway to Heaven definitely beat the odds. There is so much to say about them but I will leave it to their music-they speak for themselves! Great post!

    1. Thanks! It is always encourage to read a positive comment.