By Julianna Tassi
Classic rock is the most revolutionary music genre of all time. These bands of the 1960’s, 70’s, and 80’s framed the world of rock and roll as we know it today.
- Led Zeppelin – From Robert Plant’s unmistakable vocals to Jimmy Page’s flawless riffs and solos to John Bonham’s intricate unique drum fills to John Paul Jones’ iconic bass lines, all four members of this incredible rock band hold so much personal talent and amazement that together they create the best rock band to ever exist. Nearly anyone who’s heard music in their life can name at least one Led Zeppelin song. They blew us away with their first Led Zeppelin album in ‘69 and continued to drop jaws from Houses Of The Holy to In Through The Out Door as well as so many more. Though the tragedy of Bonham’s death in 1980 ended this band’s physical journey, their legend continues to live on and change lives. My personal favorite by them is very hard to decide but I must say I think it has to be “The Rain Song.” If not that, then the version of “I Can’t Quit You Baby” on the album Coda.
- The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Though Jimi Hendrix himself is very often solely credited for his songs, the band as a whole left a widely impactful legacy on the lives of many. Hendrix himself made this band known and led it to stand out from all else heard before. Their three most well-known albums (Are You Experienced, Axis: Bold As Love, and Electric Ladyland) was a very new sound to the late 1960s. Being the central symbol of the spectacular music festival Woodstock of 1969, it is impossible to listen to Jimi Hendrix without wishing you were there. Their music combined flavors of blues with psychedelic rock that creates their easily recognizable sound. It is a give-in that Jimi Hendrix is one of the world’s best guitarists and musicians. He is my own top inspiration when it comes to guitar. My favorite song by The Jimi Hendrix Experience would probably have to be either “Little Wing” or “Voodoo Child.”
- The Beatles – With a seemingly endless amount of songs, The Beatles is easily one of the most influential rock bands if not the most influential rock band of all time. As part of the “British Invasion,” this band came to America with ideas that were brand new. They centralized and popularized ideas of rock and roll which drew enormous crowds and drove girls crazy. Though they never had the wild “look” and stage presence that typical rock bands are associated with, they inspired nearly 100 percent of rock and roll bands who came after them. Their names were heard nationwide by all; no American who lived in the 60s or 70s had existed without ever hearing music by the Beatles. Their songs balance between joyful lyrics with cheerful rhythms and very eye-opening, inspirational messages. My favorites by them would have to be “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” as well as “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”
- Rush – Made up of only three members, this progressive band has some of the most talent out of any musical group ever made. Similar to Led Zeppelin, the individual musicians that make up Rush are beyond phenomenal on their own. This is why together their brilliance feeds off of each other and adds up to build such truly mind-blowing, unmistakable, intricate music. Their genius time-signature changes combined with their personal abilities on top of their complicated, unique rhythms plus the concepts and messages behind their albums and songs all blended with the overall mesmerizing flow of the music. Geddy Lee’s incredibly unique high-ranged voice as well as key bass lines that make him one of the world’s best bassists (my personal favorite) combined with the truly outstanding, time-bending drum patterns of Neil Peart along with the wild progressive riffs of Alex Lifeson all together make the sound of this band stand out from any other. My favorite song by Rush is hands down “La Villa Strangiato,” a 10-minute-long beautiful instrumental.
- Black Sabbath – This is the band that defined heavy metal. They transformed what the world knew as rock music into a new genre itself. They began relating their lyrics to dark messages and ideas of evil and hell which really set themselves apart from the start. Their idea of tuning down guitar strings lower than standard opened up endless opportunities for new sounds. Even out of the studio, they naturally had a more raw, violent take on human lifestyle itself. This is what led to the dark moods and heavy builds of their iconic music. It is nearly impossible not to be impressed by Black Sabbath. Ozzy Osbourne himself, the central “face” of the band, is one of the most well-known rock/metal singers of all time. I have so many favorites of this band. If I were to try to narrow it down I think I’d have to say that “Die Young,” “Fairies Wear Boots,” and “Black Sabbath” are my personal top three.
