What are the great Instrumentals of the Classic Rock Era?

In thinking about the great instrumentals of rock it struck me that in the classic era there weren’t that many big ones, or even that many really good ones. I’m seeing the Beatles and Stones as having a skimpy catalogue for that, likewise the kinks, and most of the US usual suspects. You had Zappa but there were not hits, and a lot of vocals. When I say the rock era I mean Motown and Dylan up through AC-DC, say, 1961-1981. A lot of great artists had instros that were passable but not their best work: Nick Drake, Brian Wilson, Pete Townshend. And there were novelties and one hits. I am not the expert on hard rock instrumental songs, or proto metal or punk instrumental records. I will let the board speak.

I’ve got to say the arc of history is making it look like prog might have been the high point: Flyd, Genesis, Yes, Gentle Giant et al. Then you had the R and B instrumentals of the 60s. Sleep Walk, Tequila, Green Onions, and on and on. I don’t know where R and B went exactly in the 70s.

Here are some prominent instrumentals of the classic rock era :
Hot Tuna – Water Song
Jefferson Airplane – Embryonic Journey
Jimi – Third Stone From the Sun
Allman Bros – Jessica, High Falls, Elizabeth Reed etc etc.
Fleetwood Mac – Albatross – (The standard)
Paul McCartney – First LP
Lovin Spoonful – Night Owl Blues, and soundtracks
Dan Hicks – Flight of the Fly and others

This is fairly motley as it goes, as much as I love those songs. So, what are the great instrumentals of the era? What am I forgetting?

Frankenstein by the Edgar Winter Group.


I don’t know if you’d consider them “great” but I’ve always loved Todd’s Breathless and Pete’s Brrr.

Santana - Samba Para Ti, Soul Sacrifice, Europa, La Fuente del Ritmo
Fleetwood Mac - Sunny Side of Heaven
Blues Project - Flute Thing
Quicksilver - Edward the Mad Shirt Grinder, Gold & Silver, Cobra
If you go early 60s, there are a zillion.
Tornadoes - Telstar
Shadows - Apache
Dick Dale - Miserlou
Chantays - Pipeline
Ventures - Walk Don’t Run
Marketts - Out of Limits
Chantays - Pipeline (A bunch of teenagers did one take for a demo and achieved perfection. Perfection, I tell ya.)

“Facelift,” “Slightly All the Time,” “Out-Bloody-Rageous,” and “Virtually” by Soft Machine
“Jazz, Delightful Hot, Disgusting Cold” and “Doctor Jazz” by the Bonzo Dog Band
“Cruise Control” by the Dixie Dregs

“Peter Gunn” theme music - Henry Mancini

“Driving South” - Jimi Hendrix
“Hideaway” (Freddie King) and “Steppin’ Out” (Memphis Slim) were written just prior to the 1961 cutoff date, though both are considered standards “for countless blues and rock musicians performing today,” according to Wikipedia. The versions recorded by Clapton for various groups during the '60s are especially notable.

Totally forgot Link Wray: “Jack the Ripper” and “Rumble”.

Umm, right off the top of my head:

“YYZ” by Rush
already named
already named
“Sleepwalk” Santo & Johnny

The Clap (Steve Howe with Yes, 1970)
Bron-Yr-Aur (Jimmy Page with Led Zeppelin, 1970)
Funeral for a Friend (Elton John, 1973)
El Verano (Pablo Cruise, 1977)
La Villa Strangiato (Rush, 1978)

Love’s Theme by Barry White

I was going to go with “Sleepwalk,” too, but it’s actually from 1959. Still an amazing song.

I’ll second Yes’s “Clap” (which is a Steve Howe solo), and add their “The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus),” though it has a few words right at the end.

One of These Days,” Pink Floyd (does have one spoken line)
Classical Gas,” Mason Williams
Fire On High,” Electric Light Orchestra

Jeff Beck put out some nice instrumentals during that era. Pick anything from Blow By Blow.

Pete Best’s group recorded this little number in '61: Cry For A Shadow

One I just remembered: “Rise,” by Herb Alpert.

“Red” or “A Sailor’s Tale” by King Crimson

“The Barbarian” or “Toccata” by ELP

“One of These Days” by Pink Floyd

“Rice Pudding” by Jeff Beck

Traffic - Glad
Country Joe - Section 43

ELO and Mason Williams, and Yes are great choices. But this exercise is showing how peripheral the instro was to classic rock. Surf, and Ventures and Link and Duane I know about but it’s whether anything came after that I’m interested in.

There was psych but I’m not coming up with a lot of tunes w no words.

And the Allman Brothers are, as I always say, complete masters of their form.

Todd and Dan Hicks were two people of many who had instrumental tunes on their LPs that were as good as the rest.

Come to think of it:

**Tom Waits **is that to a T. Another Sucker on the Vine, Cinnys Waltz, etc are on the all time list.

I was just going to mention Wray. No one has a Dwayne Eddie song yet, how about "Rebel Rouser?.


Eruption-VH 1978

If we push into the 80’s we could include little guitars and cathedral.
And a bit further gets us Mr Scary and Surfin with the alien…but I’m off topic now:smack::cool:

If we can include TV theme music, then The Rockford Files by Mike Post and Theme From S.W.A.T. by Rhythm Heritage.

Moby Dick. Great drumming from Bonzo.