A few months ago, this writer was fortunate enough to catch a great “classic rock” concert in Jacksonville, Florida: Co-headliners Judas Priest and Deep Purple, with one of rock’s top up-and-coming bands The Temperance Movement as the opener. As 8,000 people sang along to such classics as Priest’s “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” and “Livin’ After Midnight” and Purple’s “Smoke on the Water,” those moments were tinged with a bittersweet taste. Why? Because Deep Purple has announced this as their final tour, while Priest may be near the end of their long career (with only two original members left). In fact, “final” tours have become the norm over the past few years, as bands like Mötley Crüe, Black Sabbath, Ozzy (as a solo artist) and KISS have announced their retirements as touring bands.

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That got us to consider the question, what place does classic rock have in today’s gentlemen’s clubs? And if classic rock is still being played in the clubs, which songs are getting the most rotation (and best crowd reaction)?

When we have a question about music, we know who to turn to—the industry’s DJs! With a special nod to PANDA (Professional Adult Nightclub DJ Association), its president Dane Hansen and Ilan Fong, who helped compile this list, here are what a host of industry jocks had to say about classic rock (think 1975-1989) and their top picks.

Note: We’ve added bold type to the songs who got the most votes overall.

Ilan Fong,
PANDA National Board

“Don’t Stop Believin’” – Journey
“You Shook Me All Night Long” – AC/DC
“Fat Bottom Girls” – Queen
“Livin’ on a Prayer” – Bon Jovi
“Pour Some Sugar On Me” – Def Leppard
“These five songs seem to strike a chord across almost every demographic in my club as they are recognized by most people from 21-65 years of age. Classic rock is still very important to mix into your show sporadically throughout the night. I don’t think classic rock could be the primary backbone of a club’s format in most markets anymore, but it is still an important part of any mainstream gentleman’s club playlist. Of course, this is dependent on your market and the desired branding of your club.”

Perry Havard,
Danny’s Downtown, Jackson, MS

“Cherry Pie” – Warrant
“Pour Some Sugar On Me” – Def Leppard
“You Shook Me All Night Long” – AC/DC
“Talk Dirty To Me” – Poison
“You Give Love A Bad Name” – Bon Jovi
“For me, classic rock—or for that matter any rock—in clubs like mine is vital. Most of our customers grew up on country and classic rock so it’s a staple in my club. I have guys sit and stare at the stage during an urban set but jump up for rock, but that is my extremely small market club. I will play it throughout the night to keep a good variety for everyone.”

LaRue Kim Wisener,
Pony Club, Huntsville, AL

“Thunderstruck” – AC/DC
“The Stroke” – Billy Squier
“Pussy Control” – Prince
“Do You Wanna Touch Me” – Joan Jett
“Dirty Diana” – Michael Jackson
“A couple of important factors I’ve observed are that the more disconnected the girls are from the music, the harder it is to sell that to clientele for stage attention, and that ‘80s music is becoming increasingly less the classic music for the 35-55 year-old target demographic. People that were 20 in 1989 are now 49, most of my best clientele are in their 30s and early 40s so ‘90s music is becoming more influential, old school rap and stuff like Sublime, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sugar Ray, NIN, are becoming more effective.
“In the end, anthems will always be anthems, but which songs are still good for everyone is heavily influenced by things like movies, pop culture and even celebrity deaths. There isn’t a perfect answer, but staying on top of current events, being aware of the relevance of older songs and integrating it into your repertoire to create a complete format for a broad range of people will optimize the effect of classic rock.”

Robert Tremble,
Industry DJ

“Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” – The Rolling Stones
“Lump” – The Presidents of the United States
“Peaches” – The Presidents of the United States
“Last Dance With Mary Jane” – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
“Paradise City” – Guns N’ Roses
“Smells Like Teen Spirit” – Nirvana
“Suck My Kiss” – Red Hot Chili Peppers
“Classic rock is more day shift music unless it’s a really classic rock song that’s kind of made its way into mainstream—like when you play ‘Can’t You Hear Me Knocking’ from The Rolling Stones. Everybody knows that song because it’s the opening song from ‘Blow. If you’re going to play classic rock it should be super popular but not overplayed like ‘Girls, Girls Girls’.”

John Haskins,
Savannah’s, Winston Salem, NC

“Cherry Pie” – Warrant
“Pour Some Sugar On Me” – Def Leppard
“Dr. Feelgood” – Mötley Crüe
“Back in Black” – AC/DC
“Welcome to the Jungle” – Guns N’ Roses
“Classic rock still matters thank goodness, we just need to redefine what ‘classic’ means as that demo changes.”


