It is extremely difficult to select the best rock bands of all time, given the number of artists and all the subgenres that exist (alternative, rock, psychedelic, punk, new wave, grunge, metal, for n to name a few—and all sub-subgenres thereof). Because of this, there are going to be bands here that not everyone agrees with, and there may be missing bands that might offend some people.
What makes the greatest rock bands of all time? It was about sound, genre influence and cultural impact. We have also chosen not to mention solo artists here (only bands) so no Bruce Springsteen, Prince… Discover without further delay our top 30 of the best rock bands in history.
Our Top 30 Greatest Rock Bands of All Time
30 – The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys were more than just a band that sang about girls, cars, and surfing. In fact, there are few bands that have had a greater impact on popular music. Without their 1966 masterpiece Pet Sounds , there would never have been Sgt. Pepper from The Beatles. The Beach Boys blended masterful songwriting with harmonies that remain unmatched to this day. They are one of the few groups to have achieved success before the British invasion and to have maintained it during and after this period. One of the best rock bands of all time.
29 – Creedence Clearwater Revival
John Fogerty is a true American icon. As the frontman of Creedence Clearwater Revival in the late ’60s and early ’70s, he wrote and sang some of the classic rock ‘n’ roll songs of all time: “Proud Mary” (Tina Turner will beautiful reinterpretation), “Fortunate Son”, “Bad Moon Rising”, “Travelin’ Band” and “Have You Ever Seen The Rain” to name but a few, songs that Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic played in a Creedence cover band before forming Nirvana. One of the best rock bands of all time.
28 – Deep Purple
Deep Purple changed sounds and changed a lot of members, en route to rock immortality. Drummer Ian Paice was the only constant as Deep Purple moved from classically influenced rock to prog to metal and then to a muscular amalgamation of all three. Along the way, the band also starred guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and singers Ian Gillan and David Coverdale. You couldn’t miss titles like “Smoke On The Water”, “HighWay Star” or even “Speed Queen”… Deep Purple has its place in our top of the best rock bands of all time and the one of the most famous rock bands.
In the history of American psychedelic rock, few artists can claim a deeper impact than Jefferson Airplane. Leaders of the “San Francisco Sound” that emerged in the city’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood in the 1960s, the group has become synonymous with the hippie movement. Jefferson Airplane’s highly successful 1967 LP Surrealistic Pillow became the soundtrack to Summer of Love, with the singles “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit” ranking among the era’s most identifiable hits. The band would adopt a heavier sound towards the end of the decade, and by the dawn of the 70s, the band’s classical lineup had split. Jefferson Airplane officially ended in 1973, although spin-off bands Hot Tuna and Jefferson Starship continued to be successful for many years.
26 – REM
REM’s run as alternative rock pioneers began in the early 80s, when they formed in Athens, Georgia and became an underground sensation. The devoted fanbase didn’t translate to big sales until things started to change with 1987’s Document and its popular singles “The One I Love” and “It’s the End of the World as We Know.” It (And I Feel Fine)”. Along with their popularity, the band’s sound grew. Wider instrumentation and varied musical influences – ranging from folk to pop, classical to punk – became the hallmarks of the band’s work. Their 1991 album, Out of Time, won three Grammy awards, while creating the biggest hit of their career, “Losing My Religion.” REM has become over the decades one of the greatest rock bands in history.
25 – Motorhead
Lemmy Kilmister was Motorhead, a fact made evident by their disbandment upon his sudden death in 2015. Motörhead’s blisteringly loud and fast style of heavy metal was one of the most groundbreaking sounds the genre had to offer in the late 1990s. 70s. Motörhead wasn’t punk rock (they formed before and loved the hellish biker imagery too much to conform to punk’s ripped and pinned t-shirts), but they were the first metal band to harness that energy and in the process they created speed metal and thrash metal. Motorhead are one of the greatest rock bands of all time.
24 – Green Day
Green Day were one of the biggest rock bands of the 1990s, with their third album, Dookie , selling 20 million copies worldwide. The group gradually saw their popularity decline in the early 2000s, going from a headlining arena act to opening Blink-182. But they made one of the greatest comebacks in rock history. American Idiot , a rock opera inspired by the Iraq War and George W. Bush’s presidency, became Green Day’s first album to reach the No. 1 spot, selling 6 million copies in the United States and sending the band back to the headlining stadiums. One of the most famous rock bands.
