We are treading a risky path here, aren’t we? Listing the 10 greatest rock bands of all times out of hundreds of thousands out there that have left an indelible mark through their countless songs. We wouldn’t be surprised if more than half of our readers disagree with our list; that itself speaks of how diverse and different opinions people have of who their favorite rock bands are.
Considering that our internal team has a mountain of dissent on such topics, others disagreeing with us only seems natural. So, here is our count down of the greatest top ten rock bands of all times – some enthralling us with their best classic rock songs while others through experimental contemporary sounds.
The Doors were arguably among the most controversial, and fascinating, groups of the 1960s. Established in 1965 in Los Angeles before disbanding 8 years later, this All-American band comprised Jim Morrison on the vocals, Robby Krieger on the guitar, Ray Manzarek on the keyboard, and John Densmore on the drums. If you ask their fans, they would tell you that they were quite impulsive on stage and had electric charisma, particularly their front man Morrison. Some of The Doors’ their best classic rock songs include ‘Touch Me’, ‘Light My Fire’, and ‘Hello, I Love You’.
- Rock Band: The Doors
- Origin: Los Angeles, California, U.S.
- Years Active: 1965–1973
If supposed we asked you about your favorite rock anthems of all time, it unlikely that Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’ doesn’t figure in it. That’s how big and popular this British band were. Freddie Mercury, the front man and pianist, started this band in 1970. Brian May, the guitarist; Roger Taylor, the drummer; and John Deacon, the bassist, comprised other members of this group. Queen has sold over 150 million records and some of the best albums to come from them are ‘News of the World’, Night of the Opera’, and ‘Sheer Heart Attack’. The year 1991 saw Mercury’s death and since then it has been a downward spiral for this rock band.
- Rock Band: Queen
- Origin: London, England
- Years Active: 1970–present
Started in 1974, this American rock group is credited to have started a new sub-genre of rock –punk rock. This New York City outfit consisted of Joey Ramone on vocals, Dee Dee Ramone on bass/vocals, Johnny Ramone (guitar) and Tommy Ramone on drums. All members adopted pseudonyms ending with ‘Ramone’ though none of them were related. Active until 1976, Ramones witnessed extremely limited commercial success though they have figure now among the most influential groups. ‘California Sun’, ‘Let’s Dance,’ and ‘Chinese Rock’ are considered their all-time favorite pieces of work.
- Rock Band: Ramones
- Origin: New York, United States
- Years Active: 1974–1996
It wouldn’t be wrong to label this English band as one of the most influential and popular rock bands ever. Active from 1965 to 1995 and then again from 2012 to 2014, this band comprised Syd Barrett on guitar/vocals, Roger Waters on bass/vocals, Richard Wright on keyboards, and Nick Mason on drums. Another member David Gilmour joined them in 1967. Many categorized their work as progressive rock while others labelled it as experimental rock. Some of their chartbuster albums include ‘The Wall’, ‘Dark Side of the Moon’, and ‘Wish You Were Here’.
- Rock Band: Pink Floyd
- Origin: London, England
- Years Active: 1965–1995
The Velvet Underground
Active between 1964 and 1973, The Velvet Underground achieved quite less than what the deserved during that time; however, they are now considered among the most compelling rock bands in history. One may describe them as part classic, part punk and part avant garde rock with songs with provocative lyrics and experimental sonic textures. This American rock band consisted of Lou Reed on vocals/guitar; John Cale on multi-instruments; Sterling Morrison on guitar and Angus Maclise on drums (who was replaced by Maureen Tucker in 1965).
- Rock Band: The Velvet Underground
- Origin: New York City, U.S.
- Years Active:1964–1973
During their active time from 1987 to 1994, Nirvana released only three full-length studio albums. Despite this, they have become one of the most influential and important alternative bands ever. Among their most successful pieces of work featured ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, the first single from their second album Nevermind released in 1991. This band was formed by Kurt Cobain on vocals/guitar and Krist Novoselic on bass. The band went through many drummers, the longest-lasting of which was Dave Grohl, who joined the band in 1990. Kurt Cobain’s suicide marked the lowest period of this band though it still continues to maintain a cult following and influence on modern rock and roll culture.
- Rock Band: Nirvana
- Origin: Aberdeen, Washington, U.S.
- Years Active: 1987–1994
U2 is as characterized by its lead man Bono’s unique lyrical abilities as it is for the experimental modern sound. This Irish rock band was formed in 1976 and comprises Bono (Paul Hewson) on vocals, Edge (Dave Evans) on guitars, Adam Clayton on bass and Lary Mullen on drums. Some of their master works include albums like Achtung Baby, Joshua Tree, and All That You Can’t Leave Behind and singles like ‘With or Without You, ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’ and ‘Beautiful Day’. If winning 22 Grammy Awards isn’t enough, we don’t know what is!
- Rock Band: U2
- Origin: Dublin, Ireland
- Years Active: 1976–present
What makes Rolling Stones great is that its band members were as brilliant on their own as they were together with each other. After Beatles faded out, Rolling Stones was the one band who kept every rock lover interested in rock music. Established in 1962, it comprised Mick Jagger on vocals, Keith Richards on lead guitar, Brian Jones on rhythm guitar, Ian Stewart on piano, Bill Wyman on bass and Charlie Watts on drums. The band identified with the youthful and rebellious counterculture of the 1960s. Among their best works include albums like Let It Bleed (1969), Sticky Fingers (1971) and Exile on Main St. (1972) while some of their commercial successes include Some Girls (1978) and Tattoo You (1981). Not a surprise that they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.
- Rock Band: Rolling Stones
- Origin: London, England
- Years Active: 1962–present
It is tough to speak of rock music and not include Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ in the conversation. Formed in 1968, this English band has had (and still has) a loyal following world over. Arguably one of the most influential bands after Beatles, this group comprised Jimmy Page on guitars, Robert Plant on vocals, John Paul Jones on bass/keyboard, and John Bonham on drums. Many of their numbers were inspired from blues, folk music, and psychedelic rock. Among their significantly successful albums include Led Zeppelin (1969), Led Zeppelin II (1969), Led Zeppelin III (1970), Led Zeppelin IV (1971), and Physical Graffiti (1975).
- Rock Band: Led Zeppelin
- Origin: London, England, UK
- Years Active: 1968–1980
With estimated sales of more than 600 million records worldwide, The Beatles are the best-selling band in history of rock music. Founded in 1960, this Liverpool-based outfit and their work resonated with the voices of counter-culture and inspired a cult following later labeled as ‘Beatlemania’. The band comprised John Lennon on vocals, Paul McCartney on rhythm guitar, George Harrison on lead guitar and Pete Best (drums). Pete was later replaced by Ringo Starr. They gave the fans timeless works including Rubber Soul (1965), Revolver (1966), The Beatles (1968) and Abbey Road (1969) before disbanding in 1970. They have received 10 Grammy Awards and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. No wonder why fans young and old relish their works to this day.
- Band: The Beatles
- Origin: Liverpool, England, United Kingdom
- Years Active: 1960–1970