- Pink Floyd – Pink Floyd would have to be my favorite band of all time. Something about their tone, their uniqueness, their creativity, and their completely different sound all sends me to a new place within myself. When thinking of the psychedelic rock genre, Pink Floyd is what immediately comes to mind for everyone. They steered away from common, traditional rock ideals and incorporated select aspects with blues themes and added their own unique methods to their creations. Guitarist David Gilmour, known for his famous bends, incorporates an unmistakable Stratocaster tone into their music which makes listeners know exactly who is playing within hearing seconds of a Pink Floyd song. There truly is no band you could compare them to; they are completely different from all else. Their long, intricate instrumentals set them apart from any other rock band. It takes an open, patient, cultured mind to be able to appreciate such strange sounds. My favorite songs by Pink Floyd include “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” “Dogs,” “Have a Cigar,” and “Goodbye Blue Sky.”
- Guns n’ Roses – It is hard to incorporate Guns n’ Roses with a single sub-rock genre. They are most often associated with hard rock, but depending on different songs they can also sometimes be considered metal and even punk. Guitarist Slash could be considered the most famous guitarist of the 80s and 90s. Many of the most well-known rock and roll songs are by Guns n’ Roses. This includes “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” “Paradise City,” “Welcome To The Jungle,” and “November Rain.” Their heavy, hardcore riffs have to be listened to at full volume. Their oftentimes scandalous lyrics and very wild rhythms resulted in some upset and irritated audiences. But, as enforced through their song “Get In The Ring,” they didn’t care and would continue to share their killer sound. Their upbeat tempos and exciting riffs make it so easy for listeners to be entertained and energetic with listening to it. They very perfectly fit every definition of “rock and roll band.” My favorite by them is definitely “My Michelle.” I also love “You Could Be Mine” and “Coma.”
- Queen – Queen is one band that so easily can appeal to every audience of all ages and musical tastes, cultures, and moods. It is so hard to not love the joyful, uplifting lyrics of this band. Freddie Mercury is known to be one of rock and rolls most talented singers. “Bohemian Rhapsody” is extremely well known by every age group there is. This band is known for their catchy melodies as well as spectacular performances they would put on. They made their mark on the 70s through the 90s with their iconic lyrics and widely loved grooves that are impossible not to enjoy. Freddie Mercury’s devastating death in 1991 changed the surging success of this band, but they still continue to play live shows and leave their legacy in the world. Though I so love all of Queen’s songs my favorites are “Don’t Stop Me Now,” “Killer Queen,” and “Bicycle.”
- Deep Purple – Matching up with the ideal “rock and roll band”, Deep Purple very much brings out every key quality of a great rock band. It is impossible not to be blown away by Ian Gillan’s vocals. His range adds to the depth of all of their songs and makes it all extremely interesting. Guitarist Ritchie Blackmore created extremely intricate solos that are impossible not to impress. A key stand-out of this band is their use of keyboard. The geniuses of Jon Lord added to the “sound” of the band and played an important role in making their mark, as organ playing wasn’t an extreme focus during early rock times. Bassist Glenn Hughes wasn’t in the band for an extremely long time, but he left a huge mark on the importance and “coolness” of bass playing. Though they’re known the most for “Smoke On The Water,” their live album Made In Japan is one of my favorite albums of all time. My favorites by them are the live versions of “Strange Kind Of Woman” and “Highway Star.”
- Van Halen – Known as one of the most iconic bands of the 80’s, Van Halen revolutionized rock and roll. Eddie Van Halen brought forward a never before seen rock guitar technique to the table: tapping. The song “Eruption” which is solely a guitar solo completely changed any previous thoughts of the extent of rock music. The band itself, sometimes considered metal, gave a hardcore, shred essence to their style. Their live performances consistently blow away audiences. Though it was the album 1984 skyrocketed their success, their very first album Van Halen made jaws drop everywhere. Their occasionally provocative lyrics tended to upset some listeners, but they continued to strive towards their wide fame and enforce their place in the rock and roll world. My favorite songs by Van Halen include “Hot For Teacher,” “Ice Cream Man,” and “You Really Got Me.”