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Top 138 Best 70s Rock Songs

People often refer to the 60s as the greatest music period. It did give us The Beatles and the beginnings of The Who, Led Zeppelin, and plenty of others. But, it could be argued that the 70s was when experimentation brought new ideas, subgenres, and cultures.

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Finding the best 70s rock songs is not going to be easy. There is so much to look at, so many to choose from. And, of course, we will all have our own favorites. The impact on the future of music was greatly influenced by what was happening in the 70s.

New Ideas and a Magical Decade

Musicians were creating new ideas. It was the decade of the ‘supergroup.’ Although, in my opinion, the only thing ‘super’ about the vast majority of them was their egos. But, it was a magical period that unlocked doors as Rock music became global.

Progressive Rock evolved, too. We saw bands utilize new instruments usually only seen in orchestral work. Jazz began to infiltrate Rock and create new ideas and styles.

Those ‘Psychedelic’ bands evolved into more creative styles, and, of course, we saw the arrival of Heavy Metal. Even some elements of American Country music decided to ‘rock up’ to the party.

Interesting Variations

It wasn’t just Rock music anymore. We had Glam Rock, Art Rock, Punk Rock, Soft Rock, Country Rock, and just about everything else Rock.

Best 70s Rock Songs

Suddenly the songs were getting longer and included lengthy instrumental solos. Concept albums began to flourish. And songwriters began to make political statements within the confines of this Rock music that was evolving.

Musical Freedom

For some, it was musical freedom they had not seen before, and many took full advantage. They explored a range of styles and sounds, and they started to use complex structures in their songwriting.

The Synthesizer

Technology was moving at a fast pace, and this was not lost on musicians and writers. The synthesizer emerged and started to transform music and make new sounds possible. It created an atmosphere and a musical ambiance that wasn’t there before.

Studio Techniques

The technological development of better engineering in sound opened new doors. Recordings became better and what can be termed more ‘professional.’ 

It was the start of the move towards recording techniques that created near perfection. And with that, anything was possible. Some bands and singers used these new technologies. Others chose to stay with what they knew but just take advantage of the better quality.

As we shall see, as I try to cram in as many great songs as possible, it was a memorable decade.

Top 138 Best 70s Rock Songs

[nb]1[/nb] Your Song by Elton John

As the decade of The Beatles came to a close, it left a musical void. We needed talented performers and songwriters to fill the gap. One of those that stepped into that void was Elton John.

Working with lyricist Bernie Taupin, this memorable track was taken from his album simply called Elton John. Released in 1970, it reached #7 in the UK and #8 in America. It is still recognized today as one of his finest songs. And is one of the best 70s Rock songs.


[nb]2[/nb] American Pie by Don McLean

A song that has had an extended life, probably more than most would have envisaged. Don McLean’s nostalgic look back at the recent past at the time it was written. It is famous for its reference to the death of Buddy Holly. “The day the music died.”

It is one of those songs that is still played extensively on the radio. And is likely one of the most well known rock songs from the 70s.


[nb]3[/nb] Tumbling Dice by Linda Ronstadt

A song written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, some will ask why I didn’t include their version from their album, Exile On Main Street.

The simple answer to that is that this version is better, in my opinion. Linda Ronstadt was one of the very best female singers of the time. She was able to cross all the genres and even sang some light operatic work. 

This shows her in a “Rock mood” and is an exceptional track from her 1977 album, Simple Dreams.


[nb]4[/nb] Angie by The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones during the 60s were always living in the shadow of The Beatles. Not surprising, of course. There was a pattern that whatever the Beatles tried, the Stones had a go six months later, and most of it didn’t work.

They just could not compete with Lennon and McCartney. But, in fairness to them, very few could. Having said that, they were able to produce some very good songs, and this was one.

It was released in 1973 and was the first single from their album, Goats Head Soup. It shows a side to the writing of Jagger and Richard we rarely saw. Perhaps a side they should have given a bit more attention to, especially in later years.


