Last week, I resurrected a post that asked the question “Who Is Greatest American Rock and Roll Band?

The parameters were that these were US groups, not solo artists, and they were rock & rollers.

Our admittedly random selection criteria:

1) Body of Work (recorded catalogue);
2) Influence on other musicians and song writers;
3) Live performance.

If we were looser in this rule, than Bruce Springsteen & the East Street Band would have topped all of the lists. By group, I mean a band that has a certain magic that occurs when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Think how Lennon/McCartney or Jagger/Richards produce more great work together than apart.

Taking a summary of the comments, I put together a new top 10 list — it was 20 bands long.

Top 10 American Rock & Roll bands (a list of 20)

1. The Doors
2. R.E.M.
3. Creedence Clearwater Revival
4. Eagles
5. Grateful Dead
6. Talking Heads
7. Beach Boys
8. Red Hot Chili Peppers
9. Boston
10. Nirvana
11. Allman Brothers
12. Pearl Jam
13. Van Halen
14. Steely Dan
15. Ramones
16. Aerosmith
17. Doobie Bros
18. Guns N Roses
19. Metallica
20. Kiss

Note this is not my list — I would replace Metallica with any of the Honorable Mentions — but rather, reflects what I pulled together from your comments.  Subjectively it would be easy to swap out 5 or more names from groups 11-20 with any members of the honorable mentions below . . .



There’s much more after the jump . . .

Honorable Mention
The Black Keys
The Cars
Green Day
Velvet Underground
ZZ Top
The Black Crowes
The Replacements
Lynyrd Skynyrd
Bon Jovi
Blue Oyster Cult
Crosby Stills Nash & Young
Cheap Trick
The Roots
Grand Funk Railroad
Buffalo Springfield
REO Speedwagon
They Might Be Giants



Old School
Three Dog Night
Blood, Sweat, & Tears
Everly Brothers
The Ventures
The 4 Seasons
The Isley Brothers
The Turtles
The Supremes
Parliament Funkadelics
Sly & the Family Stone
The Temptations
Jefferson Airplane
Mamas and the Papas


Not Really Rock
Beastie Boys
Crosby Stills & Nash (without Young)
Simon & Garfunkel


The Band
Bachman Turner Overdrive
Barenaked Ladies
Neil Young
Guess Who


Not a “group”
Bruce Springsteen & the East Street Band
Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention)
The Jimi Hendrix Experience,
Stevie Ray Vaughn Double Trouble
Steve Miller Band
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
Neil Young & Crazy Horse
Bill Haley and the Comets
Buddy Holly and the Crickets
Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band
Montrose (the eponymous ’73 album)
Edgar Winter Band
Tommy James and the Shondells
Iggy and the Stooges
Booker T & The MG’s
Patti Smith Band


Best of the rest
Hot Tuna
Little Feat
Molly Hatchet
Jane’s Addiction
Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band
Sonic Youth
The Flying Burrito Brothers77
Foo Fighters
Smashing Pumpkins
Husker Du
Dinosaur Jr.
Black Flag
Motley Crue
Moby Grape
White Stripes
Rage Against the Machine
Alice in Chains
Sonic Youth
The Pixies
Queens of the Stone Age
Dave Matthews Band

Category: Music

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

111 Responses to “Who is the Greatest American Band? Your Updated List”

  1. jmay says:

    Sorry if this has been said already but Supertramp is not an american band.


    BR: Doh! Gone

  2. corfieldb says:

    Kansas has to be on this list somewhere, right?

  3. jonathonkav says:

    If Radiohead were actually American they would be top 5. They are however British, so you might want to remove them from honourable mention.


    BR: fixed!

  4. hue says:

    RadioHead, honorable mention and best of the rest ;) is British

    I saw the Replacements at the Mosque in Richmond, where Frank Sinatra later collapsed singing My Way. Paul Westerberg was so drunk, he Bruce Lee kicked the stage guy bringing him another guitar on stage.
    “Jeebus rides beside me, He never buys any smokes”

  5. catman says:

    Not a group is a really interesting group. Never realized how big the Replacements were. We opened for them one night.

  6. Chad says:

    Guns N’ Roses isn’t in the hunt for top 10, but ZZ top and the Grateful Dead are? ZZ top is a one trick pony, as every album sounds the same and the Dead are just an older different variant of Jimmy Buffett. They sell millions of dollars of tickets, albums, t-shirts, etc., but they aren’t top 10.

    Black Keys don’t have the body of work to be in the honorable mention.

    Beach Boys, with arguably the greatest album ever should be higher, as should Aerosmith. Though, Aerosmith may lose points for not being as big internationally.

  7. Chad

    GNR doesnt have the catalogue GD does

    Won’t disagree with you over ZZ Top or Black Keys

    Aerosmith has 1 great album (Toys in the Attic), 1 all time great song (Dream On), plus a few really good ones.

