The Greatest EVER Rock Song
There could be only one, couldn't there? We asked Planet Rock listeners to name the Greatest EVER Rock Song and Zeppelin's '71 classic came out on top. Stairway To Heaven was, in the end, one of TEN Zeppelin songs that appeared in the top 100.
Queen and Skynyrd were the runners up with their own trademark epics, while bands such as AC/DC and Rush largely missed out in the upper echelons of the charts because votes were split over an enormous number of songs rather than focused on a handful of individual tracks.
As you take a glance at the list below you'll probably notice that size DEFINITELY counts, with not one of the Top Ten boasting a running time of less than five minutes (in the original - i.e. best - form). In fact the average running time for the top ten is a massive SEVEN MINUTES NINE SECONDS.
If you're particularly observant, you might also notice that a whopping 55% of the top 100 songs were recorded in the 70s and not a single song features from past the year 2000, proving that these songs really do get better with time.
|1) LED ZEPPELIN - STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN
It had to be this, right? Being "banned in guitar shops" doesn't alter the fact that this epic from Zep's fourth album is undeniably better than ANY other song because it somehow manages to cram pretty much every single rock genre into one sprawling eight minute slice of brilliance. Oh, and don't forget THAT guitar solo...
It's worth noting that 'Stairway' picked up 15% of all the votes cast - more than twice that of its nearest rival.
|2) QUEEN - BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY
Easily the most subversively ingenious song to ever reach number 1 in the UK charts. The fact that it did it TWICE nearly 20 years apart was just showing off. This song, above all others, summed up exactly what Queen were whilst changing rock music forever
|3) LYNYRD SKYNYRD - FREE BIRD
Perhaps the greatest compliment you can pay Free Bird is that when that fade starts to happen about 30 seconds before the end you simply don't want it to end. It's like five minutes of foreplay followed by an almighty explosion of duelling guitar solos and Southern rock brilliance.
|4) DEEP PURPLE - SMOKE ON THE WATER
Who would have thought that the story of a burning casino would have become the most recognisable rock song in history? Undeniably iconic, and a brilliant song to boot. That opening riff will be inspiring wannabe guitarists for the rest of time.
|5) PINK FLOYD - COMFORTABLY NUMB
Another epic, and another song which boasts a solo that still makes grown men weep every time they hear it. This is the defining moment in a catalogue that is almost without equal.
|6) LED ZEPPELIN - KASHMIR
No track more perfectly represents the sum of Zep's parts than Kashmir - every member working in absolute harmony, with no solos, no vocal histrionics, no showboating from any member. It's dramatic, beautiful and just as startling every time you hear it.
|7) RAINBOW - STARGAZER
Absolutely bursting with attitude and power, Stargazer was born to be played VERY loud. It turned Dio into a legend, and reminded everyone that with a guitar in his hand, Ritchie Blackmore was unbeatable.
|8) FREE - ALL RIGHT NOW
A staple of rock radio since the moment it was released in 1970, All Right Now is an unceremoniously joyous record that simply screams sunshine and happier times. Not to mention that pretty much every human on the planet can probably sing the chorus, even if they have never heard of Free.
|9) LED ZEPPELIN - WHOLE LOTTA LOVE
When you consider that this song is made up of a simple riff repeated many times over, a pretty non-existent chorus and a drum solo which lasts for half the song, it really is spectacularly brilliant.
|10) THE WHO - WON'T GET FOOLED AGAIN
The Who's defining moment closed their greatest album. Eight and a bit minutes of incendiary guitars, synthesisers, drums and vocals combining to provide one of the most euphoric rock songs of all time.
|11) GUNS N' ROSES - SWEET CHILD O' MINE
Written in minutes and with a riff born out of a guitar warm up exercise, this song most definitely had inauspicious beginnings. It remains the greatest example of why rock ballads don't have to suck.
|12) AC/DC - BACK IN BLACK
Emerging from an event so catastrophic that it would have destroyed lesser bands, AC/DC's highest placing song in this poll is the greatest tribute they could have paid to their former singer, Bon Scott - celebratory, wild and a killer riff that never gets old
|13) LED ZEPPELIN - ROCK AND ROLL
The closest thing to a pop song that Zeppelin ever did - three and a half minutes of raw rock fire-power which does exactly what it says on the tin. It also has the greatest drum intro to any song EVER.
|14) AC/DC - WHOLE LOTTA ROSIE
The greatest song ever written about an overweight Tasmanian lady who's good in the sack? You bet. It's also the most concise example of what AC/DC do best: fun, loud, hard rock and roll.
|15) BLACK SABBATH - PARANOID
Another example of a song which was born in a moment of magic. Written in minutes solely to make up the numbers on the band's second album this has become their most enduring and recognisable song.
|16) MOTORHEAD - ACE OF SPADES
Furiously fast and frenetic rock n roll which, when played loud enough, has the tendency to make your brain dance around inside your skull like bouncy ball... but in a good way.
|17) DEEP PURPLE - HIGHWAY STAR
The sound of a band who have nothing left to prove. Apparently written in minutes on a tour bus, this remains one of the all time great driving songs. It is also pretty notable for containing not only an enormous keyboard solo but also an outrageous guitar solo from Ritchie Blackmore.
