Though we had to rank them, truth is all the bands in this list can stake the claim of being the best rock band that ever existed. Each of them influenced the genre in their own right. They each led to the progression of rock n roll music across the world to the global phenomenon it is today. From the invasion of British bands during the 60s, to the melancholic vibes that constituted the rhythmic blues, rock music has evolved over the years. One of the recurring notions that is however propagated by this list is that rock music experienced its best days during the second half of the 20th century.
The Beatles are arguably the greatest band in Rock history. Formed in the 1960s during the apex of Rock music, the four lads from England went on to take the world by storm. They are famous for initiating the phenomenon that would be referred to as Beatlemania. At a time when music could literally change the world, the band experienced a form of deafening hysteria that had never before been seen in rock music. They rode on this fame by playing sold-out shows in different stadiums around the world. They set various records and racked up numerous awards before eventually before the toll of their fame overwhelmed them. They broke up in 1970, breaking the hearts of millions of fans who had grown up listening to their music. Their success over the past few decades can’t be ignored, with over a billion records sold worldwide (yeah, you read that right). The Beatles are credited as the best-selling artists of all time.
The Rolling Stones
The band experienced its creative peak during the 70s when Beatlemania was slowly on the decline. Formed in 1962 by childhood friends, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, as well as fellow band members Brian Jones and Ian Stewart, the Rolling Stones went on to shape what Rock and Roll would be for the next few decades. They constantly dropped hit after hit that were heavily influenced by American R&B, which became the blueprint for most records during that time. Some fans might argue that after the death of lead guitarist Brian Jones in 1969, their music never sounded as good. However decades of constant touring shows how timeless their music is. The Stones’ have remained a fully functioning unit for the better part of the last four decades, a streak which remains one of the most impressive runs in rock history.
Pink Floyd received international acclaim for their progressive music during the 1960s and 70s. Their music, made by the band of five, was at times referred to as psychedelic. Their 1973 album, ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ has over the years been credited by different publications as one of the greatest albums of all time. With over 200 million records sold worldwide, the band’s commercial success speaks for itself. The band broke up in 1996 but reunited in 2005 for the Live 8 concert. This was just a year before lead singer Syd Barrett passed on. Their strong influence on rock music over the past few decades was recognized when the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
Their heavy-driven guitar sound which was deeply rooted in blues has been cited as one of the main influences of the heavy metal genre. The band Led Zepellin achieved great commercial success during the late 60s and 70s, eventually becoming the second best-selling band in American with over 115 million records sold. The song ‘Stairway to Heaven’ is considered one of the greatest songs ever written, and its impact on rock n roll will never be forgotten. Despite their fame and success, the band was notably skeptic of the media scene, and in their whole career only made one live television appearance. They were afraid that their sound would be manipulated by sound engineers for the audience.
U2 easily claims the title of being one of the most popular bands during the post-punk era. Their ability to light up stadiums and arenas with their spectacular live performances has engraved the band’s music into the hearts of millions around the world. Only a few of the bands on this list have reigned as long as U2 in rock and roll. Ever since the release of their debut album ‘Boy’ in 1980, they have constantly been touring for the past 35+ years. What makes U2 really stand out is their extensive list of hit records, which makes watching them perform a must-have in various people’s bucket list. The band has won 22 Grammy awards; the most by any rock band in history.
Formed in 1971, Queen is known as one of the most experimental bands of all time, constantly pushing boundaries with their innovative style of music. The band set it off with hits like ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, ‘Killer Queen’ and ‘We Will Rock You’, which helped them sell more than 300 million albums worldwide. Lead singer Freddie Mercury’s theatrics as he performed in front of a crowd of 72,000+ at London’s Wembley stadium in 1985 will forever be etched in the minds of die-hard rock fans. The audience sang along to each and every word as Freddie motioned them to collectively slap their hands over their heads. Such was the impact of the band that even after Freddie’s demise in 1991, they continued to perform for the next few years. However, it was never the same.
Aerosmith will go down as one of the greatest bands in US history, primarily due to their longevity. Their first outright hit was penned back in 1973 and to date, the band is still able to sell out stadiums across the world. The one thing that has constantly attracted fans to their music has been their ability to make music that resonates with people of different ages. The Bad Boys from Boston hold the title for the most albums sold, as well as most awards won by an American rock band. In their early days during the 1970s, the band endured a barrage of criticism from media publications. Most compared them to more established bands like the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin. They were however able to transcend these stereotypes and curve out a niche for themselves.
The Who is an English rock band that was formed in 1964, whose music consisted of various influences ranging from folk music to jazz music. Though The Who have been credited as big influences in Rock n Roll music, they were regarded as a second tier band for a long time .This was because they did not gain as much commercial success as the other British bands that hit it big during their time. In spite of this fact, the band enjoyed more success during their tours, playing in some of the most famous concerts in history. Their songs have been a favorite for several movies and television series, ensuring that they enjoy an everlasting presence in the hearts of most rock music fans.
You cannot talk about Rock n Roll music without mentioning Metallica. Metallica’s ability to push boundaries has endeared them to fans. The band’s strongest feature is the fact that none of their albums sound the same in their long, illustrious career. They were able to break through the sub genre climate that characterized most of the 80s, to become the biggest metal band of all time. With ten albums under their belt, Metallica have shown that they are not in any hurry to relinquish the heavy metal throne. Their latest effort ‘Hardwired …to Self-Destruct’, released in 2016, topped the Billboard 200 chart. This clearly asserts that they still can go toe to toe with the new kids on the block.
Nirvana is credited with being the last of a dying breed. In fact, it has often been referred to as the last ‘biggest band in the world’. Although the band wasn’t around for that long, they released various critical and commercially successful albums that shook the music world at the time. They are heralded as the flag-bearers of the grunge music scene. Many often wonder what could have been if lead singer, Kurt Cobain, had not committed suicide while the band was at its peak. Cobain was the genius that held Nirvana together. His exceptional song-writing skills enabled the band to record four albums that have carved their places in rock history.