  8. Eliza says:

    I’m disappointed the The Byrds did not make the top 20 (or the Flying Burrito Brothers – without the influence of Gram Parsons’ and Clarence White’s upon The Byrds – The Eagles’ breakthrough in “country rock” might not have ever happened).

    Sweet Heart of the Rodeo

  9. Kiss & ZZ Top are near the bottom cause they veer dangerously close to some near novelty acts.

    Metallica is #20 cause Lars is a douche

  10. Julia Chestnut says:

    Def Leppard and Judas Priest are both UK though, right? I’m glad to see Stevie Ray in the “not a group” pile – he definitely would have made my list if individuals were allowed. A great musician, and a good guy.

  11. godot10 says:

    Gang of Four is British, though one of the greatest bands ever.


    BR: English post-punk group from Leeds — gone!

  12. ih says:

    I’m more of a pedestrian listen-to-all-types-of-music person, so sorry if this is a stupid question – would Linkin Park be considered a rock and roll band? If so, shouldn’t they be somewhere on one of these lists considering how popular they have been over the past 10+ years?
    Big fan of REM & Talking Heads, but definitely shocked to see how high they placed on this poll (#2 & #6)!

  13. Permabear says:

    The most influential American rock n roll artist of all-time is clearly Elvis Presley. Later on, I would add Jimmy Hendrix.

    When I think of the greatest rock n roll bands, it is amazing to me just how Britain has dominated the list of greatest rock bands of all time. Beatles, Stones, Zeppelin, Who, Pink Floyd. No American bands can touch any of them.

  14. these Lists (Threads) always ‘bring the interest’..

    if only “Political Economy”/”Government”/”Liberty” could do the same…

    c’est la vie..~

    anyway, (obviously) many great ‘Bands’/Artists have been mentioned, may We be so fortunate that the next ~50 Years bring as Good..

  15. dumdedumdum says:

    No Los Lobos? geez, a travesty.

  16. TheAcsMan says:

    “Metallica is #20 cause Lars is a douche,” may be the single best line of 2013. At the moment, I can’t think of a single situation where it wouldn’t serve as either a great ice-breaker or tremendous conversation stopper.

  17. geobdg says:

    Just makes me think about how many great bands aren’t from the US……Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Who, the Police, Dire Straits, U2, Yes, etc, etc.

  18. alanvw says:

    no Counting Crows?


    BR: Honorable Mention

  19. hammerandtong2001 says:


    I want to acknowledge and “hat tip” your inclusion of the Grateful Dead on this list of “the greatest.”

    Thanks for posting up a fun thread that dialed up friendly chat and comparisons of musical taste and experience. It was one for the books!


  20. Chad says:

    “GNR doesnt have the catalogue GD does”

    That was my point with Buffett. Buffett’s catalog and money probably dwarf everyone on this list, but he doesn’t deserve to be there.

    But, GNR does have a massive influence. If a band can put out a two CD album to acclaim and sell millions, it is a powerhouse in history…and that isn’t even their best album!

    I would disagree with only one great album from Aerosmith. Pump is another and a slightly different sound. But, I wouldn’t reject the list without Aerosmith. I would without GNR.

    By the way, this is purely a fun drink’n argument. Have a good weekend.

  21. Chad says:

    Oh, and I was going to argue that Metallica was too low, but the “Lars is a douche” argument is a winner.

  22. geobdg says:

    Personally I’d add King’s X to the Best of the rest…..although I realize they’re not as popular and sometimes marginalized/mislabeled as a christian band.

  23. heaterman says:

    Under the Canadian band heading; I find it difficult to believe that the Guess Who is not mentioned let alone listed as number one. In terms of the body of work, variety, musicianship and just plain talent, they are head and shoulders above any other Canuckistani group. Do the songs American Woman, Hand Me Down World, Bus Rider, Pain Train (probably the best guitar solo ever laid down using a Wah pedal) Albert Flasher, Laughing, etc etc ring any bells?
    They really should be listed in the American rock category even though all of them were from Winnipeg.

    I am deeply hurt by this egregious omission. I am taking my toys and going home……sniff


    BR: Look again

  24. noahmckinnon says:

    Add me to the GnR support group.

    Also, Lars may be a douche, but that doesn’t diminish those first three albums. Epically Hard and Original. I’m no military man, but that’s what I’d take into battle.

  25. heaterman says:

    BTW, CCR is definitely number one according to the criteria listed. You had to grow up/come of age in the 70′s to understand that statement.

  26. JoseOle says:

    Not clear how Boston can sit atop Van Halen. Did Boston really have much of a body of work? I can only think of 4 songs off the top of my head.

    It would be interesting to repeat this exercise for ex-US bands.

  27. Rich in NJ says:

    I think the Byrds are underrated.

  28. JoseOle says:

    On Josh’s blog a while back there was a bit of a pissing match over which of The Beach Boys and The Doors were the more important band. Josh was firmly in the Beach Boys camp. Sounds like a good lunch topic for you two to hash out.