[nb]5[/nb] The Green Manalishi by Fleetwood Mac

Back to the day when Fleetwood Mac was a Blues band in the UK and a very good one, they were driven on by one of the greatest Blues guitarists from anywhere in Peter Green. 

There was an element of those that saw them then that considered it was their best period as a band. I couldn’t disagree; they could be staggering.

This Peter Green track, whilst being one of the greatest and most atmospheric they did, was tinged with tragedy. It was the last song ‘Greenie’ wrote for them and played with them before his mental illness took complete hold.

It reached #10 in the UK in May 1970. Fleetwood Mac didn’t have another UK Top 10 record until the ‘New’ Mac and Tusk nine years later.


[nb]6[/nb] Take The Long Way Home by Supertramp

One of the most talented and underrated Rock bands of the 70s was Supertramp. Formed in London in 1969, they had two prolific and excellent songwriters, Roger Hodgson and Rick Davies.

I suppose you could call them a Progressive Rock band. But, it was more thoughtful Progressive Rock than most other bands produced. This track was taken from the album, Breakfast In America, released in 1979.


[nb]7[/nb] Ohio by Neil Young

This Canadian singer-songwriter is now recognized as one of the great acts of our generation. These days, he often takes up a cause and writes his songs about it. And, it isn’t a new thing, as this track shows.

On the 4th of May 1970, there was an anti-Vietnam War protest by students at Kent State University in Ohio. The National Guard shot and murdered; I won’t say killed, four of them. Neil Young got his teeth into that one. 

At the time, it was called one of the greatest protest rock songs of the 70s, if not ever. Didn’t have much effect. Nixon was re-elected with a big majority in Ohio. Neil Young has to be included in this list somewhere, and this song was one of his best.


[nb]8[/nb] Seven Seas Of Rhye by Queen

Written mainly by Freddie Mercury with a few extras from Brian May, this was their third single and their first to be charted. It reached #10 on the UK chart in 1974. A version was included in their first album entitled Queen. But, the revised version we know was a track from the album Queen II.

Certainly one of the best tracks they released. It highlighted all the skills they possessed, even at such an early stage of their career.


[nb]9[/nb] Superstition by Stevie Wonder

“Superstition” was first released in 1972 and included on his album, Talking Book. He originally wrote the song for Jeff Beck. However, a delay in the release of Beck’s version meant that Wonder’s version came out first.

This was a song that took Stevie Wonder, his live performances, and his songwriting to another level. At #11 in the UK and #1 in America, it was a huge success. 

Contrary to opinion, he didn’t use a Fender Rhodes for that funky piano sound. It was a Hohner Clavinet. Very much an instrument of the 70s.


[nb]10[/nb] Tush by ZZ Top

Whilst some bands were coming up with complex arrangements, chord structures, and rhythms, not everyone was doing the same. Some bands were churning out straight 4/4 Rock n Roll and Blues rhythms. And these were accompanied by some basic Rock n Roll riffs.

And, of those bands, ZZ Top were the masters. You could argue that it was in the 80s that they made their name. But, in the 70s, we had gems like “Tush” from the album, Fandango!.

Released in 1975, this sort of track allowed them the freedom to work around a basic Rock’ n Roll sound. And the audiences, some not into all the complex stuff, loved its raw simplicity. Indeed, it’s one of the best 70s Rock songs.


[nb]11[/nb] Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple

When you say the name Deep Purple, this is the track most people will think of. They were an interesting band. Sometimes not Progressive Rock at all, but other times right in the middle of it. Four excellent musicians and a singer with a vocal range that broke glasses in the bar.

This track was released in 1972 and was taken from what I always thought was their best album, Machine Head.

As we all know, the song was inspired by a real fire in Montreux, Switzerland, where they were recording. A great track, powerful and typical Purple. One of the best Rock n Roll songs of the 70s.


[nb]12[/nb] Jingo Lo Ba by Santana

A friend of mine called up one day and said you have got to come and listen to this. It was Santana’s first album, Santana.

