Rock music has evolved immensely with each passing decade, but the 70s left some of the most influence and impact on future generations. With numerous songs that are considered to be timeless, worldwide hits, there are many others that are still widely popular today.
With the popularity of rock music only becoming more prominent during the 70s, music fans were blessed with an endless number of jams.
For this article, I’m going to focus on the 10 best 70s rock songs that easily stood out amongst the noise.
1. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen
Queen released a long list of hits over the years, and the 70s was an era that delivered some of the best music from the group. “Bohemian Rhapsody” is a masterpiece that starts quite melancholy but doesn’t shy away from taking it up a notch as the song progresses.
Starting with building tension and lyrics that are easy to sing along to, it quickly becomes a cinematic jam that has enamored listeners to this day. The instrumental is relatively simple for the most part, but it truly exudes the timeless qualities Queen is known for.
2. Free Bird – Lynyrd Skynyrd
Whether you’re a fan of the rock genre or not, “Free Bird” is one of those songs you’ve probably heard at least once in your lifetime. Not only was it famous throughout the 70s, but its popularity cemented the song in listeners’ brains forever.
The record is known for its production quality, and it quickly changes to a more uptempo pace about halfway through, surprising many people during their first listen. Switching from a slow swing and acoustic strums, it turns into a more energetic song that offers stellar electric guitar melodies.
3. Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin is another group that produced numerous hits throughout their career, but “Stairway to Heaven” is easily one of the best 70s rock songs by far. It provides an impactful message with dynamic instrumentals to match.
Even fifty years later, the song is still respected by multiple generations and is a very nostalgic jam for those who lived through its initial release. This is another record that offers a slow burn as it picks up pace near the end, driving energetic guitar riffs and hard-hitting drums.
4. Imagine – John Lennon
Carrying an emotional tone throughout the record, the message in the lyrics is what really sells this song. The instrumental can’t be ignored as it’s a perfect match for the lyrics and John’s unique voice.
The range in John Lennon’s music never ceases to amaze listeners, but “Imagine” will always be remembered as a staple in his career. Although the record’s instrumentation is somewhat repetitive, it never seems to tire out the ear.
5. Hotel California – The Eagles
The starting melody alone will strike fond memories for many listeners, and the record was clearly popular on the west coast, but it didn’t take long to reach worldwide acclaim. With a great level of passion in the vocals, “Hotel California” has a memorable hook that’ll stick after the first listen.
Holding a relaxed tone, the instrumental is easy to sink into, with dreamy melodies and ripply guitar riffs sprinkled throughout. The guitar really helps drive the emotion, and the vocals couldn’t be any more fitting for the song’s dynamic.
6. Let It Be – The Beatles
It can’t be argued that The Beatles were popular all over the world throughout a good portion of their career, and “Let It Be” is just one of their many hits. The record starts with passionate piano chords and slowly introduces more layers as the song progresses.
From a steady drum beat to ethereal organ melodies and gritty guitar melodies, the song makes an impact in multiple ways. The lyrics aren’t too complex, but the message is more than enough to make it one of the best 70s rock songs from that era.
7. Go Your Own Way – Fleetwood Mac
Like many others on this list, Fleetwood Mac has a pretty vast discography, but “Go Your Own Way” is one of their hits that’s still in rotation today. Found on their album Rumors, the song became an instant hit upon release.
The message in the lyrics really stuck with many listeners, but the amazing hook that comes with it is what most people today will recognize. Not only does that song make you want to sing along, but its production quality is undoubtedly worth a full, uninterrupted listen.
8. We Will Rock You / We Are The Champions – Queen
I know I’ve already listed a song from Queen, but their discography is known for back to back timeless hits. Upon release, this song was an adrenaline-fueling experience at live shows, and people loved to sing along in droves.
In our modern era, the song was introduced to many new generations through media and sporting events due to its fitting lyrical content. The record is a blend of styles and offers seamless transitions that make it one of the best 70s rock songs for decades to come.
9. Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door – Bob Dylan
Rock is a versatile genre, and it ranges from slow jams to heavy-hitting productions. “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” focuses more on the message than anything else, as the instrumental stays relatively relaxed throughout most of the record.
Bob Dylan has a voice that many people latched onto during his prime, and this song is a great example of his writing capabilities. The song may be confused with the Guns N’ Roses cover, but Bob Dylan’s version was the original that caught the interest of so many listeners.
10. Smoke On The Water – Deep Purple
If you want to talk about guitar riffs that never get old, Deep Purple easily achieved this accomplishment with their record “Smoke On The Water.” Interestingly, the main guitar melody truly took the spotlight, and most people listen to the record for this alone.
There’s nothing wrong with the lyrics by any means, but every time that guitar riff comes back, listeners cannot help but get into the song’s groove. Listening to the song at home or in the car doesn’t do it justice, as it seemed to really shine during live shows with the power it displays.
Justin is an audio engineer with years of experience in the field. He has been creating and playing music his entire life, but he really found his passion for engineering when he was introduced to Logic Pro at age 10. Justin has spent countless hours perfecting his craft and now works as a freelance engineer out of Boston, MA.