100 Best Rock Songs of the ‘70s

Updated on September 19, 2019
Ansel Pereira profile image

I have been an online writer for over two years. I am passionate about books, philosophy, music, and the music industry.

The ‘70s were epic for rock music. This list shows the very best the decade had to offer.
The ‘70s were epic for rock music. This list shows the very best the decade had to offer. | Source

Rock music branched out in the '70s. Musicians drew upon diverse influences, which fueled music experimentation, leading to the emergence of new subgenres. Thanks to progress and innovation, rock music became a globally accessible music genre. Some of the most memorable movements in rock history happened during this decade. This readiness to experiment gave '70s rock music a distinct identity.

Rock music reached a new level in the ‘70s. The decade played a pivotal role in shaping new subgenres that became popular in later years. The list below showcases a diverse number of ‘70s rock songs from many different subgenres. If you are a ‘70s music buff, then you'll definitely have something to say. Feel free to express yourself in the comments section.

Top 10 Best Rock Songs of the ‘70s

  1. “Imagine”—John Lennon
  2. “Stairway to Heaven”—Led Zeppelin
  3. “Wish You Were Here”—Pink Floyd
  4. “Bohemian Rhapsody”—Queen
  5. “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”—Bob Dylan
  6. “Smoke on The Water”—Deep Purple
  7. “Paranoid”—Black Sabbath
  8. “Free Bird”—Lynyrd Skynyrd
  9. “Hotel California”—Eagles
  10. “Sultans of Swing”—Dire Straits

Rock Music in the ‘70s

The popularity of rock music rose to new heights in the ‘70s. The decade witnessed an influx of popular music that transformed the sound of rock ‘n' roll. Rock songs with anthem-like choruses became exceedingly popular in mainstream.

While many rock subgenres did not find mainstream success, they gained a cult following among fans. As heavy metal continued its dominance in the ‘70s, the decade also witnessed the prominence of glam rock, progressive rock, and hard rock. Progressive forms of music used synthesizers and harmonizers, which would eventually evolve rock music, making the genre more open to electronics.

Best Rock Songs of the ‘70s #11-20

11. “Highway to Hell”—AC/DC

12. “Layla”—Derek and the Dominos

13. “Dust in the Wind”—Kansas

14. “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?”—Creedence Clearwater Revival

15. “Roadhouse Blues”—The Doors

16. “We Will Rock You”—Queen

17. “All Right Now”—Free

18. “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper”—Blue Oyster Cult

19. “Let It Be”—The Beatles

20. “Baba O’Riley”—The Who

The Popularity of Non-Mainstream Rock Genres in the ‘70s

While certain rock genres became more and more mainstream, a number of non-mainstream genres garnered a cult following among music fans. Jazz rock and experimental rock played a pivotal role in developing the jazz fusion genre in the '70s. Punk Rock also gained significant momentum in the decade, which led to the diverse punk subgenres that helped define the '80s. Country rock and Southern rock also became exceedingly popular throughout the decade. The twangy, yet distorted, guitar sounds used in Southern rock helped to define the genre. As rock sounds became more intense, high energy stage performances became a more and more important part of being a successful musical act.

Best Rock Songs of the ‘70s #21-40

21. “Anarchy in the U.K.”—Sex Pistols

22. “Sweet Home Alabama”—Lynyrd Skynyrd

23. “Money”—Pink Floyd

24. “All the Young Dudes”—Mott The Hoople

25. “Heroes”—David Bowie

26. “American Pie”—Don McLean

27. “More Than a Feeling”—Boston

28. “Roxanne”—The Police

29. “The Boys Are Back in Town”—Thin Lizzy

30. “Walk This Way”—Aerosmith

31. “I’m Not in Love”—10cc

32. “Brown Sugar”—The Rolling Stones

33. “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)”—Pink Floyd

34. “Riders on the Storm”—The Doors

35. “Message in a Bottle”—The Police

36. “Black Magic Woman”—Santana

37. “Take It Easy”—Eagles

38. “Black Dog”—Led Zeppelin

39. “London Calling”—The Clash

40. “Heart of Gold”—Neil Young

Garage Rock and Punk Rock

Garage rock and punk rock had widespread success throughout the decade. Blues rock and new wave also grew in popularity throughout the decade. The glam rock scene was a decisive moment in the ‘70s that led to a subculture in fashion. Progressive rock developed into a musical entity that pushed the technical and compositional boundaries of rock music. These altered song-structures and arrangements, infused with improvisational instrumental passages and high-concept lyrics, gave progressive rock its unique identity. In the ‘70s, a number of progressive bands recorded concept albums that are still considered rock masterpieces.