It was impressive until we got to “Jingo.” That was something else. And, listening back on it today, it is still one of the great tracks of the 70s. The thundering percussion lifted this from being an ordinary Rock song to a momentous piece of work. 


[nb]13[/nb] All Right Now by Free

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the 70s arrived with a bang with this track. Free wrote the song in the North East of England after a gig. It took about ten minutes. It went to #2 in the UK and #4 in America.

Some people think this was their first release. But, it was a track from their third album, Fire And Water. The later releases were good, but they never did fulfill their real potential due to the internal squabbles.


[nb]14[/nb] It’s Too Late by Carole King

Back to the girls now for this song. It was taken from her album, Tapestry, which was certainly one of the best albums of the 70s.

Released in 1971 and written by Carole King and Toni Stern, it reached #6 in the UK and #1 in America. It tells the story of the end of a relationship. And, if there is a better song about a breakup, I don’t think I have heard it.


[nb]15[/nb] Eruption by Van Halen

In 1962, the Van Halen family left Amsterdam to settle in California. The guitar would never be the same again. Eddie, and his brother Alex, later formed Van Halen and shook the music world.

Their first album, Van Halen, released in 1978, was considered one of the greatest rock albums of the time and featured this song.

“Eruption” was a staggering piece of guitar work that established their and his credentials. It could be argued that Van Halen brought Hard Rock back into focus.


[nb]16[/nb] Radar Love by Golden Earring

If Eddie and his family left Holland, there were still lots of bands left behind. Golden Earring was just one. And a band that is unique in the music world. 

They were formed one year after The Beatles in 1961. Sixty years later, and until very recently, were still performing with the same line-up. “Radar Love” was their international breakthrough single and a rock masterpiece. It was a Top 10 record in seven countries and reached #13 in America.

The lengthy version was still included in their stage act until they finally retired, all well into their 70s. It was complete with a mammoth 6-minute drum solo that is quite staggering for a man with a free bus pass.


[nb]17[/nb] Hocus Pocus by Focus

And still, the Dutch are adjusting our eardrums. Focus, however, was different. Classical and Jazz trained musicians took Progressive Rock, where no one else has ever been able to go. And still haven’t.

This was taken from their album, Moving Waves, and included the flute, whistling, and yodeling; yes, you did read that. Yodeling. It is apparent from the title that they also have a sense of humor. 

It was written by keyboard player, flutist, yodeler, and anything else he could play, Thijs Van Leer, with guitarist Jan Akkerman. The song reached #20 in the UK and #9 in America. Stunning musicianship that was a worthy addition to the 70s age.


[nb]18[/nb] Emerald by Thin Lizzy

How good was Thin Lizzy despite all the trials and tribulations and changes in the band? They could be brilliant. The lineup for their Live and Dangerous tour in 1978 produced one of the best live albums ever, Live & Dangerous.

Of course, we see the name of Tony Visconti in the credits. We know then that there has been a bit of post-live recording tweaking going on. But what live album hasn’t? I was fortunate enough to be at the Wembley concert, where a good proportion of this album came from. 

For those months in late 1977 to mid-1978, they were the best live act on the planet. And this remains one of the best 70s Rock songs ever recorded.


[nb]19[/nb] Won’t Get Fooled Again by The Who

Are we talking about the best Rock bands in the 70s? Then you could easily answer, “Who else?” This is one of their most famous tracks, with Townshend in full anti-establishment mode in his writing. 

There were two versions, the single version and the full 8-minute version on the Who’s Next album. It reached #9 in the UK and #15 in America. It was the last song that Keith Moon played with the band at Shepperton Studios before his death.


[nb]21[/nb] School’s Out by Alice Cooper

This was a 1972 release and helped to establish Alice Cooper and his band as an essential 70s act. It was taken from his fifth album with the same name, School’s Out. The single reached #1 in the UK and #7 in America. It became one of his signature songs in stage shows.

