Skip to main content

20 Greatest Classic Rock Bands

A rock guitarist since the 1970s, Kelley has been a fan of rock, blues, and jazz since the 1960s.

Guns N' Roses

Guns N' Roses

This list only includes bands whose forte is good ol' rock ‘n' roll. Moreover, all of these bands has (or had) a distinctive sound that few can imitate (if they should even dare to try). All of these bands stayed together for years or decades (some are still performing) and made an indelible mark on the world of rock ‘n' roll.

Now let's begin the countdown!

The Grateful Dead

The Grateful Dead

20. The Grateful Dead

Origin: Palo Alto, California

Year Started: 1965

Springing from the Haight/Ashbury district of San Francisco, California, a land of counterculture politics, psychedelic music, pot and incense filled love-ins and a peace and love ethos, The Grateful Dead, lead by frontman/guitarist/singer Jerry Garcia, created a hippy cool/country rock sound that captivated millions of fans from 1965 to 1995. Over those 30 years, the Dead perfected the art of producing lengthy improvisational jam-concerts, some 2,000 of which recorded in some fashion; the Dead also sold over 35 million albums worldwide and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. Since then, band members such as Phil Lesh (bass) and Bob Weir (guitar) have formed numerous Dead spin-off bands: The Other Ones, The Dead, Dead & Company, RatDog, Phil Lesh and Friends and Billy & and the Kids. It seems the Dead may live-on—in some fashion—forever!

The Grateful Dead

Current Guns N' Roses

Current Guns N' Roses

19. Guns N’ Roses

Origin: Los Angeles, California

Year Started: 1985

Nicknamed “the most dangerous band in the world,” Guns N’ Roses, highlighted by singer Axl Rose and lead guitarist Slash, began their career like an exploding star: their debut album Appetite for Destruction (1987) hit #1 on the Billboard 200 and included two of their best singles, “Welcome to the Jungle” and “Sweet Child o’ Mine,” the latter of which the band’s only #1 hit on the Billboard 100. Notably, the album sold 30 million copies worldwide and is the greatest selling debut album in the US. The band continued rocking into the 1990s, producing the hit albums Use Your Illusion I and II, both of which exemplifying their plunge into industrial music and classic rock. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, and the current lineup includes seven musicians as shown in their Guns N’ Roses 2020 Tour.

Guns N' Roses

AC/DC

AC/DC

18. AC/DC

Origin: Sydney, Australia

Read More From Spinditty

Year Started: 1973

Formed by Scottish brothers Malcolm and Angus Young, AC/DC, certainly one of the greatest hard rock or metal bands ever, rocketed to popularity with the release of their seventh studio album, Back in Black (1980), which has sold nearly 30 million certified copies in the US, and is the second highest selling album of all time, behind Michael Jackson’s Thriller (1982). Back in Black also included perhaps AC/DC’s greatest single, “Back in Black,” which offers their signature opening guitar riff, and hit #37 on the Billboard Hot 100. Notably, worldwide, the band has sold over 200 million records. Even after the death of Malcolm Young in 2017, a hiatus or two and more personnel changes, AC/DC continues to perform and record; their latest studio album is Power Up (2020).

AC/DC

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

17. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

Origin: Belmar, New Jersey

Year Started: 1972

Purveyors of heartland rock, the E Street Band has been Bruce Springsteen’s primary backing band—off and on—at least, for decades. Perhaps America’s most well-known and popular frontman, guitarist/singer Bruce Springsteen has assembled a group of solo performers—such as guitarist Steven Van Zandt, drummer Max Weinberg and singer Patti Scialfa (whom Springsteen married in 1991)—as well as an impressive array of session musicians and featured players who’ve also performed and recorded with scores of other artists and musical groups. Notably, in 2014, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street band were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Since 1974, the band has performed on 15 tours and has been featured on 24 singles and albums; it has also backed Springsteen on 29 of his solo albums.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam

16. Pearl Jam

Origin: Seattle, Washington

Year Started: 1990

A vast multitude of rock fans fell in love with Pearl Jam’s first album. Ten (1991), which soared to #2 on the Billboard 200, stayed on the list for five years and was certified 13 times platinum! Not just a one-trick pony, Pearl Jam has continued to produce hit albums over the years and by 2018 had sold over 85 million albums worldwide, making it one of the greatest selling rock bands of all time. As of 2021, Pearl Jam has released 11 studio albums, the latest of which Gigaton (2020). In 2005, according to a USA Today reader's poll, Pearl Jam was selected as the greatest rock and roll band of all time. Moreover, in 2017, Pearl Jam was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Pearl Jam

Chicago

Chicago

15. Chicago

Origin: Chicago, Illinois

Year Started: 1967

Brass rock never sounded so good! Having a horn section comprised of four players, three of whom are still with the band as of 2021, Chicago has produced an experimental, pop-rock style of music that’s spawned the sale of millions of records for many decades. As of 2019, Chicago has released 25 studio albums and 5 live albums. The band has also produced 20 top-ten singles on the Billboard Hot 100. Perhaps their greatest hit singles are “25 or 6 to 4,” “Does Anybody Know What Time It Is,” “Just You ‘n’ Me,” “If You Leave Me Now” and “Hard to Say I’m Sorry.” In 2016, Chicago was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 2020 they were presented with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Chicago

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

14. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Origin: Gainesville, Florida

