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Classic Rock

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Classic rock is not, strictly speaking, a musical genre, but rather a radio format that features old-school rock songs. There is no set definition of "classic rock," with just about everybody having their own personal criteria. The unwritten definition used by the website ultimateclassicrock.com (and many people) generally seems to be any music created by a non-alternative note  rock band/artist who was at the peak of their/his/her career between the rockabilly/rock and roll (using the strictest definition of the latter term) and the Grunge/Alternative Rock eras (basically, rock from the mid-ish-early-ish '60s to the very early '90s). That being said, classic rock radio stations have started playing more recent music, including grunge and alternative artists, diversifying their playlists. While the rock and roll/rockabilly artists of the '50s and early '60s are indeed both classic and rock, they tend to not be considered "classic rock," since they virtually never seem to get played on stations of that radio format.

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Classic rock radio stations are common in the United States and Sirius XM Radio features several classic rock-oriented stations, including: The Bridge (classic soft rock), Classic Rewind (late '70s and '80s classic rock), Classic Vinyl ('60s and early '70s classic rock), Deep Tracks (classic rock deep cuts), 1st Wave (classic New Wave, Punk Rock, and Post-Punk), Hair Nation (Hair Metal), and Ozzy's Boneyard (classic Hard Rock and Heavy Metal).

There are also several syndicated radio programs that play classic rock bands and artists, including The House of Hair with Dee Snider, Nights with Alice Cooper, The Classics with Steve Downes, and Off the Record with Joe Benson.


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Some genres associated with Classic Rock include:

  • Arena Rock (also known as album-oriented rock [AOR], stadium rock, or corporate rock): Polished, slick, radio-ready, and commercially-friendly (generally without being out-and-out pop rock) rock that was at its peak between the mid '70s and mid '80s (although it remained popular into the early '90s) and featured hard rock anthems and soft rock Power Ballads
  • Blues Rock
  • Boogie rock
  • Country rock
  • Folk rock
  • Glam Rock: Flamboyant, theatrical rock music that was at its peak in the '70s and often featured performers in androgynous outfits
  • Hair Metal (also known as glam metal or pop metal note ): Slick, generally radio-ready rock music that was at its peak between the mid '80s and early '90s and featured artists in glammed-up costumes performing hard rock anthems and Power Ballads that still rocked pretty hard
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  • Hard Rock
  • Heartland rock: Rock music that appeals to blue-collar Middle American ethos
  • Heavy Metal: This genre is similar to hard rock, except that its sound is heavier/harder (see the Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness) and it has a darker, more sinister, more menacing, more intimidating edge to it
  • Jazz rock (frequently used synonymously with jazz fusion)
  • New Wave: A style of oft-quirky pop rock and pop that evolved out of Punk Rock and was at its commercial peak between the late '70s and mid '80s
  • Pop rock
  • Post-Punk: Rock music that evolved out of Punk Rock that was more experimental
  • Progressive Rock (sometimes shortened to prog rock or prog, and frequently used synonymously with art rock): A somewhat experimental genre dedicated to pushing the boundaries of what rock music is artistically capable of
  • Psychedelic Rock (frequently used synonymously with acid rock): Trippy rock music inspired by '60s and '70s drug culture
  • Punk Rock: Stripped-down, hard-rocking, often politically-charged music that developed in the mid '70s and often revolved around short songs
  • Roots rock: Rock music that imitated the sound of earlier rock 'n' roll
  • Soft rock
  • Soul rock
  • Southern Rock: Rock music originating from the Southern United States


Classic-era, non-alternative note  bands and artists associated with Classic Rock include:

Note: The bands'/artists' primary genres are listed as well, with Arena Rock being considered a subgenre of Hard Rock and soft rock, Hair Metal a subgenre of Hard Rock, New Wave a subgenre of pop rock, and Punk Rock a subgenre of Hard Rock. When these subgenres are listed, their larger genre is not, to avoid redundancy.

Newer and/or alternative bands and artists that sometimes get played on Classic Rock radio include:

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