From a music genre in which vocals have long been considered essential, we present the 10 best rock instrumentals of all time. Ranging from the surf sound of the early ‘60s to classics from Woodstock, the songs listed below should be a part of every music collection.
- "Jessica" by The Allman Brothers Band. One of the greatest jam bands of all time, The Allman Brothers gave the world one of the 10 best rock instrumentals in 1973. Featuring Dickie Betts on guitar and Chuck Leavell on piano, “Jessica” is a southern rock staple on every classic rock station.
- "Telstar" by The Tornados. Originally recorded in 1962 by the British group The Tornados, it’s The Ventures’ version of “Telstar” that is perhaps more familiar. A tribute to the first ever communications satellite launched into space, nearly a half-century later, the song still ranks as one of the 10 best rock instrumentals of all time.
- "Frankenstein" by The Edgar Winter Group. This 1973 number one hit from the Edgar Winter Group features the amazingly versatile Winter on keyboards, percussion, saxophone—everything but the spoons and scrub board. Considered a must for headphones listening, “Frankenstein” is one of the 10 best instrumentals in rock history.
- "The Star Spangled Banner" by Jimi Hendrix. One of the highlights from the film “Woodstock” is this free-form solo rendition of the National Anthem by the greatest guitarist who ever lived. Complete with his signature distortion, Jimi Hendrix amplifies the rebellious nature of America’s youth with one of the most revered instrumental performances in rock history.
- "Pipeline" The Chantays. Inspired by the growing popularity of surfing, “Pipeline” was one of the biggest hits of 1963. Originally recorded by The Chantays, the song has been covered by numerous artists and is one of the 10 best rock instrumentals ever recorded.
- "Misirlou" by Dick Dale. An old Greek tune, Dick Dale’s 1962 recording of “Misirlou” is a classic from the surf-rock guitar era and ranks among the greatest rock instrumentals of all time. More than 30 years after its initial impact on Rock & Roll music, Dale’s recording gained renewed popularity as part of the soundtrack of Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction.”
- "Walk Don’t Run" by The Ventures. The first and biggest hit for The Ventures is this 1960 classic that features three electric guitars keeping pace with a fast-moving drum beat. Part of the “surf-rock” music explosion of the early 1960's, “Walk Don’t Run” remains one of the best and most recognizable rock instrumentals of all time.
- "Soul Sacrifice" by Santana. Another highlight from “Woodstock” is this 1969 performance by the band that introduced the Latin sound to Rock & Roll. Featuring Carlos Santana’s amazing guitar work and a frenetic percussion beat, “Soul Sacrifice” is one of the 10 best rock instrumentals of all time.
- "Moby Dick" by Led Zeppelin. From the classic 1969 album Led Zeppelin II, “Moby Dick” is next on our list of the 10 best rock instrumentals of all time. Featuring drummer John Bonham with Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones joining in on lead guitar and bass respectively, the power trio jams while Robert Plant’s vocal chords get a much-needed rest.
- "Fire on High" by Electric Light Orchestra. This 1975 track off the “Face the Music” album is a great mixture of powerful acoustic guitar backed with the usual ELO string sound. Too long to get airtime on Top 40 stations, “Fire on High” is a hidden gem from a band that consistently turned out a string of Billboard hits and ranks as one of the top rock instrumentals ever recorded.
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