Top 10 Instrumental Songs: Classic Rock and Roll

When it comes to instrumental songs, there are a wealth of tracks you can choose from. Whether you're a fan of classic rock, blues, rhythm and blues, or rock and roll, we've got you covered here. For this list, we’ve focused on instrumental songs that are guitar-centric and limited it to one track per artist. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 instrumental songs in the classic rock, blues, R&B and rock ‘n’ roll categories. If you didn't see your pick, be sure to check out our hard rock and heavy metal edition of the Top 10 Instrumental Songs.
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Who needs lyrics when you can make your guitar sing? Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 instrumental songs in the classic rock, blues, R&B and rock ‘n’ roll categories.

For this list, we’ve focused on instrumental songs that are guitar-centric and limited it to one track per artist.

#10 – Deep Purple: “Wring That Neck” (1968)


While “Smoke on the Water” paved the way for classical music in blues-rock, it’s this instrumental track off Deep Purple’s second album that highlights the band’s overall musicianship and Ritchie Blackmore’s guitar skills. By showcasing a harder edge to the English act’s psychedelic and progressive rock sound, the busy tune has been perfected for their live sets and is still performed today.

#9 – The Allman Brothers Band: “Jessica” (1973)


Named after Dickey Betts’ daughter, this rock instrumental is a great, southern folksy song with a very catchy riff. The seven-minute track features instruments like guitar, electric piano, grand piano and Hammond organ. In addition to finding a home on classic rock radio, “Jessica” also earned the band a Grammy over twenty years later and is often used in movies and TV.

#8 – Santana: “Samba Pa Ti” (1970)


After their debut album’s fusion of rock, jazz and Latin vibes proved a success, Santana added blues, salsa and other genres to Abraxas. The result was a critically and commercially successful effort that topped the U.S. charts. It also allowed Carlos Santana to truly distinguish himself with his bluesy and harmonious guitar-playing, and nowhere is this more evident that on the instrumental “Samba Pa Ti.”

#7 – Booker T & the M.G.s: “Green Onions” (1962)


Guitar isn’t the only instrument used on the title cut to the R&B and funk band’s debut record, but it’s certainly essential to the 12-bar blues tune. Also featuring drums and Hammond organ, “Green Onions” helped Booker T. & the M.G.s nab a top 40 record in the 1960s. It’s since become one of the most recognizable instrumental songs ever and has appeared frequently throughout pop culture.

#6 – Eric Johnson: “Cliffs of Dover” (1990)


He’s so versatile he can play electric, acoustic, lap steel and bass guitar. Though Eric Johnson doesn’t play all of these instruments on this composition from his third studio record, the piece suitably displays his many talents. Particularly notable for its solos, the Grammy-winning song was named after the white cliffs found in southeast England.

#5 – The Edgar Winter Group: “Frankenstein” (1973)


With a memorable beat and synthesizer-heavy sound, this They Only Come Out at Night track helped the band reach the third position of the Billboard Pop Albums chart in the 1970s. But that wasn’t the only reason the song went to number one: it also featured a wide variety of different instruments, from guitar to drums, piano to sax and clavinet to marimba, thereby truly living up to its categorization as an instrumental.

#4 – Led Zeppelin: “Moby Dick” (1969)


It might be missing Robert Plant’s bluesy vocals, but that doesn’t mean “Moby Dick” is any less impressive than Led Zeppelin’s other work. After all, it’s still got Jimmy Page’s incomparable riffing, John Paul Jones’ timeless bass lines and John Bonham’s thunderous bass drumming. By capturing the band’s innovative and unmatched sound that blended blues, folk and hard rock, the song was also a great way for Bonham to flaunt his live skills on the skins.

#3 – Funkadelic: “Maggot Brain” (1971)


Led by Funk innovator George Clinton, this band’s P-Funk style was at its best when experienced in concert thanks to their blend of funk, psychedelic rock, R&B, soul and doo-wop. This couldn’t be truer for the title cut to Funkadelic’s third effort: though it has a slow build-up, Eddie Hazel’s emotional guitar solo really grabs you and holds you tight.

#2 – Jeff Beck: “Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers” (1975)


Though “Beck’s Bolero” is epic in its own right, it’s this Stevie Wonder-penned track that makes the cut. Taken from Jeff Beck’s seventh record, the jazz fusion piece helped establish Beck as a solo artist after the guitar hero played with The Yardbirds and The Jeff Beck Group. It also aptly exhibited his technical brilliance and perfectionism alongside his innovative approach to instrumental music and use of electronic distortion.

#1 – Rush: “La Villa Strangiato” (1978)


Whether or not you’re a fan, it’s hard to argue with Rush's precision, musicianship and talent. Though Moving Pictures’ “YYZ” could’ve easily made this list, we went with “La Villa Strangiato” as the list topper. As the band’s first completely instrumental track, the almost-ten-minute piece consists of over ten different parts and uses instruments like guitar, string synthesizer, bass and drums – which makes it ambitious, exciting and complex.

Do you agree with our list? What is your favorite classic rock instrumental? Be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com for more entertaining top 10s.
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