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. Terry says:

    Sent your list to my younger son (early 30s) Matt who has a different take:

    Seeing R.E.M #2 discredited the entire list. Pull them off and give Michael Stipe a Kleenex to cry into.

    I’m not much of a fan, but Metallica should be moved up to the top 5 for leading the heavy metal music scene. For the last 20 years where feel good pop rock dominated the airwaves, Metallica still brought aggressive rifts and tons if energy to make you want to run through walls.

    Aerosmith should be significantly higher as well. Definitely a top 10, maybe even a top 5.

    I would probably pull Steely Dan and Boston off the top 20 based solely on not liking their music. I feel the Doobies and The Eagles have always been overrated as well, but its probably just a generational thing. I would probably keep the Eagles on the list, but move them down towards 20 and pull the Doobies off.

    Alright, so I took 4 off and need 4 to replace them:

    I would put Rage Against the Machine on the top 20 list due to their massive influence to rock, hard core, punk, and rap music. There is probably no other band in history that has influenced so many different types of music (maybe Parliament).

    Skynyrd should also be on the list somewhere. When I think of southern rock, I think of CCR, Skynyrd, The Allman Bros, and The Black Crowes.

    And to round out my additions, I would put the 2 most popular bands of the last 20 years on the list, The Dave Matthews Band and Phish. I doubt there is any other band that tours as much as either if these with continuous sell out crowds of the largest venues around the world in the last 20 years. They never reached any kind of critical acceptance by the industry, but their following is substantial similar to the Dead following back in the day.

    There it is. I’m right; this article is wrong. So there!


    Being thirty years older than my son, I tend to favor the older groups, such as the Eagles….

  2. JEKoslosky says:

    @wanderer314 ZZ started in ’69. Hendrix died fall of ’70. Gibbons, who was as much ZZ TOP as Fogerty was CCR, opened for Hendrix, and Hendrix was indeed a fan.

    Now, would he have been a fan of the synthesizers in the ’80s? I doubt it. But he dug the early sound.

  3. barkdog says:

    I agree with the Pixies comments. I think they are deserving of being honorably mentioned twice.

  4. ape_girl says:

    Think I read most of the comments, but didn’t see one of my old favorites, so would like to lobby for the band Violent Femms. At least deserve an honorable mention, given the others in that field.

  5. LLouis says:

    Other great rock bands that don’t qualify on BR list : multi-instrumentist child prodigy albino EDGAR WINTER (Frankeinstein, Free Ride), in his band he had guitarist RONNIE MONTROSE (tragic suicide 2012/03/03), followed by guitarist RICK DERRINGER (Rock n’roll Hoochie Koo)…

    Canadian bands not or barely mentioned in the comments: April Wine, Guess Who, B.T.O., Bryan Adams, Triumph, Chilliwack, The Tea Party, Barenaked Ladies, Alanis Morrissette, Arcade Fire…

    U.S. / semi U.S. bands/artists/specialized rock : Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Cactus, Living Colour, Lenny Kravitz, Canned Heat, George Thorogood, Dixie Dregs, Blood Sweat and Tears, Blue Cheer, Grand Folk Railroad, Ted Nugent, Blue Oyster Cult, Sonic Youth, Soundgarden, Beck, Primus, Pantera …………

  6. HarryWanger says:

    Somehow we missed Guided By Voices. Fit the criteria and incredible influential band still going strong.

  7. JackWayne says:

    Buffalo Springfield is more responsible for country-rock than any band listed. The Eagles – direct copy. CSNY – a pale imitation of Springfield. Springfield generated CSNY, Poco, Loggins and Messina, Souther Hillman Furay Band and inspired a host of copy bands.

  8. skorko says:

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

  9. posthack says:

    wow. any list would be controversial, but how can any list leave Skynyrd off? amazing body of work in a short time. easy swap with the Allmans (sorry for your loss too). better body of work than Boston. and sorry, but KISS is the closest thing to Spinal Tap in the music biz. all show, no go. very mediocre musicians.

  10. Low Budget Dave says:

    Wow, look at all the hipsters in the comments. I bet these same people drive home listening to Nickelback, and singing along with Michael Bolton and Barry Manilow.

    Where are all the hated bands? Where are the BeeGees? Hall & Oats? Bon Jovi?

  11. VennData says:

    Oh just load ‘em up and market ‘em out.