You listened to them, the charts were topped, and history remembered. Here they are folks, the top 10 greatest rock songs of the 1970s and some additional fun facts.
Stairway to Heaven by Led Zepplin
Stairway to Heaven remains the best-selling sheet music of any rock song in history and is ranked #31 in Rolling Stone’s ‘Top 500 Songs Of All Time’, despite it having never been released as a single in the US charts.
Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen
This “mock opera” currently ranks as the 3rd best-selling UK single of all time despite Elton John thinking the song was “too ‘weird’ for the radio”.
Smoke On The Water by Deep Purple
Inspiration for this song title came from the image of Lake Geneva covered in a blanket of smoke, after someone fired a flare gun at the ceiling during a Frank Zappa show, setting the building on fire.
Highway to Hell by AC/DC
This was the first AC/DC song to make the charts in the US and has sold over 7 million copies in America. It is the nickname for the Canning Highway in Australia which has a steep decline by a famous pub called The Raffles. With no stop signs or speed limits, many are killed by driving too fast over the intersection earning the road its haunting nickname.
Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd
This was Skynyd’s first single to chart. The spoken “Turn it up” heard in the beginning was not planned. Ronnie Van Zant was telling an engineer to turn up the volume in his headset before recording his track and it sounded good so they left it in the final mix.
Dancing Queen by ABBA
This was the only one of ABBA’s 14 US Top 40 hits to make it to #1, in addition to being #1 in Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, the Netherlands, Sweden, and West Germany. Many have argued that ABBA came up with the world’s first europop disco hit.
American Pie by Don McLean
There are many interpretations of this song from various lyrics such as “The quartet practiced in the park” is about the Beatles singing at Shea Stadium and “I met a girl who sang the blues and I asked her for some happy news, but she just smiled and turned away” is probably about Janis Joplin who OD in 1970.
Layla by Derek & the Dominoes
Two versions of Layla made the charts, which is a rare feat, the first time in 1972 and again 20 years later, this time without the piano coda. The “unplugged” version won the 1992 Grammy Awards for Best Rock Song beating out “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana, which according to Entertainment Weekly is one of the ten biggest upsets in Grammy History.
Baba O’Riley by The Who
This was the first song on ‘Who’s Next’, the most successful album of The Who’s career despite having never been released as a single in America or the UK. The song is often referred to as “Teenage Wasteland” since the title is never mentioned in the song.
Another Brick In The Wall by Pink Floyd
The lyrics of the song, “we don’t need no education” came from a chorus of English schoolchildren and in 2004, those kids-turned-adults sued to procure royalties for the song which ultimately proved unsuccessful. The name Pink Floyd comes from a compilation of two musicians the band admired: Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.
Thanks for reading! Don’t miss ‘I Feel The Earth Move : A Rock and Roll Journey Through the 1970s” playing at Greenville Little Theatre from August 4-13. Check out our website www.greenvilletheatre.org for more information and call our box office at (864)-233-6238 to get your tickets today!