|18) RUSH - THE SPIRIT OF RADIO
The song which put Rush into the UK singles might have been a loveletter to great radio but it was also a prophetic warning about the commercialism creeping into the medium. While the song is the band's biggest single, it's no less complex or arresting than the rest of their work - musically prodigious and melodically profound, it's everything that rock should be.
|19) AC/DC - HIGHWAY TO HELL
If anyone ever asks you to "explain rock music" then - without saying anything - dig out your copy of Highway To Hell, turn the volume up loud and press play. That moment when the drums first kick in remains one of the most thrilling in the history of music.
|20) JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE - ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER
The only cover to make the top 30, Hendrix took ownership of Dylan's hit single and essentially created the blueprint for hard rock.
|21) BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - BORN TO RUN
A perfect encapsulation of the hopes and dreams of youth in small-town America in the post-Nixon era.
|22) QUEEN - WE WILL ROCK YOU
What other band could have fitted something so big and bombastic into two minutes?
|23) AC/DC - LET THERE BE ROCK
They may have been paying tribute to their heroes but in doing so they immortalised their own mission statement
|24) JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE - VOODOO CHILD (SLIGHT RETURN)
Responsible for pretty much every wah-wah pedal sale since its release, this was the last song on the last Experience album and it remains one of the all time great closing tracks
|25) BOSTON - MORE THAN A FEELING
For a song that's actually a bit melancholy in content, you won't find many songs like this that can be sung with such gleeful gusto by pretty much every human on the planet.
|26) MEAT LOAF - BAT OUT OF HELL
It's overblown, theatrical and a lot of fun - it's no wonder Meat has been trying to recreate it ever since.
|27) THIN LIZZY - THE BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN
The soundtrack to lives of young men around the world for nearly 40 years
|28) METALLICA - ENTER SANDMAN
The moment that metal became mainstream and Metallica became one of the biggest bands of all time
|29) RUSH - 2112
A 20 minute concept epic that filled a whole side of the album of the same name. Despite being utterly bonkers, it's a brilliant and ambitious piece of music.
|30) DEEP PURPLE - BURN
Proof that there was life after Gillan, and it was MkIII's greatest moment
Here's the rest of the list, all the way up to 100...
31) Slade - Cum On Feel The Noize
32) Rolling Stones - Gimme Shelter
33) Hawkwind - Silver Machine
34) Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit
35) Rolling Stones - (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction
36) Genesis - Supper's Ready
37) Bob Dylan - Like a Rolling Stone
38) Black Sabbath - Heaven and Hell
39) Guns N Roses - Welcome To The Jungle
40) Jimi hendrix - Purple Haze
41) Derek & The Dominoes - Layla
42) Led Zeppelin - Black Dog
43) Who - Baba O'Riley
44) Black Sabbath - War Pigs
45) Pink Floyd - Shine On You Crazy Diamond
46) Rush - Xanadu
47) AC/DC - Thunderstruck
48) Blue Oyster Cult - Don't Fear the Reaper
49) Rush - Tom Sawyer
50) AC/DC - You Shook Me All Night Long
51) Bon Jovi - Livin on a Prayer
52) Eagles - Hotel California
53) Led Zeppelin - Dazed And Confused
54) Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here
55) Led Zeppelin - When The Levee Breaks
56) Cream - Crossroads
57) Def Leppard - Pour Some Sugar On Me
58) Foo Fighters - Everlong
59) Faces - Stay With Me
60) Metallica - Master Of Puppets
61) Neil Young - Rocking In The Free World
62) Rolling Stones - Sympathy For The Devil
63) Steppenwolf - Born To Be Wild
64) Who - My Generation
65) AC/DC - For Those About To Rock
66) Alice Cooper - School's Out
67) Iron Maiden - Run To The Hills
68) Journey - Don't Stop Believin'
69) Led Zeppelin - Achillies Last Stand
70) UFO - Rock Bottom
71) Whitesnake - Still Of The Night
72) AC/DC - Shoot to Thrill
73) Iron Maiden - Number of the Beast
74) Dire Straits - Money for Nothing
75) Led Zeppelin - Since I've Been Loving You
76) Pink Floyd - Time
77) Bruce Springsteen - Thunder Road
78) Iron Maiden - The Trooper
79) Europe - The Final Countdown
80) Iron Maiden - Hallowed Be Thy Name
81) Metallica - One
82) AC/DC - Hells Bells
83) Chuck Berry - Johnny B Goode
84) Black Sabbath - Iron Man
85) Free - Wishing Well
86) Kinks - You Really Got Me
87) Thin Lizzy - Whiskey In The Jar
88) Metallica - Nothing Else Matters
89) Led Zeppelin - In My Time of Dying
90) Kiss - Detroit Rock City
91) Deep Purple - Speed King
92) Pink Floyd - Money
93) Iron Maiden - Fear Of The Dark
94) Jimi Hendrix - Hey Joe
95) Pearl Jam - Alive
96) Thin Lizzy - Still In Love With You
97) Rolling Stones - Brown Sugar
98) Pink Floyd - Another Brick In The Wall Part 2
99) Uriah Heep - July Morning
100) Deep Purple - Black Night