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The Best 70s Rock Songs Cocktail Hour For Wedding Playlists

13 March 2021

Sometimes the inspiration for content to be published on this blog comes from everyday life chores. What do I mean by everyday life chores? Maybe it's driving to the grocery store to grab some food, or quick a trip to Lowes or Home Depot to begin planning a home improvement project. I'm not sure about you, but music is always on in my life. Music offers a tremendous backdrop for accomplishing some of the most mundane tasks, and just makes life interesting all around. As a matter of fact, I could never imagine a life where music was not around.  It would definitely be a life I would not want to live in.  Upon getting in the truck the other day, I switched over to one of the rock stations on the radio . When I switched over to this particular station, I felt like I was all of a sudden boarding a space ship.  I cranked my radio up to 11 as Boston's "Don't Look Back", and all it's absolute perfect musicianship was blaring out of the speakers.  If you don't know the story behind this band from The Cradle Of Liberty, you've got to look it up.  Hearing this truly amazing song from the summer of 1978 made me think about just how much of a golden era the 70s were in terms of classic rock. 

For those modern brides and goroms who opt to do something different for the cocktail hour at their wedding, you'll want to read on. You'll be truly amazed and if you are a fan of some of these bands, you'll wish you were alive and heading to the record store to buy these classic songs, just I would have wanted to.  How am I able to make this assessment of the 70s classic rock scene? Imagine if you will, a year like 1977, where you had on the Billboard charts so many excellent bands that we are still a huge fan of today. Imagine a year where Led Zeppelin, KISS, The Eagles, Boston, and Fleetwood Mac were all million sellers in terms of album sales.  A lot of the songs you'll see on this post are taken from my experiences over 20 years ago when I got my start in radio. My first radio station was classic rock and I learned and studied so much about a lot of the songs you'll see on this post.

Rock Out To These Songs By Heading Over To My Spotify NOW
It's been just over a year that I made the decision to transition over to Spotify and I absolutely love it! My clients absolutely the selection of playlists I've put together when they need inspiration for their wedding playlists. You can find this playlist, as well as over 100 others by heading to Spotify, and searching for DJ Mike Bills.

"Don't Look Back" | Boston
Purists of Boston think their second album was inferior compared to their multi-million selling debut record in 1976.  I could not disagree more. "Don't Look Back" would be the first single to be released in August of 1978.  The song would peak at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100.

"Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress)" | The Hollies
By the early 70s, the Hollies had left the pop sound that their music possessed back in the 60s behind.  "Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress)" would become a multi-million seller when it was released in 1972. The song would peak at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 by September of 1972.

"Layla" | Derek & The Dominoes
After Blind Faith disbanded in 1969, Eric Clapton became a part of another band between the years of 1970 and 1971. "Layla" would be the second song to be released from their debut album in the spring of 1971.  "Layla" would become their signature song and is still in rotation on classic rock stations all over the country. The song would peak at #10 on the Hot 100 chart. You can find an acoustic version of the song on my Best Songs Of 1992 For Your Wedding Playlist.  <---Click HERE for some of the best songs of 1992.

"Dreams" | Fleetwood Mac
If you are a fan of TikTok, you know "Dreams" saw a resurgence in 2020, and an actual entry back on the Billboard Chart.  It was so incredibly strange to "Dreams" get played between the likes of Drake and Dua Lipa.  You should take some time to listen to their epic album Rumours from start to finish when you get a chance. "Dreams" would be the second song to be released from "Rumours" and would peak at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

"We Will Rock You" | Queen
Oops. In my introduction to this post, I forgot to mention Queen. They were all over the radio back in the 70s. In 1977, they would release their album News Of The World, which featured this iconic song.  An iconic song that would be played at so many sporting events over the years. 

 "The Ocean" | Led Zeppelin
It's very hard for me to sit here and tell you my favorite Led Zeppelin song, but "The Ocean" is definitely in my Top 5. You can find this "Doo Wop" Zeppelin song on the Houses Of The Holy album.  The song was not released as a single in 1973 in the United States, but reached #8 on the German chart.

"Do It Again" | Steely Dan
Walter Becker and Donald Fagen formed Steely Dan in the early 1970s. These two guys were masterful musicians who put together a string of albums that are absolutely perfect to listen to.  In 1972, they would release their album Can't Buy A Thrill. "Do It Again" was released as a single from this album and would peak at #6 on the Hot 100 in 1973.

"Can't Get Enough" | Bad Company
No compilation of the most popular 70s classic rock songs would ever be complete without the bluesy voice of Paul Rodgers. It's still a shame that he has not been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. Later in this post you'll see another song which featured Paul Rodgers in another band. Bad Company would release their self titled album in 1974, and "Can't Get Enough" would peak at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100.

 "Who Are You" | The Who
In 1978,  The Who would release their album, Who Are You.  The title track would be the first single to be released from the record, and would peak at #14 on the Billboard Hot 100.  You might remember the song being used in the TV show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

"More Than A Feeling" | Boston
The year was 1976. America was having it's 200th birthday. And the band Boston was about to unleash one of the most perfectly produced rock albums in history. Boston's self-titled album is still in heavy rotation on classic rock stations and has sold in excess of 17 million copies making it one of the greatest selling albums of all time.  Released in the fall of 1976, "More Than A Feeling" would peak at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100.

