100 Greatest Rock Bands of All Time

100 Greatest Rock Bands of All Time

Feature Photo: Photography Stock Ruiz / Shutterstock.com

Our 100 Greatest Rock Bands of All Time list presents a collection of some of the most important rock bands in classic rock history. Although we already did a top 200 classic rock bands and artist list, we thought it would be fun to do one that just focuses on the bands this time. This list includes no single artists, it’s just pure rock and roll bands. These are the bands that both celebrated great success on the charts while also inspiring countless other bands that followed in their rock and roll footsteps.

# 100 – The Scorpions

# 99 – The Sex Pistols

# 98 – The Rascals / Young Rascals

# 97 – Journey

# 96 – The Byrds

# 95 – The Moody Blues

# 94 – Marshall Tucker Band

# 93 – Thin Lizzy

# 92 – Electric Light Orchestra

# 91 – J Geils Band

# 89 – The Pretenders

# 88 – Blood Sweat & Tears

# 87 – Iggy Pop and The Stooges

# 86 – Talking Heads

# 85 – Radiohead

# 84 – Three Dog Night

# 83 – Meat Loaf

# 82 – Grand Funk Railroad

# 81 – ZZ Top

# 80 – The Alan Parsons Project

# 79 – Free

# 78 – Iron Maiden

# 77 – Pearl Jam

# 76 – Mountain

# 75 – Mott The Hoople

# 74 – Reo Speedwagon

# 73 – Blue Oyster Cult

# 72 – Foghat

# 71 – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

# 70 – MC5

# 69 – Guns N’ Roses

# 68 – Santana

# 67 – Steve Miller Band

# 66 – Foreigner

# 65 – UFO

# 64 – Heart

# 63 – Asia

# 62 – Fleetwood Mac

# 61 – The Clash

# 60 – Deep Purple

# 59 – Foo Fighters

# 58 – Cream

# 57 – Boston

# 56 – Stevie Ray Vaughan

# 55 – Alice Cooper Band

# 54 – Bad Company

# 53 – Jefferson Airplane

# 52 – Red Hot Chili Peppers

# 51 – Def Leppard

# 50 – Rush

# 49 – Chicago

# 48 – King Crimson

# 47 – Toto

# 46 – The Strawbs

# 45 – The Beach Boys

# 44 – Green Day

# 43 – The Kinks

# 42 – Television

# 41 – The Cars

# 40 – Styx

# 39 – Genesis

# 38 – The Police

# 37 –  Soundgarden

# 36 – The Spencer Davis Group

# 35 – Steely Dan

# 34 – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

# 33 – The Eagles

# 32 – Emerson Lake & Palmer

# 31 – Jethro Tull

# 30 – Creedence Clearwater Revival

# 29 – Lynyrd Skynyrd

# 28 – The Band

# 27 – AC/DC

# 26 – Nirvana

# 25 – The Guess Who

# 24 – Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention

# 23 – Metallica

# 22 – Judas Priest

# 21 –Sly & The Family Stone

# 20 – U2

Opening up the top 20 section of this 100 Greatest Rock Bands of All Time is one of the longest still running bands in music history that is still fueled by all original members.

# 19 – Kansas

Despite their core progressive rock roots, Kansas found a way into the pop charts for a few years helping them reach an audience that most progressive rock bands never can get.

# 18 – Yes

That’s two amazing progressive rock bands in a row. Hands down, in our books, Yes stands as the greatest progressive rock group of all time.

# 17 – The Doobie Brothers

The Doobeio Brothers blended funk, sound and straight-ahead rock and roll better than anyone else. They were huge in the 1970s no matter which version of the band you liked better pre-Michael McDonald or the Michale McDonald era. We loved both

# 16 – Kiss

If there ever was a band that was the complete opposite of the band below at 15 it was Kiss. The cool thing is both bands probably shared more fans than you would think. Thats whats the 1970s was all about.

# 15 – The Grateful Dead

My best friend used to always say you don’t get the spirt of the Grateful Dead’s music unless you have seen them in concert. Then you join the club….and you never want to leave.

# 14 – The Doors

You have to be pretty unique to land in this top 20. Was there ever a rock star like Jim Morrison? There have been a lot of imitators but no one has genuine as Morrison. The band’s music helped define the turbulence of the 1960s.

