Where do you find these gems?

Time again for another dozen lost classics to remind us all how much great music was released during the classic rock period that gets no airplay these days.

You might have had these albums but forgot about them. You might have never heard these songs before but you like the artist. You might have no clue about the band, album or song. Whatever the case, I’m thinking you’ll find something you like about most or all of these tracks, and I invite you to listen on the Spotify playlist at the end as you read my back-story info.


“Are You Ready,” Grand Funk Railroad, 1969

My introduction to this hard rock band from Flint, Michigan, came when they served as the warm-up act for Led Zeppelin at my very first rock concert in October 1969. Their 45-minute set of songs from their debut LP blew me away, and I bought the album a few days later. “Are You Ready” kicked off the concert, and the album, and made quite an impression on my neophyte ears at the time. My interest in the band may have dissipated — it turned out that “On Time” was the only Grand Funk LP I ever owned — but I still get revved up when the power trio of guitarist/vocalist Mark Farner, drummer/vocalist Don Brewer and bassist Mel Schacher explodes from my speakers with this track.

“You and Me,” The Moody Blues, 1972

Beginning with “A Question of Balance” in 1970, I became a big Moodies fan, thanks in large part to the songs, singing and guitar work of Justin Hayward. Tunes like “Question,” “It’s Up to You,” “Story in Your Eyes” and “You and Me” were right up my alley, a smooth yet relentless sound embellished by synthesizer and string arrangements and the band’s solid rhythm section. This forgotten song from their “Seventh Sojourn” LP implores us all to “look around in wonder at the work that has been done” to create our amazing planet and “never never stop” working together to protect it. (As a grammar cop, I’ve chosen to forgive the fact that it should be “you and I just cannot fail” rather than “you and me”…)

“Kooks,” David Bowie, 1971

It took me several years after turning on to Bowie via his “Ziggy Stardust” masterpiece before I finally explored his earlier work, especially “Hunky Dory.” I devoured the music on “Ziggy” in 1972-73 and was pleasantly surprised to find that “Hunky Dory” has a similar feel to it. Many of the songs were written on piano instead of guitar, and “Kooks,” written just days after the birth of his son Duncan Zowie Jones, is dedicated to him. The infant is invited to “stay in our lovers’ story… Soon you’ll grow, so take a chance with a couple of kooks hung up on romancing…” It has a light, easygoing arrangement and tempo, and fits in perfectly with other keyboard-centered tracks like “Life on Mars?”, “Oh! You Pretty Things” and, of course, “Changes.”

“Ballrooms of Mars,” T. Rex, 1972

Bowie’s flip side in the British glam rock movement was the late Marc Bolan, the main force behind T. Rex, who scored five #1 hits and five more in the Top Five in England between 1971 and 1973, but in the U.S. they had just one Top Ten hit, “Bang a Gong (Get It On).” Their highest charting LP in the U.S. was “The Slider” at #17, produced by frequent Bowie collaborator Tony Visconti. It features some of Bolan’s best writing, including “Telegram Sam” (which borrows from “Bang a Gong”), “The Slider,” “Metal Guru” and especially the sultry “Ballrooms of Mars.” Bolan manages to namecheck Dylan, Lennon and Alan Freed as he describes the bizarre glam rock scene, where “we’ll dance the night away in the ballrooms of Mars…

“You’re Lost Little Girl,” The Doors, 1967

The appeal of the music of The Doors is in the combination of Ray Manzarek’s dominant organ playing, Robby Krieger’s understated guitar work and, of course, Jim Morrison’s haunting vocals. The lyrics, on the other hand, are pretty simplistic, so I wouldn’t dwell on them too much. Case in point: “You’re Lost Little Girl” from their second LP, “Strange Days,” has a compelling arrangement and melody (and dig that bass line!), but the lyrics go absolutely nowhere: “You’re lost little girl, you’re lost, /Tell me, who are you? /I think that you know what to do, /Impossible? Yes, but it’s true…” That’s the whole song. Morrison wanted us to regard him as a deep thinker, but it’s best just to stick to the great musical vibes here.