Best Rock Songs of the ‘70s #41-60

41. “Born to Run”—Bruce Springsteen

42. “Comfortably Numb”—Pink Floyd

43. “Wild Horses”—The Rolling Stones

44. “Ramblin’ Man”—The Allman Brothers Band

45. “Go Your Own Way”—Fleetwood Mac

46. “Barracuda”—Heart

47. “We Are the Champions”—Queen

48. “Child in Time”—Deep Purple

49. “Babe”—Styx

50. “Just the Way You Are”—Billy Joel

51. “Aqualung”—Jethro Tull

52. “Won’t Get Fooled Again”—The Who

53. “Into the Mystic”—Van Morrison

54. “Blitzkrieg Bop”—The Ramones

55. “Dream On”—Aerosmith

56. “Maggie May”—Rod Stewart

57. “Lola”—The Kinks

58. “Backstreets”—Bruce Springsteen

59. “School’s Out”—Alice Cooper

60. “American Woman”—The Guess Who

Rock Songs From the ‘70s

In the '70s, a number of singers and songwriters wrote truly thought-provoking lyrics for their compositions. In this decade, a significant number of rock songs had powerful lyrics. Many '70s rock songs were an expression of revolt and rebellion. In the '70s, folk protest songs played an important role in society, portraying social attitudes towards war and corruption.

Best Rock Songs of the ‘70s #61-80

61. “Doctor My Eyes”—Jackson Browne

62. “My Sharona”—The Knack

63. “Roundabout”—Yes

64. “Truckin’”—Grateful Dead

65. “Low Rider”—War

66. “A Horse with No Name”—America

67. “I Want You to Want Me”—Cheap Trick

68. “Ballroom Blitz”—The Sweet

69. “Feel Like Makin’ Love”—Bad Company

70. “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet”—Bachman Turner Overdrive

71. “Do It Again”—Steely Dan

72. “Cat Scratch Fever”—Ted Nugent

73. “Stuck in the Middle with You”—Stealers Wheel

74. “Play That Funky Music”—Wild Cherry

75. “Don’t Bring Me Down”—Electric Light Orchestra

76. “The Logical Song”—Supertramp

77. “Maybe I’m Amazed”—Paul McCartney and Wings

78. “Baby, I Love Your Way”—Peter Frampton

79. “Free Ride”—Edgar Winter Group

80. “What a Fool Believes”—The Doobie Brothers

Best Rock Songs of the ‘70s #81-100

81. “Iron Man”—Black Sabbath

82. “Ziggy Stardust”—David Bowie

83. “Cocaine”—J.J. Cale

84. “Time”—Pink Floyd

85. “Who’ll Stop the Rain”—Creedence Clearwater Revival

86. “Mississippi Queen”—Mountain

87. “We’re an American Band”—Grand Funk Railroad

88. “Love Is the Drug”—Roxy Music

89. “Piano Man”—Billy Joel

90. “Get Back”—The Beatles

91. “Stay With Me”—Faces

92. “Without You”—Badfinger

93. “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress”—The Hollies

94. “Whipping Post”—The Allman Brothers Band

95. “Hair of the Dog”—Nazareth

96. “If You Leave Me Now”—Chicago

97. “Wonderful Tonight”—Eric Clapton

98. “Because the Night”—Patti Smith Group

99. “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”—Meat Loaf

100. “Fly By Night”—Rush

Other Notable Rock Songs of the ‘70s

  • “Dreams”—Fleetwood Mac
  • “Rock and Roll All Nite”—Kiss
  • “Long Train Runnin’”—The Doobie Brothers
  • “The Joker”—Steve Miller Band
  • “Somebody to Love”—Queen
  • “Highway Star”—Deep Purple
  • “Kashmir”—Led Zeppelin
  • “Angie”—The Rolling Stones
  • “Radar Love”—Golden Earring
  • “Crazy on You”—Heart
  • “Stone Cold Crazy”—Queen
  • “Double Vision”—Foreigner
  • “She’s Gone”—Hall and Oates
  • “Take It to the Limit—Eagles
  • “You’re so Vain”—Carly Simon
  • “Goodbye Stranger”—Supertramp
  • “Mr. Blue Sky”—Electric Light Orchestra
  • “Funk #49”—James Gang
  • “Slow Ride—Foghat
  • “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number”—Steely Dan
  • “My Sweet Lord”—George Harrison
  • “Who Are You”—The Who
  • “Lookin’ Out My Back Door”—Creedence Clearwater Revival
  • “Sweet Emotion”—Aerosmith
  • “Fame”—David Bowie
  • “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”—Queen
  • “Hello It’s Me”—Todd Rundgren
  • “My Best Friend’s Girl”—The Cars
  • “Pretzel Logic”—Steely Dan
  • “Heart of Glass”—Blondie
  • “I Wanna Be Sedated”—The Ramones
  • “Carry on Wayward Son”—Kansas
  • “Evil Woman”—Electric Light Orchestra
  • “China Grove”—Doobie Brothers
  • “Fly Like an Eagle”—The Steve Miller Band
  • “Stranglehold”—Ted Nugent
  • “American Girl”—Tom Petty
  • “Breadfan”—Budgie