# 13 –  Queen

Who doesn’t love Queen?  Queen was first formed in the city of London England in the year 1970. With hits like “Bohemian Rhapsody, We Will Rock You, Another One Bites the Dust,” and a catalog of deep album cuts, the band remains one of the most influential and dominant groups in rock and roll music and pop culture of the past 50 years.

# 12 – Aerosmith

Aerosmith was first formed in 1970 in the city of Boston Massachusetts. They are recognized as one of the greatest American rock and roll bands of all time.

# 11 – Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath was first formed in 1968 out of the town of Birmingham, England. The band released 19 studio albums and eight live albums. They were one of the most influential bands in heavy metal music to come out of the classic rock era.

# 10 – The Ramones

Every subgenre of rock and roll has a band at fueled its own genre. While the Ramones might not have been the first punk rock band, they were one of the loudest, fastest, and most influential punk rock groups to come out of the 1970s.

# 9 –  The Yardbirds

While there were many configurations of the Yardbirds in the 1960s, the band served as a breeding ground for three of the greatest guitarists in classic rock history as musicians Eric Clapton Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck all performed with the group at one time. So much of classic ’70s rock was fueled by the experiences those guitar players had as members of The Yardbirds.

# 8 – Jimi Hendrix Experience

While of course, it was all about Jimi Hendrix, one can’t discount how important Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell were to Jimi Hendrix’s playing. The three musicians recorded three studio albums together that remain the heart of the music of Jim Hendrix. This was a band, a power trio to measure all power trios in rock music against forever.

# 7 – Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd has always been one of those bands that have been hard to level because their sound was so distinctive. Nonetheless, their success in the 1970s with albums like Dark Side Of The Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals, and The Wall define them as being one of the most influential rock bands of all time. Experiencing a Pink Floyd show in the 1970s was like experiencing a trip to another planet.

# 6 – The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band defines what it means to be called one of the greatest rock and roll bands of all time for two huge reasons. The first reason points to the fact that they inspired an entirely new sound in rock and roll combing southern elements with blues and jazz that created a sound that would first be copied by all of the southern rock bands that would follow, although with the expectation of Lynyrd Skynyrd, none could come close to the brilliance of the Allman Brothers Band.  The group, along with the Grateful Dead also inspired the jam band movement of the 1990s and beyond. Of course, the second reason is their amazing catalog of songs that would become classics that still stand strong in the modern period.

# 5 – Van Halen

Vand Halen is the only band in this list that can be celebrated as two different bands because of the wide differences between lead vocalists David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar. While there will always be loyalists to each singer, it was probably the difference between both singers that inspired Eddie Van Halen to write such different music for the different time periods that Van Halen thrived with their different singers. In many ways, the change in singers brought new life to the band and created an even more exciting body of work. Eddie Van Halen changed the way so many guitar players approached the instrument. He stands as one of the most innovative guitar players and even more important, exciting guitar players of all time.

# 4 – The Who

While the sound of so many bands has been copied in rock and roll, no one could ever copy the sound of the original Who. Just name one drummer that could play like Keith Moon or John Entwistle, or sing with the resonance of Roger Daltry, or a guitar player and songwriter with the attitude and talents of Pete Townshend. If there ever was a band that came close to the power of Led Zeppelin on stage, it was The Original Who in the 1970s.

# 3 – The Rolling Stones

The longest-running rock and roll band in classic rock history remains one of the most important groups of all time. Even though only two original Rolling Stones remain in the band, the group would no longer be together if Keith and Mick were no longer around. The Rolling Stones have given rock and roll fans so much joy over the years with a catalog of songs filled with hits and album tracks that remain a vital part of the classic rock experience.

# 2 – Led Zeppelin

If you ever experienced a Led Zeppelin concert in the 1970s, you would understand that seeing Led Zeppelin went beyond a religious experience. It’s almost indescribable to define what it was like to witness the power and mystique of this band on stage. Their body of work remains a vital part of classic rock history filled with albums and songs that one can never get tired of listening to.

# 1 – The Beatles

Although there may be some fans that argue that the Beatles were not a rock band, all they have to do is take a listen to some of their early live shows at the Cavern Club or the times that they did tour to recognize that these were four individuals that put on magnificent rock and roll shows of high energy and maximum rock and roll impact. They took the sound of 50s rock and roll in the beginning and then added their own brilliant original lyrics and melodies creating a sound and a body of work that put them in their own league in rock and roll history.

Updated August 13, 2023

100 Greatest Rock Bands of All Time article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023

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