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Top 10 Classic Rock Bands

Updated on March 22, 2014
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Classic rock began as an appeal to the older generation. Radio stations began playing rock of the '60's and '70's during the early 1980s. From Aerosmith to Metallica and Rush, classic rock drew from blues, pop-rock and hard-rock. Classic rock constitutes a period of time 40 years in the past - yet, it still continues to thrive in a variety of groups and generations.

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Don Henley

Don Henley is best known as the founder and co-lead vocalist for The Eagles. From 1971-1980, Henley contributed to several hits, including "Hotel California" and "Life in the Fast Lane". The Eagles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, selling over 120 million albums worldwide. When the band broke up, his solo career took off. Releasing four albums, the singer's hits include "Dirty Laundry," "Boys of Summer," "New York Minute," "All She Wants To Do Is Dance," "The Heart of The Matter" and "The End of Innocence". Don Henley continues his success with an Eagles reunion tour in the summer of 2013 .

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Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin is truly a mix of music genres - from heavy metal to folk - the London based band has several classic rock hits. The band began in 1969, with four members: Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham. Releasing nine albums, this group gained popularity in the last 70's and continued to 1980. From "Stairway to Heaven" to "Ramble On," Led Zeppelin has set the standards for rock and roll bands everywhere.

ZZ Top

Forming in Houston, Texas in the year 1969, this band has stuck to its grassroots - combining blues and rock with a level of mastery. This group consists of Billy Gibbons, Frank Beard and Dusty Hill - all of whom were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. Releasing 15 studio albums, ZZ Top's success continues into today. With hits such as "Tush," "Gimme All Your Lovin',"Give It Up,"Rough Boy" and "Pearl Necklace" ZZ Top is forever embedded in the classic rock genre.

Kansas

The band began in Topeka, Kansas in 1973. With members - Phil Ehart, Rich Williams, Steve Walsh,Billy Greer and David Ragsdale - this group has released 18 albums from 1974 to the present. Similar to ZZ Top, Kansas incorporates blues and rock, mixed with synthesizers, strings and percussion. "Carry on my Wayward Son" was their first Top 40 hit in 1977. Their fame was followed by several popular songs including "Dust in the Wind," "Hold On" and "Point of Know Return". This band has been acclaimed for their powerful concerts which have lived up to their studio wonders.

The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones began in 1962 in London, similar to the Eagles. This band brought together Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood. The Rolling Stones gained popularity as part of the counter culture during the 60's, a time in which the older generation looked on in horror as the youth became a group of rock-loving rebels. Fittingly, The Rolling Stone magazine ranks them fourth on the list of the "100 Greatest Bands of All Time". With a whooping 29 albums the Rolling Stones will live on as one of the best rock and roll bands of the century. Just some of their popular hits include: "Beast of Burden," "Brown Sugar," Jumpin' Jack Flash" and "Gimme Shelter."

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Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath is another English rock band that began in 1968 with Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Ozzy Osbourne. This band draws from alternative blues to heavy metal with themes of horror and government instability evident in their lyrics and melodies. They were ranked as MTV's "Greatest Metal Band of All Time," winning two Grammy's and an induction into the Rock and Foll Hall of Fame. Black Sabbath has influenced many popular past and current metal bands from Smashing Pumpkins to Nirvana. With 19 albums, some of their best known hits include "Paranoid," "Evil Woman," "The Wizard" and "Never Say Die."

Styx

Styx has its roots in Chicago, gaining popularity beginning in the mid 1970s. This rock band is composed of Chuck Panozzo, James "J.Y." Young, Tommy Shaw, Todd Sucherman, Lawrence Gowan and Ricky Phillips. In a span of four years, Styx released four consecutive Multi-Platinum albums - The Grand Illusion, Pieces of Eight, Cornerstone and Paradise Theater. With hit singles ranging from "Come Sail Away" to "Renegade" this classic rock band often goes unappreciated; however, they've proven to compete with the popular English rock bands.

