200 Greatest American Bands Of All Time

200 Greatest American Bands Of All Time

Feature Photo: rufusowliebat, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

When it comes to making a list like the 200 Greatest American Rock Bands Of All Time the first thing that hits you is how many legendary classic rock bands were not originally from the United States. When using the term greatest rock bands of all time, it’s pretty clear that groups like Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones who are always the first groups mentioned when talking about the best, are all from the United Kingdom. The British Invasion had a major impact on the Story of Classic Rock. Nonetheless, we must remember that those British bands were inspired by American Rock and Roll in the form of Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, and Chuck Berry, who were all inspired by blues and gospel music of the early 19th century. It pretty much all comes full circle.

As we started to go through our lists of the Greatest American Bands of all time, there were so many groups that we had to keep crossing off the list because they were from Canada like Rush, Heart, The Guess Who, and so many others. Of course, the UK still made it tough because of artists like Eric Clapton, The Who, Pink Floyd, Queen, and so many others. Still, there was plenty left to choose from that were Born in the U.S.A .

We decided to keep it to bands instead of single artists unless it’s a single artist that is known for having a great band that’s name is included on album titles or concert banners. To us, the greatest means groups who have had a lasting and inspiring impact on rock history and pop culture no matter if they released twenty albums or two. It’s not just rock bands that we have included. Duos are included.

With the EXCEPTION of  the TOP 25, this top 200 Bands list is petty much in RANDOM ORDER because it’s just impossible to rank these bands against each other. 

If we forgot a band, which I am sure we did, just let us know and we will add them to the list in the reader’s addition section. Your opinion matters just as equally as ours.

# 200 –  The Wrecking Crew

Its fitting to open up with these guys who were resposible for thousands of hit reconds in the 60s and 70s.

# 199 – The Ronettes

# 198 –Zebra

# 197 – The Spinners

# 196 – Garbage

# 195 – Weather Report 

# 194 – Audioslave

# 193 – The Association

# 192 – Gary Lewis And The Playboys

# 191 – Dropkick Murphys

# 190 – Utopia

# 189 – Kool & The Gang

# 188 – Santana

# 187 – George Thorogood And The Destroyers

# 186 – Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen

# 185 – The Ohio Players

# 184 – The Stray Cats

# 183 – Velvet Revolver

# 182 – Run-D.M.C.

# 181 – Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers

# 180 – Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers

# 179 – The Crusaders

# 178 –Jay & The Americans

# 177 – The Fifth Dimension

# 176 – Los Lobos

# 175 – Grin

# 174 – Spinal Tap

# 173 – Pearl Jam

# 172 – The Mahavishnu Orchestra 

# 171 – Bread

# 170 – The Coasters

# 169 – The O’Jays

# 168 – The Beastie Boys

# 167 – The Misfits

# 166 – Dixie Dregs

# 165 – King’s X

# 164 – The Rascals

# 163 – The Mamas & the Papas

# 162 – The Everly Brothers

# 161 – The Drifters

# 160 – System Of A Down

# 159 – Les Paul and Mary Ford

# 158 –The Shirelles

# 157 – Return To Forever

# 156 – Slayer

# 155 – The Runaways

# 154 – Imagine Dragons

# 153 – Southside Johnny And The Asbury Dukes

# 152 – Linkin Park

# 151 – Foo Fighters

# 150 – Dio

# 149 – Smokey Robinson & The Miracles

# 148 – The Turtles

# 147 – Widespread Panic

# 146 – The Smithereens

# 145 – The Shangri-Las

# 144 – The Replacements

# 143 – Styx

# 142 – Moby Grape

# 141 – The Deftones

# 140 – Electric Flag

# 139 – Martha & The Vandellas

# 138 – Sam & Dave

# 137 – The Righteous Brothers

# 136 – Television

# 135 – Queens Of The Stone Age

# 134 – Hall & Oates

# 133 – The Go-Go’s

# 132 – Earth, Wind & Fire

# 131 – The Cramps

# 130 – Phish

# 129 – Hot Tuna

# 128 – Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons

# 127 – Quick Silver Messenger Service

# 126 – The New York Dolls

# 125 – Little Feat

# 124 – Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels

# 123 – The Lovin’ Spoonful

# 122 – The Grass Roots

# 121 – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Although Young is from Canada and Nash from England, Stills and Crosby were both American born. Additionally, the band was formed in L.A.