  29. danm says:

    Stunned that The Guess Who is not anywhere in there.

  30. danm says:

    Just makes me think about how many great bands aren’t from the US……Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Who, the Police, Dire Straits, U2, Yes, etc, etc.

    The best music usually comes from the repressed and the depressed… US is too optimistic for that. LOL!

  31. Brendan says:

    I think Anthrax is a miss. Like them or not, they’ve had a huge influence on so many bands and are extremely prolific. If there are only going to be a few metal bands, I’d put them far above Pantera who got an honorable mention. I own CDs from both, so I don’t think I’m too biased!

    I’d also add Dream Theater, another very influential and long running band. Both them and Anthrax are coincidentally from NYC, so I’m extra surprised that those both got missed on this blog!

    And if I can add one more for good measure: Faith No More.

    @ geobdg:
    King’s X may be a bit obscure, but definitely a great band! I saw them in Poughkeepsie (of all places – since I saw them as an adult and haven’t lived in NY since I was in middle school) which was probably the best concert I’ve been to out of easily 50 plus I’ve been to. How a trio filled a room with that much sound is still a bit of a mystery to me. And it’s not like I have only seen a few different bands dozens of times; only a few bands more than twice (I’m not one of those people who’ve seen the Stones or Dead 49 times and a another concert once).



    BR: Anthrax = Best of the rest

  32. JasonR says:

    I would still argue that Sonic Youth has been significantly more influential, has a larger body of work (25+ years), and had more great stage performances than say, ZZ Top, Pearl Jam, or the RHCPs. Then again, I’m a guitar player, so I’m probably biased. They’re definitely not for everyone, but they’re well regarded by musicians for their skill and inventiveness.

    I’ll also defend the Grateful Dead from detractors: A band doesn’t play live and maintain a following for more than 30 years without having a certain special “something.” They also influenced bands like Sonic Youth, Phish and unfortunately many god-awful bands in the Dave Matthews getto of “rock.” The Dead are distinctly American, much like the Beach Boys. They were also pioneers in selling their own concert tickets to bypass evil entities like Ticketmaster and its ilk. They deserve to be on this list.

  33. Brendan says:

    Oh, and both Def Leppard and Judas Priest in “best of the rest”: not American, even if Rob Halford spends most of his time in Phoenix these days.


    BR: Fixed!

  34. Chad says:

    And, for a great unknown band…Red Wanting Blue. Checkout their songs U.S. Bumper Sticker and Venus 55.

  35. Pantmaker says:

    Oh for F&$K sake…AC/DC, Scorpions, Iron Maiden best of the rest. and to clarify…Van Halen with David Lee Roth NOT the Red Rocker. Totally agree with Barry’s take on Kiss and ZZ Top. And WTF no U2 or Police?



  36. DSS10 says:

    Um, like Husker Dü?

  37. Quid says:

    I won’t contest opinions but I do have a semi-point-of-fact demur about categorizing “The Patti Smith Band” as “not a ‘group’” — and merely on the technicality that their name was in its glory years “The Patti Smith Group.” They were far more a “group” than were Creedence or Nirvana or The Cars or Steely Dan; perhaps more than were The Talking Heads or The Replacements or many other of the acknowledged groups on your lists. Smith was the always the lyricist and leader but I she was no John Fogerty; she didn’t have the musical chops to create or direct the sound . One cannot underestimate the importance of Lenny Kayes, who was her musical guide even before the group was formed, and many of the group’s songs were co-written by Smith and Kaye and/or Ivan Kral and/or keyboard player Richard Sohl and/or drummer Jay Dee Daugherty.

  38. Tim says:

    Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 greatest albums of all time:

  39. DSS10 says:

    Um, like I found Husker Dü….

  40. abstutz says:

    Someone’s gotta speak up for metallica. The biggest and baddest metal band of all time. Major influence on everyone who came after. Extremely complex and dynamic music. Only band to ever have 5 straight albums debut at #1 including the best selling album of the last 20 years.

    They are tip top of all criteria. Influence, live performance \m/, catalogue.

    And I concede… Lars is indeed a ginormous douche.

  41. Pantmaker says:

    My bad…I figured because “best of the rest” has a few European bands listed that was the intended home for my submisions…a bit confusing.

  42. baccardi84 says:

    Blur, Def Leppard, and Judas Priest are all British bands, and should not be on the list.

    If KISS and ZZ Top are in your Top 20, it is an absolute TRAVESTY that GNR are not there. You underestimate how influential they were, and how perfect “Appetite for Destruction” is as an album. That album alone makes them worthy of being in the Top 20. Go listen to that album in its entirety and tell me they don’t belong in the Top 20. “Welcome to the Jungle,” “Paradise City”, and “Sweet Child of Mine” on their debut album!!!! C’mon!!!!


