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Looking at the 20 Best Rock Bands of All Time

In dire need of a more artistic escape, we look at some our favourite rock bands of all time.

Image Source: shutterstock

With more free time on our hands, I’m sure most of us are going back to listening to music and actually enjoying it, differently than in the fast-paced pre-lockdown times. These bands have some of the most consistent line-ups when it comes to their music – from studio recordings to their live concerts. We’ve carefully curated 20 of our favourite rock bands that we love to listen to just for you.

Led Zeppelin

Image: Led Zeppelin via ultimateclassicrock

Led Zeppelin is considered as one of the biggest bands in the 1970s, with their exhilarating live shows. Their success lies in the artists themselves: Jimmy Page was one of the greatest guitarists the world has seen, especially his mind-blowing riffs; Robert Plant’s incredible voice that could command any audience; the multi-instrumentalist John Paul Jones, with his skilfully created bass riffs; and let’s not forget the groovy drummer John Bonham, who was the glue that kept the band together. Whether it comes down to each member’s own talents or their lyrics, most of Led Zeppelin’s songs have become staples in music history. 

The Beatles

Image: The Beatles via ultimateclassicrock

The Beatles were remarkable in releasing 12 albums in just 8 years, of which most belong in the list of the greatest albums of all time. The band is also unique for not having one, but three Hall of Fame songwriters – Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison. The Beatles also toppled some of the best bands and artists ever: The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Pink Floyd, and Hendrix. Not only did they revolutionise rock music, they invented an entirely new style of music – pop music. Unfortunately, they disbanded in their prime and robbed us of many more years of the band.

The Rolling Stones

Image: The Rolling Stones via suntimes

The Rolling Stones is one of the world’s greatest rock and roll bands, and for all the right reasons. Everything that Keith Richards plays is matched with the same energy by Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts. And let’s not leave out Ronnie Wood’s rhythms and Mick Jagger’s vocal riffs. Jagger and Richards have been one of the greatest songwriting teams the world has ever given us. The Stones played all the right songs with the right vocals depending on the audience. The Stones might be one of the only bands that isn’t afraid of straying from their perfect sets; uniformity does not go well with the band and we’re glad. 

Pink Floyd

Image: Pink Floyd via diffuser

Pink Floyd, with their defining music, made record sales for their albums, especially ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ in 1973 and ‘The Wall’ in 1979, both of which explored extremely dark themes. This may owe to the approach that the band took in their live shows – their stage was always experimental and artsy with special attention given to visuals and imagery. This made them, unknowingly, the centre of the London Underground movement. While internal clashes within the band were common, they still came together to make some of the best music ever, despite all bitterness. 

AC/DC

Image: AC/DC via festivalsherpa

AC/DC was included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003, which was presented by Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler. Perhaps one of the only bands that lasted this long in the industry, the rich lifestyle had quite shaken up the members, if not taken a toll on them. Selling over 200 million records worldwide, the band is unique for finding its way to the top of the charts from across the globe. Never following the trend, the band relied on the blues for their music. Over the years, they’ve managed to stick to their style – the hard-driven, inspired-by-the-50s rock. 

Guns N’ Roses

Image: Guns N’ Roses via loudwire

Creating a space for themselves, Guns N’ Roses was one of the last rock bands to come into the scene in 1987 and one of the few bands that truly embraced and lived in the rock and roll lifestyle. In any other decade, Guns N’ Roses would have barely made it, with their powerful lyrics. Izzy and Slash, the guitarists, are one of the reasons behind the songs being so great. Not to mention Adler, who was a groovy drummer, until he was replaced, but his successors did not disappoint either. Ultimately, Guns N’ Roses was a great band that still stands today. 