“Ngiculela (I Am Singing),” Stevie Wonder, 1976

When Wonder’s “Songs in the Key of Life” double album came out in the autumn of 1976, it was universally praised as a musical cornucopia of styles, genres and moods, mostly joyous and effervescent (cue the hit singles “I Wish,” “Sir Duke” and “Isn’t She Lovely”). Stevie’s melodies and expressive vocals are his strong suits, and both are on display throughout the album on tracks like “As,” “Love’s in Need of Love Today,” “Summer Soft,” the ballad “If It’s Magic” and especially “Ngiculela,” which begins with verses in Zulu and Spanish before switching to the English translation: “I am singing of tomorrow, I am singing of love, /I am singing someday love will reign throughout this world of ours, /I am singing of love from my heart…”

“My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone),” Chilliwack, 1981

Hailing from the Canadian province of British Columbia, Chilliwack had a fitful yet successful career in their native country, charting ten albums between 1970 and 1984, four in the Top 20, plus seven Top 20 singles. A revolving door of record labels and musical personnel hampered their momentum and ability to gain much recognition in the U.S. until their biggest hit, “My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone),” broke through in 1981, reaching #16. I had forgotten about this catchy tune, which was nominated for Single of the Year in Canada’s Juno Awards that year. The pop songwriting and impressive vocal range of singer-songwriter Bill Henderson reminds me of Daryl Hall of Hall and Oates.

“Try My Love,” Atlanta Rhythm Section, 1980

After struggling along through the first half of the 1970s, ARS scored well with their seventh LP, “A Rock and Roll Alternative,” which reached #13 on the album charts in 1977, thanks to the #7 hit “So Into You.” Then came “Champagne Jam” with its two hits, “Imaginary Lover” and “Not Gonna Let It Bother Me Tonight,” both offering their melodious brand of Southern rock. By 1980, radio was turning to New Wave, and their LP “The Boys From Doraville” was essentially ignored. Too bad — you’ll find some great tracks on that album, like “Silver Eagle,” “Cocaine Charlie” and particularly the infectious “Try My Love,” all featuring the smooth vocals of Ronnie Hammond.

“The Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar,” Bob Dylan, 1981

For three years (1979-1981), the Jewish-born Dylan went through a phase of embracing Christianity, with songs like “Gotta Serve Somebody,” “Saved” and “Property of Jesus.” Fans and critics were lukewarm at best on these works, but 1981’s “Shot of Love” showed he was reverting to stronger, more secular material that resonated with a broader audience. The most widely praised track was the old-fashioned “Every Grain of Sand,” but most impressive to me was the bluesy “The Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar,” which still hinted at religious imagery but simultaneously dealt with more universal relationship woes. Dylan’s voice is in fine form at this stage.

“Stranger,” Stephen Stills, 1984

This one is truly a lost classic, buried on an album that was pretty much ignored upon release. Stills has had some fantastic successes with Crosby and Nash (and Young), Buffalo Springfield, and his mid-’70s band Manassas, but his solo recording career has been more hit-or-miss. In 1984, he released “Right By You,” which featured a couple of fine tracks, especially “Stranger,” released as a single that stalled at #75 but reached #12 on Mainstream Rock Radio. Stills constructed a great lyric about how uncertain and awkward it can be when you’re attracted to someone new: “Tryin’ to remember that getting it wrong is what everyone does, /Mutual attraction can be so distracting, forget where you were, /Strangers can fall in love…”

“Breakthrough,” Atomic Rooster, 1971

Ever go into a record store where they’re playing a song by a band you’ve never heard of before, and you buy it on impulse? That’s what happened to me at age 16 with an album called “In Hearing Of Atomic Rooster,” at Record Revolution in Cleveland Heights. This was a British prog rock band that sounded like a cross between Deep Purple and Yes, with keyboardist/songwriter Vincent Crane at the helm. The album in question had charted in the Top 20 in the UK, but fared poorly here. Still, I was crazy about the leadoff track, “Breakthrough,” and the second cut, “Break the Ice,” both carried by singer Pete French’s intriguing voice. Both qualify as lost classics in my book, but I’m partial to “Breakthrough.”

