Some rock bands manage to create music and identities that leave a lasting impact on the world. The frequencies and waves of their music capture the hearts and souls of listeners long after their time. Similarly, the rock bands mentioned below have either played an important role in transforming rock music or have left an indelible mark on the world. Here’s a list of the greatest rock bands of all time.
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Whether you like them or not, The Beatles left a lasting impact on the world and are considered the most influential band ever. Why? Because they’re still the best-selling artists of all time with 183 million units sold as of 2022, beating the likes of Garth Brooks, Elvis Presley, Eagles, and Led Zeppelin to the top.1 Their first album was released in 1963, and 56 years later, their music continues to resonate with the present generation and expand their fan following even today.
The Rolling Stones
The most frequently cited reason for The Rolling Stones being considered among the greatest rock artists of all time is that the band has survived as a unit for this long—nearly 60 years—and they are still selling out concerts to this day, which is rare in rock music.3 In fact, Mick Jagger, founding member and lead vocalist of the band, told People magazine “I only meant to do it for two years. I guess the band would just disperse one day and say goodbye. I would continue to write and sing, but I’d rather be dead than sing Satisfaction when I’m 45.”4 However, according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), The Rolling Stones have sold over 66.5 million units as of 2022 and are the 15th best-selling artists of all time.
Eagles are one of the most influential country-rock bands ever and continue to be active to this day. They have been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, dominated the charts with six number one songs and six number one albums, earned six Grammys and five American Music Awards. According to the RIAA, the Eagles’ album Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) is the best-selling album of all time in the United States. Their enduring appeal makes them one of the greatest rock bands of all time.5
It is rare to hear every member of a band being equally recognized for the band’s success. Led Zeppelin’s band members were all masters of their craft and considered musical geniuses who came together to form one of the most successful hard rock and heavy metal bands ever.6 They played a crucial role in the development of hard rock. Despite their legendary status, they received their first Grammy, a lifetime achievement award, in 2005 and won their first Grammy for the live album Celebration Day in 2014, nearly 46 years after the band was formed.7
Known for establishing the blueprint for American hardcore, Black Flag is considered one of the most influential rock bands that added a new dimension to punk, a genre that is difficult to innovate or experiment with as it is easy to break away from its strictly defined characteristics and style .8 They formed in 1977 and disbanded in 1986,9 in a span of barely 11 years. They had a huge influence on the future generations of punk music, which is why they are regarded as one of the greatest rock bands.
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1. The 50 best-selling music artists of all time | BusinessInsider India. (n.d.). Retrieved July 8, 2022, from https://www.businessinsider.in/entertainment/news/the-50-best-selling-music-artists-of-all-time/slidelist/78041957.cms
2. the Rolling Stones | Songs, Albums, Members, & Facts | Britannica. (n.d.). Retrieved July 8, 2022, from https://www.britannica.com/topic/the-Rolling-Stones
3. Why we will always love the Rolling Stones | Mint. (n.d.). Retrieved July 8, 2022, from https://www.livemint.com/Opinion/h11t9hal6RKhOR68pvdpiL/Why-we-will-always-love-the-Rolling-Stones.html
4. The Jaggers | PEOPLE.com. (n.d.). Retrieved July 8, 2022, from https://people.com/archive/cover-story-the-jaggers-vol-3-no-22/
5. RIAA AWARDS THE EAGLES WITH THE #1 AND #3 TOP-CERTIFIED ALBUMS OF ALL TIME – RIAA. (n.d.). Retrieved July 8, 2022, from https://www.riaa.com/riaa-awards-eagles-1-3-top-certified-albums-time/
6. What’s So Great About Led Zeppelin? – I Love Classic Rock. (n.d.). Retrieved July 8, 2022, from https://iloveclassicrock.com/whats-so-great-about-led-zeppelin/
7. Led Zeppelin | British rock group | Britannica. (n.d.). Retrieved July 8, 2022, from https://www.britannica.com/topic/Led-Zeppelin
8. Black Flag | Members, Songs, & Facts | Britannica. (n.d.). Retrieved July 8, 2022, from https://www.britannica.com/topic/Black-Flag
9. Black Flag Albums and EPs Ranked Worst To Best. (n.d.). Retrieved July 8, 2022, from https://www.brooklynvegan.com/black-flag-albums-and-eps-ranked-worst-to-best/