# 120 – Arthur Lee & Love

# 119 – The Kingsmen

# 118 – Chickenfoot

# 117 – Rare Earth

# 116 – Living Colour

# 115 – The J. Geils Band

# 114 – Moe

# 113 – Parliament Funkadelic

# 112 – Little Anthony & The Imperials

# 111 – Dream Theater

# 110 – The Edgar Winter Group

# 109 – Tool

# 108 – Tower Of Power

# 107 – Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band

# 106 – The White Stripes

# 105 – Muse

# 104 – The Monkees

# 103 – Big Star

# 102 – Pure Prairie League 

# 101 – The Tubes

# 100 – Poco

# 100 – The Good Rats

# 99 –Motley Crue

# 98 – Vanilla Fudge

# 97 – Twisted Sister

# 96 – Gov’t Mule

# 95 – The James Brown Band

# 94 –  David Lee Roth Band (original Steve Vai version)

# 93 – Canned Heat

# 92 – MC5

# 91 – Rage Against the Machine

# 90 – The Outlaws

# 89 – Anthrax

# 88 – Blue Cheer

# 87 – Montrose

# 86 – The B-52s

# 85 – The Black Crowes

# 84 –Molly Hatchet

# 83 – Black Oak Arkansas

# 82 – Booker T & The MGs

# 81 – The Charlie Daniels Band

# 80 – Huey Lewis And The News

# 79 – Paul Butterfield Blues Band

# 78 – Dokken

# 77 – Bon Jovi

# 76 – Pantera

# 75 – Bob Seger And The Silver Bullet Band

# 74 – Smashing Pumpkins

# 73 – REO Speedwagon

# 72 – Toto

# 71 – The Supremes

# 70 – The Jackson Five

# 69 – Dion & The Belmonts

# 68 – The Isley Brothers

# 67 – Foreigner

# 66 – Bill Haley & The Comets

# 65 – The Dave Matthews Band

# 64 – Prince And The Revolution

# 63 – Talking Heads

# 62 – Buddy Holly & The Crickets

# 61 – The James Gang

# 60 – Queensrÿche

# 59 – The Four Tops

# 58 – The Band

# 57 – Jefferson Airplane

# 56 – Frank Zappa And The Mothers Of Invention

# 55 – The Stooges

# 54 – Mountain

# 53 – Blood Sweat & Tears

# 52 – Iron Butterfly

# 51 – Cheap Trick

# 50 – The Marshall Tucker Band

# 49 – The Velvet Underground

# 48 – Red Hot Chili Peppers

# 47 –  Pixies

# 46 – Kiss

# 45 – Metallica

# 44 – R.E.M

# 43 – Steppenwolf

# 42 – Green Day

# 41 – Steve Miller Band

# 40 – Soundgarden

# 39 – Three Dog Night

# 38 – The Temptations

# 37 – Tommy James and The Shondells

# 36 – The Pretenders

# 35 – Sly & The Family Stone

# 34 – Stone Temple Pilots

# 33 – Alice In Chains

# 32 – The Byrds

# 31 – Simon & Garfunkel

# 30 – Kansas

# 29 – Blondie

# 28 – The Cars

# 27 – Jefferson Airplane / Starship

# 26 – Heart

Even though the Wilson Sisters were firm in Canada, the band was formed in Seattle making this an American Band.

# 25 – Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble

One of the greatest rock and roll texas blues trios of all time. No one played like Stevie Ray Vaughan and his bandmates knew exactly how to create the perfect rhythm section that exploded with ferocity on every song.

# 24 – Alice Cooper

We wonder how many people don’t realize that this was the name of the band, not the man, until much later on. It doesn’t matter, these guys rocked hard and took glam to an entirely new place.

# 23 –  The Ramones

Talk about a groundbreaking band.  1234……..

# 22 –  Blue Oyster Cult

The sound of pure rock and roll, dark and mysterious and full of substance. These guys could play and write.

# 21 – Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band

We had to include the E Street Band on this list. Anyone who has ever seen Bruce and E Steet in concert over the past 45 years would agree 100 percent with us.

