The Greatest Songs Dedicated To Rock And Roll

Since rock and roll first came onto the music scene, it has provided a platform for artists to express themselves in a way that once wasn’t possible. Over the years, common themes have ranged from love, life, heartbreak, partying, and of course, rock and roll itself. Rock and roll is a genre that’s so beloved by its fans, that those who play it write ballads about their love for it. Now, take a look to see some of these great songs dedicated to the genre.

Bill Haley And His Comets: "(We’re Gonna) Rock Around The Clock"

Topical Press Agency/Getty Images
Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Released in 1954, "Rock Around The Clock" is credited as one of the first songs to introduce this new style of music to the world. Although it wasn’t the first rock and roll song ever released it was the first successful song of the genre.

It became the first rock and roll song to reach No. 1 in Billboard Hot 100 history after it was picked as the opening song to the MGM film Blackboard Jungle. Teenagers were going to see the film just to dance to the opening credits.

Billy Joel: "It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me"

Rick Diamond/Getty Images
Rick Diamond/Getty Images

“It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” is a 1980 hit track by the piano man Billy Joel. Released on his album Glass House, it reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and eventually went Platinum for selling over 1 million copies in the United States.

The song was a reaction to the explosion of new genres of music such as punk and new wave in the 1970s, and the pressure to change according to the direction of music.

Don McLean: “American Pie”

Paul Natkin/Getty Images
Paul Natkin/Getty Images

Don McLean’s chart-topping eight-minute ballad has been dissected by music fanatics since its release in 1971. The song is an account of what happened to McLean’s favorite genre, referencing “the day that the music died” to the plane crash in 1959 that killed early rock and roll performers Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens.

McLean has refused to explain the symbolism behind many of the other events and characters, leaving much of it up for interpretation.

Queen: “We Will Rock You”

Paul Natkin/WireImage
Paul Natkin/WireImage

If you can’t tell by the title, “We Will Rock You” is a song that describes the rush of adrenaline that rock and roll fans experience when listening to their music. Recorded in 1997 for the album News of the World, the song has gone on to become a pump-up song at sporting events and even some rock concerts.

It has been ranked at No. 146 on the Songs of the Century list and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2009.

Joan Jett And The Blackhearts: “I Love Rock And Roll”

Brian Rasic/Getty Images
Brian Rasic/Getty Images

Although the Alan Merrill of the Arrows originally wrote the song, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts managed to turn it into a major hit in 1982. The song is relatively straightforward, someone confessing their love for the genre, dancing, and never wanting the music to end.

After the frontwoman put her own flair into the song, it reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and can still be heard in dive bars around the world today.

Oasis: “Rock N’ Roll Star”

Des Willie/Redferns
Des Willie/Redferns

“Rock n’ Roll Star” is a song by the quarrelsome brothers of Oasis. It was the opening track for their debut album Definitely Maybe, introducing them to the world, and letting the public know what they’re about.

Noel Gallager claims that the track is one of the three songs that he actually wanted to use to send a message. While the song caught the attention of the public, it wasn’t long before some of their newer songs overshadowed their older ones.

Bob Seger: “Old Time Rock And Roll”

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

While Bob Seger’s song was relevant in 1979 with the rise of disco, old rockers continue to play it in defiance of the other genres or music movement that has swept over the world.

Bob Seger made it clear he’s not going to give up on rock and roll even though many were taking their dance moves to this disco floor. The track was listed as one of the Songs of the Century in 2001 and one of the top songs in American Cinema.

Grand Funk Railroad: “We’re An American Band”

Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images
Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

Want to know what it’s like to be in a rock band? Just throw on “We’re An American Band,” and you’ll have a pretty good idea. The song was Grand Funk Railroad’s first and only No. 1 single and helped raise their popularity as a group.

The song was even sung by the band’s drummer, Don Brewer, who began to take over more songs as lead vocalist as the group became more successful and started making Top 40 hits.