    BR: Great songs all . . . Swap GNR for ZZ Top? Ok

  43. Like I said, its not my list, but what I cobbled together from the comments:

    Metallica kinda bores me now, but the crowd has convinced me to move them to #12 from #20
    Most of what the Dead plays is unlistenable.
    I know how influential Nirvana was, but really, two albums and done.
    And Pearl Jam is overrated — Jeremy and Evenflo and then I am bored.
    Kiss was a joke, and as much as I like LaGrange, ZZ Top? No, not really.

    So that is not my top 20 at all . . .

  44. Bob A says:

    nominate for add to honorable mention:
    Janis Joplin
    Quicksilver Messenger Serivce

  45. Bob A says:

    Seattle’s mini Woodstock …. that poster is on my bulletin board


  46. kangarouge says:

    Boston? Boston? I thought one of the parameters was influence. Boston’s main influence was to hurt the sales of emetic and sleeping pill manufacturers by giving consumers access to the soporific effects of their extruded vinyl.


    BR: You’d be surprised how influential they were, both technologically as well musically

  47. pimathman says:

    I would have Little Feat up a bit higher-maybe HM. Lowell George was amazing live.

  48. sinful mistress says:

    Pablo Cruise
    Marshall Tucker Band
    Ohio Players

    Why didn’t these guys make the list??

  49. Rich in NJ says:

    Quicksilver Messenger Service

    Marshall Tucker Band

    Both bring back great memories.

  50. Chad says:

    The lack of GNR and “Pearl Jam is overrated — Jeremy and Evenflo and then I am bored”, with Steely Dan in the 1st list suggest an “older” perspective on this list. Hell, I’m 40, and my friends from college, who are tried and true western Pennsylvania residents (still think a 70′s Superbowl matters and love Donny Iris), wouldn’t put Steely Dan in this list.

    Nirvana and Pearl Jam are the only bands on this list comparable to the Doors, Beatles, and Rolling Stones. How is Pearl Jam overrated?

    Yes, KISS was a joke. Great show…weak music.

  51. Chad says:

    Regretting this whole subject yet?

  52. abstutz says:

    Beastie Boys. (yes, they are a band)

    And dang, I looked it up, but even though the best bits of fleetwood Mac are American, their roots are UK.

  53. Pantmaker says:

    Thrilled that Springsteen didn’t make the “not a group” list…never understood the appeal…decent guy…music meh…


    BR: You know Born to Run and Darkness and The River and Born oin the USA were mega hit albums, but check out The Wild, The Innocent & The E-Street Shuffle — its his most brilliant, most listenable, most under appreciated album.

  54. AndyM says:

    Not sure The Dude would abide Credence being so close to the Eagles

  55. urbanmojo says:

    Phish, Talking Heads, Wilco. I’m a big Deadhead too but I have to acknowledge that most of their studio albums were crap. No band is more ambitious and creative as Phish. Can your band play progressive rock, latin jazz, bluegrass, blues, funk, barbershop quartet (yes, that is what I typed), country, R&B, soul, heavy metal and many more styles? A completely different setlist every night? Mix in a sense of humour and theatrics? Do they have songs that can switch easily between 8 different time cycles in one song? Didn’t think so.

    Other favorite Americans are non bands: Jimi Hendrix, White Stripes (who are basically just Jack White really), Frank Zappa.

    Other than that my favorite “classic” bands are non American: The Band, The Police, Led Zep

  56. Father Lucifer says:

    Jefferson Airplane not in the top 10 or 20. Heck they invented acid rock. Must be a demographics thing (old school?).

  57. rogeranderson says:

    The criteria you selected created difficulties. Body of work would yield a much different list than influence or live performance, but if you allow one-third for each, clearly The Doors are an excellent choice although their live performances at The Whisky a Go Go were just plain strange, but brilliant at the Hollywood Bowl. They really didn’t create enough albums to be first for body of work because of Morrison’s early demise, but their influence is unquestionably first on the list by a mile. Creedence deserves to be a close second although you could say the same thing about Fogerty as you do about Springsteen. Fogerty was CCR. The Eagles deserve a third place finish, but I would move Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers all the way up to fourth, because I think they are more of a group than CCR. If you measured by group performance alone, and I mean group, the Eagles win easily by the fact they have FOUR lead singers not just one.

  58. seana0325 says:

    Barry, whats your top 10?

  59. urbanmojo says:

    I will submit though that the Grateful Dead are not maybe the greatest band from America but the greatest “American” band in the sense that they typify the nation, in their songs and the way they conducted their business of being in a band. Rebellious, innovative, creative, Libertarian, hard working, drug addicted. Conquering the wild frontier.

  60. Bob is still unemployed   says:

    Isn’t Neil Young of Canada?

