Vintage Rock magazine asked its readers to vote for the top 100 rock ‘n’ roll songs.
Here are the top 10 results.
At number 10 was: Heartbreak Hotel by Elvis Presley.
A song written by Hoyt Axton’s mother and Elvis’s first chart topper in 1956. I remember playing this in a group competition at the Mecca in Burnley. The opening is quite dramatic and it was different from many other songs at the time. Which guitarist could resist those double stop notes in the intro?
Number 9 was another Elvis song Mystery Train
One of the rockabilly records he recorded for Sun with Scotty Moore and Bill Black.
Number 8 was Whole lotta shaking goin’ on by Jerry Lee Lewis
Jerry Lee’s breakthrough single in the US (it got to No 3 in 1957) was a cover of earlier recording but another success for Sam Phillips at Sun records.
Number 7 was Summertime Blues by Eddie Cochran
It reached No 8 in the US charts in 1958. This three-chord tune with sense of humour was (and still is) a favourite with all the guitar groups.
Number 6 was Move It by Cliff Richard and the Drifters.
This pre-Shadows recording was Cliff’s first hit reaching No 2 in the British charts and arguably the UK’s first home-grown rock ‘n’ roll hit. I thought for years that the cool twangy guitar playing was Hank Marvin but it wasn’t.
Number 5 was Great Balls of Fire by Jerry Lee Lewis
This achieved No 2 in the US charts and No 1 in the UK and was his follow-up to Whole Lotta Shaking.
Vincent wrote this song which got to No 7 in the US charts.
I saw him in Lancashire appearing on the same bill as Jet Harris and Tony Meehan (ex-Shadows) and John Leyton (singer of Johnny Remember Me and an actor in the Great Escape). It was March 1963 and either at the Southport Odeon or King George’s Hall Blackburn. Another song every guitar group played (and some still do)
Number 3 was Jailhouse Rock by Elvis Presley
Jailhouse Rock was his third film and this song was a hit in 1957.Written by Leiber & Stoller it featured Scotty Moore on guitar and D J Fontana on Drums. It’s also his third appearance in this top ten listing.
Number 2 was Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley and his Comets
This song, originally recorded as a B side, briefly hit the US charts at No 23 in 1954. An unlikely rock legend despite the kiss curl. His style was based on country and swing but was the start of something big and when he released Shake, Rattle and Roll the following year it was the first rock ‘n’ roll record to enter the UK charts earning itself a gold record.
And at No 1 was Johnny B Goode by Chuck Berry
This, possibly autobiographical, song of a country boy who became a rock n roll star reached No 8 in the US pop charts and No 2 in the R & B charts. Go Johnny Go is reputed to refer to Berry’s pianist Johnnie Johnson (although ironically he didn’t actually play on this song). The guitar intro was something every aspiring guitarist had to learn to play and the song has been covered many, many times,
And if you’ve been living on the moon and never heard it (although it was included on the golden disc NASA sent out in Voyager) here it is on Youtube
If you want to see the full list of 100 you’ll have to buy the magazine.
Some of my favourites which were listed were Del Shannon’ Runaway, Johnny Kidd & the Pirates’ Shaking all over, Dale Hawkins’ Susie Q, Buddy Holly’s Brown-eyed Handsome Man, Carl Perkins’ Honey Don’t, Roy Orbison’s Pretty Woman, and The Wanderer by Dion & The Belmonts.