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The Vinyl Countdown: Classic Rocking in Michigan

Updated on December 28, 2014

20. Gordon Lightfood - The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

This song tells of a ship unloading in Detroit before docking in Cleveland for the winter. The carrier sunk on November 10, 1975, claiming 29 lives.

19. Brownsville Station - Smokin' in the Boys Room

Straight out of Ann Arbor, this group was big in the 1970s. They had a huge hit with "Smokin' in the Boys Room," which Mötley Crüe went on to cover in the 80's. Cub Koda's onstage antics later influenced fellow Michigander, Alice Cooper.


18. Frijid Pink - House of the Rising Sun

This blues rock band formed around Detroit in the late 1960s, and stayed local until their version of "House of the Rising Sun" hit gold.

17. Stevie Wonder - We Can Work it Out

A huge part of the Motown movement, this blind child prodigy came from Saginaw, Michigan. He was first signed at age eleven, and went on to record over thirty top-10 hits and has received 22 Grammy Awards.


16. Devo - Theme from Doctor Detroit

Devo wrote this theme for the 1983 comedy Doctor Detroit. The film was shot in Chicago, and is about a Monroe College professor who meets four prostitutes. He transforms himself into Doctor Detroit to protect the girls.

15. Huey Lewis and the News - The Heart of Rock and Roll

This band isn't from Michigan, but their song "Heart of Rock and Roll" mentions the Motor City. The tune is about how rock and roll lives, and is kept alive in several cities across the U.S. Don't tell any Michiganders this, but the original line of the song was "The heart of rock and roll is in Cleveland."

14. Rare Earth - I Just Want to Celebrate

Another Detroit band, this group was signed to Motown - one of the first groups that was all-white. The group covered several Temptations originals, having more success with them than the Temptations had.


13. Bill Haley and His Comets - Rock Around the Clock

While Bill Haley and His Comets were formed in Pennsylvania, Haley himself is from Highland Park, Michigan. He was one of the first to popularize the rock and roll movement of the 1950's.

12. Iggy Pop - Lust for Life

Out of Muskegon, this punk rocker started off as the drummer in a blues band, The Iguanas. He went on to become vocalist for The Stooges in Ann Arbor from '67-'74.

11. ELO - All Over the World

Electric Light Orchestra was from Birmingham, England - but they gave us "All Over the World." A fantastic song with a brief mention of Detroit, this piece was featured on the 1980 film Xanadu.

10. Grand Funk Railroad - We're an American Band

They're a Michigan band - hailing from Flint. This blues rock group was big in the 1970s, and named after a railroad that went through their town.

9. KISS - Detroit Rock City

This song would later have a film made for it, portraying four teens in a cover band on a mission to see their favorite band in Detroit.


8. Del Shannon - Runaway

Del Shannon hit #1 with his hit "Runaway" in 1961. He comes from the best city in Michigan, Grand Rapids! He was raised playing country, then was drafted into the Army. When he returned, he began playing rhythm guitar in a band in Battle Creek. It took him a flight to NYC to gain fame, after several recordings of "Runaway."

7. The Knack - Heartbeat

Doug Fieger, the lead singer of The Knack, was a native of Oak Park, Michigan. The band emulated The Beatles, and rose to fame in 1979 with their #1 hit "My Sharona."


6. Journey - Don't Stop Believing

This song, set in the fictional "South Detroit," is described as one of the most perfect songs of all time. On the South Detroit mixup, Steve Perry says, "I tried north Detroit, I tried east and west and it didn't sing, but south Detroit sounded so beautiful. I loved the way it sounded, only to find out later it's actually Canada."


5. Simon and Garfunkel - America

This song describes a trip from Saginaw, Michigan, to Pittsburgh. Two lovers hitch-hike in search of America. "Michigan seems like a dream to me now..."


4. Alice Cooper - School's Out

This shock rocker had a humble upbringing as a preacher's son in Detroit. Those kids are always the weirdest, huh? He went on to godfather the shock rock movement, with theatrical on-stage performances with guillotines, blood, and baby dolls.

3. Bob Seger - Night Moves

From Lincoln Park, Michigan, Bob Seger is arguably one of the most popular artists to come out of the mitten. He put together the Silver Bullet Band, which released a string of hits through the '70's and '80's.

2. Ted Nugent - Cat Scratch Fever

The Motor City Madman is native to Redford, Michigan. He's sold a total of 30 million records, but is more known today for his strict conservative views and strong support of the Republican party. 'MURICA!


1. The Romantics - Talking in Your Sleep

The Romantics, of Detroit, were a power pop new wave group that formed on Valentine's Day of 1977. They had a few hits that reached international fame, among them "Talking in Your Sleep."


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