Rock music is getting more and more popular at funerals and often features in the music choices of those who’d prefer their send off to be a celebration of life. A little tongue-in-cheek humour is also key to many people’s funeral wishes, with AC/DC’s Highway to Hell, Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust and Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven among the top 10 most-played rock anthems at funerals.
With motorcycle hearses among the alternative ways to transport people on their final journey, if they turned it up to 11 in life then rock music might be the most fitting way to say goodbye.
Do you have fond memories of your loved one singing Bohemian Rhapsody at the top of their voice? Or perhaps they spent hours picking out the opening chords of Stairway to Heaven on their guitar. If so, then they may appreciate a musical last blast, more than mournful tunes played at their funeral.
Whether it’s a slow and sentimental ballad, or an unapologetically loud air-guitar anthem for a Viking themed funeral, one of these rock songs for funerals could be the ultimate final salute.
Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here
How I wish, how I wish you were here We're just two lost souls Swimming in a fish bowl Year after year Running over the same old ground And how we found The same old fears Wish you were here
Pink Floyd frontman Syd Barrett left the band in 1968 due to struggles with his mental health. Years later, his absence inspired former bandmates to write Wish You Were Here. Although the song, and album, describe Syd’s absence from Pink Floyd, it reflects strong feelings of loss which could be just as appropriate as a classic funeral rock song.
Green Day - Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)
It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right I hope you had the time of your life
Although singer Billie Joe Armstrong was lamenting a relationship split when he wrote this ballad, it’s become a poignant modern rock song for funerals. Tinged with sadness, it ultimately reminds us to cherish the memory of every moment spent together.
Jimmy Eat World - Hear You Me
And if you were with me tonight I'd sing to you just one more time A song for a heart so big God couldn't let it live
Hear You Me was written in memory of two music fans who were killed in a car crash. This ballad fades out to its haunting refrain, ‘may angels lead you’. It’s a funeral rock song that could be fitting for a spiritual or religious funeral service, as well as a celebration of life.
Led Zeppelin - Stairway to Heaven
Your head is humming and it won't go In case you don't know The piper's calling you to join him Dear lady, can you hear the wind blow And did you know Your stairway lies on the whispering wind
One of rock music’s most enduring anthems, Stairway To Heaven is one of the most popular rock songs for funerals in the UK and is by far the most popular Led Zeppelin funeral song. There’s a mystical, spiritual feel to it that reflects the passing of the seasons, of life and of something more beyond.
Queen - Another One Bites the Dust
Another one bites the dust Another one bites the dust And another one gone, and another one gone Another one bites the dust
Humour is a key part of funeral wishes for almost half of Brits, according to Cooperative Funeralcare findings. The title of this Queen classic makes it a tongue in cheek choice, while it’s also a thumping good song that’s among the nation’s top ten most-played rock songs at funerals.
Lynyrd Skynyrd - Free Bird
But, if I stayed here with you, girl Things just couldn't be the same Cause I'm as free as a bird now And this bird you can not change
Free Bird has long been embraced as a classic rock song for a funeral, loved by many. Tender and beautiful when played acoustically, this anthemic funeral rock song started out as a love song and is a fitting way to say goodbye to someone you loved with all your heart.
Queen - The Show Must Go On
My soul is painted like the wings of butterflies Fairy tales of yesterday will grow but never die I can fly my friends
Brian May wrote The Show Must Go On when Queen’s lead singer, Freddie Mercury was battling AIDS and nearing the end of his life. The bittersweet lyrics and powerful performance by Freddie Mercury make this a very popular choice as a funeral rock song.
Guns and Roses - Knocking on Heaven’s Door
Mama put my guns in the ground I can't shoot them anymore That cold black cloud is comin' down Feels like I'm knockin' on heaven's door
Guns‘n’Roses reworked this Bob Dylan song to become the ultimate rocker’s parting shot. G’n’R’s version is one of the UK’s most enduringly popular rock songs for funerals , Knocking on Heaven’s Door has been reinterpreted by many other artists, with covers by stars including Avril Lavigne, Bryan Ferry and South African vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo with Dolly Parton.
Norman Greenbaum - Spirit in the Sky
Goin' up to the spirit in the sky That's where I'm gonna go when I die When I die and they lay me to rest Gonna go to the place that's the best
Norman Greenbaum’s psychedelic rock song is said to have taken him just 15 minutes to write. The gospel-style tune has been an uplifting favourite at parties for almost 50 years, but it’s also a popular alternative rock song for funerals.
The singer songwriter told the New York Times in 2006: “I’ve gotten letters from funeral directors telling me that it’s their second-most-requested song to play at memorial services, next to Danny Boy.”
AC/DC - Highway to Hell
Hey Satan, paid my dues Playing in a rocking band Hey mama, look at me I'm on my way to the promised land, whoo!
Picking a rock song for a funeral is already an alternative choice, why not be as unconventional as possible? After all, true rockers want to find themselves on the way down in the hereafter rather than heading for the clouds.
One of the most requested funeral songs in AC/DC’s native Australia, Highway to Hell is also among the top 10 most-requested rock songs for a funeral in the UK.
Bon Jovi - Hallelujah
Yeah, baby, I've been here before I've seen this room and I've walked this floor I used to live alone before I knew you
Bon Jovi’s take on Leonard Cohen’s heartbreaker is a slow and haunting rock ballad for a funeral. It reflects on love, sacrifice and melancholy in lyrics which are ultimately open to interpretation depending on how and when you’re listening. As a funeral rock song, it’s deeply poignant.
Linkin Park - Shadow of the Day
And the sun will set for you The sun will set for you And the shadow of the day Will embrace the world in gray And the sun will set for you
Linkin Park’s melancholic song, Shadow of the Day describes the difficulty of letting someone go when they are close to death. This funeral rock song was released in 2007 making it a more contemporary tribute for a loved one and a fitting modern rock song for a funeral.
Aerosmith - I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing
Don't want to close my eyes I don't want to fall asleep 'Cause I'd miss you baby And I don't want to miss a thing
This Aerosmith ballad is a real tearjerker. It’s a love song that’s become a classic rock song for a funeral. It can be interpreted as a final farewell from the person who has died, expressing great love and a wish that things could have stayed just how they were, forever.
15. Oasis - Stop Crying Your Heart Out
Hold up Hold on Don't be scared You'll never change what's been and gone
Singer songwriter Noel Gallagher said that this song is between a parent and child, but it’s also beautiful funeral rock song with words of reassurance and love.
16. Bread - Everything I Own
And I would give anything I own I'd give up my life, my heart, my own And I would give anything I own Just to have you back again Just to talk to you words again Just hold you once again
David Gates wrote this song in 1972 after the death of his father and has said the lyrics to the song say it all. It’s a ballad that conveys so much about what someone truly meant, when you can’t find the words yourself.
Discover more popular funeral songs to include in your loved one’s farewell, or perhaps a more traditional music choice from our list of top funeral hymns. A gospel funeral song could be a perfect and uplifting option as well as any of these inspirational funeral songs.