Started: 1976

Playing heartland rock, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, while pumping out three studio albums, soon became a popular band in the UK and US. Their big hit singles were “Breakdown,” “American Girl” and “Don’t Treat Me Like That,” Then in the middle 1980s, the band opted for a Southern rock sound, which led to the studio album Southern Accents (1985) and the double album, Pack Up the Plantation: Live! which hit #22 on the Billboard 200. Then Petty launched a solo career, collaborating with such artists as Dave Grohl and Stevie Nicks and, for a short time, he joined the supergroup, The Traveling Wilburys. Thereafter, the Heartbreakers surged into the twenty-first century, a period featuring their last album, Hypnotic Eye (2014), which debuted #1 on the Billboard 200. Notably, in 2002, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

13. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Origin: Los Angeles, California

Year Started: 1968

A folk rock group—though they played hard rock too—Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young was one of rock’s first supergroups, all members also having solo careers and belonging to other bands at different times. CSNY’s first studio album was Déjà Vu (1970), which became their best selling album. CSNY also produced 4 Way Street, a live double album that ascended to #1 on the Billboard 200. Famously, their second live performance was at Woodstock, though you may not have seen Neil Young on camera, because he refused to be filmed! Back in the 1970s, CSNY were seen as advocates for social and political issues, and their music seemed a kind of religion. Their last studio album was Looking Forward (1999), and they last performed together in October 2013.

Notably, all members of CSNY have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as solo performers or members of other bands, but only Crosby, Stills & Nash have been inducted as a group.

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

12. The Allman Brothers Band

Origin: Jacksonville, Florida

Year Started: 1969

They became a sensation after the release of their live album. At Fillmore East (1971), their blues-tinged, rock sound most evident on the masterpieces “Whipping Post,” “Hot ‘Lanta” and “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.” But just months after the album’s release lead guitarist Duane Allman died in a motorcycle crash, thereafter changing the band’s sound. They developed a twangy, Southern rock style, some examples of which are the mega hits “Ramblin’ Man” and the Dickey Betts’ instrumental, “Jessica.” In 1989, the band reformed, adding lead guitarists Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks; and then, after many personnel changes, the band broke up after the death of keyboardist/singer Gregg Allman in 2017. Among a plethora of first-rate Southern rock bands, The Allman Brothers Band may be the best of the bunch.

The Allman Brothers Band

Metallica with Lady Gaga

Metallica with Lady Gaga

11. Metallica

Origin: Los Angeles, California

Year Started: 1981

One from an incredible list of rock bands coming from California, Metallica formed in the early 1980s and eventually became known as one of four bands—along with Megadeath, Anthrax and Slayer—as forerunners of thrash metal; and since that time Metallica has continued producing cutting edge metal, as heard on 10 studio albums, 8 live albums and 42 singles, as well as numerous video albums and music videos. These songs exemplify Metallica’s sound: “Damage Inc.,” (1986), “Sad But True” (1991) and “Purify” (2003). Master of Puppets (1986) may be their most successful, influential and critically acclaimed album; it reached #26 on the Billboard 200 and has been certified as six times platinum. Continuing to record and perform, Metallica’s latest studio album is Hard Wired . . . to Self-Destruct (2016). Notably, Metallica has won nine Grammy Awards.

Metallica

The Who

The Who

10. The Who

Origin: London, England

Year Started: 1964

The Who erupted upon the music scene during the mod period of the British Invasion. Known for their stage theatrics, hard rock sound and rough treatment of guitars and drums after live performances, The Who quickly became a sensation in the UK and US. They played at many of the greatest rock festivals of the 1960s: the Monterey Pop Festival, Woodstock and the Isle of Wight. The Who also released Tommy (1969), the first rock opera, which became a sensation. They also produced a live album, Live at Leeds (1970), often considered one of the greatest live rock albums ever. In 2003, seven albums by The Who were included on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The two surviving members of The Who—Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey—still record and perform, and their latest studio album is Who (2019).

The Who

U2

U2

9. U2

Origin: Dublin, Ireland

Year Started: 1976

One of the most popular musical acts in the world, U2 is a band with a social conscience. One of its first songs, 1983’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” commemorated the slaughter of civilians during upheavals in IRA-embattled Ireland. The band was also prominent at the Live-Aid (for Africa) concerts in 1985. Bono, the lead singer of the group, remains a social activist on the world scene, visiting trouble spots with the regularity of a United Nations ambassador. Of course, U2 has written ballads too, perhaps most prominently “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” featured on their album Joshua Tree, rated number #15 on VH1’s list of the 100 Greatest Rock Albums of All Time, compiled in 2001. If any rock group lasts as long—or even longer—than the Rolling Stones, it may be U2.

By the way, U2 puts on a spectacular live show, particularly when performing in arenas or stadiums. In that regard, The Edge, aka, David Howell Evans, U2’s lead guitarist, seemingly uses a different guitar for every song U2 plays. Small wonder, since it appears every guitar has a unique tone the artist must utilize to its fullest.

U2

Re-formed Santana in 2015

Re-formed Santana in 2015

8. Santana

Origin: San Francisco, California

Year Started: 1966

A San Francisco Bay Area group that went stellar is Santana, which started as the Santana Blues Band, led by lead guitarist Carlos Santana. The band’s Latin-flavored rock ‘n’ roll became a quick sensation in San Francisco’s concert scene. Notably, the band became famous before the release of its first album by playing at Woodstock in August 1969. Over the years, their top-grossing albums have been Abraxas in 1970 and, in 1999, Supernatural, the latter of which something of a comeback effort after many years of low record sales and no recording contract. Santana has undergone numerous personnel changes over the years.