  61. nudnik says:

    How could you all include horn bands BS&T and Chicago and left out Cold Blood with the amazing Lydia Pense@?Through various incarnations she has kept this group going: the great rock blues soul jazz band and a singer for the ages.

  62. SilasLang says:

    Yes, UK dominates best music – don’t forget Joy Division, Bowie and Depeche Mode. What is also true of UK is that they invented metal with Sabbath, Priest, and Maiden.

    As for American bands better than many of “Best of the Rest” : Dead Kennedys, AFI, Faith No More, Ministry, Thin Lizzy, War, and LCD Soundsystem

    “Not Group” – James Brown

  63. louis says:

    I had a feeling this was not over, sort of like our housing market.

    You cannot dismiss Kiss no matter what you think of their musical chops. I personally have no problem with their catalogue from 73-79. They are quintessential American, hard working, will do whatever it takes to make it, and as far as spectacle goes their influence is immense.
    I think MC5 belongs on this list somewhere. Granted not a huge body of work but does GNR? I personally would have GNR far behind Janes from that moment in time.

    “Shortly after witnessing an MC5 concert in Ann Arbor, Osterberg began using the stage name Iggy Pop, a name that he has used ever since.”

  64. CPooley says:

    Pearl Jam at 14 is sacrilege. Nirvana ahead of them, really? Was this list concocted in 1996? PJ’s body of work, influence, and live act is really second to none on this list. They are America’s number 1 band, just plain do not get their due.

  65. JEKoslosky says:

    ZZ Top off the list? Outrageous. Had the 80s not happened to Billy and the boys from Texas, they’d be in the top 5. At least top 10.

    Their earlier stuff was fantastic. They recorded anthems. The band has a trademark sound, and it’s survived 40+ years with the same lineup.

    Plus, Jimi Hendrix was a fan!


  66. algernon32 says:

    The world can never have too many streaming internet radio stations.
    I can almost hear it now, financial topics at the top and bottom of the hour with a solid playlist the rest of the time.
    One of your interns should be able to slam a radio station out in a few hours with minimal continuing time sink overhead. No has the sound on when watching msm ticker channels anyway…
    I looked up Steely Dan’s Gaucho on Wikipedia, there are definately furriners in that list of 42(!) contributing musicians.

  67. Richard W. Kline says:

    A few thoughts on up down. Aerosmith, Heart, Guns N Roses, Kiss were/are enormously popular bands. If this is a popularity contest, it’s easy to see their inclusion at the top. On any other basis . . . not really. Narrow sound; few albums of note; not really influential (outside of a few guitar licks maybe); pretty good live though. Just not the best of the best.

    Rush beats any of those four, easily, in all respects, if Canadian groups are considered. Top ten for sure. I’ve already spoken to the Band. I’ve always been highly partial to the Guess Who, what a great sound they had; to me easily better than CCR though less well known.

    I second the comments on the Patti Smith ‘Group.’ Patti was essential to their material yet their sound and performance were very much a ‘band effort,’ and she would be and has been the first to say so. If ‘eponymous ensembles’ are admitted, I’d put them in the top five ahead of the Band, to be honest, they were just awesome, and extremely influential. Miscategorized as ‘punk,’ they sought to be and to me are the epitome of a rock band.

    I still think Sonic Youth are the most underrated of the upper tier bands, and I say that though I’m not really a fan of their sound. They are _outstanding_ musicians, who, as the commenter says, have been highly influential amongst contemporary rock musicians. They have a large and enduring catalog. Unlike many groups, they have put out albums in widely diverse musical styles yet killed it in most of them. They have _not_ been as well know to a wider public, because a wider public tends to like predictible sound in an easily understood vibe, and that’s not SY. To me, Sonic Youth play rings around Pearl Jam, Soundgarten, the Peppers, or the rest. So If we’re talking about talent, not popularity, they’re a notch or three up. (Although I’d rather listen to Counting Crows myself . . . .)

    From the prior thread, I never got the reference of the Allman Brothers as a ‘regional band.’ How’s that? Springsteens’s Jersey Rock and the Eagles SoCal smooth toone are ‘authentic,’ while anybody with an ‘akcent’ is ‘regional?’ That’s not a valid distinction to me. CCR were most of them Okies, but they do everything possibile to bring a Middle South accent out of the amplifier, so when does the splitting of hairs end? That’s a problem with ruling out the Band, too. Their passports say that _some_ of them are Canadian, and they formed there, but their accents, themes, style, and material are indistinguishable from contemporary ‘American’ rock bands. To me, it’s the sound that comes out of the amplifiers that types a group, not their residence of record.

    The Old School collective is much more what I think of under the rubric ‘rock and roll.’ The Turtles were awesome. The Ventures had a terrrrific sound, that still holds up as quintessential. I grew up in Motown and loved the Temptations, they were what doo wap aspired to, and the tightest set of vocalists one could ask for.