23 – Bon Jovi
Over a career spanning almost 30 years, the Bon Jovi band has sold 130 million albums and performed to around 34 million fans in more than 2,600 concerts. Few bands can boast of having such a full CV. Bon Jovi boasts some of the most intoxicating singles of all time, from the unmissable ‘Livin’ On a Prayer’, ‘Runaway’, ‘Bad Medicine’, ‘You Give Love a Bad Name’ and ‘It’s My Life’ to ballads like “Always”, “Love Hurts,” “Dead or Alive,” and “Thank You for Loving Me.”. One of the best rock bands, for sure.
22 – Genesis
There is often debate about Genesis, with some purists claiming that Peter Gabriel was good and Phil Collins was bad. These people are wrong. Both versions of Genesis are good, although different. Although Genesis came to embody the sound and character of British progressive rock, there’s no denying that Genesis music went through distinct stylistic changes during the 70s and 80s. The songs became more pop, shorter , stripped down and soul influenced with big drum sounds. Uniquely, they left a dual legacy, both as one of the most original British rock bands of all time, and also as pop giants. A group that has its place in our ranking of the best rock bands of all time.
21 – Radiohead
The British alternative rock group was one of the most popular bands of the 1990s and 2000s. While Pablo Honey released at the heart of the Grunge era made them known to the general public thanks to their rock title “Creep”, it’s good with their next 2 albums – The Bends and especially OK Computer – the group has become essential. These two albums are considered masterpieces of 90s rock. Excellent albums like “Kid A” will follow; the group will continue to innovate around its musical universe. Radiohead is one of the greatest rock bands of all time…obviously.
20 – Foo Fighters
It’s not easy to step out of the shadow of one successful band to forge another. But that’s exactly what Dave Grohl did with Foo Fighters. Grohl rises from the ashes of Nirvana with the Foos’ 1995 self-titled debut album. While that LP was an entirely solo affair — with Grohl writing every song and playing (almost) every note — the drummer-turned-frontman fleshed out his lineup with The Color . and the Shape in 1997, which produced alternative rock hits like “Monkey Wrench”, “My Hero” and “Everlong”. The band continued to deliver hit after hit on their way to becoming one of the greatest rock bands of all time.
19 – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Emerging in the late 80s in Southern California, the Red Hot Chili Peppers fused funk, metal, rap and alternative music and developed a sound all their own. The group delivered a series of timeless hits, including “Give it Away”, “Under the Bridge”, “Scar Tissue”, “Californication”, “Can’t Stop” and “Dani California”. The band went through line-up changes and various addiction battles – but the Red Hot Chili Peppers were able to weather those storms while still churning out some pretty cohesive albums. Their 2 best albums Blood Sugar Sex Magik and One Hot Minute remaining among their best. The group has its place in our top 20 of the best rock bands of all time.
18 – Cream
The world’s first supergroup, Cream existed for just two years in the late 60s and only recorded two full studio albums during their lifetime. But with their pioneering fusion of rock, blues and jazz, they directly influenced an entire generation of musicians – and thus the course of rock music over the next decade. Before the late drummer Ginger Baker, bassist Jack Bruce and guitarist Eric Clapton formed Cream in 1966, quickly becoming one of the biggest rock bands in the world.
17 – Black Sabbath
Motörhead might have been louder, and Led Zeppelin was certainly a bigger global phenomenon and a better band, but when it comes to what we now call with ‘metal’, the original foundries were surely the mighty Black Sabbath quartet. In the early 70s, no one made heavier (or better) metal than Ozzy Osbourne and co, and their initial series of legendary releases, Black Sabbath , Paranoid , Master Of Reality and Vol.4 , still remain a reference in the genre. Black Sabbath is obviously high in our top 30 best rock bands of all time.
16 – Iron Maiden
Iron Maiden is a metal institution. Over the past 45 years, they have come to embody a spirit of fearless creative independence, a fierce devotion to their fans, and a gleeful indifference to their critics that has earned them an audience that spans all cultures, generations, and time zones. . Their albums “Powerslave”, “The Number Of the Beast” or even “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” have become cult… just like dozens of heavy titles! A unique group that has its place in our top 20 of the best rock bands of all time.