But Carlos Santana certainly hasn’t retired to the old folks’ home. He’s recorded and toured with such notables as Buddy Miles, John McLaughlin, Wayne Shorter, Alice Coltrane, Stanley Clarke, Herbie Hancock, Vernon Reid and Eric Clapton. And, in 2016, classic band members regrouped, releasing the album Santana IV and its hit single, “Anywhere You Want to Go.”

Santana

Queen

Queen

7. Queen

Origin: London, England

Year Started: 1970

Queen is certainly one of the most innovative, progressive and experimental rock bands of all time, producing such timeless hits as “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Somebody to Love,” “We Are the Champions,” and “We Will Rock You.” Having sold over 300 million albums worldwide, Queen has been one of the most commercially successful rock bands. Producing their first album in 1973, Queen’s best days featured Freddie Mercury on lead vocals, Brian May on lead guitar, and Roger Taylor on drums. Generally, critics have loved Queen’s music too, as their singles and albums have landed on numerous “best of” lists. A Night at the Opera (1975) was voted #16 on Q magazine’s list of the 50 Best British Albums Ever, compiled in 2004.

Since the death of Freddie Mercury in 1991, Queen has nevertheless continued recording and touring, and in 2018 was given the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Queen

Aerosmith

Aerosmith

6. Aerosmith

Origin: Boston, Massachusetts

Year Started: 1970

No American rock band has won more awards and honors—and sold more albums—than Aerosmith. This Boston-based band developed a hard rock cutting edge that rivaled that of other hard rock bands such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and AC/DC, though some critics have considered them nothing more than a poor man’s Rolling Stones. Perhaps the band’s greatest hit is “Walk This Way,” which has been covered by numerous groups, including the hip-hop band Run D.M.C.

But, even with all of their success, it has been a bumpy ride for these guys. By the middle of the 1980s, virtually every band member ended up in drug rehab. The band didn’t rebound until the end of the decade, when every member had finally sworn off the contraband. Since then, they've rocked. So, regarding rock longevity, only the Rolling Stones top these aging, though potent, rockers.

Aerosmith

ten-greatest-rock-and-roll-bands

5. Pink Floyd

Origin: London, England

Year Started: 1965

Few rock bands have been as influential as Pink Floyd, which has sold over 200 million records and still performs from time to time. Their first album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, was released during the Summer of Love in 1967. Perhaps the album’s greatest hit was “Interstellar Overdrive,” a decidedly psychedelic title and tune, during a very trippy time, if you remember. In 1965, lead guitarist Syd Barrett, suffering from mental problems, was replaced by his friend David Gilmour. The band has produced numerous hit albums over the years, such as The Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall. After breaking up in 1996, Pink Floyd reunited for the Live 8 concert in 2005. Sadly, Syd Barrett died in 2006 and Richard Wright in 2008, but Pink Floyd’s space music will never perish.

Pink Floyd

ten-greatest-rock-and-roll-bands

4. The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Origin: London, England

Year Started: 1966

Reputedly, blues guitarist Eric Clapton’s jaw dropped when he heard Jimi Hendrix play Howlin Wolf’s “Killing Floor.” Hendrix quickly established himself as the most explosive and inventive guitarist around and to this day is often considered the greatest rock guitarist of all time—Rolling Stone magazine voted him as such in 2003. Perhaps the Experience's greatest songs were “Purple Haze,” “Foxy Lady,” “All Along the Watchtower,” "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" and “Machine Gun.”

Then the band’s stardom was cut short by the death of Jimi Hendrix in September 1970. Using an astronomical metaphor—appropriate somehow—blue giant stars, because they’re so enormous, burn out in a relatively quick and spectacular fashion, ending in a cataclysmic explosion known as a supernova. Alas, poor Jimi ended likewise.

Jimi Hendrix Experience

Original Stones lineup

Original Stones lineup

The Stones in 2019

The Stones in 2019

3. The Rolling Stones

Origin: London, England

Year Started: 1962

In the early 1960s Brian Jones brought together the members of a rhythm and blues band that would become the Rolling Stones. Their list of classic albums is long: Out of Our Heads, Aftermath, Their Satanic Majesties Request, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers and Exile on Mainstreet. Unfortunately, the band may have gone into decline after the death of guitarist/musicologist Brian Jones in July 1969. Some rock purists think the Rolling Stones were never as good afterwards. The Stones’ sponsored Altamont bummer concert in December 1969, where a Hell’s Angel stabbed a black man to death, may not have helped their group psyche as well.

Be that as it may, about this time, the band began trumpeting themselves as the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in the world. Evidence of this could be their live album Flashpoint, released in 1991. Rock never sounded so good! At any rate, their longevity certainly speaks for itself, as the band performed at the 12/12/2012 Concert, which highlighted their celebration for 50 years of rocking out. And, even after the death of drummer Charlie Watts in 2021, the Stones still tour large venues.

Rolling Stones

The Zep in 1977

The Zep in 1977

2. Led Zeppelin

Origin: London, England

Year Started: 1968

Led Zeppelin was truly an incredible assemblage: Jimmy Page’s searing, hyperkinetic guitar slinging and Robert Plant’s otherworldly screaming, chanting and howling; and the other musicians—John Paul Jones and John Bonham—were decidedly stellar as well. The lead riff from the song “Dazed and Confused” may have been their greatest and most memorable riff, while “Stairway to Heaven” was their greatest single and may be rock’s greatest of all time. Perhaps the band’s best album was Houses of the Holy (1973), which included its smash hits “Dancing Days,” “The Song Remains the Same,” “The Rain Song” and “No Quarter.”