    And if we got around to sneaking in some Brits by the back steps, I’d get Traffic in there for sheer musicianship, though one can’t fight the Stones, whose catalog really should be the most valuable in the business except that the fat middle of the bell curve always pulls a mass vote toward easily listening pop.

    Over and out.

  68. Mr.-Vix-It says:

    Nirvana is #10 on your list and completely deserves that but the loud-soft dynamic that they made famous was completetly ripped off by the band that should be much higher than #10 based on their influence on an entire generation of bands. None other than Kurt Cobain admitted that they ripped off the Pixies, one of the most influential bands in American history. Thom Yorke of Radiohead said that he decided to start Radiohead the night he saw the Pixies in concert in England in the late 80′s. Bono of U2 called the Pixies one of the greatest American bands in history. I would put far more credence in a list from Kurt Cobain, Thom Yorke, and Bono where Pixies are #1 or very close as they know a lot more about music than any random poster on this blog.

  69. Syd says:

    “Aerosmith has 1 great album (Toys in the Attic), 1 all time great song (Dream On), plus a few really good ones. ”
    You nailed it.

    My picks:
    The Beach Boys (with a big assist from the Wrecking Crew in the studio). They had an impressive progression over their first five years.
    CCR. Willie and the Poor Boys is an old favorite. If you’re talking Top Ten American R&R bands, I think you have to include the Beach Boys and CCR, at least in terms of long term popularity of their music.
    Chicago. The Group Portrait box set (out of print) is a great summation of their prime years.
    The Doobie Bros. Toulouse Street, Captain & Me, and What Were Once Vices was a strong run, if you like their sound.
    Steely Dan. I liked them in the 70s and they’ve grown on me even more in recent years. I guess they are too slick for some tastes. To me they have some of the best rock guitar ever.

    A few other comments:
    Talking Heads: Remain in Light is total groove fest. And She Was is probably my favorite single of the 80s.
    The Doors: love the guitar on the song LA Woman. MoFi is releasing their albums on hybrid SACD soon.
    Van Halen: they’ve grown on me over the years. Van Halen II and 1984 rock.
    Velvet Underground: reading comments on the last thread inspired me to finally check out the VU & Nico album. Good stuff. Edgy but not as raucous as I was expecting.

  70. Malachi says:

    Put me in the GnR deserve to be ranked higher group.

    Also think REM is a great band but I don’t really think of them as a rock and roll band.

    Finally, a shout out to the Eagles.

  71. stormrider says:

    Maybe not top 10, but Tommy James and the Shondells should be in there somewhere. Must have been an oversight. Steppenwolfe was not a pure American band as the original band and half the members were Canadian. If they qualify, wouldn’t that put Bob Dylan and The Band in top spot ?

  72. eddiefinn says:

    Not for nothing, but Springsteen should probably be up there somewhere — I know you’re just reporting results, Barry, and thanks for that, but whether you like the music or not, the masses went wild, and he was kind of a game-changer. I think he and Tom Waits could probably be ranked right up there as two of the greatest “American Storytellers” of our time — kind of like Garrison Keillor, but with more attitude and less corndog.

    Hey, Stormrider — Bob Dylan grew up in Hibbing MN. I heard he used to steal kevin McHale’s lunch money…

  73. Krav1 says:

    Where is The Dave Matthews Band?? Where is Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band?

    Even though Dave was born in South Africa- he was raised in Virginia and is a US citizen-and if that is good enough for the Olympics..then it should be good enough for your list!!…..

    Kiss is probably the most overrated but best marketed band in the last 30 blows!!

    Also- need to mention- Tom Petty and The Heart Breakers


    BR: Totally agree about Kiss
    DMB is in “Best of the rest”
    Tom Petty and The Heart Breakers is under Not a “group”

  74. 10x25mm says:

    Louis is right about the MC5 (Motor City 5), they were hugely influential and had spectacular live performances even if their catalogue is a bit thin. The Sonics out of Seattle were also very influential in the same genre and the band the Sonic Youth were named for.

    Iggy and the Stooges were very much a real band and their lead guitarist, Ron Asheton, was very much responsible for their sound. Jim Osterberg went off on his own as Iggy Pop and continues to be influential, but his sound is decidely different from the Stooges’.

    Chuck Berry should be in the ‘Not a Group’ category. No one else was so influential on lead guitarists at the inception of Rock ‘n Roll. The entire ‘British Invasion’ was based on copies of his work at its outset.

    Bachman Turner Overdrive was the most influential Canadian band in the Midwest during the 1970′s. Their loud, proud sound influenced a lot of later bands.

    The Romantics created the ‘polka rock’ genre which is still popular and influenced bands like the Smithereens.

    Ted Nugent is PNG politically, but he developed a musical structure as the guitarist of the Amboy Dukes that many guitar led bands follow.