He took the idea of “Shock Rock” to another level with his attire and stage shows. In real life, though, he was the opposite. He did an enormous amount of charity work, including feeding orphaned kids on Christmas Day mornings. 

An all-around great act and a good guy. Not many of those around, which is one reason he is here.


[nb]21[/nb] My Song by The Moody Blues

The seeds of the concept album had been sown in the 60s. But it started to come to fruition in the 70s. The Moody Blues were one of the best exponents of this idea. “My Song” is the closing track of their excellent album, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour.

This was one of their finest albums and had other great tracks included. It took four months to record. Understandable when you listen to the layering of various instruments.

Every Good Boy Deserves Favour had been their fifth concept album and their second in the 70s. One more was to follow before they took a break until the end of the decade.


[nb]22[/nb] Sultans Of Swing by Dire Straits

Released in 1977, this was the song that introduced Dire Straits and Mark Knopfler to the world. The original song was a demo that the BBC put in their playlists. From there, it was picked up by Phonogram, who gave them a contract, and it was re-recorded.

It has remained one of the most played 70s Rock songs on the radio and was always a fixture in their stage set. Writer Mark Knopfler continued to include it in his solo stage set after the band split. It reached #8 in the UK and #4 in America.


[nb]23[/nb] Locomotive Breath by Jethro Tull

Thijs Van Leer of Focus might have introduced the flute to a Rock band, but he wasn’t alone. Ian Anderson was also expounding the musical options using the flute. 

Jethro Tull was not only progressive in their music, but the medieval look in their stage performance offered something different. And, who can forget the sight of Anderson balancing on one leg playing the flute solo on this track? A solo that was hard enough to play standing on two feet.

This was a track from one of their best albums, Aqualung. Released in 1971, it is an observation of how the world’s population and the behavior of the capitalists are getting out of control. Wasn’t wrong, was he? It was always one of their most loved songs and a fixture in live performances.


[nb]24[/nb] Hotel California by The Eagles

The Eagles arrived in 1972, with their first two albums being recorded in London. Whilst not being truly Country, they had that feel about them. This was emphasized in the recordings by producer Glyn Johns.

By the third album, they came back to London again, and Glenn Frey wanted more of a Rock sound. Glyn Johns reminded Frey they were not The Who and to grow up. They finished the album in America with a marked decline in quality.

Of course, over the following years, Don Henley steered them in a different direction, and they became a band that crossed genres. “Hotel California,” the single, was taken from the album of the same name, Hotel California.

One of the most memorable Rock songs from the 70s from a memorable album. It secured their status as one of the top bands of the 70s.


[nb]25[/nb] Bullfrog Blues by Rory Gallagher 

We are running out of space here, but I cannot get to the end without mentioning one of the greats. Rory Gallagher was on another planet to everyone else. It was no good trying to record him, which is why I have included a live track from a 1974 tour.

If you like your Blues and Rock music raw with no frills, he is your man.


Honorable Mentions

As we move towards the end of this look at the best rock songs from the 1970s, there is a need to include some notable mentions. All of them are great tracks from this magical period of music:

  • Paranoid by Black Sabbath.
  • My Sharona by The Knack.
  • Pretty Vacant by The Sex Pistols.
  • Ventura Highway by America.

So, let’s move on to some of this list. 

[nb]26[/nb] Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd

The 70s was the age when Progressive Rock took hold. And, if we are talking about Progressive Rock, it is not possible to exclude one of the masters of the genre. Taken from one of their masterpieces, The Wall, this song is memorable in so many ways.

In many ways, Pink Floyd was an enigma. You couldn’t just listen to the songs. You had to let them in your head and understand what was going on. They worked at another level of consciousness than other bands in terms of the song meanings. The Wall, as an album, is a good example.

In my opinion…

This track did not have the best guitar solo of the 70s. It was the best guitar solo ever. Yes, there are a couple of effects pedals involved. But there weren’t any silly hats or histrionics. 

Just a great musician creating a memorable, emotional solo that fitted and lifted the song to where it needed to be.