Aerosmith

Image: Aerosmith via ultimateclassicrock

Very few bands have lasted as long as Aerosmith, with hardly any changes to their style of music. One of the best selling American rock and roll bands, Aerosmith gave us blues-inspired, flamboyantly rootsy music. Steven Tyler’s versatile voice and Joe Perry’s great guitar skills are absolute fan-favourites. Despite all complications, Aerosmith persevered, and their power on the stage, with their energy-filled songs, is undeniable. While the band did witness many fall-outs and later fall-ins, they still managed to stick together for some spectacular albums that found their way to the top of the charts.

U2

Image: U2 via jg-tc

Through radio and live shows, U2 took rock fans on a marvelous musical rollercoaster. ‘The Joshua Tree’ was one of their biggest albums after topping Billboard charts and winning 22 Grammy Awards. Apart from this, they have nine other No. 1 albums and seven No. 1 singles. TIME Magazine even came forward with the label ‘Rock’s Hottest Ticket’. The U2 went on to reinvent their music in the 90s and later starred in their own movie-documentary ‘U2: Rattle and Hum’. Having sold more than 170 million records worldwide, U2 is still a relatively young band with many good years to come. 

Queen

Image: Queen via conversationsabouther

Can we all agree that Queen gave us some inspiring anthems that have stood out in music history? ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, ‘We Will Rock You’, ‘We Are The Champions’, ‘Under Pressure’; we just can’t stop listening to some of their classics, no matter how many times we’ve played them on repeat. In fact, Queen is the first band that has managed to have the same single (Bohemian Rhapsody) re-enter and top charts a third time. Their timeless music still features in some of our favourite movies and advertisements. Queen’s music is “ground-breaking” and “iconic”, and their style has inspired several other later artists and bands, with some even revisioning their songs in their own unique style. 

Nirvana

Image: Nirvana via musicmusingsandsuch

Nirvana was one of the last ‘biggest’ rock bands that brought a major change to the musical world of rock and roll. Loved by fans and critics alike, Nirvana managed to make lyrics that touched a range of varying emotions. How do we talk about Nirvana, without even mentioning the legend that is Kurt Cobain? Cobain influenced not just NIrvana’s music style and set the path for the next few years’ worth of bands, but he made a cultural change. They single-handedly changed the scene for alternative and grunge and punk rock music for years to come. 

Iron Maiden

Image: Iron Maiden via ultimateclassicrock

With hit singles across decades, Iron Maiden has proven to be one of the best rock bands there is. Getting five albums to the top of the charts is not a small feat, yet Iron Maiden claimed their success. Let’s not forget – how many bands can boast flying around the world with their name plastered on a plane, with the lead singer as the pilot? If that isn’t cool, I don’t know what is. Through the years, Iron Maiden has managed to remain relevant in the music industry, headlining shows and performing at sold-out shows.  

Green Day

Image: Green Day via sfexaminer

Reinventing the sound of pop-punk music, Green Day went on to influence many of our favourite bands including Blink-182, Paramore, and My Chemical Romance. Unlike most other bands, Green Day made it a point to keep their songs properly decent and yet fun, which has obviously worked quite well for the band. Not only do they look like teens, they act like one too, sarcastically performing punk rock. Rebranding themselves in 2010 with ‘American Idiot’, Green Day reintroduced what punk is as a concept, taking huge risks throughout the band’s career. 

Bon Jovi

Image: Bon Jovi via nola

Bon Jovi has been breaking records and selling out arenas for as long as we can remember. While they did steer away from their usual style much later, Bon Jovi still managed to bring in rock elements into their albums. Keeping their music inoffensive, Bon Jovi was quick to become popular among their young audience, making some of the best songs of the 80s and the 90s and selling more than 130 million records worldwide. Impacting decades of the music scene, Bon Jovi made it big after ‘Slippery When Wet’. Defining an entire era of music history, the band made sure to keep up with the times and we’re here for it. 

