5 Classic Rock Songs Vocal Harmony Fans Will Love

Rock and roll of the 1970s and 80s broke free from the tamer confines of past decades with its bold, loud, and unapologetic sound, but this era of classic rock did keep some older musical traditions alive—namely, using airtight vocal harmonies as one of the driving foundations of a song.

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Whether solo or together, powerhouse vocals are a defining characteristic of classic rock. And while not every rock band from this era opted to incorporate extensive harmonies in their mix, there were plenty that did, from the Eagles to Queen to Fleetwood Mac. We take a look at some of the best of the best with five classic rock cuts every harmony fan will love.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen

Up first (because how can you not put this magnum opus first?) is Queen’s iconic track, “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The sprawling track opens with a mournful piano ballad before a quasi-comical operatic section interrupts with a chaotic call and response. Finally, the song ends with the quintessential classic rock jam—you know, the one that Wayne, Garth, and friends headbang to in the car in the first Wayne’s World. This monstrous composition required the band to track vocals for 10 to 12 hours a day and featured as many as 180 overdubs.

“Seven Bridges Road” by The Eagles

Although The Eagles’ classic rock version of “Seven Bridges Road” is far and away the most popular version of the track, Steve Young originally wrote the song just over a decade before the West Coast band would incorporate it into their set. The Eagles used “Seven Bridges Road” as both their backstage warm-up and their show opener. Eagles member Don Felder said of the band’s airtight vocal harmony in his memoir, Heaven and Hell, “It blew people away. It was always a vocally unifying moment, all five voices coming together in harmony. I’d get goosebumps every night.”

“Carry On Wayward Son” by Kansas

It’s hard to find an opening 20 seconds more distinct and easily recognizable than Kansas’ “Carry On Wayward Son.” Yet, for such a career-making hit, the track almost didn’t make the cut. Guitarist Kerry Livgren and vocalist Steve Walsh did most of the writing for Kansas, but in this particular 1976 session, Walsh didn’t have any songs to contribute. Just as the band was wrapping up in the studio, Livgren introduced “Carry On” to the group. “When they heard it, everybody’s eyebrows raised,” Livgren told Louder Sound. “It changed everything for Kansas.”

“The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac

Both harmonically and compositionally, Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” is a living testament to the power a group can create when they all work together. True to its name, “The Chain” takes bits and pieces of every band member’s previous work and links it together to form the iconic track the band used as their show opener. Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie’s harmonies add a haunting element to this song that continues long past the introduction of a driving bass line that transforms “The Chain” from an ethereal folk song to a bona fide classic rock banger.

“More Than A Feeling” by Boston

Brad Delp was the principal vocalist for Boston until his death in 2007, and it’s easy to see why. His impressive range and knack for creating lush vocal arrangements contributed to Boston’s distinct sound, which he perfectly exemplifies in “More Than A Feeling.” Cash Box called the 1976 track a “hard-rock offering” with “a sophisticated melody that makes good use of minor chords.” “The vocals,” the magazine added, “are pure power.” From the perfectly overdubbed harmonies to the soaring high notes, Cash Box was certainly right on the money with their description of Boston’s track.

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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