Top 10 Debut Singles
Some of the best debut singles in rock history were immediate hits, while others took years to become classic tracks. It's rare that an act delivers a gem with its very first single, but we found the bands and artists who best caught lightning in a bottle right out of the starting gate. As part three of our “Great Starts” week, here is Ultimate Classic Rock's list of the Top 10 Debut Singles:
‘Take It Easy’
The Eagles found a formula for success very early on with the laid-back groove of their debut single, 'Take It Easy,' from their 1972 eponymous first album. The tune features Glenn Frey on lead vocals as he sings about his search for a woman who can help him forget his troubles. Frey co-wrote the tune with his buddy Jackson Browne after hearing the latter's early demo of the track.
‘Good Times Bad Times’
Led Zeppelin introduced themselves to the world with 'Good Times Bad Times' off 1969's 'Led Zeppelin.' John Paul Jones, who wrote the song with Jimmy Page and John Bonham, once told Rolling Stone magazine that the track features “the hardest riff I ever wrote [and] the hardest to play.” The tune recently appeared in the critically acclaimed film 'The Fighter.'
The Clash came out hard and fast with 'White Riot,' off their 1977 self-titled debut disc. Powered by singer-guitarist Joe Strummer's raspy vocals and a violent punk-rock guitar riff, the song addresses class struggles as it urges people to fight the establishment. The track was inspired by Strummer's real-life experience at the 1976 riot in Notting Hill, England.
‘Just What I Needed’
The Cars forged the perfect union between rock and power pop on 'Just What I Needed,' from 1978's 'The Cars.' The song, a sarcastic look at love written by Ric Ocasek and sung by the late Benjamin Orr, boasts catchy solos by guitarist Elliot Easton and keyboardist Greg Hawkes. This year, Cars fans can rejoice, as the surviving members recently reunited for a new album and tour.
‘Brown Eyed Girl’
When Van Morrison left the group Them to pursue a solo career, he couldn't have imagined the impact his debut single would have on pop culture and radio for years to come. 'Brown Eyed Girl' is a classic in every sense of the word, and you don't have to go to a frat party to appreciate it. The song, off 1967's 'Blowin' Your Mind!,' is catchier than the common cold.
‘More Than a Feeling’
Boston shot right out of the gate with 'More Than a Feeling' in 1976. Tom Scholz's unforgettable guitar riff and Brad Delp's soaring vocals power this melodic tour de force, which has helped the band's eponymous debut album move 17 million copies in the United States alone. Sadly, Delp took his own life in 2007, but Scholz continues to tour and record with a new Boston lineup.
‘Break on Through
(To the Other Side)’
Take a trip back to 1967 and imagine hearing Jim Morrison's voice for the first time. When 'Break on Through (To the Other Side)' hit the airwaves, there was nothing else like it at the time. The Lizard King's powerful vocals are backed by one of rock's most memorable bass lines and a dazzling organ solo by Ray Manzarek. The tune helped make the Doors' debut album a magnum opus.
After getting fired from Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne kicked off his solo career in style with 'Crazy Train' off his 1981 debut album, 'Blizzard of Ozz.' The Prince of Darkness owes a lot of the credit for his signature song to the late Randy Rhoads, who co-wrote the tune with bassist Bob Daisley and laid down one of the greatest guitar tracks of all time.
While there's some confusion about who wrote the original song, there's no doubt that the Jimi Hendrix Experience's version of 'Hey Joe' is a classic. On the first single from 1967's 'Are You Experienced,' Hendrix shows off the skills that would make him one of rock's greatest guitarists, but not to be overlooked are Mitch Mitchell's powerful drum track and Noel Redding's superb bass line.
'Dream On' didn't make a big impact when it was unleashed as the debut single off Aerosmith's self-titled first album in 1973. However, it became a hit when it was re-released to radio in '76, and has since become one of the biggest songs in rock history. The ballad features one of Steven Tyler's strongest vocal performances and remains a fan favorite at Aerosmith shows.