Then in 1980 drummer John Bonham died and the band broke up. Incidentally, in 2000, VH1 voted Led Zeppelin the number one greatest hard rock band. The Zep had a reunion concert at the end of 2007, and plans for a reunion “tour” have been in the works, but it will almost certainly never happen.

Led Zeppelin

The Beatles in 1967

The Beatles in 1967

ten-greatest-rock-and-roll-bands

1. The Beatles

Origin: Liverpool, United Kingdom

Year Started: 1962

What more can anybody say about The Beatles? John, Paul, George and Ringo became household names back in 1964 – in the UK and USA, at least. Soon they became known as the Fabulous Four or Fab Four. By the late 1960s many people thought they were sent here to save the world. Fancy that notion, eh? Perhaps their best album, Revolver, was VH1’s pick for best album of all time. Back in1967, during the psychedelic era, many of us marveled at their enigmatic, post-acid lyrics. Some examples were: “The walrus was Paul . . . Lucy in the sky with diamonds . . . When ignorance and haste may mourn the dead.”

Many people think Yoko Ono broke them up. Or did she? Perhaps a more likely possibility is that aspirations for solo careers sent them in other directions. At any rate, we’ll probably never see their like again. But people must try to bring them back in some fashion. Currently, the Cirque du Soleil production of Love in Las Vegas is a musical production based on the Beatles’ music.

And in 2021, Disney released Get Back, a documentary based on unused footage taken in 1969, when the Beatles filmed their third feature-length movie, Let It Be.

Beatles

Questions & Answers

Question: Why is AC/DC not on this list of greatest rock bands, but Santana is?

Answer: In my judgment, AC/DC is not a top ten band, because Carlos Santana is a better lead player than the one in AC/DC.

Question: Why isn't Guns N Roses included in your "Ten Greatest Rock Bands of All Time" list?

Answer: Because they'd be in the top 20 or 30 for me.

Question: What about the Doors as one of the greatest rock bands of all time?

Answer: Maybe the Doors would crack the top 20.

Question: Would you consider The Who, Black Sabbath or Cream in your list of ten greatest rock bands of all time?

Answer: If I put The Who on the list, Queen will have to go, while the others aren't good enough for the list.

Question: If it's truly the greatest rock bands of all-time, then why would nationality matter? Put The Who on this list. They deserve it more than at least half of these bands. Penalizing them because they're from the UK is absurd.

Answer: Many American bands are just as good as The Who; in fact, there are many California rock bands that are just as good. The Beachboys, Metallica, the Grateful Dead, the Doors and the Eagles. And then there are the Southern rock bands!...

Question: Why is Queen so far down on the list?

Answer: Queen is great but not as great as the Beatles, Led Zeppelin or Jimi Hendrix.

Question: Where do Journey, Toto, Chicago and Boston rank on this list of the greatest rock bands?

Answer: Chicago and Journey would probably be in the top 20, while Boston would be further down.

Question: Where is Nirvana on the list of ten greatest rock bands of all time?

Answer: Pearl Jam is better than Nirvana, which is long gone. Moreover, Pearl Jam deserves credit for much greater longevity.

Question: Shouldn't The Who be included in this list of the greatest rock bands?

Answer: Only 10 bands can make this list.

Question: Do you have any knowledge of music history?

Answer: Yes, I've studied the history of rock and roll, the blues, R&B and jazz, and I've read numerous biographies of such musicians and bands. In fact, I just read Pete Townshend's autobiography.

Question: Wouldn't Eddie Vedder be embarrassed to see his band on this list before The Who? Of The Who he said, "They smashed through every door in the uncharted hallway of rock 'n' roll without leaving much more than some debris for the rest of us to lay claim to."

Answer: Eddie Vedder does like The Who, and he would be proud to know that Pearl Jam is rated higher on my top 10 list. Greatness begets greatness.

Question: Should Fleetwood Mac be on this list of Greatest Rock Bands of All Time?

Answer: Fleetwood Mac would fit better on a top 20 or 30 list.

Question: Queen is too camp to crack the top 10. How about you replace their spot with The Clash?

Answer: Queen stays where they are, but The Clash could be top 20 material.

Question: Why is no song by the Grateful Dead on this list?

Answer: The Grateful Dead had many good songs but none good enough for this list.

Question: Where would you put the underrated group in the history of rock & roll - the Animals on a list of the greatest rock bands of all time?

Answer: I'd put them in the top 20 or 30.

Question: Why Pearl Jam on the list of ten greatest rock bands of all time?

Answer: They're the greatest grunge band, one of which deserves to be on this list.

Question: "Physical Graffiti" was a drop-off in quality material, so why is Led Zeppelin so high on your list?

Answer: It was still a good album, especially "Kashmir," which is a classic tune.

Question: Where would Kiss be on your list of greatest rock bands of all time?

Answer: Kiss would be somewhere in the top 50.

Question: Do you still listen to rock music?

Answer: I don't listen to it as much as I did in the past but I still listen to it on a regular basis, especially classic rock.

Question: Why didn't you include Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers in your list of Ten Greatest Rock bands of All Time?