15 – The Eagles
The Eagles were arguably the greatest American rock band to emerge in the 1970s. Not only did they sell more records and concert tickets than their peers – Greatest Hits (1971-1975) and Hotel California are two of the best-selling albums of all time – but they captured the changing zeitgeist of the 70s, featuring a mix of country-rock and Southern California-loving pop/rock of the late 1970s One of the best rock bands of all time for sure.
14 – Oasis
Hailing from Manchester, the band Oasis were known as much for the rivalry and falling out between the two brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher as for their alternative rock/pop sound that seduced the whole planet in the 90s. rock in the world”, the group will have delivered some of the best music of the 90s. When is it difficult to do better than their first two albums “Definitely Maybe” (1994) and (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? (1995) to launch a career, right?
13 – Nirvana
Considered by some to be the last great evolution of rock, the grunge movement of the 90s transformed a new generation of alternative artists into global superstars. Nirvana, a powerful trio from Seattle led by Kurt Cobain, led the charge. Combining classic song structures with a heavy emotional weight of their own, the band tapped into the anger and vulnerability of the teens of the time. They sold over 75 million albums worldwide, Nevermind released in 1991 became one of the defining album releases of the generation. A group that has more than one title in its place in our top 20 of the best rock bands of all time.
12 – Aerosmith
Aerosmith’s original period in the 70s, which spawned such classics as ‘Dream On’, ‘Sweet Emotion’, ‘Back in the Saddle’ and ‘Draw the Line’ would have been enough to secure them a place of choice in this list of the best rock bands. But the creative and commercial comeback that began with Permanent Vacation in 1987 and blossomed into one of the most successful supporting acts in rock history puts them at the top of our charts.
Aerosmith was able to not only reconnect with their original mojo, but adapt it to a whole new generation, taking advantage of modern production techniques without losing their original grit. The group will have crossed the decades of the 20th century with success.
11 – Guns N’ Roses
Guns N ‘Roses will have marked the history of rock and hard rock more precisely with their first album in 1987, Appetite for Destruction. From the solos of Slash to the basslines of Duff McKagan to the screams of Axl Rose (who has perhaps the greatest vocal range of all his musical peers) to their debauchery, Guns N’ Roses is, rightly , one of the most influential bands in music. Showed off their versatility on the two sprawling Use Your Illusion albums1991, which ranged from cult hard rock hits like “You Could Be mIne” or the cover “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” to epic nine-minute piano ballads on the cult hit “November Rain”. And in true rock n’ roll fashion, Axl Rose declined to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Our Top 10 Greatest Rock Bands of All Time
10 – The Doors
In 10th place in our ranking of the best rock bands in history, we find The Doors. The group would have been active only from 1965 to 1973, a short period of eight years, but quickly became one of the most influential groups of the counterculture era and a widely controversial group due to the erratic behavior of Jim Morrison. Each decade has seen a resurgence of interest in the band and new fans being added, due to the popularity of covers, the use of their songs in hit films or films about them… The Doors were the ultimate acid-rock band, recording dozens of psychedelic journeys through the mid-60s and early 70s.
9 – Metallica
Metallica built on the foundations laid by 70s hard rock and metal bands like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Motorhead to create something harder and faster in the 80s. 1983’s Kill ‘Em All , almost single-handedly invented thrash metal, and their next three albums— Ride the Lightning , Master of Puppets , and …And Justice for All —propelled the genre to new frontiers of musical virtuosity and progressive writing. Metallica managed to successfully transform their blistering thrash into calmer hard rock with their Black Albumreleased in 1991, becoming one of the best-selling albums in history. Metallica obviously has its place in our top 10 best rock bands of all time.
8 – The Who
They are perhaps best known to many for proving CSI themes these days, but The Who are, without a doubt, one of the best British rock bands of all time. Pete Townshend proved to be one of the most expressive British songwriters of the 1960s and 1970s while Roger Daltrey was one of the most influential bandleaders of the time. They were also one of the first British bands to introduce the idea of a concept album, with Tommy , a huge hit from 1969. Who’s Next is also one of the great British rock albums. A monument of English rock and music in general.