“Gonna Get Ya,” Pete Townshend, 1980

Following the death of drummer Keith Moon in late 1978, The Who were uncertain how (or whether) to proceed, eventually hiring Faces drummer Kenney Jones in time for a 1979 tour. Townshend, meanwhile, was going through a rough period with alcohol abuse and marital problems, and he decided the time was right for a proper solo album of new material. Roger Daltrey later complained that the best songs on Townshend’s “Empty Glass” LP would’ve been better if The Who had recorded them, and many critics and fans agreed. But no matter — Townshend’s versions of “Let My Love Open the Door” (a Top Ten hit here), “Rough Boys,” “And I Moved” and particularly “Gonna Get Ya” were outstanding.


Do you know? Did you ever?

Time to sharpen your pencils and test your memory banks about classic rock music!

Some of you who struggle to recall the words to even your most favorite songs may be relieved to hear this is NOT a lyrics quiz. It’s a rock trivia quiz, where I ask you 10 multiple-choice questions about bands, solo artists, singles, albums and other information from the classic rock of a half-century ago. Even if you weren’t around back then, or weren’t all that into the details of the music you listened to, the music has lived on, and I find it entertaining to see what we know about those days.

Study the choices for each question, mark your best guess on a piece of paper, then scroll down to find out the right answer and learn more about the subject under consideration.

Good luck!


1 Which of these four rock groups does NOT have a Canadian member?

The Band

Buffalo Springfield

The Mamas and the Papas

The Doobie Brothers

2 Which of these four Beatles hits was not written by Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, or Starr?

Who was the first of these female artists to have a #1 single in the U.S.?

“I Feel Fine”

“Twist and Shout”

“Love Me Do”

“Yellow Submarine”

3 These four artists all had big hit singles in the 1970s. Three of them also scored a second Top 40 hit, but one artist failed to make a return appearance and therefore became a “One-Hit Wonder.” Which one?

Norman Greenbaum


Five Man Electrical Band

Maria Muldaur

4 Which of these is Meat Loaf’s real name?

Vincent Furnier

Marvin Aday

Reginald Dwight

Melvin Houser

5 Which of these early Elton John singles failed to reach the Top 40 upon initial release?


“Tiny Dancer”

“Honky Cat”


6 Which hit single was written by the composer when he was only 12 years old?

“My Generation” by Pete Townshend of The Who

“Lucky Man” by Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake and Palmer

“Proud Mary” by John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival

“You Really Got Me” by Ray Davies of The Kinks

7 Of these four hugely popular double albums, which is the only one to reach #1 on the U.S. charts?

“Tommy,” The Who (1969)

“Tusk,” Fleetwood Mac (1979)

“Exile on Main Street,” The Rolling Stones (1972)

“Eat a Peach,” The Allman Brothers Band (1972)

8 Only one of these lead singers was an original member of the band that made them famous. Which one?

Steve Perry of Journey

Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues

Jon Anderson of Yes

Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane

9 Which artist did NOT die of a gunshot wound?

Marvin Gaye

Terry Kath

Sam Cooke

Keith Moon

10 Which band’s album cover includes a reference to a different rock band?

“Axis Bold as Love,” Jimi Hendrix Experience

“Physical Graffiti,” Led Zeppelin

“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” The Beatles

“Stand Up,” Jethro Tull












1 The Doobie Brothers

The Doobies were a bar band formed in San Jose, California. Their two guitarists (Tom Johnston and Patrick Simmons) and bassist Tiran Porter were from the West Coast, and their two drummers (John Hartman and Michael Hossack) were from Virginia and New Jersey. Even the later members to join the group (Jeff Baxter, Keith Knudsen, Michael McDonald, John McFee) were all from the U.S.

The Mamas and Papas came to symbolize the California sound, and while Michele Phillips came from Long Beach, Cass Elliot was actually from Maryland and John Phillips from South Carolina. Denny Doherty, however, was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and sang in bands there until moving to Hollywood at age 23.

Buffalo Springfield had three Canadians on their roster: Neil Young from Toronto, Bruce Palmer from Liverpool, Nova Scotia, and Dewey Martin from Chesterville, Ontario. (Stephen Stills and Richie Furay were from Texas and Ohio, respectively.)

The Band was 80% Canadian: Robbie Robertson, Richard Manuel, Garth Hudson and Rick Danko all hailed from various cities in Ontario, while drummer Levon Helm was the lone American, born in Arkansas.