Eagles

Image Source: Eagles via ultimateclassicrock

Any band’s greatness can be determined by how well their music stands even years later. And who doesn’t hum along to the Eagles‘ fan favourite Hotel California, a song that has withstood time? Despite their short career, the band has strummed out some of the best classic rock music that we’ve ever heard of with their consistency that has gathered its own fan following. The Eagles are one of the world’s biggest bands, having sold more than 200 million records worldwide, and even won 6 Grammys. Experimenting within the reign of country rock, the band is definitely one of our favourites.

Linkin Park

Image: Linkin Park via loudwire

With their well-crafted albums and singles, Linkin Park successfully made an impact on their audience, with almost no profanity in their lyrics, which is relatively rare in the rock genre. Linkin Park drew their songs on the verge of both rock and pop, building a huge name for themselves. It was only after Chester Bennington took over, that Linkin Park leaned more to the rock side. Their best album, ‘Hybrid Theory’, sold more than 20 million records worldwide, and was the biggest selling album in 2001. Most of their other albums topped the Billboard charts. 

Def Leppard

Image: Def Leppard via metalheadzone

One of the world’s best selling bands, Def Leppard has sold more than a 100 million records worldwide. They are also one of the few bands that have two albums (‘Pyromania’ and ‘Hysteria’) that are Diamond-Certified. ‘Hysteria’, in particular, saw 7 singles that stayed on the US Top 40 for two entire years, selling more than 25 million records worldwide. What’s more, they even have a Guinness Record for playing three concerts in three different continents (Morocco, London, and Vancouver) in a single day. The band also won two Classic Rock Roll of Honour Awards, an Metal Hammer Golden Gods Award, and were even inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Image: Red Hot Chili Peppers performing with Bruno Mars at the NFL Super Bowl halftime via theverge

The Red Hot Chili Peppers have a style like no other band out there and are among the most consistent bands since the 80s to the 2000s. While some of their songs can be abstract and about profound themes, they are more often than not quite relatable. Starting out as a punk band, the RHCP grew to evolve with more focus on the guitar and vocals, although they were still very funky. Having won multiple Grammys, MTV awards, and several other awards, the RHCP are definitely up there on our list.

Paramore

Image: Paramore via substreammagazine

Paramore might be, hands down, one of the most popular rock bands of the 21st century. While their style has changed considerably, from the sharp punk rock music to a more pop-influenced sound, they still cling onto some of their rock music roots. Breaking away from the mainstream rock style, they energetically out-performed most of their other contemporaries. The band reached great heights after the release of their second album ‘Riot!’ in 2007, which went double Platinum in many countries. My personal favourites – ‘Still Into You’, ‘Ain’t It Fun’, and ‘Hard Times’; play these anytime around me. 

Metallica

Image Source: Metallica via rollingstone

These heavy metal rockers have created quite a niche for themselves in the realm of the metal genre. Metallica is the third-best-selling musical act since the 90s and one of the most influential bands in the genre. The band has been around for a very long time – almost 40 years and that is an impressive feat. And these years have not been dull; the band is constantly adapting and breaking conventions. And looking at the figures, Metallica is, hands down, the world’s biggest metal band. The band has 8 Grammys, multiple Billboard and Kerrang! awards and also won the NME Award for Best International Band in the World in 2017.

Coldplay

Image: Coldplay via deseret

Setting a high bar for what success is all about, Coldplay has sold more than 100 million records worldwide. Over the years, they have evolved without ever losing their true identity. Collaborating with some of the best artists, Coldplay thrives on new trends in the music industry. The band continually explores new forms of rock music while simultaneously introducing elements of Pop music as well. Winning multiple Grammys and several other awards, they are among the most influential rock bands of our time, with them being pioneers of rock music since the 90s.

Which of these are your favourites? And let us know which bands we missed!

Written By

An open-minded introvert with strong beliefs, and an avid reader since her father bought her first comic-book.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Ayush Juneja

    April 25, 2021 at 6:52 am

    Some alternatives are The cure , clash ,oasis , Duran Duran ,Foo fighters , twisted sisters , Bee gees , Green day

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