U2 formed as a secondary school in Dublin, Ireland, without any of the 4 members having any real musical skills. In four years, they signed a contract to record their 1st album. With their 3rd album War , they became a worldwide sensation. This was followed by monumental albums like The Joshua Tree in 1987 or Achtung Baby in 1991. So far, they have won 22 Grammy Awards, more than any other group… Bono will have brought a distinct voice and The Edge a distinct guitar sound to U2, whose first 25 years of work may hold up better than most, but the fact is that U2 are one of the greatest rock bands of all time.
No one has done a live gig quite like Queen. Freddie Mercury’s unmistakable live vocals and the band’s incredible showmanship made this one of the most famous gigs the UK has ever seen. Masters of exuberance and excess, Queen created some of the best-known and most popular music of the 1970s and 1980s. Mercury’s untimely death in 1991 shocked the music world, but the legacy of the group is as strong today as it has ever been. Freddie Mercury brought a theatrical, whimsical and revolutionary delivery, Brian May some of the best guitar solos of all time, Roger Taylor the beats and John Deacon the inimitable bass riffs to create some of the most timeless pop-rock music.
5 – AC/DC
Formed in the 1970s, this rock band rose to popularity with their vulgar lyrics of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. AC/DC is arguably Australia’s most popular band and one of the most popular rock bands in the world. Although they never achieved a single Top 20 hit in America, they still managed to sell albums, which regularly went platinum. Highway to Hell (1979) is arguably one of their masterpieces and the work for which the band achieved legendary status. Amid their growing global success, AC/DC lead singer Bon Scott passed away and was later replaced by English-born Brian Johnson. Johnson helped them find commercial success from his 1st album with Back In Blackand a place in the annals of rock music. Recently, due to vocal issues, Johnson stepped away from touring with the band, with Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose as AC/DC’s new lead singer.
4 – Pink Floyd
The Dark Side of the Moon, The Wall, Wish You Were Here…the list of classic albums is long. Pink Floyd have created some of the most accomplished and successful British rock music ever made and have always maintained a quintessentially British sense of eccentricity. The progressive rock legends are one of the most successful British bands of all time and David Gilmour also remains one of the greatest guitarists of all time. The influence Pink Floyd had on the bands that followed is truly incredible. Whether it’s psychedelic rock, progressive rock, alternative rock and even certain aspects of metal, Pink Floyd has made its mark with bands like Alice in Chains, Foo Fighters and Pearl Jam, to name a few. name a few. The group obviously has its place in our top 5 of the best rock bands of all time.
3 – The Beatles
The Fab Four went from pop lovers to rock monsters over the course of their careers, and produced some of the best music ever made along the way. They constantly pushed the boundaries, took their sound to places you never thought possible and, together with pioneering producer George Martin, used the studio as an instrument like never before. Their history and their music are legendary, and you can’t look at them as the greatest rock band of all time. The Beatles are really more than John, Paul, George and Ringo. The quartet is a musical institution that changed the landscape of the time and influenced countless other bands and artists.
2 – Led Zeppelin
Rock monsters Led Zeppelin are one of the greatest rock bands of all time, and all four individual members are also some of the best players of their generation. Robert Plant (vocals), John Paul Jones (bass), John Bonham (drums) and Jimmy Page (guitar) stand head and shoulders above their contemporaries as individual musicians, and their talents have combined to create some of the heaviest rocks of their generation. In fact, “Communication Breakdown” is often cited as the first heavy metal song. The band’s influence is undeniable and their status as the gods of British rock is untouchable. Their first 4 albums (Led Zepellin I-IV) are rock classics and “Stairway To Heaven”,
1 – The Rolling Stones
Undoubtedly one of the most influential British rock bands of all time, the Rolling Stones could easily top any list of rock bands. Childhood friends Mick Jagger and Keith Richards formed a musical duo as children in the 1950s before forming the Stones with Brian Jones, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman and Ian Stewart. The band grew on their early covers of blues legends like Howlin’ Wolf and Chuck Berry to produce increasingly broad sounds, while keeping blues-rock at the heart of their music. The simplistic “Beatles vs. Stones” argument will always persist among music fans, but the arrogance and sheer riffs on display on the Stones’ classic Let It Bleed albums ,Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main Street are irresistible. For us, the Rolling Stones are at the top of our list of the best rock bands of all time.