James Jay McKinney,
Pony Club, East Cape Girardeau, IL

“Pour Some Sugar On Me” – Def Leppard
“The Stroke” – Billy Squier
“Don’t Stop Believin’” – Journey
“Slow Ride” – Foghat
“Highway to Hell” – AC/DC
“These songs are always crowd pleasers! No matter the age demographics in any club I’ve ever worked. I believe the nostalgia effect will always come into play. There’s always going to be classic rock nostalgic airplay in clubs, no matter the age, culture, racial, or other demographics in the club itself. When we get to the point where we exclude any particular genre or era, or whatever classification we choose, is when we should retire.”

Def Leppard circa 1988

Walter Worek,
Industry DJ

“Smokin’ In The Boys Room” – Mötley Crüe
“Have A Drink On Me” – AC/DC
“Rebel Yell” – Billy Idol
“Separate Ways” – Journey
“Hot for Teacher” – Van Halen
“My day shifts are mostly state workers on lunch and after work so classic rock is essential to our success on days. I have also found when you get that right crowd these songs still resonate even with younger audiences.”

Anthony ‘Binger’ Bellao,
Penthouse Club, NOLA

“You Shook Me All Night Long” – AC/DC
“Paradise City” – Guns N’ Roses 
“Pour Some Sugar On Me” – Def Leppard
“Cherry Pie” – Warrant
“Enter Sandman” – Metallica


Sam Wilmoth,
Night Trips, Oklahoma City, Ok

“Sweet Caroline” – Neil Diamond (Gets a hell of a pop with the right crowd)
“The Stroke” – Billy Squier
“Heat of the Moment” – Asia
“Don’t You Forget About Me” – Simple Minds

Richard Stanley,
Platinum West, West Columbia, SC

“Shoot To Thrill” – AC/DC
“Wild Side” – Mötley Crüe
“Whole Lotta Love” – Led Zeppelin
“Nothin’ But A Good Time” – Poison
“Pour Some Sugar On Me” – Def Leppard
“All cheese! But they work. From a DJ perspective, it’s different. My showtime promos I try to do mostly classic rock. Why? It breaks up the predominant hip-hop and EDM we play. Even the heavier alternative tracks as well can get to be a little much.”


Jim Spencer, Dv8, Portland, Or

“Paint It Black” – The Rolling Stones
“The Trooper” – Iron Maiden
“Electric Eye” – Judas Priest
“D’yer Mak’er” – Led Zeppelin
“Photograph” – Def Leppard

Andrew John Adams,
Kandys Adult Playground, Waterford, PA

“Jet City Woman” – Queensryche
“View to A Kill” – Duran Duran
“Twilight Zone” – Golden Earring
“Let’s Go Crazy” – Prince
“Refugee” – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

AC/DC scores big with strip club DJs where classic rock is concerned!

Kevin Richard Given,
Scarlett’s Cabaret, E. St. Louis, IL

“Thunderstruck” – AC/DC
“Walk This Way” – Aerosmith & Run DMC
“Wherever I May Roam” – Metallica
“Let’s Get Rocked” – Def Leppard
“We’re Not Gonna Take It” – Twisted Sister

David Fleck,
Lido Cabaret, Cocoa Beach, FL

“Barracuda” – Heart
“It’s a Long Way to the Top” – AC/DC
“Her Strut” – Bob Seger
“Runnin’ Down a Dream” – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
“Lady Strange” – Def Leppard

Jim Harrison,
Firehouse Cabaret, Salem, OR

“Back in Black” – AC/DC
“Separate Ways” – Journey
“You Give Love a Bad Name” – Bon Jovi
“Kickstart My Heart” – Mötley Crüe
“Panama” – Van Halen
“These songs typically work in every situation. They can blend well with current rock, have high energy, and a sing-a-long element that just about everyone can get into.”

Warrant rocked the ED’s Awards Show stage in 2000

Patrick Sykes,
Angels Gentleman’s Club, Kalamazoo, MI

“Thunderstruck” – AC/DC
“Runnin’ with the Devil” – Van Halen
“You Really Got Me” – Van Halen
“Paradise City” – Guns N’ Roses
“Pour Some Sugar On Me” – Def Leppard
“It’s difficult to think that any of the songs on this post are not important to our industry. It’s what was really the foundation of what’s expected as part of the strip club experience for the last three decades.”

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James Lockwood,
Gold Club, Tampa

“Pour Some Sugar On Me” – Def Leppard
“Cherry Pie” – Warrant
“Thunderstruck” – AC/DC
“Sweet Child O’ Mine” – Guns N’ Roses
“Rock You Like a Hurricane” – Scorpions

Michael Mergel,
Treasure Club, Hickory, NC

“White Wedding” – Billy Idol
“Shakin’” – Eddie Money
“I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” – Joan Jett
“Pour Some Sugar On Me” – Def Leppard
“Dr. Feelgood” – Mötley Crüe

For more information, visit pandamembers.org.

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