Elton John: “Crocodile Rock”

Bob King/Redferns
Bob King/Redferns

Recorded in 1972, “Crocodile Rock” was a blast from the past for rock and roll fans that remembered the days when rock was new to the world. It describes the feeling that people experienced listening to this new kind of music and the memories they made enjoying it.

Interestingly enough, Elton John had admitted that he never took the song too serious although it became Elton John’s first No. 1 single in the United States and Canada.

Creedence Clearwater Revival: “Travelin’ Band”

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

“Travelin’ Band” by Creedence Clearwater Revival was released on their 1970 LP Cosmo’s Factory. The song describes the life of the band and all of the different modes of transportation they take, places they stay, and shows they play in order to travel around and play rock and roll.

John Fogerty claimed that his song was “his salute to Little Richard,” as the style of that song is similar to a classic 1950s rock song with Fogerty imitating Little Richard’s vocal style.

Huey Lewis And The News: “The Heart Of Rock And Roll”

Waring Abbott/Getty Images
Waring Abbott/Getty Images

After playing what at the time was “the best show of their lives” in Cleveland, Huey Lewis and the News decided to write a song on the bus. In an interview, saxophonist Johnny Colla said that Huey had an idea to write a song about the heart of rock and roll being in Cleveland.

After a few weeks of tweaking, the song was ready for recording. It was released as the third single from their album Sports and peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Led Zeppelin: “Rock And Roll”

Ian Dickson/Redferns
Ian Dickson/Redferns

Being one of the most revered rock and roll bands of all time, it was no surprise when Led Zeppelin released their song “Rock and Roll.” It was a song that captured the essence of the genre with a little Led Zeppelin twist.

It follows the most popular structure in rock music, the three-chord song, befitting of its name. The song was written in just 15 minutes and has been described as “simply the most dynamic hard-rock song in the music.”

Chuck Berry: “Rock And Roll Music”

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

“Rock and Roll Music” was a 1957 single that was written and recorded by rock icon Chuck Berry. The song reached No. 6 on Billboard’s R&B singles chart and No. 8 on the Hot 100. The song has been covered by countless artists and is considered to be one of Berry’s most popular and well-recognized songs.

The song was ranked No. 128 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and is included in the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame’s Songs That Have Shaped Rock and Roll.

AC/DC: “It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)”

Peter Still/Redferns
Peter Still/Redferns

“It’s a Long Way To the Top” is the first track off of AC/DC’s second album T.N.T. The album was released only in Australia in 1975 with two versions of the song, varying in length. The shortened version was released on their internationally released album High Voltage in 1976.

The song describes the hardships of being in a rock and roll band such as being assaulted, robbed, getting high, and even cheated by a manager. But that’s what it takes if you want to rock and roll.

Twisted Sister: “I Wanna Rock”

Michael Putland/Getty Images
Michael Putland/Getty Images

Written by Dee Snider and performed by his band Twisted Sister, “I Wanna Rock” was released on the band’s 1984 album Stay Hungry. Although the song didn’t do incredibly well on the charts, it was received by fans much like how their hit song “We’re Not Gonna Take It Was.”

The band is simply expressing their desire to keep doing what they love to do: rock out. Today, it’s considered to be one of the band’s greatest hits and was ranked as the 17th Greatest Hard Rock Song by VH1 in 2009.

KISS: “Rock And Roll All Nite”

Paul Bergen/Redferns
Paul Bergen/Redferns

“Rock and Roll All Nite” is an original song by KISS on their 1975 album Dressed To Kill. While their original release of the song peaked at No. 68 on the Billboard Singles chart, the live version they released later that year made it to No. 12.

This was the first of six Top 20 songs KISS would have in the 1970s. The track has become KISS’ signature song and has closed out just about every concert they have ever performed since 1976.

