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Top Rock Songs Through the Years

Updated on April 23, 2014

The Top Rock Songs through the years consisted of a huge block of music spanning from the early doo wop and blues years of the 50's to the MTV generation of the 80's.

In the 50's Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley dominated the scene. Chuck Berry is sometimes known as the inventor of rock and roll. The Rock and Roll hall of fame included three of his songs. They were "Johnny B. Goode" (seen in the film "Back To the Future"), "Maybellene" and "Rock and Roll Music" (also performed later by the Beatles).. Elvis Presley began his wild hip shaking career as one of the first performers of rockabilly, which was an up tempo fusion of country and rhythm and blues. It also has a strong back beat. Presley is known for great tunes like "Hound Dog" and "Jailhouse Rock" My favorite was "It's Now or Never"

Other great 50 rock performers were:

Little Richard - A key figure in the transition of rhythm & blues to rock & roll Known for the wild hits "Lucille", "Tutti Frutti" , "Long Tall Sally" (also performed later by the Beatles) and "Good Golly Miss Molly"

Jerry Lee Lewis - " A Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On", "Great Balls of Fire"

Buddy Holly and the Crickets - "That'll be the Day", "Peggy Sue"

The Five Satins - "In the Still of the Night"

Bobby Darin - "Mack the Knife"

The Coasters - "Yakety Yak", "Poison Ivy"

The Platters - "The Great Pretender, "Only You"

The 60's and 70's were decades dominated by the British Invasion, Motown music and Surfing music. Also sprinkled in was folk rock, psychedelic rock, bluesy rock and the beginnings of hard rock.

The British Invasion was lead by:

The Beatles - "I want to Hold Your Hand", "She Loves You", "A Day in the Life", "Day Tripper" , "Hey Jude", "Let It Be"

The Rolling Stones - "Satisfaction", "Jumpin Jack Flash", "Sympathy For the Devil", "Brown Sugar"

The Dave Clark Five - "Over and Over", "Anyway you Want It", "Catch Us If You Can", "Because"

Dusty Springfield - "I Only Want to Be With You", "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me", "The Look Of Love"

Petula Clark. - "Downtown", "I Know A Place", "My Love"

The Kinks - "Lola", "You Really Got Me", "All Day and All of the Night","Powerman"

The major Motown sounds came from

The Supremes - "Where Did Our Love Go", "You Keep Me Hangin' On", "Stop In the Name Of Love", "I Hear a Symphony"

The Temptations - "My Girl", "Ball of Confusion", "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone"

The Four Tops - "Bernadette", "Reach Out - I'll Be There", "Standing in the Shadows of Love"

Aretha Franklin - "Respect", "Think"

Smokey Robinson and the Miracles - "I Second That Emotion", "The Tracks of My Tears", "Tears of a Clown"

The Jackson Five. - "ABC", "I Want You Back", "I'll Be There"

The surfing and fast car sounds were kicked off by.

The Beach Boys - "I Get Around", "Good Vibrations", "Barbara Ann"

Jan & Dean - "The Little Old Lady From Pasadena"

Folk Rock Legends

Bob Dylan - "Like A Rolling Stone", "Blowin In the Wind", "Don't Look Back"

Psychedelic Rock famous at the major rock concert of all time known as "Woodstock"

Jimi Hendrix - "Purple Haze", "The Wind Cries Mary", "Hey Joe", Voodoo Child

Janis Joplin - "Piece Of My Heart"

Jefferson Airplane - "White Rabbit", "Do You Want Somebody To Love"

The Grateful Dead - "Truckin", "Terrapin Station"

Sly and the Family Stone - "Everyday People", "I Want to Take You Higher", "Hot Fun In the Summertime"

Blues Rock

The Doors - "Light My Fire", "Peace Frog", "Touch me", "Riders On the Storm"

Hard Rock

Led Zeppelin - "Stairway To Heaven", "A Whole Lotta Love", "Black Dog", "the Immigrant Song"

Derek and the Dominos (with Eric Clapton) - "Layla"

Aerosmith - "Dream On", "Rag Doll", "Walk this Way"

The 80's were primarily a decade that catered to the MTV generation. Most big rock sounds in the 80's had their video counterpart. During this era we were introduced via video to Van Halen, Madonna, U2, Kim Carnes, Michael Jackson, the Eurythmics (with Annie Lennox), Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Berlin, Prince, Cyndi Lauper and countless others.