Answer: Those bands would be on my Top Twenty list, along with The Who, the Eagles, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and Metallica.

Question: Don’t you think Metallica is a better band than Pearl Jam?

Answer: Metallica is definitely one of the best metal bands, while Pearl Jam is the best grunge band. So I picked Pearl Jam.

Question: Is your "Ten Greatest Rock Bands of All Time" list biased or is it based on facts, such as votes, albums sold, listeners, and supporters?

Answer: It's based on my perception of what the greatest rock bands are, which includes popularity, level of talent, longevity, influence and historical impact, with at least some of my bias thrown in.

© 2008 Kelley Marks

Comments

Lola on April 13, 2020:

I think queen should be higher with a front man like Mercury arguably the best rockPerformance ever and hits like bohemian rhapsody we will rock you we are the champions and many others i it’s is at least top 5 for me personally my favorite band

Pearl jam before THE WHO? on March 24, 2020:

Pearl jam before THE WHO? Eddie Vedder covers the WHO..lol Santana before springsteen?..This list is pure shite.

Arsalan on February 23, 2020:

1.Pink Floyd

2.Led Zeppelin

3.Metallica

4.Nirvana

5.Radiohead

6.Oasis

7.Linkin Park

8.Green Day

9.Coldplay

10.U2

IN MY OPINION

Deborah Pierro on February 17, 2020:

To me, Queen is even more talented than the Beatles due to their vocal and instrumental brilliance.

Alexandria Porter on January 21, 2020:

Ummmmmmmm... NIRVANA!? You forgot Nirvana.

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on December 29, 2019:

Hey, Jim Paice, if I added a metal band to this list it would be Metallica; they've been the best for decades. Iron Maiden would be another one I'd consider adding. Thanks for coming by!...

Jim Paice on December 28, 2019:

would yo consider adding metallica in your list or any other thrash metal rock bands like slayer and anthrax..?

Christopher Nowk on December 18, 2019:

Some other (more complicated Dregs' tunes):

KAT FOOD

ASSEMBLY LINE

TAKE IT OFF THE TOP

ICE CAKES.

Christopher Nowak on November 17, 2019:

What about THE DIXIE DREGS!?

STEVE MORSE really shows off his incredible technique with this band!!!

I remember transcribing CRUISE CONTROL for some of the groups I played in in the 1980s.

Ben dover on November 15, 2019:

1 Led Zeppelin

2 Beatles

3 lynard skynyd

3 All Chris Cornell groups like soundgarden and audioslave

4 credence Clearwater revival

5 eagles

6 Clapton

7 Hank Williams jr

8 bob seager

9 Chris Stapleton

10 Queen

Christopher Nowak on November 12, 2019:

I believe that there is just ONE rock band in the world that blows EVERYONE away: GENTLE GIANT!!!!!

Concerned Citizen on October 24, 2019:

The truth has been held back long enough. Led zeppelin was far more popular than the Rolling Stones. I love the Stones but Led Zeppelin was out selling the Stones both tickets and albums. Only the Beatles caused more of a Buzz. The main streem press did not want to talk about Led Zeppelin. The rock world tried to pretend they were not there. The English bands pretended not to be jealous. They were the best and no band since has touched them. Just because a band has played longer does not mean they are better.

Seriously... on October 02, 2019:

10. Heart

9. The Cure

8. Sonic Youth

7. The Beatles

6. The Clash

5. Radiohead

4. C.C.R

3. The Rolling Stones

2. Pink Floyd

1. The Velvet Underground

This is more accurate

Bones on September 17, 2019:

Beatles

Led Zeppelin

Elvis Presley

Genesis

Clash

Radiohead

Pixies

Queen

Stuart Smyly on September 12, 2019:

You have the Beatles, The Stones, Zeppelin and everybody else...

Alan Mostov on September 01, 2019:

1. The Beatles

2. Queen

3. Led Zeppelin

4. The Beach Boys

5. The Eagles

6. Rush

7. Guns n Roses

8. The Doobie Brothers

9. Electric Light Orchestra

10. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

Frank tufton on August 18, 2019:

1. The WHO

2. Led Zeppelin

3. The Rolling Stones

4. Queen

5. The Beatles

6. Rush

7. Aerosmith

8. Kiss

9. The clash

10. REM

Swampfox on August 18, 2019:

1 Led Zeppelin

2 Metallica

3 Eagles

4 Beatles

5 Creedence Clearwater Revival

6 Doors

7 Chuck Berry

8 Rolling Stones

9 Lynyrd Skynyrd

10 Black sabbath/ Ozzy Osbourne

Francis Larson on August 16, 2019:

Pearl Jam what joke! No AC⚡DC! Ridiculous!

Steve Knauer on August 14, 2019:

What about The Who?!

Michael on June 26, 2019:

The WHO and The Eagles are definitely in the top 10 can’t believe you left them out. Being a prog rock fan, The Moody Blues and ELO would be in my top 10. Putting the Jimi Hendrix Experience up there is like putting Stevie Ray Vaughn’s band in the top 10 when both were not really bands but rather 2 great guitarist’s back up musicians. Pink Floyd should be much higher if not number 1.

Nathan on June 17, 2019:

How about Creedence Clearwater Revival?

Karin on June 15, 2019:

The Mighty Freddie Mercury! Great way to wake up!♥️

Charles on June 10, 2019:

Delete Pearl Jam and replace with Guns N Rose or Deep Purple. Queen needs to be in the top 3. Grunge music is a joke, Pearl Jam, seriously???