The Rolling Stones: “It’s Only Rock And Roll (But I Like It)”

Ron Howard/Redferns
Ron Howard/Redferns

In 1974, the track “It’s Only Rock and Roll (But I Like It)” was used as the single for the group’s album It’s Only Rock and Roll. Written by Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, the single went on to reach the Top 10 charts in the UK and the Top 20 in the United States.

As described by Mick Jagger, “The idea of the song has to do with our public persona at the time. I was getting a bit tired of people having a go, all that, ‘oh, it’s not as good as their last one’ business.”

The Byrds: “So You Wanna Be A Rock ‘N’ Star”

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Written by Jim McGuinn and Chris Hillman of the Byrds, “So You Wanna Be A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star” was released on the band’s 1967 album Younger Than Yesterday. The song was inspired by the formulaic style of the Monkees and was essentially an ironic step-by-step guide on how to become a successful rock star.

While the band had achieved success overnight with their cover of “Mr. Tambourine Man,” they knew that finding success wasn’t the hardest part of being a musician but maintaining success was.

Boston: “Rock & Roll Band”

Larry Marano/Getty Images
Larry Marano/Getty Images

“Rock & Roll Band” written by Tom Scholz and performed with Boston. The song is an over-exaggerated story of the band’s rise from being a simple bar band into a successful group. This is one of the many songs that Boston plays that expresses their emotional connection to rock and roll.

It was released on the band’s debut album, and was one of the many songs Scholz had been working on in his basement for years before finally getting a record contract.

The Kinks: “A Rock ‘N’ Roll Fantasy”

King Collection/Photoshot/Getty Images
King Collection/Photoshot/Getty Images

“A Rock ‘N’ Roll Fantasy” was used as the single and fourth track to the Kink’s 1978 album Misfits. The song was inspired due to the issues going on within the band at the time with two members leaving and the near dissolution of the group.

The song describes a man named Dan who’s a major fan of the Kinks and uses their music as a means of escape and to live in a “rock ‘n’ roll fantasy.”

The Velvet Underground: “Rock & Roll”

the velvet underground
Patrick McMullan/Getty Images
Patrick McMullan/Getty Images

The Velvet Underground unleashed this song on the world on the album “Loaded.” The track found the art rock band give up singing about Marsha, instead choosing to dance to the “that fine, fine music.”

Oddly enough, the album was written by the band to generate hit singles. Before recorded the LP, the record label asked them to make every song radio friendly. Not only did The Velvet Underground agree, they gave the album an appropriate name.

Spiritualized: “Rock & Roll”

spiritualized
Xavi Torrent/Redferns
Xavi Torrent/Redferns

A slower song about rock and roll, Spiritualized hit this love letter out of the park. Every heart melts in the crowd when Jason Pierce gently sings, “Rock and roll, keep playing for me.”

Once the gospel chorus comes in, it’s impossible not to get lost in the music. They track might not make sense in the club, but when you need a moment to reflect on the impact of music, few songs can compare.

Motorhead: “Rock & Roll”

motorhead
Mairo Cinquetti/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Mairo Cinquetti/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Another track titled “Rock and Roll.” This one stands out from the pack with its heavy metal heat. Has Motorhead ever recorded a slow song? It sure seems like they haven’t; Lemmy loved to party while he was alive.

His love for rock and roll even helped him when times were tough. In this song, for instance, he growls about a lover ending their relationship, but he’s going to be okay because, “I got rock and roll to save me from the cold.”

AC/DC: “Rocka And Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution”

ac/dc
Jason Squires/WireImage
Jason Squires/WireImage

The final song on the seminal album “Back in Black,” AC/DC made their love rock music clear with this one. It might be at the end of the album, but Brian Johnson sings it like it’s the first.