[nb]27[/nb] I’ve Seen All Good People by Yes

Well, it was a close thing. Was this going to be the final pick, traditionally my favorite song on these lists? 

Yes, for me, was the band of the 70s. The songs, the musicianship, the vocal harmonies, the arrangements, and, of course, after The Yes album, Rick Wakeman. This track came from The Yes Album, the last without Wakeman.

This is a track that demonstrates all of those qualities I mentioned. Great track, great progressive rock. Yes had everything.


[nb]28[/nb] Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin

Never released as a single, presumably to get people to buy the album, this has probably got to be the signature Rock song of the 70s. It was included on the album Led Zeppelin IV.

To my knowledge, it is still the best-selling Led Zep album of them all. Not surprisingly, the album also included “Black Dog, ” “Rock and Roll,” and “When the Levee Breaks.”

It is a song that is set up in three separate sections. Each one gets progressively louder and increases in tempo. What starts as a song with a folk music feel ends up as “in yer face rock.”

Unforgettable Rock music…

There have been a few cover versions, but none like the original, except one. If you want to hear what can be done with this song, take a listen to this live version from Heart with a few friends.

I suppose that arrangement and performance only go to prove the quality of the song. They came a long way from the recently formed band I used to see on a Sunday evening in the backroom of a pub in Southall, West London.


