10 Best Classic Rock Bands of All Time


AC/DC band image

AC/DC is one of Audio Ink Radio’s best classic rock bands of all time – Story by Anne Erickson, courtesy photo via Sony Music

In this feature, Audio Ink Radio names their 10 best classic rock bands of all time

Classic rock is an interesting genre in that it keeps shifting. By some standards, bands such as Linkin Park and 3 Doors Down are classic rock today, since some of their songs are more than 20 years old. But, even as time shifts, the Led Zeppelins and The Rolling Stones are still considered classic rock. So, who are the 10 best classic rock bands of all time?

The idea of “classic rock music” began in the early 1980s, with the birth of the classic rock radio format. Today, classic rock stations typically play music from the mid-1960s through the mid-1990s. For the sake of this story, we’re looking at the best classic rock bands of all time form the heyday of classic rock, from the mid-1960s through the mid-1980s.

Read on for Audio Ink Radio’s list of the 10 best classic bands albums of all time. Send over your picks via our Facebook page.

10. Jimi Hendrix

One of the main aspects of classic rock is having a strong, electrified guitar. Jimi Hendrix showed the world just what an electric guitar could do, and frankly, many classic rock bands wouldn’t have achieved their riffs and rhythms without that blueprint. Sadly, he passed away at age 27, so the world only got a taste of what he had to offer. But, it was still enough to inspire generations of electric guitars to follow.

9. Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan lent a voice to the voiceless in the 1960s with his activist-based folk and rock music. He was truly one of a kind, focusing on an acoustic style of rock music that blended in a bevy of other genres, from country to blues to faith-based music. Dylan is truly a rock icon, and his catalog of music is nothing less than captivating and ingenious.

8. AC/DC

One of the heavier bands in the class rock realm is AC/DC. The band’s early work featured the powerhouse vocals of Bon Scott, but Scott tragically died in 1980. Following his death, the band regrouped with Brian Johnson and was still able to release chart-topping rock albums, such as “Back in Black.” They’ve been one of the strongest forces in hard rock for decades.

7. The Doors

The Doors were omnipresent in the 1960s, so a bit earlier than some of the bands on this list. They combined melodic rock with blues and psychedelia to mesmerizing accord. Sadly, vocalist Jim Morrison passed away at the age of 27, but he gave the world plenty of incredible music while he was here.

6. The Who

Not many rock bands have released an entire rock opera, but that’s exactly what The Who did with “Tommy” and “Quadrophenia.” The Who were one of the most risk-taking rock bands of their era, and boy, did those risks pay off. They’re one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll bands of all time, hands down.

5. Van Halen

Van Halen were champions of the hard rock guitar. Eddie Van Halen is one of the greatest rock guitarists of all time, and he propelled this band to stardom, whether it was fronted by David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar. When it comes to hard rock-leaning classic rock, Van Halen are and always will be king.

4. Pink Floyd

In some ways, Pink Floyd are the quintessential classic rock band. Their music simply sounds retro. Heck, it even sounded retro when it was released brand new in the 1970s. Albums such as 1973’s “The Dark Side of the Moon” and 1975’s “Wish You Were Here” are essentials to rock ‘n’ roll history. Besides, how many bands have entire planetarium shows inspired by their music?

3. Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin brought the heavy to rock music. They also formed a dark sound that inspired heavy metal bands to pop up in the future. There’s just something longstanding about Zeppelin’s catalog. From their 1969 self-titled debut to 1975’s “Physical Graffiti” double-album, Zeppelin’s creativity and ingenuity simply couldn’t be topped.

2. The Beatles

We know what you’re thinking. How could The Beatles not be No. 1 on this list? It was a tough call, but they fell just shy of The Rolling Stones in our book. But, let’s get to The Beatles at No. 2. Few rock bands have inspired generations of music to follow. The Beatles are one of the select few. They caught the attention of the world with their early pop releases, and then the band morphed into a more psychedelic rock band, displaying the kind of versatility that few bands possess. They’re obviously one of the great rock bands on the planet.

1. The Rolling Stones

Few would argue the influence and power that The Rolling Stones had in the rock genre. The Stones arrived in the 1960s, offering a blue-based take on straight-ahead rock, with lots of swagger and a sexy appeal. Mick Jagger and company ruled the charts with albums such as 1971’s “Sticky Fingers,” 1968’s “Beggars Banquet” and 1972’s “Exile on Main St.” Moreover, nobody could emulate their unique charisma. For their influence and imaginative music, the Stones are No. 1 on our tally of the best classic rock bands of all time.

Read Audio Ink Radio’s feature on the best grunge songs of all time here.

Anne Erickson
Posted by Anne Erickson | Features, Music, Rock