25.Creedence Clearwater Revival
Americana is what I think of when I hear this iconic band of the 1960’s-70’s. Hits like “Down On the Corner,” and “Proud Mary” are some of their biggest hits, but “Fortunate Son” and “Have You Ever Seen The Rain” made this band iconic. Southern twangs, lazy riffs and feelings fueled by the Vietnam war make CCR one of the greatest bands to ever play a show.
24. Neil Young and Crazy Horse
Crazy Horse is the incredible band that is best known by playing on over 11 albums with Neil Young. They have earned the title as one of the best lives bands a fan could ever see. They first teamed up together in 1969 and have played on and off for the past 45 years and are still touring with Young as recently as 2015.
Southern rock is one of the finest varieties of American rock n roll, and no band defines that category better than Lynyrd Skynyrd. Filled with soul, blues and rock, the lyrics sung by Ronnie Van Zant have haunted us since his untimely death in a plane crash in 1977. The band reformed to play some tribute shows and still tours with Ronnie’s younger brother Johnny taking the helm at vocals. If you were to buy just one album from this band make it their 1973 album, “Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd.”
22.The Allman Brothers
Duane and Gregg Allman gathered fellow musicians Dickey Betts, Jai “Jaimoe” Johanson and Berry Oakley to create a country and blues band that became the principal cornerstones of southern rock. Their 1971 live release, “At Fillmore East” broke new ground and gained the band national exposure and and is widely considered one of the best live albums ever made. Sadly, Duane Allman died later that year and the band played sporadically for decades before officially retiring in 2014.
For the record, Freddie Mercury is one of the greatest talents that rock n roll has ever seen. His vocal range and lyrics are among the finest you will find and his band’s prolific rock power ballad “Bohemian Rhapsody” which appeared on the 1975 album, “A Night At The Opera,” is one of rock’s most amazing songs. Queens performance at the 1985 Live Aid concert in Wembley Stadium in London, England has been ranked among the greatest in rock history but sadly just 6 years later, Freddie Mercury died from complications due to AIDS.
While not on everyone’s list as a top 20 band, The Doors still get the nod because of their ground-breaking live performances and also for having one of the greatest frontmen in rock history. Jim Morrison and his band released eight albums between 1967 and 1971 and all but one landed in the Top 10. The Doors were huge in the US, selling three million singles with their hits “Light My Fire”, “Hello, I Love You” and “Touch Me”. Jim Morrison died in France in 1971 at the age of 27.
Now this is rock n roll at its finest. This powerhouse was formed in Birmingham England in 1968, by guitarist/songwriter Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Ozzy Osbourne and Bill Ward. While the band was originally a blues band, they soon turned their lyrics towards darker material and found a loyal audience who loved Osbournes dark songs. Osbourne went hard into drug use and the band broke up in 1979 and only reunited shortly in 2013. They are proudly in the rock n roll Hall of Fame.
Australia’s finest rock export, ACDC has entertained crowds for 40 years despite some serious line-up changes. Malcolm and Angus Young formed the band in 1973 and their singer Bon Scott died in 1980 after a night of hard partying. Brian Johnson joined the band as their new singer and had a great run until he was forced to retire in 2015 due to ear issues and soon Guns N Roses frontman Axl Rose took over the duties. The band has sold over 200 million records worldwide and is in the rock n roll hall of fame.
17.The Beach Boys
The sweet sounds of the Beach Boys changed how rock n roll was recorded after their amazing 11th album, Pet Sounds (1966) garnered huge acclaim for the sonic notes that Brian Wilson arranged for this record. The story of the band is tarnished by Brian Wilson’s descent into a decades long depression and Mike Love’s controlling and arrogant ramblings as seen in their rock n roll hall of fame induction. Regardless, the band is etched in music history and is a piece of rock n roll Americana in its best of times.
The Boston based band fronted by the “toxic twins” Joe Perry and singer Steven Tyler set the music world on fire when they released their 1973 self titled debut album that spawned one of rock’s greatest power ballads: “Dream On.” The band had a hell of a career with high highs and low drug induced lows, but the band played on. While still occasionally playing today, all the members of the band are now in their 60’s and slowing down. Still their indelible contributions to rock n roll will be felt for decades to come.
Pissed-off kids making music for themselves and for the hoards of other teens who were begging for an outlet for their aggression.In 1981, four kids got together and with that simple recipe, the world was about to get their first look at Metallica. The band has played for 35 years and through death, drugs, depression they stayed the course . Today this now middle-aged band is still on tour and in a better place than they have ever been. Long live the kids, long live Metal.
14.The Talking Heads
One of the greatest bands who you probably don’t own any of their music or can’t name one of their albums. No matter, The Talking Heads are one of modern music’s true pioneers in the mod/electric rock movement of the 1980’s. Their groundbreaking album” Stop Making Sense,” was also a mainstream movie that made this influential band a household name. They make the list because of their willingness to take risks and make music that was far from the 80’s pop and trends.
There’s a line in one of the Who’s songs that Roger Daltrey sang that says, “I hope I die before I get old.” Sorry mate, you’re now an over 70 grumpy old man. The Who is currently on tour in 2016 and from the videos I have seen, it’s a far cry from the shows of old. In one new video, Daltrey stops a song because someone in the audience is smoking. While their current geriatric ensemble may be a bit more Grumpy old man than rock n roll god, that can’t change the fact that the Who was an incredible band in their day and age.