"Take The Money And Run" | Steve Miller Band
In 1976, the Steve Miller Band would release their album Fly Like An Eagle.  Released in the spring of 1976, "Take The Money And Run" would almost crack the Top 10 that summer, peaking at #11 on the Hot 100.

 "Smoke On The Water" | Deep Purple
You'd think that some of the most famous classic rock chords and riffs by a guitar would still occupy airtime on radio stations around the country. While I don't catch myself listening to the radio as much as these days, I cannot remember the last time I heard this song.  "Smoke On The Water" can be found on the album Machine Head, released in May 1973. The song would peak at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100.

"Cruel To Be Kind" | Nick Lowe
I decided to put this song on this playlist because I had recently watched one of my favorite coming of age movies of the past 25 years; 10 Things I Hate About You. Letters To Cleo would cover this song in that movie.  Released in August 1979, "Cruel To Be Kind" would peak at #12 on the Hot 100.

"Dance The Night Away" | Van Halen
Here's another band I forgot to mention in the introduction of this post. Van Halen burst onto the scene in 1978 with their first record. A year later, the band would release Van Halen II, and "Dance The Night Away" would be the second song to be released, and make it all the way to #15 on the Billboard Hot 100.

"Comfortably Numb" | Pink Floyd
I don't want to sound like a broken record, but I failed to mention Pink Floyd in my introduction too. How could be so absent-minded? Pink Floyd are one of the pillars of classic rock and are the most important progressive band in history.  Pink Floyd would release The Wall in 1979, and "Comfortably Numb" would soon become one of their signature songs.

 "Message In A Bottle" | The Police
Are you seeing a common theme? I also forgot to mention The Police in the introduction to this blog post. While they didn't come along until the late 70s, they are one of the great classic rock bands of the 70s and 80s.  For more of the Best 80s Rock, <--Click HERE. "Message In A Bottle" would be the first song to be released from their 1979 album Regatta de Blanc.  The song would not do much in America on the Hot 100, but would peak at #1 in the UK.

"Werewolves of London" " Warren Zevon
Warron Zevon would release his album Excitable Boy in 1978. "Werewolves of London" was a single released from this album and would become one of the most successful of his career, almost cracking the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100.

"Lola" | The Kinks
The Kinks have a history that spans close to 60 years as a band. In 1970,  the band would release their album Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One. "Lola" would be released as a single in the summer of that year and peak at #9 on the Hot 100 chart.

"Walk On The Wild Side" | Lou Reed
In 1972, the late Lou Reed would release his second solo album, Transformer.  "Walk On The Wild Side" would peak at #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1973.

"Just What I Needed" | The Cars
Benjamin Orr would sing lead on this signature song from The Cars. "Just What I Needed" was the first single to be released by the band in 1978, and would peak at #27 on the Hot 100 chart.

"Black Magic Woman" | Santana
Originally written and recorded by the first iteration of Fleetwood Mac in 1968, Santana would masterfully record their version in 1970.  Santana's version of the song would peak at #4 on Hot 100 in early 1971.

"Dream On" | Aerosmith
In the summer of 1973, Aerosmiith would release their debut album, and what would become one of their signature songs. While "Dream On" did not even crack the Top 50, it was in constant rotation on Boston radio stations. The song would make another run in the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #6 on the Hot 100.

 "All Right Now" | Free
Here's that second song I told you about earlier that would feature another song with the great Paul Rodgers. Paul Rodgers should be in the Hall Of Fame twice; once with Free, and the other with Bad Company. "All Right Now" was released in 1970 and can be found on the album Fire and Water.  The song would peak at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100.

 "Hotel California" | The Eagles
Remember how I mentioned 1977? At one point we had Rumours by Fleetwood Mac and Hotel California by The Eagles battling it out for the top album of the year. 1977 was an incredible year in music.  "Hotel California" would become the 4th Eagles song to reach the top of the Hot 100 chart.

 "Young Americans" | David Bowie
It's hard to believe that David Bowie has been for 5 years now. In March 1975, he'd released Young Americans, which was his 9th record.  The title track to the album would peak at #28 on the Hot 100. In case you missed it, I featured David Bowie on The Best Cover Songs For Cocktail Hour On Your Wedding Playlist <---Click HERE. 

"American Girl" | Tom Petty
Where has the time gone? In October of 2021, Tom Petty will have been gone for 4 years. He may not be alive anymore but his music will live on forever.  In 1976, him and his band The Heartbreakers would record their self-titled album. "American Girl" would be the first single to be released but did not make any in-roads on the American charts. For more of The Most Popular Tom Petty Songs For Your Wedding Playlist <---Click HERE

"Bang A Gong (Get It On)" | T. Rex
Perhaps I should do a publication about some of the best 80s cover songs and place the Power Station version on it?  T. Rex were a glam rock band from England who'd release this signature song in 1972 in America and peak at #10 on the Hot 100 chart. 