Just remember, “Hey, there, all you middle men! Throw away your fancy clothes. And while you’re out there sitting on a fence, so get of your [expletive] and come down here, cause rock and roll ain’t no riddle man. To me it makes good, good sense!”Read more at

Neil Young: “Rockin’ In The Free World”

neil young
Ollie Millington/Redferns
Ollie Millington/Redferns

Neil Young wrote this classic song during a turbulent time in the United States. Unhappy with the state of politics, Young wrote an, “anthem on the one hand … From the chorus you’d think it was going to be ‘Hooray for us’ but it’s not.”

In 1989, Young performed the song on Saturday Night Live. Before going on live television, he hit the gym to get into shape, explaining, “To perform that song the way it’s supposed to be performed you have to be at peak blood level”

M: “Pop Muzik”

robin scott
Paul Kane/Getty Images
Paul Kane/Getty Images

M, also known as Robin Scott, found a number one hit in 1979 with the song “Pop Muzik.” The track came out at a time when music fans were divided by punks, rock, and disco.

Scott wanted to bring everyone together, “”I was looking to make a fusion of various styles which somehow would summarize the last 25 years of pop music.” As for why he chose the name “M,” he said he wanted something interesting, and that was it.

Wild Cherry: “Play The Funky Music”

wild cherry concert
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Wild Cherry wrote “Play that Funky Music” after realizing playing standard rock and roll was getting them nowhere in the club scene. They needed a fresh new sound, a fusion of rock and funk.

The band’s drummer actually came up with the track during a band meeting, saying “Yeah, it’s like they keep saying “play that funky music, white boys.” After that, the iconic song basically wrote itself. Band leader Rob Parissi wrote it that night.

Moody Blues: “I’m Just A Singer (In A Rock And Roll Band)”

moody blues
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

The bassist for Moody Blues, John Lodge, wrote “I’m Just a Sing (In a Rock and Roll Band)” after realizing fans saw the group as role models. The song was supposed to let the world know he they weren’t.

In his own words, “”A lot of people had decided that we knew the answers to the universe… But we were just the same as everyone else, with no clue at all about what life’s about. All I knew was that if you enjoy what you do and focus on what you’re doing, you probably have a better chance of enjoying life than if you de-focus.”

The Scorpions: “Rock You Like A Hurricane”

the scorpions
Daniel Knighton/Getty Images
Daniel Knighton/Getty Images

“Rock you like a Hurricane” was the lead single from The Scorpions ninth studio album, “Love at First Sting.” It reached a peak of 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and found heavy airplay on MTV.

Since its release, the hard rocking anthem has become a staple at sporting events. What better way is there to rile up the crowd than playing one of greatest rock anthems of the ’80s? The answer is there isn’t.

Dire Straits: “Money For Nothing”

dire straits
Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Money for nothing was written from the perspective of a department store employee. As he watches music videos, he lets the audience in on his thoughts. The music video was considered a breakthrough in technology at the time.

Dire Straits lead singer Mark Knopfler was so “method” about the song, he even wrote it in a department store, “I wrote the song when I was actually in the store. I borrowed a bit of paper and started to write the song down in the store.”

The Ramones: “Rock And Roll High School”

the ramones
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

When this song starts, it’s hard not to sing along, yelling, “Rock, rock, rock, rock and roll high school.” Written for the movie Rock and Roll High School, the song wasn’t a huge hit the United States, but charted highly in the United Kingdom.

Surprisingly, three versions of the song were actually released. One in 1979 and another in 1988. The final version was a re-recording of the track by Phil Spector for his album “End of the Century.”

Deep Purple: “Smoke On The Water”

deep purple
Sergei FadeichevTASS via Getty Images
Sergei FadeichevTASS via Getty Images

“Smoke on the Water” is the story of Deep Purple’s attempts to record an album in the early ’70s. The opening lines read, “We all came out to Montreux, on the Lake Geneva shoreline to make records with a mobile. We didn’t have much time.”

In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked the song as the 434th best song ever written. If that doesn’t sound like a high ranking, just remember how long music has been around and how many songs have been written in that time.