12.Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
In my eyes, this is my favorite rock band of the 70’s till today. Tom Petty and the Heart Breakers are legendary in every sense of the word. If you’ve never watched their 2007 documentary “Running Down A Dream,” you’re missing out on one of the greatest rock-docs ever made. Petty’s first bands were the Sundowners, the Epics, and Mudcrutch, which just went back on tour for the first time in 40 years. Two of the band’s greatest hits came from their amazing self titled debut album which produced “American Girl,” and “Breakdown.”
The world’s greatest guitar player has been dead now for 45 years and still, nobody comes close to the sounds and feelings that Jimi Hendrix could weave from the magic of his weeping guitar. The one time blues musician found his sound and inspiration and wowed audiences at Woodstock and the Monterey pop festival where he cemented his legend as the greatest guitar player ever. He sadly died of an overdose in 1970.
10.The Velvet Underground
The group’s famous mad-hatter manager was none-other than Andy Warhol. The artist played a significant role getting the Velvet Underground the much needed visibility they were seeking. The band began as The Primitives,which were New York guitarist Lou Reed and Welsh-born viola player John Cale and became the Velvet Underground in 1965. To this day their debut album is considered one of the most important records of all time.
The Band. One of Rock n Rolls heroic and universally loved groups. They began playing together never guessing that they would one day become an American institution. They had artists lining up to play with them and even had a Martin Scorsese movie made about their last show called “The Last Waltz.” For a group of guys from Canada(minus Arkansas-born drummer Levon Helm) the Band flawlessly nailed American rock music like no other group before them.
This band changed everything when they started playing shows in small bars and halls in the UK in the 1970’s. They would go on to become the model for the modern punk movement and all rock n roll bands that followed in their footsteps. Joe Strummer and his band of pissed of kids from the poor white suburbs of the UK made us look at the world through their eyes and it was glorious for teens everywhere.
While this band doesnt seem old, its been over 20 years since they burst onto the Seattle music scene and single handedly ushered in the grunge/punk movement while at the same time slamming the door shut on the 80’s glam rock hair bands that were puking their bad music and hair all over MTV. This was the face of American youth who were sick of bad music that cherry coated reality. They were young, pissed and ready to tear down the walls. Kids everywhere loved their sound and the band ascended to the highest levels any punk influenced band in history. Even though Cobain ended his life, his music plays on and his aura still has us captivated.
6.Guns N Roses
GNR. No band hit faster or gained listeners quicker that Guns N Roses when their debut masterpiece Appetite For Destruction hit music stores in 1987. Their sound, their songs and their look screamed strung out Hollywood metal but their actual talent is what gained them fans fast and furiously as MTV quickly adopted the volatile band. While Guns would never have another album that would reach the level of Appetite, they enjoyed a decade long run where they were the kings of rock n roll.
This band is responsible for more amazing in-car karaoke sessions than any other, I mean who are we kidding, “Immigrant Song,” “Over the Hills and Far Away” and “Stairway to Heaven” are just a few of the legendary songs that have kept the youth of the world engaged in songwriting and guitar play. The duo of Robert Plant and Jimmy Page were unstoppable with their heavy sounds and amazing riffs. Sex drugs and rock n roll were what this band was selling and America was buying. If there’s ever an album you should own, go buy Zeppelin II and get ready to be be amazed.
Pink Floyd has done more for drugs and music than perhaps any other band in rock besides the Grateful Dead. With albums, laser shows and the all-time mind bending journey knowns as the movie called “The Wall,” Pink Floyd built huge sonic walls and filled the clean silence with dripping tones and lush mindscapes that kept listeners and viewers lined up for the past 45 years. The band was originally Roger Waters (bass), Nick Mason (drums), Rick Wright (piano), and Syd Barrett (vocals) but the line up changed when Syd died and later when Roger Waters took over the band name and went on the road with a new group of musicians in the 2000’s.
The Ramones are this high up for one simple reason, they took the basic, the status quo and turned it upside down. The group was famous for simple songs that captured emotion and in some cases beautiful lyrics to change the way teens listened and responded to bands. Their look, their hair,their basic 4 chord masterpieces are all things that not only stand the test of time and they still inspire kids to go into a garage with their buddies to start a band. Thank you Johnny, Joey, Dee Dee and Tommy.
2.The Rolling Stones
While the Beatles may claim the number one spot, I still feel that the Rolling Stones are the world’s favorite band. With a 50 year history of hits, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards continue to kick out amazing live shows and world tours well into the 70’s. The Stones loved American rock and blues and their careers have always followed that musical taste. If you listen to the 1968 album “Beggars Banquet”, you will hear the sounds of soul and blues on almost every track.
The band suffered a tragedy when founding guitarist Brian Jones drug habits were out of control and they kicked him out of the band. He was later found dead in his pool in 1969. Besides the Rolling Stones having four of the five most lucrative tours ever produced they have also sold over 250 million records worldwide and they are still on tour.
1. The Beatles
Of course, the number one band is the Beatles! This band shaped the sound of music for decades and has sold more than 178 million albums in the U.S. alone. In the Beatles first recording sessions in ’62, they recorded “Love Me Do” and “Please Please Me,” which became the band’s first #1 single. They arrived in the US in 1964 and soon drew the largest TV audience to ever watch a single show when they appeared on the Ed Sullivan show. From 1964-1969 the band released six hit albums but announced their breakup in 1970. All the members of the band went on to their own fame but George Harrison died of cancer in 2001 and John Lennon was killed in 1980 when a crazed fan shot him down in NYC.