"Black Betty" | Ram Jam
This song can be placed in the 70s One Hit Wonder category. Ram Jam would release their version of the song in the summer of 1977. It would peak at #18 on the Billboard Hot 100.

"It's Only Rock & Roll (But I Like It)" | Rolling Stones
In 1974, the Rolling Stones would release their album It's Only Rock & Roll. The title track would be released in July of 1974 and peak at #16 on the Billboard Hot 100.

"Crazy On You" | Heart
Heart was comprised of Ann & Nancy Wilson, and became one of the hardest rocking ladies of the 70s and 80s. I got to see them in 2015, and then in 2017, I got to see Ann Wilson by herself.  I don't say this lightly, but Ann Wilson is one of the greatest female rock vocalists of all time.  "Crazy On You" was released in March of 1976 from the album Dreamboat Annie.  While the song only peaked at #35 on the American charts, the song would peak at #2 in the Netherlands.

"Doctor My Eyes" | Jackson Browne
In 1972, Jackson Browne would release his debut self-titled album. "Doctor My Eyes" would be a single that would hit radio in March of that year and peak at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100.

"Show Me The Way" | Peter Frampton
In 2010, I had the pleasure of seeing Peter Frampton in concert. He did all of his greatest hits, including this classic from his immensely popular Frampton Comes Alive album from 1976.  "Show Me The Way" was the first song to be released from Frampton Comes Alive in 1976 and would peak at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100. 

Peter Frampton 2010 North Charleston PAC
Peter Frampton | 8-3-10 | Mike Bills Entertainment

"Mr Blue Sky" | Electric Light Orchestra
I just found out recently that "Mr Blue Sky" is the most streamed song by ELO on Spotify. The song would peak at #2 in the UK, but only manage a #35 spot on the Billboard Hot 100.  The song can be found on the album Out Of The Blue, released in 1977.  The song gained major popularity with the film Guardians Of The Galaxy.

 "Feels Like The First Time" | Foreigner
When I think of straight up hard American rock from the 70s, Foreigner must come up in the conversation. I am a purist who believes that Lou Gramm is the only voice of Foreigner. He's on my list of the Top 10 rock vocalists of all time.  "Feels Like The First Time" would be the first song to be released from the band in 1977. And their first song in the Billboard Hot 100 would make it all the way to #4.

"Lights" | Journey
I once had the pleasure of DJing a wedding for a couple from the San Francisco Bay area, and this song was on their playlist for the end of the night. "Lights" was released at the beginning of 1978 and would not crack the Top 50, but would eventually become one of their signature songs.

"Give A Little Bit" | Supertramp
So many classic rock bands have lead vocalists with such a distinct voice. Supertramp is no exception to this with Roger Hodgson singing the lead on most of their songs.  "Give A Little Bit" was released in the spring of 1977 and peak at #15 on the Pop single chart. The Goo Goo Dolls would release their version of the song in 2005.

 "The Boys Are Back In Town" | Thin Lizzy
When Thin Lizzy released their album Jailbreak, we learned that the Irish really knew how to rock.  The song was released in 1976 and would make it all the way to #12 on the Hot 100 chart.

"Rock & Roll All Nite (Live)" | KISS
KISS originated in New York City in 1973. Their first 3 albums barely did anything on the charts. It wasn't until their record label took a tremendous risk by recording and releasing a double live in 1975 that they became a success story. 

"Rock & Roll" | Led Zeppelin
One of Led Zeppelin's signature songs, "Rock & Roll" can be found on the 1971 album Led Zeppelin IV. "Rock & Roll" did not break into the Top 40 in America, but managed a #13 spot in Germany.

"Riders On The Storm" | The Doors
Wow. After listening to this song just now, it would be the perfect vibe to place on the dinner music portion of your wedding playlist. It's so chill.  "Riders On The Storm" would be the second song to be released from the album L.A Woman in 1970. The song would peak at #14 on the Hot 100, and #11 on the Easy Listening chart.

Interested In Speaking To DJ Mike Bills About Being Your Wedding DJ?
And as I wrap up this post, I can guarantee there will be a Volume 2 coming up as I know for a fact I've missed some staples of 70s Classic Rock.  Thank you so very much for making it all the way to the end of this blog post. You are experiencing a true labor of love of mine in finding this blog. Perhaps you are modern bride or groom who are looking to hire one of the top wedding DJs for their upcoming wedding. As you can see, my musical tastes are absolutely all over the place, but I aim to please and will play anything you want at your wedding to make it the most memorable day of your life. It's YOUR wedding day, so the musical soundtrack should be comprosed of a playlist of the songs you know and love, not a bunch of songs that a wedding DJ "thinks" will work because they worked at his previous 5 weddings. It simply does not work that way. EVERY single wedding is different. You deserve to hire a professional, polished wedding DJ who sole focus is on the music and NONE of the other stuff. I would love to speak with you about your wedding. If you are interested in speaking with me (or setting up a Skype or Facetime should you be remote), all you need to do is click the link up above to be taken over to my contact form so that you can fill out some basic details. I look forward to hearing from you!