Jackson on June 02, 2019:

Dude you need to actually listen to the music, because really? Pearl Jam? Above Queen?

Trvv on May 25, 2019:

1. The Beatles

2. The Velvet Underground

3. Rolling Stones

4. Led Zeppelin

5. Black Sabbath

6. Pink Floyd

7. Nirvana

8. Metallica

9. The Ramones

10. The Doors

gncrrr on May 24, 2019:

the Beatles

the rolling stones

led zeppelin

the who

queen

cream

pink floyd

the doors

the velvet underground

the beach boys

Kaden on May 15, 2019:

1.) The Beatles

2.) Pink Floyd

3.) Radiohead

4.) Rolling Stones

5.) The Who

6.) Black Sabbath

7.) Nirvana

8.) Queen

9.) The Doors

10.) Metallica

Erik Szech on May 09, 2019:

The list is okay, but not perfect. In my opinion, Santana and Aerosmith have absolutely no reason being in the top 10. Radiohead and R.E.M should replace them. Not just on taste, but on pure influence, quality musicianship, and longevity. Another amazing band, Wilco, deserves at least honorable mention. I think Tom Petty would be more in the "Best artists of all time", and so would Jimi Hendrix. True bands have done most of their work collaboratively.

The top 10 bands include (not my favorite bands=taste)

1) The Beatles

2) The Rolling Stones

3) Led Zeppelin

4) Queen

5) Radiohead

6) Pink Floyd

7) R.E.M.

8) Pearl Jam

9) Rush

10) U2

don cummings on May 04, 2019:

Rush not on the list, not a legit list. Aerosmith, pearl jam...come on. Love zep, but they ripped off most of their music.

Roger Mathieu on May 03, 2019:

Hendrix?. To me, all the respect to Led Zepplin and Beatles, Pink Floyd should be number 1. They mix hard rock with classic and amazing sounds. They created music from a future world. So advance. Pearl Jam?. l would put April Wine, Black Sabbath, Rush before boring Pearl Jam. Even Guess Who deserve some respect. To bad Deep Purple did not do enough music, because they were unique. So many good bands. Styx, E.L.O., Bread, America and so on. My opinion.

Bs on May 03, 2019:

So we’re jusy gonna forget about motley crüe

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on May 03, 2019:

Hey, AJ, if you wouldn't put Hendrix, U2 or Santana on this list, then you don't know anything about rock! Just sayin', ya know?...Later!...

AJ on May 02, 2019:

Dude, ur wayyyy off putting Hendrix, Santana & Pearl Jam in top 10, wtf? Uknow nothing about rock; Hendrix is amazing on guitar, along with Santana but their bands & catalogue of work doesn’t even give them top 20 on my list. Im not even sure U2 belongs there. Pearl Jam? Really? I mean Nirvana had way more good songs. Pearl Jams first album was great, but the second album on sucked! Daughter was the flagship song on the second album but wouldn’t even stand out higher than Black on the first album. Uknow nothing about rock dude, trust me...

DB$ on April 16, 2019:

Queen should be on everyone’s list

Robert on April 14, 2019:

Dylan? The who. The dead. The Band. Aerosmith has been awful since getting sober. U2? Not top 10. Same with Queen. Pearl Jam? No. Same with Santana. You have to put the Beach Boys on.

Robert on April 14, 2019:

Pearl jam? Really?

Bob Zombie on April 12, 2019:

1- Pink Floyd

2- Queen

3- The Rolling Stones

4- Led Zeppelin

5- Radiohead

6- The Doors

7- The Beatles

8- AC/DC

9- Guns N' Roses

10- Black Sabbath

3AJP1 on April 06, 2019:

1. Led Zeppelin

2. The Beatles

3. Guns N‘ Roses

4. Metallica

5. Pink Floyd

6. The Rolling Stones

7. Linking Park

8. AC/DC

9. The Who

10. Queen

Aditya Mudgal on April 04, 2019:

1. Linkin Park

2. Guns N' Roses

3. Metallica

4. System Of A Down

5. Evanescence

CAN ANYONE TELL ME THAT WHERE IS LINKIN PARK..............

SYSTEM OF A DOWN.... AND EVANESCENCE

SHOCKED TO SEE THIS LIST AND EVEN SOME OF THE ALSO REALLY SUCK.......HOW CAN ANYONE FORGET ABOUT

LINKIN PARK NOBODY DIDN'T EVEN SUGGEST IT IN ANY OF THEIR LIST.........THAT'S HORRIBLE JUST HORRIBLE!!!!!!!!!!!!

Helmut Dick on April 01, 2019:

Where's Donny Osmond and the Bee Gees?

