Rock music has had a long and storied history. This history can be told by the countless songs that have paved the way for the rock music that we know and love today. Now, what better way to further your appreciation of rock music than to go back in time to take a closer look at the most influential rock songs in rock history.
We might not even be having this conversation if it wasn’t for Link Wray. For many, Link Wray’s “Rumble” was the track that started it all. It’s blistering riffs and muddy sound put the electric guitar at the forefront of a new movement. Although simplistic by today’s standards, there’s no questioning that Link Wray’s “Rumble” was the spark that rock and roll needed to get its fire going.
Rock music is all about music that evokes visceral reactions from its listeners. Patti Smith’s “Horses” pretty much embodies this. Throughout its 9:36 runtime, Patti Smith takes her listeners on a journey through sonic landscapes. If you’ve never heard this song before, we highly suggest listening to a live version as Patti Smith pushes the SM58, one of the best mics for vocals, to its absolute limit. Patti Smith’s voice is an instrument in its own right, as she carries the song to its climax. With this song alone, Patti Smith single-handedly paved the way for art-rock and other off-kilter styles of rock music.
Speaking of off-kilter rock songs, David Bowie pretty much popularized alternative rock during his era. Eclectic would be an understatement to describe Bowie, as he took theatrics to a whole new level with his various personas. And if there’s one track that we can associate with Ziggy Stardust himself it’s 1971’s “Changes”.
“Changes” redefined what rock music is to listeners, as Bowie took quite a few creative risks with this song. So much so that he even ended up playing a sax solo at the end of it, to cap off Bowie’s opus.
To reel it back to what most consider as classic rock and roll, Chuck Berry’s “Rock & Roll Music” just had to make the list. Now, it’s a big deal when great guitarists list you as one of their influences but that’s the kind of musician Chuck Berry is. Chuck Berry is one of the most established guitarists in modern music and one of the greatest guitarists of all time. This song pretty much sums up all there is to know about Check Berry as it’s straightforward rock and roll sound lays the groundwork for this popular music genre.
It just wouldn’t be right to have a list of the most influential rock songs without including one of the most influential guitarists of all time. Jimi Hendrix was an enigma that captured the hearts of fans from all over the globe. He’s been the subject of multiple biopics and documentaries, as everyone just can’t seem to get enough of Jimi Hendrix.
Jimi Hendrix is a guitar hero in every sense of the word. No one else can deliver face-melting licks and roaring riffs like Hendrix. Look no further than “Voodoo Child” to see how Hendrix wields his iconic Fender Stratocaster to bend sound itself to his will. Hendrix and “Voodoo Child” acted as the blueprint to this flamboyant and technical style of rock music, as it emphasized his unique musical talent that is still unparalleled even by today’s standards.