It’s a title invented by radio programmers to separate the album-oriented psychedelic, hard rock, pop rock and glam of the late 1960s-1970s from the punk, New Wave, disco, soul and heavy metal that was beginning to take over popular music as the ’70s gave way to the 1980s. In many ways, the term represents an era and attitude more than any real musical movement.
The classic rock era represents what many fans (specifically Baby Boomers) consider the peak of rock music’s artistic ambition and commercial clout. Rock artists were breaking new ground constantly, from the Beatles and Bob Dylan in the late ’60s to Pink Floyd and Zeppelin in the mid-70s. The Beatles re-imagined the album format’s artistic possibilities, Dylan re-shaped the role of lyricist and vocalist in rock music, and Jimi Hendrix tore down any limitations that had previously been set for rock guitarists.
So, with all of that in mind, we decided to rank 25 of the greatest classic rock-era albums. For the purposes of this list, the “classic rock era” is defined as 1965 thru 1981 and excludes punk, New Wave and heavy metal artists.
Let the bickering begin…