These were some of the biggest hits:

Michael Jackson - Billie Jean, Beat It, Thriller

Prince - When Doves Cry, Little Red Corvette, Kiss, Purple Rain,1999

VanHalen - Jump, Panama, Hot For Teacher

Madonna - Like A Virgin, Into the Groove, Papa Don't Preach,Holiday, Like A Prayer

Bruce Springsteen - Born in the USA, Dancing in the Dark

U2 - With or Without You, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Where the Streets Have No Name, Pride (In the Name of Love)

Girls Hust Want to Have Fun - Cyndi Lauper

Every Breath You Take - Police

Sexual Healing - Marvin Gaye

Walk This Way - Run DMC

Don't You Want Me? - Human League

What's Love Got To Do With It? - Tina Turner

Call Me - Blondie

Bette Davis Eyes - Kim Carnes

Celebration - Kool & The Gang

Tainted Love - Soft Cell

I Love Rock N' Roll - Joan Jett & The Blackhearts

Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) - Eurythmics

Whip It - Devo

Flashdance...What a Feeling - Irene Cara

Super Freak - Rick James

Blue Monday - New Order

Upside Down - Diana Ross

Fame - Irene Cara

You Shook Me All Night Long - AC/DC

We Are the World - U.S.A. for Africa

Saving All My Love For You - Whitney Houston

Nasty - Janet Jackson

I Feel For You - Chaka Khan

Start Me Up - Rolling Stones

Jessie's Girl - Rick Springfield

Physical - Olivia Newton John

Our Lips Are Sealed - Go-Gos

Faith - George Michael

Rock the Casbah - Clash

Back In Black - AC/DC

Livin' On a Prayer - Bon Jovi

Take My Breath Away - Berlin

Sledgehammer - Peter Gabriel

Pour Some Sugar On Me - Def Leppard

It's Like That - Run DMC

Relax - Frankie Goes To Hollywood

(Just Like) Starting Over - John Lennon

Free Fallin' - Tom Petty

Love Shack - B-52s

That's What Friends Are For - Dionne Warwick (& Friends)

Addicted To Love - Robert Palmer

Up Where We Belong - Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes

The Boys of Summer - Don Henley

Everybody Wants To Rule the World - Tears For Fears

(I've Had) The Time of My Life - Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes

Centerfold - J. Geils Band

I Wanna Dance With Somebody - Whitney Houston

Come On Eileen - Dexy's Midnight Riders

Walk Like An Egyptian - Bangles

Let's Get Serious - Jermaine Jackson

Hungry Like the Wolf - Duran Duran

Karma Chameleon - Culture Club

She Works Hard For the Money - Donna Summer

Greatest Love of All - Whitney Houston

Take On Me - A-Ha

Careless Whisper - WHAM! feat. George Michael

Do You Really Want To Hurt Me? - Culture Club

I Can't Go For That (No Can Do) - Hall & Oates

Legs - Z.Z.Top

West End Girls - Pet Shop Boys

Freeway of Love - Aretha Franklin

The Power of Love - Huey Lewis & The News

These were some of the Top Rock Songs that spanned four decades from the 50's until the 80's.

The Beatles - "Get Back"

Rolling Stones - "Satisfaction"

U2 - "Where the Street's Have No Name"

the Dave Clark 5 - "Catch Us If You Can"


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    • hglick profile image

      hglick 7 years ago from Ronkonkoma, NY

      crmcdonald,You do have a point there. The 80s was a rock/pop era. Some songs were merges, as was Whitney Houston

    • crmcdonald profile image

      crmcdonald 7 years ago

      Whitney Houston is far from Rock. Are you sure you didn't mean to title this great pop songs?

    • profile image

      vinod 7 years ago

      'Angie' from Rolling Stones is a classic.

    • billyaustindillon profile image

      billyaustindillon 7 years ago

      Some great tunes - Satisfaction from the Stones is legend :)

    • hglick profile image

      hglick 8 years ago from Ronkonkoma, NY

      Thank You thirdmillenium

    • thirdmillenium profile image

      thirdmillenium 8 years ago from Here, There, Everywhere

      A nice and comprehensive essay that will be a happy reading for rock lovers

    • hglick profile image

      hglick 8 years ago from Ronkonkoma, NY

      quicksand - I believe that I've listed at least two of those three in other Hubs I've written on classic rock.



      Woodstock had some great bands. Recently I downloaded the CD, Sly & the Family Stone Greatest hits

    • quicksand profile image

      quicksand 8 years ago

      Hglick, remember Woodstock? ... with Joan Baez, Sly, Santana, Country Joe McDonald, Ritchie Havens ...

      Well in the list above I was looking out for Chicago, Jethro Tull, Three Dog Nite ... Cheers!

    • hglick profile image

      hglick 8 years ago from Ronkonkoma, NY

      jetiz - thanks for the kudos, also thanks for the music link. Unfortunately there is no sound.

    • profile image

      jetiz 8 years ago

      awesome collection

      i think this will help you guys in getting those songs

    • Isabella Snow profile image

      Isabella Snow 9 years ago

      Wow, I was just thinking about that U2 video the other day. Classic. And the Jump vid.. I didn't even have cable TV when that came out, but I remember seeing it at the Roller Rink!! Thanks for the memories!