Blue Oyster Cult

This band is originally from Long Island, New York starting in 1967. Similar to Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult combines hard rock and heavy metal, releasing 14 albums from 1972 to 2001. With a varying 22 members, always changing, this band has released such chart toppers that include "The Reaper," "Godzilla," "I Love The Night," "Astronomy" and "Take me Away."

Some popular AC/DC songs:

  • Hell's Bells
  • Back in Black
  • She Shook Me All Night Long
  • Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
  • Fly on the Wall
  • Hell or High Water

AC/DC

AC/DC is a popular rock band who currently include the musicians of Angus Young, Malcolm Young,Phil Rudd, Cliff Williams and Brian Johnson. This band has gained acclaimed success, not only is it one of the highest earning bands of all time, AC/DC has gained several accolades and mentions in The Rolling Stones magazine, VH1 and MTV. At the same time, they've been nominated at the American Music Awards, ARIA's, Grammy's and MTV. AC/DC released 17 studio albums from 1975 to 2008, with over 100 songs.

Bob Seger

From "Night Moves" to "Hollywood Nights," Bob Seger has made a name for himself in the classic rock genre. Gaining popularity in the 60's with his band, Bob Seger and The Last Heard, he combines pop and country rock to create a medley of easy-listening music. Bob Seger continues his career today, earning his place in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, and The Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2012.

Extended List

There's a multitude of popular classic rock bands that did not make this list. Some of the best include:

  • Rush
  • Def Leppard
  • Aerosmith
  • Rush
  • Van Halen
  • The Beatles
  • Guns and Roses

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    • alyssagoesgreen profile imageAUTHOR

      Alyssa S. 

      4 years ago from USA

      Thank you, Styx really is awesome and I think sometimes goes under the radar!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 

      4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Impressive list! My fave would have to be Styx, Def Leppard Aerosmith, and, of course, the Beatles. Great hub!

    • profile image

      Phoebe Pike 

      4 years ago

      mgeorge1050- I used that band because they were famous and didn't even play their instruments in the beginning...

    • alyssagoesgreen profile imageAUTHOR

      Alyssa S. 

      4 years ago from USA

      I agree, some of these bands had pulled off looks that no one before them even attempted. I'm sure not all was met with praise, but it just seems as though this time was a whole different level and generation of rock.

    • mgeorge1050 profile image

      Alan 

      4 years ago from West Georgia

      When I think of bands like the Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd, for example, it makes me feel that the way they looked was not super important at that time in music. In my opinion the Monkees don't really qualify as classic rock, but maybe I didn't fully understand the reference.

    • Thief12 profile image

      Thief12 

      4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      Some good choices here. Some I would leave out, others I would let in, but still a nice list.

    • profile image

      Phoebe Pike 

      4 years ago

      The Monkees. They didn't even play on their first two albums.

    • alyssagoesgreen profile imageAUTHOR

      Alyssa S. 

      4 years ago from USA

      That's quite disappointing, which band was that?

    • profile image

      Phoebe Pike 

      4 years ago

      There is one famous band that didn't even know how to play their instruments until later on. It's pretty insane.

    • profile image

      Phoebe Pike 

      4 years ago

      It always "mattered" what a band looked like. Did you know that singers used to have lip singers perform for them if they didn't "look good". They used to have records where a beautiful woman was on the cover and everyone thought she was the singer, but it really was someone else...

    • mgeorge1050 profile image

      Alan 

      4 years ago from West Georgia

      I think classic rock will live on longer than other music because it is just so good. The music made as the true rock sound was being formed up until commercial appeal took over will forever be the greatest. Back when it didn't matter what a band looked like, it only mattered that they could rock! Long live classic rock n roll!

    • alyssagoesgreen profile imageAUTHOR

      Alyssa S. 

      4 years ago from USA

      Thank you, there's so many and I'm sure everyone's opinions differ, so I appreciate that.

    • profile image

      Phoebe Pike 

      4 years ago

      You have made some good choices here.

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