2 “Twist and Shout”

This iconic rocker was co-written in 1961 by Phil Medley and Bert Berns, who also wrote other hits like “Hang On Sloopy,” “Piece of My Heart” and “A Million to One.” It was first recorded that year by a vocal group called The Top Notes as “a Latin-tinged raveup,” as one critic put it, but it failed to chart. The Isley Brothers’ recording in 1962 offered a better R&B groove and added the ascending vocal parts that made it so memorable, helping it reach #17 on the U.S. pop charts (and #2 on the R&B charts). The Beatles used almost the same arrangement as The Isley Brothers’ version when they recorded “Twist and Shout” in 1963 for their debut LP, “Please Please Me.” It was not released as a single in the UK, but in the US, the single reached #2 in early 1964, held from the top spot by another Beatles song, “Can’t Buy Me Love.”

“I Feel Fine” was written mostly by Lennon with help from McCartney.

“Love Me Do” was one of the earliest Lennon-McCartney songs, and the first ever to chart in the UK.

“Yellow Submarine” was another Lennon-McCartney collaboration, written as a children’s song for Ringo Starr to sing on the “Revolver” album.

3 Norman Greenbaum

Upon hearing country artist Porter Wagoner sing a gospel song on TV, Greenbaum thought to himself, “I can do that,” and within 15 minutes, he’d written the lyrics and basic chords to “Spirit in the Sky.” Greenbaum had been in an unsuccessful psychedelic jug band in the late ’60s but somehow won a solo contract, and when he recorded songs in a San Francisco studio, he employed friends who were in other bands. When the record became an unexpected international #1 hit, Greenbaum had no band available to go on tour, and subsequent attempts at follow-up singles fell short. So he reverted to his previous calling as a pig farmer.

Redbone was a California-based band comprised of musicians of Native-American and Mexican heritage. I always loved their #5 hit from 1974, “Come and Get Your Love,” but I hadn’t realized they were the group that already had a minor hit with “The Witch Queen of New Orleans,” which peaked at #21 in early 1972.

Five Man Electrical Band was a Canadian pop rock group that scored eight hit singles in the Top 20 on the Canadian charts between 1965 and 1975. In the US, they had their breakthrough with “Signs,” which not only reached #3 here in the summer of 1971, it was also #1 in Australia for nearly two months. Later in 1971, the group did modestly well here with the spirited rocker “Absolutely Right,” which peaked at #28.

Maria Muldaur had a big hit with the sexually suggestive “Midnight at the Oasis,” which reached #6 in the spring of 1974. I wasn’t aware until recently that she had a second hit less than a year later when “I’m a Woman,” a gritty blues tune that sounds like something Bonnie Raitt might record, reached #12.

4 Marvin Aday

A Texas woman named Wilma Oday gave birth in 1947 to “nine pounds of ground chuck,” as Wilma’s husband Orvis described the infant’s reddish appearance. For most of his childhood, Marvin went by “M.L.” which stood for “Meat Loaf,” and the name stuck as he became a bruising football player, then an actor and singer of international fame, thanks to his delivery of the dramatic rock songs of Jim Steinman on the multi-platinum “Bat Out of Hell” in 1977 and its much-delayed follow-up, “Bat Out of Hell II” in 1993. Oday died in January 2022.

Vincent Furnier is the real name of shock rocker Alice Cooper.

Reginald Dwight is the real name of Elton John.

Melvin Houser, well, that’s just a name I made up. Apologies to any real Melvin Housers out there.

5 “Tiny Dancer”

Originally released as the leadoff track on Elton’s fourth studio LP, “Madman Across the Water,” this gorgeous song ran over six minutes, which hurt its chances as a Top 40 single. In fact, it stalled in the U.S. at #41 and wasn’t even released as a single in the UK, although it reached #19 in Canada and #13 in Australia. Over the years, the song slowly became one of John’s most popular songs on American rock radio stations, and got a big boost of popularity after having been prominently featured in the 2000 film “Almost Famous.”

Daniel,” released in 1973 as the second single from “Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only the Piano Player,” reached #2 that spring.

Honky Cat,” the second single released from his 1972 LP “Honky Chateau,” peaked at #8.