Paddy Rick on March 30, 2019:

I can partially agree with the top 3, definitely Led Zeppelin first, but easily all these bands are better than Santana and Paerl Jam

RONNIE AYERS on March 27, 2019:

HOW ABOUT GRAND FUNK RAILROAD AND ALICE COOPER

Rich Yanno on March 25, 2019:

Your list is terrible.Where is Van Halen only band to have two Dime platinum records both with DLR. Queen Santana Pearl Jam you’re lost Eddie VH so much better

Rock lover on March 21, 2019:

1. The Beatles

HM. The Who

2. Rolling Stones

3. Led Zeppelin

4. Queen

5. Pink Floyd

6. Jimi Hendrix

7. AC/DC

8. Iron Maiden

9. Deep Purple

10. Metallica

Rob on March 20, 2019:

1. Led Zeppelin

2. Black Sabbath/Ozzy

3. The Who

4. The Beatles

5. The Rolling Stones

6. Queen

7. Jimi Hendrix

8. Rush

9. KISS

10. Deep Purple

Sam Pink floyd on March 18, 2019:

1-Pink Floyd

2-led Zeppelin

3-Ac/Dc

4-Dire Straits

5-The Eagles

6-The Rolling Stones

7-Queen

8-The Beatles

9-Deep Purple

10-The Who

Chad ri on March 18, 2019:

This is mearly your opinion, and by your own admission you're not an avid Rock aficionado. It shows, reflected by your list. Piss poor. Santana? Pearl Jam...I'm surprised you didn't put Chicago n Eddy Money I the top five.

Jon on March 14, 2019:

This list was awful. Pearl jam? U2? Santana? Aerosmith? Where's Guns N' Roses? Black Sabbath? Smh. Laughable.

mm on March 14, 2019:

where is Nirvana

???!!!

Nevo H on March 14, 2019:

1. David Gilmour replaced Syd after 1965.

2. Where would you place bands such as The Beach Boys, Deep Purple, Dire Straits and Judas Priest?

CSH on March 13, 2019:

What about the WHO?

JH on March 12, 2019:

Is this a piss take? Queen should be 1.

Dale on March 03, 2019:

1. Led Zeppelin

2.Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers

3. Metallica

4. Rolling Stones

5. The Beatles

6. The Doors

7. Aerosmith

8. Red Hot Chilli Peppers

9. U2

10. Guns n Roses

s.s. on March 01, 2019:

AC/DC, The Eagles, ELO, CCR just to name a few.

John R on February 21, 2019:

Sorry but too many minor-tho-successful names...Stones & Beatles, sure, but what about the Byrds ' first six lps, the Beach Boys, Sly & The Family Stone, Creedence, and of course the Faces ? All way better songwriters than say Aerosmith. Oh, and the Velvet Underground. Jefferson Airplane...etc etc....

Dennis marinelli on February 20, 2019:

Elton john band

Andrew on February 15, 2019:

Where's Red Hot Chili Peppers!

Greg on February 14, 2019:

You were doing so well and then the 2nd half of your list went sideways. Santana top 10? Pearl Jam over Nirvana? You really count the Jimi Hendrix Experience a band? Same as Santana? Aerosmith riped off the Stones, knock off 10 spots. Where are the Ramones? And yeah, the Beach Boys.

unkown on February 12, 2019:

how is queen last may I just ask..... WHY IS QUEEN LAST?!

Seb on February 11, 2019:

You ARE really sticking your neck out.

My opinion, for what its worth.....where the hell is CREAM?

Christian Ham on February 11, 2019:

Guns and Roses are you serious ?

Austin on February 10, 2019:

If the Beach Boys are not on any top 10 list of greatest bands of all time then it's a crime. Most hits of all time by an american band, inspired bands like the beatles and queen, one of the greatest song writers of all time Brian Wilson, come on...

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on February 08, 2019:

Hey, Bernie, I put Queen on this list because their music is over-the-top, unique and very popular. Many people have left comments here expressing puzzlement why they aren't higher on the list or even number one. At any rate, they aren't one of my favorite bands, but a person needs to be as objective as possible when creating one of these lists. In fact, when I first wrote this list they weren't even on it, but I've changed my mind over the years. Anyway, keep on rocking!...

Bernie on February 08, 2019:

Queen is seriously pretty bad music. How come The Eagles aren't on this list. Does anyone with better than the brains of a monkey really truly believe that Queen's music is "musically" "harmonically" "tonally" better than The Eagles? Alright, Freddie raised the celebration of homosexuality to new levels, and maybe that's a good thing, but it doesn't make their music even close to good. Or The Doobie Brothers, or Jefferson Airplane, or The Doors, or The Beach Boys or so so so many others. If you REALLY made a VALID critique of great or even good bands, Queen "MIGHT" make it in at around #63...

Sebastian on January 26, 2019:

Queen should definitely be higher than most of these

Rick on January 17, 2019:

jethro tull, procal harum, Leo all befor U2

Ammar on January 10, 2019:

Why bands from england are at the top despite rock and roll is invented in united states

Craig on January 05, 2019:

This is entirely subjective. I would put Queen above every single one of thise bands.

Yeah dude on January 01, 2019:

For sure Pearl Jam. Should be number 1

Rose Prulx on December 24, 2018:

Janis Joplin, Nina Simone, Funkadelic, Chuck Berry, the Clash, Dave Clark Five, LL Cool J, Missy Elliott, Iron Butterfly, Mountain, Sweetwater

Flash Titan on December 22, 2018:

The Stones should be #!. Their best years were with Mick Taylor. Where is David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen & the E-Street Band, The Doors, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers & the Eagle?

Kade on November 15, 2018:

1.Queen

Ken on November 07, 2018:

1. Deep purple

2. Rainbow

3. Whitesnake

4. Thin Lizxy

Scott Leaver on November 03, 2018:

Tragically Hip

The Rolling Stones

Led Zeppelin

AC/DC

Hank Williams Sr.

Queen

Traveling Wilburys

Jimi Hendrix

Pink Floyd

The Doors

Govorov on November 03, 2018:

Where's Nirvana?