  • “Domino”—Van Morrison
  • “Let’s Go”—The Cars
  • “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love”—Van Halen
  • “Give a Little Bit”—Supertramp
  • “Tarot Woman”—Rainbow
  • “Oye Como Va”—Santana
  • “Like a Hurricane”—Neil Young
  • “Rock and Roll”—Led Zeppelin
  • “Band on the Run”—Paul McCartney and Wings
  • “Listen to the Music”—The Doobie Brothers
  • “Miss You”—The Rolling Stones
  • “Werewolves of London”—Warren Zevon
  • “The Needle and the Damage Done”—Neil Young
  • “Look at Yourself”—Uriah Heep
  • “Up Around the Bend”—Creedence Clearwater Revival
  • “Breakdown”—Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
  • “Dance the Night Away”—Van Halen
  • “War Pigs”—Black Sabbath
  • “Rocky Mountain Way”—Joe Walsh
  • “Working Man”—Rush
  • “Happy”—Rolling Stones
  • “Night Moves”—Bob Seger
  • “Black Diamond”—Kiss
  • “Anthem”—Rush
  • “Tonight's the Night (Gonna Be Alright)”—Rod Stewart
  • “La Grange”—ZZ Top
  • “Help Me”—Joni Mitchell
  • “Black Night—Deep Purple
  • “Changes”—David Bowie
  • “Livin’ Thing”—Electric Light Orchestra
  • “Just What I Needed”—The Cars
  • “Wheel in the Sky”—Journey
  • “Let There Be Rock”—AC/DC
  • “Rebel Rebel”—David Bowie
  • “Locomotive Breath”—Jethro Tull
  • “Beast of Burden”—Rolling Stones
  • “Victim of Changes”—Judas Priest
  • “Too Hot to Handle”—UFO

  • “Walk on the Wild Side”—Lou Reed
  • “Tush"—ZZ Top
  • “I’m Eighteen”—Alice Cooper
  • “Jessica”—The Allman Brothers
  • “Surrender”—Cheap Trick
  • “Takin’ Care of Business”—Bachman Turner Overdrive
  • “My Generation”—The Who
  • “Lawyers Gun and Money”—Warren Zevon
  • “Cortez the Killer”—Neil Young
  • “Brass in Pocket”—The Pretenders
  • “Just Got Paid”—ZZ Top
  • “Mr. Blue Sky”—Electric Light Orchestra
  • “Sweet Jane”—The Velvet Underground
  • “Haitian Divorce”—Steely Dan
  • “Running on Empty”—Jackson Browne
  • “Love Her Madly”—The Doors
  • “Rock Candy”—Montrose
  • “Good Times Roll”—The Cars
  • “No More Mr. Nice Guy”—Alice Cooper
  • “Jailbreak”—Thin Lizzy
  • “Life in the Fast Lane”—Eagles
  • “Do You Feel Like We Do”—Peter Frampton
  • “Question” —The Moody Blues
  • “The Long and Winding Road”—The Beatles
  • “Killer Queen”—Queen
  • “Black Water”—Doobie Brothers
  • “Cheap Sunglasses”—ZZ Top
  • “Watcher of the Skies”—Genesis
  • “Bang a Gong (Get it On)”—T.Rex
  • “No Class”—Motorhead
  • “Vicious”—Lou Reed
  • “Cherry Bomb”—The Runaways
  • “Tangled Up in Blue”—Bob Dylan
  • “Always Somewhere”—Scorpions
  • “Lovin, Touchin, Squeezin”—Journey
  • “Behind Blue Eyes”—The Who
  • “Reelin’ in the Years—Steely Dan

  • “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway”—Genesis
  • “Hollywood Nights”—Bob Seger
  • “Train in Vain”—The Clash
  • “Rock’n Me”—Steve Miller Band
  • “Long Time”—Boston
  • “Moondance”—Van Morrison
  • “Just Remember I Love You”—Firefall
  • “Take the Money and Run”—Steve Miller Band
  • “Runnin’ with the Devil”—Van Halen
  • “Temple of the King”—Rainbow
  • “One of These Nights”—Eagles
  • “Beth”—Kiss
  • “Search and Destroy”—The Stooges
  • “Powderfinger”—Neil Young
  • “Over the Hills and Far Away”—Led Zeppelin
  • “Brain Damage”—Pink Floyd
  • “God Save the Queen”—Sex Pistols
  • “Turn the Page”—Bob Seger
  • “Ohio”—Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
  • “Rock Lobster”—The B-52's
  • “Come Sail Away”—Styx
  • “L.A. Woman”—The Doors
  • “Tumbling Dice”—The Rolling Stones
  • “2112”—Rush
  • “Peaceful Easy Feeling”—Eagles
  • “Doctor Doctor”—UFO
  • “Rufugee”—Tom Petty
  • “It’s Only Rock 'n’ Roll”—The Rolling Stones
  • “Can’t Get Enough”—Bad Company
  • “Thunder Road”—Bruce Springsteen
  • “Deacon Blues”—Steely Dan
  • “Our House”—Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
  • “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker”—The Ramones
  • “Live and Let Die”—Paul McCartney and Wings
  • “I’ve Seen All Good People”—Yes
  • “Prove It All Right”—Bruce Springsteen
  • “Landslide”—Fleetwood Mac

Which Is the Best Rock Song of the ‘70s?

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    © 2019 Ansel Pereira

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