  75. jimiray says:

    You could reasonably argue that Boston is not a band, just a group to showcase Tom Scholz. For influential reasons, I’d add Uncle Tupelo, Jay Farrar of Son Volt and Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, to at least the Honorable Mentions. And I’d move Parliament Funkadelic, without whom there may not be a Red Hot Chili Peppers, to at least an Honorable Mention. And no mention at all of the New York Dolls, that seems weird considering both they influenced both the Ramones and Kiss.

    I would take the Eagles, Heart, Aerosmith off the list and replace with Wilco, Cheap Trick, and Parliament Funkadelic.

    And eddiefinn, I agree Tom Waits should be on some list somewhere.

  76. stormrider says:

    Re-read my post. If Steppenwolfe qualifies as an American band then surely, Bob Dylan(American) and The Band (Canadian) should also qualify as American.
    If its a list of thieves you are compiling, that one runs from Washington to Wall street, not Minnesota

  77. jonathonkav says:

    @Mr.VIx-it-is Thats what I was saying in the original post. Pixies are the only ones who stand up to the British greats (though still lagging obvs).

  78. gines418 says:

    These groups were very influencial, both when starting and at their peak, to Rock and Roll, Rap, and R&B and the mixture of all three styles:

    J. Geils Band
    Ohio Players

  79. hankest says:

    For the record (bad pun) Nirvana had 3 albums.

    Below’s a link to two lists from 2002 i found on the NPR site. one from its Talk of the Nation listeners for most influential bands, and one from Spin magazine. They’re not US specific , so picking out the top three US bands gives us this:
    NPR listeners: 1) Velvet Underground 2) Ramones 3) Nirvana
    Spin: 1) Ramones, 2) Nirvana and 3) Parliament/Funkadelic

    That sounds about right to me. Someone mentioned the MC5 and the Pixies, i think either should be included before a lot of other bands on the TBP list, especially bands like Kiss.

  80. eddiefinn says:

    Sorry, SR — early.

  81. deixis says:

    Big Star should be somewhere on this list. Hugely influential on indie rock in the 80s and 90s. Also the Thirteenth Floor Elevators, MC5, and Iggy Pop/Stooges should be included – all very influential on rock from the late 70s through the 90s.

    I would also put the Velvet Underground close to the top – certainly not honorable mention.

  82. jlj says:

    List looks like the greatest white male rock bands. No Santana, no Los Lobos. Says something about the reader’s demographics.

  83. hue says:

    Isn’t music color blind, Jimi Hendrix in not a group.
    Certainly Santana. Los Lobos is a musician’s/guitar player’s band, didn’t get enough airplay. Maybe BR should put in Hootie for affirmative action or Living Colour, like Lobos not enough hits ;) Broken Hearts
    Where does Dave Matthews fit in, a South African category like Canadian?

  84. milkman says:

    BR….what about Alice Cooper?…loved that band and their old work still stands up today…


    BR: Solo act, not a band

  85. beaufou says:

    I’ll add a mention for Toto who won 6 Grammy Awards in 1983 and participated on Thriller, won 8 in 1984.
    A bunch of highly appreciated musicians, Lukather, Paich, Porcaro Brothers, who kept on going in other places but dropped out of sight in the US.

  86. louis says:

    You guys are crazy, you could make the case that Mr. Stanley is one of the greatest frontmen ever in American rock. Night after night and over many years. Anyone that has been to some of those 70′s Kiss shows knows what I’m talking about. Very few bands can consistently draw you in and make you exhausted after seeing their live show.

  87. LLouis says:

    mmm, James Gang should at least be mentioned in the best of the rest or the ” not a group ” list,
    the leader singer/guitarist/keyboardist was Joe Walsh, well he made it as #4 with The Eagles, who played some of James Gang material,
    but James Gang, for their first 3 albums, was a much stronger heavy rock combo with Jim Fox at the drums and Tom Kriss / Dale Peters at the bass, than the Eagles

    Here they are rockin Paris,France 1971 with The Bomber:

  88. motown says:

    BR – Two comments. First, in the category of not a band, I would say Rick Derringer, who is in my opinion one of the best rock and roll guitarists America has produced. Second, I assume the term “band” denotes those who play the instruments. Under the “Old School” heading, and I know these are not yours, are The Isley Brothers, The Supremes, and The Temptations. Each of these is a vocal group, as there were no instrumentalists in the group. The actual “band” for these, and all the Motown groups, was a group of studio musicians who toiled in anynomity until the movie “Standing in the Shadow of Motown,” which I highly recommend. Consider these musicians played on more number one hits than the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys and Elvis Presley combined, perhaps they should be America’s greatest band? I would not argue with that selection.

  89. Jim Hancock says:

    I’ve been been following this thread for a while and have come to the following conclusions:

    1) America is a country of many great bands, but none of the greatest. America is a country of the greatest solo artists though (Sinatra, Elvis, Dylan, Madonna, MJ, etc.). I haven’t quite figured out what it means (US individualism?), but I think it means something culturally.