# 20 – Boston

They could never match the brilliance of their first album, but that’s okay because it was just too good to be followed up.

# 19 – Journey

Probably defined the term stadium rock in the 1970s and 80s. Nonetheless, they just aren’t the same without Steve Perry.

# 18 – Nirvana

This is what we mean by a band that released a small body of work but had a massive impact on music and culture.

# 17 – ZZ Top

Down and dirty rock and roll Texas style that never gets old. Even their 80s MTV hits were a barrel of fun.

# 16 – Grand Funk Railroad

It’s amazing how big this band was in the 197os and the little respect they get now from the new generation of rock fans and critics. Us old farts know just how great they were.

# 15 – The Grateful Dead

This band is pretty much in their own category. The ultimate jam band. If you have ever been to a Grateful Dead concert, you understand. If not, you will never get it.

# 14 – Chicago

If you grew up in the 1970s, you remember how big Chicago was. The group blended rock and roll with horns on a level that no one had ever done before. Great songs, amazing vocalists, and plenty of hits.

# 13 – Creedence Clearwater Revival

The sound of the 1960s rebellion and anger lay at the heart of John Fogerty’s brilliant musical compositions. Rock and roll never sounded so good and genuine as they guys did with their amazing streak of late 1960s albums.

# 12 – Steely Dan

No band wrote songs as harmonically deep as Steely Dan. This band or should we say Donald Fagen and Walter Becker defined perfection in the recording studio.

# 11 – The Eagles

We really would have liked to get this band into the Top 10. They have the biggest selling rock album of all time in The Eagles Greatest Hits. Hotel California was a masterpiece as well. Easily one of the most loved bands of all time.

# 10 – Guns N’ Roses

If they had not broken up so soon, they may have been closer to number one than number ten, The potential to be maybe the greatest rock band of all time was simply blown up by who knows what was going on in that band many years ago.

# 9 – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Losing Tom Petty was tough. Real tough. Petty and The Heartbreakers delivered a sound that was as American as traffic on 95 and a cold Bud and fried chicken on a Sunday afternoon.

# 8 – The Doobie Brothers

There are those who love the pre and post Michael McDonald years and those who like us, loved both. Either way, this band released music that had a sound that just made you feel good.

# 7 – The Doors

There has never been a band with a frontman like Jim Morrison. Was it an act or was it all real? We believe it was somewhere in between.

# 6 – Lynyrd Skynyrd (With Ronnie Van Zandt)

If you grew up in the 70s, chances are you were a big fan of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Their sound was as genuine as it got. You believed every word Ronnie sang because he was pretty much singing about everything he and his bandmates had ever done and were still doing.

# 5 – The Beach Boys

Led by the genius of Brian Wilson One of the most defining original sounding bands of the Classic Rock Era, The Beach Boys were often compared to The Beatles based on popularity and impact on pop culture.  They were one of the biggest bands in the U.S.A ….for a long time.

# 4 – The Jimi Hendrix Experience

This was a little tricky because Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell were from the UK. But Jimi was from Seattle and how in the world could we leave Jimi Hendrix and his band off this list. One of the most inspirational and legendary trios of all time.

# 3 – Aerosmith

We picked this band as the greatest American rock group of all time a few years back. Well, as we have aged we have grown wiser. We still love them, we just think there are two better bands ahead of them.

# 2 – Van Halen

It doesn’t matter if you’re a fan of the David Lee Roth years or the Sammy Hagar years, they were all great albums and both singers brought their own unique talents to the band that made them one of the most loved rock groups in classic rock history.

# 1 – The Allman Brothers Band

If there ever was an American band that appealed to such a diverse and wide audience in the United States, it was The Allman Brothers Band. As much as they were loved in the South, they were just as adored in the North. No band fueled the elements of rock and jazz with a southern feel that celebrated the best elements of all those musical genres. There are bands that are great jam bands, and those that write and record great material. The Allman Brothers Band were both.

List compiled by Brian Kachejian, Tom Neokleous and the staff of ClassicRockHistory.com

READER’S ADDITIONS TO THE LIST

Jimmy Buffet and the Coral Reefer Band

The Vandals 

 

200 Greatest American Rock Bands Of All Time article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022

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