Patricia on October 30, 2018:

I agree...Queen IS number one on MY list!!

NES on October 12, 2018:

Queen should be number 1. No question.

Nehemiah on September 30, 2018:

Kiss,journey,fleetwood mac

Sven on September 27, 2018:

1. The Who

2. Metallica

3. Pink Floyd

4. Queen

5. Dire Straits

6. Deep Purple

7. Alan Parsons

8. Jimi Hendrix experience

9. Iron Maiden

10. Wishbone Ash

brian on September 19, 2018:

what about metallica fade to black, nothing else matters, and one

Lily on August 15, 2018:

1. Queen

Thats all.

Kosmo Kelley on August 11, 2018:

In the early days, I put the Allman Brothers on this list and later replaced them with other bands. Life is filled with adjustments. Sorry!...

Moontan on August 10, 2018:

2nd greatest guitar player ever, Duane Allman, and no one put “The Allman Brothers in their top 10!

Phillip on August 04, 2018:

1. Queen

2. Pink Floyd

3. Nirvana

4. AC/DC

5. Guns N Roses

6. Metallica

7. Deep Purple

8. The Who

9. Def Leppard

10. Black Sabbath

8.

BDiddy on July 31, 2018:

1. The Doors

2. The Beatles

3. The Rolling Stones

4. The Byrds

5. The Kinks

6. The Who

7. Credence Clearwater Revival

8. Velvet Underground

9. The Yardbirds

10. The Animals

thereverafter on July 30, 2018:

Okay, y'all putting GnR in the top ten need to seriously reevaluate. You can't just put bands in the top ten because you like them a lot. GnR #3? #5? There are so many greater bands. Top 25 maybe.

Slash123 on June 04, 2018:

1.Led Zeppelin

2.AC DC

3.Deep Purple

4.Guns and Roses

5.Black Sabbath

6.Bon Jovi

7.Van Halen

8.Aerosmith

9.ZZ Top

10.Derek and The Dominos/Jimi Hendrix

Sean on May 07, 2018:

1) Led Zeppelin

2) The Beatles

3) Pink Floyd

4) Rush

5) Rolling Stones

6) Queen

7) The Who

8) Nirvana

9) Black Sabbath

10) The Beach Boys.

I'm shocked no one added Rush, that's disgraceful! I do think Hendrix is the greatest guitarist ever but I don't think Experience really counts as a band on here.

ME on April 29, 2018:

1.Queen

2.AC/DC

3.The Beatles

4.Guns and Roses

5.Led Zeppelin

6.Rolling Stones

The rest is uncharted

Will on April 18, 2018:

I have know doubt that the beatles, and the stones are 2 and 3 it doesnt matter the order but number 1 has to be Queen

Hey on April 18, 2018:

YOU DIDN'T PUT NIRVANA AND METALLICA........

I'm out of here

Alex on April 07, 2018:

1.Beatles

2.Rolling Stones

3.Led Zeppelin

4.Pink Floyd

------------------

5.Black Sabbath

6.The Clash

7.Queen

8. Nirvana

9.Metallica

10.U2

Bloopville on April 07, 2018:

I think that there is enough of a consensus that the artificial inclusion of groups, based on artificial criteria like "too many British bands" is ridiculous. No list should exclude the Who.

If modernity is required, only Radiohead supersedes the rock genre.

I get criticisms of including U2, but they do belong.

The Jefferson Airplane, The Dead, The Byrds and CSN&Y were all greater bands of the Woodstock era than Santana.

Kosmo Kelley on April 06, 2018:

Hey, Rod, Pearl Jam made the list because I wanted to pick a grunge band and also one from a time later than the 1960s or '70s. As for the Who - there are enough UK bands on this list. If you could, which UK band would you take off the list so the Who could take their place? Later!...

Rod on April 05, 2018:

You have Santana but no mention of Peter Green who wrote wrote and performed Black Magic Woman. Follow him with Eric Clapton, John Mayall and Fleetwood Mac you may realize something I did. Fleetwood cover some of the best blues ever, then went on from there. With the test of time, I don't think Pearl Jam belongs there. They're good, but just haven't covered enough ground, at least IMO. Maybe in another 30 years. I also find it hard to believe the Who's not hear.

Rachel on April 03, 2018:

1. Led Zeppelin 2. Rolling Stones 3. The Beatles 4. Black Sabbath 5. Metallica 6. Judas Priest 7. Pink Floyd 8. Soundgarden 9. Alice in Chains 10. Motorhead. Honorable mention to two very rock and roll individuals, Janis Joplin & Jimi Hendrix.

Pearl Jam has a huge following of boring mediocre people and had a few good songs (kind of like Foo Fighters) but they are not innovative at all. They belong nowhere near this list. U2 and Santana are really not very rock and roll at all. Others have mentioned Guns N Roses, AC/DC, The Who, Motorhead, Rage Against the Machine, Radiohead, etc. All very solid choices that are better than those made by OP, who apparently just likes the watered-down version of rock and roll.

Kosmo Kelley on March 31, 2018:

Hey, AnthonyBasileo, there's only so much room for UK bands on this list. Somebody, The Who or others, have to miss out. Sorry!

AnthonyBasileo on March 29, 2018:

You have U2 / Queen and Santana on this list but you don’t have the Who on this list. Who put this together a bunch of three year olds

jj on March 27, 2018:

The Who, The Police, The Doors.....The Who in my view should be #2 on the list.

Related Articles