    2) All the best bands with few exceptions are OLD! Is there any recent band good enough to even open for any of the top 5?

    3) The ultimate test is time (duh, right?). I’m sure that in 100 years people will listen to The Beatles, Stones, Floyd, Who, Zepp. From the US, I’m thinking The Doors and maybe Nirvana. I could be totally wrong though …figuring out what gets moldy first is a fools game.

    4) I think of DSOTM as the perfect rock album. If you take any other band, do they have the lyrical depth to fill the themes in just that single album? I think I could create an album covering all these themes with Beatles, Stones, Floyd (duh!), Who and probably Zepp (Rush from Canada). In the US, Dylan and…partial coverage by CCR, Eagles, Doors, ???. Note that these bands don’t have to agree with Floyd’s conclusions, just present their take. Second Note …a similar experiment could be done with other bands albums …what would the Doors version of Sgt. Pepper or Zepp IV sound like if you swapped out songs with similar themes?

  90. Jim Hancock says:

    Final note …the lyrical depth of modern bands and individual artists is laughable. The fact that the two longest wars in US history just ended (or are hopefully close to ending) have no musical commentary is sad. The fact that Green Day may be the only existing popular band that might fill the DSOTM themes speaks volumes about the current state of the US musical industry imo.

  91. Joe says:

    OK. What version of the band? Even among and between bands that never changed personnel…. CCR benefits by burning brightly and then out. Steely Dan does the same. Grateful Dead earns its way onto the list by specific performance and then on to the list of greatest frauds of all time the same way. And they did so for a REALLY long time. The Eagles BURNED in the beginning. But for years they have been overly polite. Many of the Best Of The Rest and Honorable Mention either didn’t have LP’s that accurately portrayed the live band and some of the Top 10(20) and other lists were pretty good in their day, but would have struggled in other eras. Some have been and stayed brilliant, and just got old. I pretty much have no problem with any of the lists, aside from the numerical values having much meaning.

    Butterfield Blues Band…. Were they a band? Or just a bunch of brilliant musicians? Were they really a blues band after East West? Or a band that played the blues and rock? Showing my age, I guess. I’m old enough that the Dead played at one of our High School’s dances…

  92. wanderer314 says:

    First you have to define what is “Rock n Roll” because many of these bands do not rock n roll they rock or something. If it just means anything to do with rock n roll since its inception and includes any band from that time until now, then you have a different way of finding the best bands. Secondly Steppenwolf are Canadian from Toronto. A lot of American bands do not rock n roll and my real definition of rock n roll goes back to the fifties something that is lively and you move to where as a lot of these bands you could just fall asleep to especially if you smoked something. That’s my two cents for today.

  93. wanderer314 says:

    @JEKoslosky….Hendrix was a fan of ZZ Top…..from the grave no doubt! He was long gone before ZZ Top

  94. I’ve been reading this blog long enough to know that it’s futile but REM number two, and ahead of the Talking Heads? It’s just wrong.

  95. wanderer314 says:

    @BR…..Alice Cooper was a band before Alice Cooper went solo., correction.

  96. Greg0658 says:

    up in the middle of the nite again – I see this list is still going
    thanks BR for running the last thread thru the tallyApp

    I was just thinking about my perception that todays music isn’t as UP there

    ~is it I’m old and not into what kids are
    ~is it schools favor sports more because it pays ITS bills better
    ~is it music takes time & effort and there are to many other things that destract your time
    ~is it an effort to be anti-discrimitory and promote culture more . and anti that thought
    ~is it the abundance of great stuff recorded/available that kids think “I’ll never top that”
    ~is it that a new genre bucket “rockNroll” was nagging to be filled
    ~is it the big band age of the 40′s prep’d the kid mind better
    ~is it _
    I’m just perceive’g wrong . todays stuff is Up there and in equal numbers

  97. pmorrisonfl says:

    John Fogerty on CCR, [quote from CCR's Wikipedia article] “I was alone when I made that [Creedence] music. I was alone when I made the arrangements, I was alone when I added background vocals, guitars and some other stuff. I was alone when I produced and mixed the albums. The other guys showed up only for rehearsals and the days we made the actual recordings.”

    I don’t want to diss Fogerty or CCR, they made some of my favorite rock music, but
    what makes CCR more of a ‘group’ than the E Street Band or the Heartbreakers (just to pick two of my favorites), both of which functioned more as units than CCR, and stayed together longer under more amiable circumstances?

  98. Greg0658 says:

    yesterday in my library (not etch’d) the periodic chart had me wondering who got the Gold spot Au79
    Creedence Clear Wa’te’r :-) fyi

  99. Greg0658 says:

    that Au79 post @501 so prejudiced
    that Pt78 Platinum spot goes to ‘Wa’ same band (solo’r)
    or MJs Thriller with 29 Platinum

    and offT HuffPo reports PotUS says “No Coin”