The Top 10 Rock Songs of all time spanned three decades, from the doo-wop of the 50's through the pre-MTV generation of the 70's. Rock Music
stretched through at least two generations. It usually consisted of one or two electric guitars (one lead, one rhythm), a bass guitar and drums. In early rock and roll formats, either the piano or saxophone was the lead instrument, but these were replaced by the guitar and electric guitar in the late 50's and early 60's.
Number 10 on the list, "What'd I Say", was performed by Ray Charles, an American pianist and singer who shaped the sound of Rhythm and blues. This impromptu blues number was conceived during a concert and was his first top 40 hit. Frank Sinatra called him "the only true genius in the business" and in 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Charles #10 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
In 2004 his life story was brought to film starring Jamie Foxx.
Number 9 is "Good Vibrations" by the Beach Boys. It hit the charts in 1966 and was actually the first tune to reach top 10 radio that was over 3 minutes in length. It was the band's third number one hit and was composed and produced by the band's leader Brian Wilson. It featured instruments unusual for a pop song, including frequent use of the cello as well as an electro-theremin. The origin of the title was derived from an early life experience of Brian Wilson. When he was a child, his mother told him that dogs could pick up "vibrations" from people, and would bark at "bad vibrations". Wilson turned this into the general idea of "vibrations". Mike Love (another band member) put "good" in front of vibrations, and developed the idea of people being able to do the same with emotions.
Number 8 is "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen, which topped the charts in 1975. When, the late Freddie Mercury belted this tune out, everyone knew that it was something special. The song was performed in a unique groundbreaking music video and was parodied hilariously in the movie Wayne's World. It also has an unusual musical structure for popular music. It has no chorus, instead consisting of seemingly disjunct sections including operatic segments and an a cappella and heavy metal part. The song is widely hailed as Queen's magnum opus, and marked a decisive point in the band's career and set them on the way to become one of the world's most popular music groups.
Number 7 is "A Day In the Life" by the Beatles from 1967. It is very similar to "Bohemian Rhapsody" with it's frequent changes and lack of a chorus. The Beatles were 4 lads from Liverpool who initiated the British Invasion when they stepped on stage for the Ed Sullivan show in 1964. John Lennon wrote the song after being inspired by newspaper articles on the death of Tara Browne(a member of Swinging London's counterculture of the 1960s),and a civic plan to fill four thousand potholes in Blackburn. While recording the song, the Beatles were not certain how to fill the gap between the Lennon and McCartney parts of the song. Lter on it was decided that a partly-improvised crescendo by an orchestra would serve as the bridge.
Number 6 is "Jailhouse Rock" by Elvis Presley, recorded in 1957. Elvis Presley sometimes commonly known as the king of rock and roll, was a mainstay of American pop culture, mostly known for his extreme hip movements and dancing gestures on stage and in his movies from the late 50's through the early 70's. The song was made famous by the film of the same name.
Number 5 is "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones from 1965. The Stones were probably the second most popular act to arrive with the British Invasion. The song was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Rolling Stone magazine ranked the song as number 2 on its 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, while VH1placed it at number 1 on its "100 Greatest Songs of Rock & Roll" list. The Rolling Stones have been writing and performing songs for a record FIVE decades, and still play in concert today.
Number 4 is "Respect" by Aretha Franklin from 1967. Aretha Franklin, is an American songwriter, singer and pianist known to her fans as "the Queen of Soul" She possibly possesses the most powerful pair of lungs on a female artist in the history of music. She is famous for her soul recordings but is also adept at jazz, rock, blues, pop, gospel, and even opera. She is widely acclaimed for her passionate, soulful vocal style, which is aided by a massive and powerful vocal range. "Respect", firmly launched Aretha to superstardom. It was written and originally recorded by Otis Redding. Her feminist version of the song became her signature tune for life hitting #1 on both the R&B and the Pop charts and held the top spot on the R&B chart for a record 8 weeks
Number 3 is "Like A Rolling Stone" by Bob Dylan from 1965. Dylan is an American singer, songwriter and poet, sometimes regarded as the bridge between folk and rock music. "Like A Rolling Stone" was the first tune ever played on the famous New York radio station WPLJ. It was originally penned as a short story before it became a song. It received criticism by Dylan fans for its harder rock sound, a noticeable difference from the artist's earlier folk music. The song dramatically affected the music world and popular culture, as well as Dylan's image and iconic status. It has been covered by many artists, including a notable version by Jimi Hendrix. Rolling Stone magazine ranked it the greatest song of all time.
Number 2 is Johnny B. Goode by Chuck Berry from 1958. Chuck Berry was one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's website says, "While no individual can be said to have invented rock and roll, Chuck Berry comes the closest of any single figure to being the one who put all the essential pieces together." Written in 1955, the song represents a rock and roll version of the American dream — a poor country boy becomes a star by hard work and inspired guitar playing. This song was also performed by Michael J. Fox's character in "Back to the Future"
Number 1 is "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin from 1971. Led Zeppelin is an English rock band formed in 1968 by Jimmy Page (guitar), Robert Plant (vocals), John Paul Jones (bass guitar, keyboards) and John Bonham (drums). With their heavy, guitar-driven sound,and powerful vocals, Led Zeppelin is regarded as one of the first heavy metal bands. The recording of "Stairway to Heaven" started in December 1970 in London and was completed by the addition of lyrics by Robert Plant during the sessions for the album, "Led Zeppelin IV" at Headley Grange, Hampshire, in 1971. Jimmy Page then returned to Island Studios to record his guitar solo. The song's instrumentals were written by Page over a long period of time. The song has been played more than any other on classical rock radio stations across the country.
The Top 10 Rock Songs have changed the way our culture looks at and judges popular music today.