[nb]29[/nb]Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen


[nb]30[/nb]Dream On – Aerosmith


[nb]31[/nb]Sweet Child o’ Mine – Guns N’ Roses


[nb]32[/nb]Black Dog – Led Zeppelin


[nb]33[/nb]Baba O’Riley – The Who


[nb]34[/nb]Go Your Own Way – Fleetwood Mac


[nb]35[/nb]We Will Rock You – Queen


[nb]36[/nb]Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd


[nb]37[/nb]Dancing Queen – ABBA


[nb]38[/nb]Life’s Been Good – Joe Walsh


[nb]39[/nb]Stayin’ Alive – Bee Gees


[nb]40[/nb]Rock and Roll All Nite – KISS


[nb]41[/nb]More Than a Feeling – Boston


[nb]42[/nb]Renegade – Styx


[nb]43[/nb]Crocodile Rock – Elton John


[nb]44[/nb]Kashmir – Led Zeppelin


[nb]45[/nb]Long Train Runnin’ – The Doobie Brothers


[nb]46[/nb]Reelin’ in the Years – Steely Dan


[nb]47[/nb]Rockin’ in the Free World – Neil Young


[nb]48[/nb]Walk This Way – Aerosmith


[nb]49[/nb]Heart of Gold – Neil Young


[nb]50[/nb]Free Bird – Lynyrd Skynyrd


More 88 Best 70s Rock Songs

    1. Barracuda – Heart
    2. Bad Company – Bad Company
    3. Maggie May – Rod Stewart
    4. Ramblin’ Man – The Allman Brothers Band
    5. Blitzkrieg Bop – Ramones
    6. Do You Feel Like We Do – Peter Frampton
    7. Cold As Ice – Foreigner
    8. Let’s Stay Together – Al Green
    9. Just What I Needed – The Cars
    10. Ziggy Stardust – David Bowie
    11. Love Gun – KISS
    12. Heroes – David Bowie
    13. The Chain – Fleetwood Mac
    14. Rich Girl – Hall & Oates
    15. Love Hurts – Nazareth
    16. Livin’ on a Prayer – Bon Jovi
    17. Message in a Bottle – The Police
    18. Magic Carpet Ride – Steppenwolf
    19. Hey Jude – The Beatles
    20. Surrender – Cheap Trick
    21. Rock and Roll – Led Zeppelin
    22. Love Reign O’er Me – The Who
    23. Wild Horses – The Rolling Stones
    24. Ziggy Stardust – David Bowie
    25. Sultans of Swing – Dire Straits
    26. My Sharona – The Knack
    27. Old Time Rock and Roll – Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band
    28. One Way or Another – Blondie
    29. Roxanne – The Police
    30. I Want You to Want Me – Cheap Trick
    31. Crazy Little Thing Called Love – Queen
    32. Somebody to Love – Jefferson Airplane
    33. Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey
    34. Rebel Rebel – David Bowie
    35. Here Comes the Sun – The Beatles
    36. Life in the Fast Lane – The Eagles
    37. Slow Ride – Foghat
    38. Sweet Jane – Lou Reed
    39. Comfortably Numb – Pink Floyd
    40. Saturday Night Special – Lynyrd Skynyrd
    41. Bad Moon Rising – Creedence Clearwater Revival
    42. You Really Got Me – Van Halen
    43. Low Rider – War
    44. Sweet Talkin’ Woman – Electric Light Orchestra
    45. Go All the Way – The Raspberries
    46. Jet Airliner – Steve Miller Band
    47. Rocky Mountain Way – Joe Walsh
    48. Rock and Roll Fantasy – Bad Company
    49. Two Tickets to Paradise – Eddie Money
    50. Take It Easy – Eagles
    51. Reelin’ and Rockin’ – Chuck Berry
    52. White Wedding – Billy Idol
    53. Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison
    54. I Want to Hold Your Hand – The Beatles
    55. Roadhouse Blues – The Doors
    56. Sharp Dressed Man – ZZ Top
    57. The Boys Are Back in Town – Thin Lizzy
    58. All Right Now – Paul Rodgers
    59. Dreamer – Supertramp
    60. Walk on the Wild Side – Lou Reed
    61. No Woman, No Cry – Bob Marley & The Wailers
    62. Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) – Eurythmics
    63. Take the Money and Run – Steve Miller Band
    64. Long Cool Woman (In a Black Dress) – The Hollies
    65. Rockin’ Into the Night – .38 Special
    66. Rock and Roll – Velvet Underground
    67. Doctor My Eyes – Jackson Browne
    68. China Grove – The Doobie Brothers
    69. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap – AC/DC
    70. Stay – Jackson Browne
    71. Hot Stuff – Donna Summer
    72. Rock of Ages – Def Leppard
    73. I’m Your Boogie Man – KC and The Sunshine Band
    74. Dream Weaver – Gary Wright
    75. Squeeze Box – The Who
    76. Rhiannon – Fleetwood Mac
    77. Free Fallin’ – Tom Petty
    78. Hot Legs – Rod Stewart
    79. Fly Like an Eagle – Steve Miller Band
    80. Centerfold – The J. Geils Band
    81. Can’t Get Enough – Bad Company
    82. Give a Little Bit – Supertramp
    83. The Logical Song – Supertramp
    84. Limelight – Rush
    85. Space Oddity – David Bowie
    86. Somebody to Love – Queen
    87. Long Train Running – The Doobie Brothers
    88. We’re an American Band – Grand Funk Railroad

Looking for Awesome Music?

We can help with that. Take a look at our detailed articles on the Best Songs About Fire, the Best Songs About Cars, the Best Songs About California, the Best Songs about Fighting, and the Best Songs About Heroes for more incredible song selections.

Also, you need to hear those tunes. So, check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Headphones For Rock & Metal Music, the Best Headphones for Music, the Best JBL Wireless Headphones, the Most Comfortable Headphones, and the Best Headphones Under $200 you can buy in 2023.

Best 70s Rock Songs – Final Thoughts

It was quite a decade; there is no doubt about that. If you were to write down a list of the greatest rock artists ever, most of them would likely be represented here. The 70s was a magical time for music and its development.

There are some I would have included. Paul Simon and “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” for instance. But he is probably not a Rock artist, so it’s hard to justify its inclusion. John Lennon’s “Imagine” had a major impact in the 70s, but was it a Rock song?

Not everyone will agree with my choices, of course. But I think we can all agree there are some great tracks here from a great decade of progressive, inventive, and pure old-fashioned rock music.

Until next time, happy listening.

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