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25 Songs I Miss on Classic Rock Radio

September 11, 2014

Growing up in Rhode Island in the early-mid 1970’s, I was exposed to the great WBCN in Boston and its great rock playlist. While the two most popular stations in Little Rhody, at the time, were Top-40 outlets WPRO-FM (“92 PRO-FM”) and WPJB (“JB-105”), I usually would tune in to ‘BCN for a huge rock fix from legends like Charles Laquidara and John Garabedian.

On the Friday before Labor Day, 1981, a friend called to tell me to turn the dial to 94.1. I was thinking, “What for?” 94.1 was a “beautiful music” station – one that my grandparents were more likely to listen to. Imagine my surprise when I heard Jethro Tull. A few hours earlier, at midnight, WHJY had flipped from its beautiful music format to rock.

I, immediately, became a loyal listener thanks to air personalities such as Rick O’Brien, Carolyn Fox, Jeff Riccio, Jim Vann, David Place and others playing great rock music I had been, in many cases, barely exposed to. Before I left for U.S. Air Force Basic Training, I had scored an internship with the station in the promotions department and was loving life. Hanging with my radio faves three times per week was an amazing feeling.

By the time 1984 had come and gone, I had left RI for military service. Spending the summer of 1984 in the DC area exposed me to another great rock station: WWDC (“DC-101”) – which featured a morning air talent that remains a great friend to this day: “The Greaseman”. Both stations played great rock tunes 24 hours a day and I rarely flipped to another signal because of a “tune-out” song.

Fast-forward to 2014: my time in radio has come and gone. I am blessed to have learned from and worked with great programmers and talent coaches. Classic rock radio has morphed into more of a corporate sound with tight playlists and no wiggle-room for “Oh, wow!” songs. It’s understandable. As a former programmer, I’ve always been a team player and subscribed to the programming philosophy “play the hits” to maximize listenership and time spent listening.

There are many platforms to listen to classic rock music where I, and others, can hear deeper cuts and aforementioned “Oh, wow!” selections. Today’s radio isn’t the place for those selections unless the local program or music director has the latitude to schedule one after 10PM once every two to three hours – a scenario that seems to disappear more and more as the months pass by.

OK. Enough babbling and reminiscing from me. Here are 25 classic rock songs I miss hearing on the radio – in no particular order:

1. Elton John – “Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding”

2. Tony Carey – “I Won’t Be Home Tonight”

3. Chicago – “Dialogue – Parts I & II”

4. Point Blank – “Nicole”

5. Fleetwood Mac – “Oh Well”

6. Jon Butcher Axis – “Life Takes a Life”

7. Eric Clapton – “Mainline Florida”

8. Electric Light Orchestra – “Mr. Blue Sky”

9. The Doors – “Gloria”

10. Cream – “SWLABR”

11. Humble Pie – “30 Days in the Hole”

12. Journey – “Escape”

13. Led Zeppelin – “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp”

14. Zebra – “Tell Me What You Want”

15. Uriah Heep – “Easy Livin'”

16. Axe – “Rock & Roll Party in the Streets”

17. The Band – “Ophelia”

18. Canned Heat – “On the Road Again”

19. Saga – “On the Loose”

20. Donovan – “Atlantis”

21. INXS – “The One Thing”

22. The J. Geils Band – “Musta Got Lost (Live)”

23. Pat Benatar – “Promises in the Dark”

24. Queen – “Seven Seas of Rhye”

25. Pat Travers Band – “Boom Boom (Out Go the Lights)

If your local classic rock/album oriented rock station plays any of these, I envy you.

Update 18 September 2014:

The great 98.9 KKZX – Spokane, WA played Uriah Heep’s “Easy Livin'” this afternoon. Rock & Roll!!!!!!!

  1. Hi Randy,
    Saw your comment on YouTube under Planet P’s video Why Me. I currently live in RI and grew up here in the 70’s, hs class of 85 .
    Love the list of songs but Saga stuck out as a sorely under appreciated band. My fave song by them is Wind Him up .
    Rock on

    Matt DeGeorge

    • Thanks, Matt. “Wind Him Up” is a great tune. Excellent memory! Ponaganset HS Class of 1982.


      • Hi Randy,
        Did you used to hang out in West Warwick, not that anyone would actually admit it bahaha


  2. Matt – outside of Foster/Glocester, I pretty much hung out in Johnston, Smithfield & Cumberland.


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