Levon,” the first single from “Madman Across the Water,” did modestly well, topping out at #24.

6 “Lucky Man” by Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake and Palmer

Lake’s mother, a pianist, influenced his early musical leanings, and bought him a modest guitar when he turned 12. Once he’d mastered his first four chords (Am, Em, G and D), he wrote his first song, which he called “Lucky Man,” which he described as “sort of a medieval folk song” when played on acoustic guitar. The lyrics describe a privileged man who went off to battle and died, but for Lake, it referred to himself. “My mother bought me the guitar when she couldn’t really afford it, and I felt that I was a lucky boy, a lucky man indeed,” he recalled. It became ELP’s breakthrough hit in 1970.

My Generation” sounds like it could have been written by a defiant 12-year-old Pete Townshend, but he was actually 19 or 20.

Proud Mary” was written by John Fogerty shortly after he was discharged from the Army Reserve in 1968 when he was 23.

You Really Got Me” was the fourth or fifth song Ray Davies ever wrote, in the spring of 1964 at age 20.

7 “Exile on Main Street,” The Rolling Stones

Although the Stones were more of a singles band during their first eight years, every one of their albums released in the 1960s reached the Top Five on U.S. album charts. Beginning with “Sticky Fingers” in 1971, they put together a string of nine consecutive #1 LPs, some of which, in my opinion, didn’t deserve it, and 1972’s “Exile on Main Street” is one of them. It’s a double album with a lot of filler, the production is muddy and the performances substandard, but The Stones were on a roll throughout the ’70s as far as the U.S. record buyers were concerned.

Tommy” was certainly consistently strong enough to be a #1 album for The Who, but it peaked at #4.

Tusk” was a strange collection of songs, and a step down from the appeal of “Rumours,” but it still managed to reach #4 for Fleetwood Mac.

Eat a Peach,” which is half studio and half live, was the first released following the death of Duane Allman. It, too, topped out at #4.

8 Jon Anderson of Yes

Anderson and his school chum Chris Squire were the founding members of Yes in 1968. They recruited guitarist Peter Banks, drummer Bill Bruford and keyboardist Tony Kaye, and were off and running in the progressive rock sweepstakes fashionable in the UK at the time. Yes had a virtual revolving door of members come in and out over the years, but Anderson’s ethereal vocals are perhaps the defining element of the group’s sound.

Steve Perry didn’t join Journey as their lead vocalist until 1978, five years and three albums after they were founded by keyboardist Gregg Rolie and guitarist Neal Schon, formerly with Santana.

Justin Hayward joined The Moody Blues in 1967 when they recorded the landmark “Days of Future Passed,” but the band had been around since 1964.

Grace Slick brought Jefferson Airplane their biggest success with two 1967 singles, “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit,” but she was preceded as lead vocalist by Signe Anderson in 1965-1966.

9 Keith Moon

Moon was notorious for excessive and destructive behavior, which made him a phenomenal drummer but eventually a danger to himself. He drank and drugged too much, and when he tried to quit, he was prescribed a powerful sedative, on which he overdosed and died in 1978.

Marvin Gaye was shot to death by his father in 1984.

Terry Kath died from an accidental self-inflicted gunshot in 1978.

Sam Cooke was shot and killed in an altercation with a motel manager in 1964.

10 “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” by The Beatles

This 1967 album cover has been scrutinized and interpreted more than probably any other rock album in history. In addition to the 50-odd likenesses pictured behind the Fab Four, several props appear in front of and next to them, one of which is a doll propped up on a chair. The doll, a gift to Mick Jagger from the winner of a contest on Memphis radio station WMPS-AM in 1964, was brought to the photo session by photographer Robert Fraser, a friend of Jagger. If you look closely, the sweater the doll is wearing says, “THE WMPS GOOD GUYS WELCOME THE ROLLING STONES.”

Zeppelin’s “Physical Graffiti” featured a tenement building with various faces peeking out, including those of Hollywood icons and the Zeppelin band members themselves, but no one from different rock bands. Jimi’s “Axis: Bold as Love” and Tull’s “Stand Up” included all sorts of nooks and crannies within the designs for them to hide words or images of other bands, and you can search all you want, but you won’t find any.