KISS: “Detroit Rock City”

kiss
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic.com
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic.com

One of KISS’ most popular song, “Detroit Rock City” was released in 1976 and has been stuck in our heads ever since. Shockingly, the song was a failure when it was released, but has since become very popular.

While writing it, the Paul Stanley didn’t actually know what the song was about, “I didn’t know what the song was about except it was about Detroit.” He then remembered a scary scene from a tour stop in Charlotte and found the inspiration to finish the song.

Stray Cats: “Rock This Town”

stray cats
Gaye Gerard/Getty Images
Gaye Gerard/Getty Images

Released in 1981, “Rock This Town” helped signal the end of the disco era. Led by Brian Setzer, Stray Cats rebelled against the system, singing about a night out on the town made complete by rock and roll.

The song was a huge hit when it came out, peaking at number nine on the Billboard charts. It was later immortalized as one of the “500 Songs that Shaped Rock ad Roll” by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Steppenwolf: “Born To Be Wild”

steppenwolf
Larry Marano/Getty Images
Larry Marano/Getty Images

A huge hit when it was released in 1968, “Born to be Wild” peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at two. Although not really about rock and roll, the band sings about rebelling and living free.

Before becoming a rock anthem, however, the band wrote the song as a ballad. Mars Bonfire wrote the track before joining Steppenwolf and shopped it around to other bands. Eventually, his band took the song and sped it up.

Foreigner: “Juke Box Hero”

foreigner
Donald Kravitz/Getty Images
Donald Kravitz/Getty Images

Another high tracking hit, “Juke Box Hero” is one of Foreigner’s signature songs. The story told is like any good movie. A young boy can’t get a ticket to his favorite show and has to listen to it from the outside.

Afterwards, he realizes that he can become a star by buying his own guitar. Later in his life, he meets a fan of his outside of a sold show, bringing the message of hope full circle.

John Mellencamp: “R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A.”

john mellencamp
Taylor Hill/Getty Images
Taylor Hill/Getty Images

“R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.” was the third single from John Mellencamp’s 1985 album “Scarecrow.” Since it’s release, it’s become one of the singer’s most beloved tracks. Knowing that makes it hard to believe the love letter to rock and roll almost didn’t the make the album.

It was Mellencamp’s manager who pushed for the song to be placed, “It was one of those absolute last-split-second decisions. I was only including it on the cassette and CD copies of ‘Scarecrow’ as a bonus party track, but my manager loved the energy of it and I thought, ‘Yeah!'”

Eric Clapton: “I’ve Got A Rock And Roll Heart”

eric clapton
Gus Stewart/Getty Images
Gus Stewart/Getty Images

“I’ve Got a Rock and Roll Heart” was released on Eric Clapton’s 1983 album “Money and Cigarettes.” It peaked at 18 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and number six on the Adult Contemporary chart.

The song became a hit for a second time in 2010 when it was used in an advertising campaign for Fender guitars. The new found popularity pushed digital sales of the track to over 100,000 in the United States alone!

Billy Squier: “Rock Me Tonite”

billy squier
Al Pereira/Getty Images
Al Pereira/Getty Images

Billy Squier wrote “Rock me Tonite” about “the ritual of going to a concert.” He was on a vacation in Greece with his girlfriend when the rhythm came to him. Released in 1984, the track is the highest charting one of his career.

Sadly, the music video that was released to promote the song is credited with ending Squier’s career. In 2011, it was voted the worst music video ever made.

Loggins and Messina: “Your Mama Don’t Dance”

loggins and messina
Scott Dudelson/Getty Images
Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

“Your Mama Don’t Dance” was chart topping hit by Loggins and Messina about rock music and the generation gap in the ’60s. The track dealt with the young generation rebelling against the older generation and their ideals.

In 1972, the track reached number four on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, becoming the bands highest charting single. One year later, he reached the number 19 position on the Billboard Easy Listening chart.