Classic rock isn’t just a throwaway term for guitar music of a certain vintage. It’s an era, a lifestyle and a sound all of its own. To paraphrase one of its great practitioners, classic rock songs will never die. Even as the ’60s and ’70s fade further into history, classic rock’s greatest contributions still have the power to get your fist pumping and your feet stomping. All while making you want to knock back a cold one.
In a way, assembling our list of classic rock’s greatest hits was an exercise in exclusion. While rock-adjacent genres like punk, new wave, psychedelic, garage and pop are indeed classic, here we’re defining ‘classic’ as arena-ready, guitar-driven, thunderous compositions from the late ’60s through the pre-hair metal early ‘80s. Yes, you’ll find the likes of Talking Heads, The Police, The Clash and Blondie on classic-rock stations, but you won’t find them here. They’re classic, but they’re not classic rock, no matter what your radio station reckons.
Prepare to raise your fists: These are the 28 essential classic rock songs.
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