Choosing the greatest rock bands is always challenging because of how many great bands exist. Rock music has described culture and the music business for decades, with some bands being absolute icons. There are always great bands to choose from.
In that regard, the greatest rock bands are defined by what they have done, what they have accomplished, and their careers. There are factors such as record sales, iconic albums, and memorable tours. The best bands have a lot of different things going on for them.
Rock music is an important and broad genre, making these music bands all the more enjoyable. They have impacted the world and the business in many different ways. That is why they deserve all the credit in the world.
The Top 20 Famous Rock Bands
Which are the 20 greatest rock bands?
- Guns N’ Roses
- Pink Floyd
- The Ramones
- Deep Purple
- Van Halen
- Led Zeppelin
- Bon Jovi
- Iron Maiden
- Black Sabbath
- The Rolling Stones
- The Beatles
The most representative band of a subgenre that had its peak in the 90s for grunge music. Kurt Cobain became the icon of a generation, and his music reached unthinkable limits that made him one of the greatest and famous rock bands.
It has become very popular to criticize Nirvana and say they were overrated, but they are the definition of a product of its time. Kurt Cobain managed to craft three albums that resonated with people at the time and a lot of music fans still go back to their music. The band sold exceptionally well and became part of 90s culture.
Nirvana is one of the greatest and famous rock bands, with a style that captured a specific point in time. That alone is a massive achievement that deserves a lot more credit.
19. Guns N’ Roses
“Welcome to the Jungle,” “November Rain,” “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” “Paradise City“… when a band has this many hits, it’s no surprise they are this big.
Guns N’ Roses, unlike other of the greatest and famous rock bands, did not need a long career to achieve success. Much like Nirvana, they had a string of three records in the late 80s and early 90s to become absolute legends.
It will always be a shame that the band fell apart in the mid-90s and vocalist Axl Rose took absolute control. However, the legacy, record sales, and hits of those three albums will always remain.
18. Pink Floyd
David Gilmour and Roger Waters pioneered mixing philosophy with new rhythms to create one of the first psychedelic bands. Beyond the enormous number of copies they have sold (The Wall alone sold 300 million records), the depth of their lyrics keeps Pink Floyd more alive than ever.
People can only think about what would have happened to the band if its two principal members had stayed together. Regardless, their string of albums in the 70s is the stuff of legends.
Pink Floyd never followed any significant trends and, for better or worse, always focused on doing their own thing. That’s a mark of true musicians—one of the greatest and famous rock bands out there.
Despite starting out as a band more focused on blues, time led them to other different styles. Rock and Roll, pop-rock and even heavy metal are included in Aerosmith‘s discography. However, its enormous number of hits allows it to be among the greatest and famous rock bands.
Aerosmith had hits in the 70s, in the 80s, and in the 90s. They were arguably the biggest American band of all time. Steven Tyler and the guys managed to overcome addictions, inner problems, and trends to remain as one of the biggest bands of all time. A phenomenal success story.
16. The Ramones
The Ramones laid the foundations for the music and style of what punk rock and even heavy metal are today. Long hair, leather jackets, and angry attitude are all elements that remain representative of Rock around the world.
The band also found a second life through shirts and other merchandise in recent years. Despite not having as many hits as other bands on this list, The Ramones remains one of the greatest ever to play rock music.
15. Deep Purple
The mix of many of the most talented musicians of their generation gave rise to a Deep Purple whose quality is difficult to match. They have been one of the pioneers of heavy metal and their sound has evolved over the years, encompassing very different styles. However, always maintaining quality, which is what makes them one of the greatest and famous rock bands.
The beautiful thing about Deep Purple is their musical diversity. They have had some of the greatest Rock musicians who have added a lot of variety to their records. Some prefer the albums with Ritchie Blackmore on guitar and others the Steve Morse era. Some prefer David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes as vocalists than Ian Gillan.
But everybody loves Deep Purple. Bands like Iron Maiden and artists like Yngwie have cited their influence as massive. Ian Gillan and David Coverdale have inspired generations of phenomenal vocalists. And Blackmore alone is one of the greatest figures in Rock music.
Journey‘s style of classic rock is as successful as it is enjoyable. Hits like “Don’t Stop Believing” or “Open Arms” have become classics of popular culture and that is why they are considered one of the greatest and famous rock bands.
The band had a Progressive Rock start in the 70s, found their peak in the 80s with more commercial Rock, and in recent years have gotten heavier while retaining their melodies. A band that has become synonymous with rock.
13. Van Halen
In the 80s, Van Halen achieved worldwide fame thanks to hits like “Jump” and “Hot for Teacher“. However, it was Eddie Van Halen‘s virtuosity on the guitar that led them to be recognized as one of the greatest and famous rock bands. Of course, without forgetting David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar‘s vocals in their respective spells.
Van Halen represented 80s Hard Rock. The genre probably changed forever when they arrived, and Eddie Van Halen explained what a guitar hero should be.
12. Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppellin is one of the most influential and successful bands in history that, despite starting in the 60s, is still widely listened to.
This group is one of the greatest and famous rock bands because of Robert Plant’s lyrics, Jimmy Page’s guitar and the great performances they gave at each concert. No Led Zeppelin concert was the same as the other as they were constantly retooling their songs live.
There are few occasions where virtuosity has great commercial success. Rush is one of those few cases… and perhaps the biggest. A great instrumental technique combined with some very interesting lyrics created songs that were the basis of what progressive rock was.
Some people have called Rush the biggest cult band of all time and that term fits them like a glove. Every decade saw them retooling their sound but maintaining that quality that made so great.
10. Bon Jovi
The catchy melodies and romantic ballads are what have them on the list of the greatest and famous rock bands. The number of hits Bon Jovi has had at the top of the charts over the years is impressive.
Bon Jovi has retained their position as one of the greatest and famous Rock bands of all time over the years. Vocalist and band leader Jon Bon Jovi is a cultural icon in the American music industry.
Progressive rock, symphonic rock, jazz, blues, alternative rock, and more. That’s just a small summary of the different styles that Genesis has played throughout its enormous history.
Their more than 150 million copies sold have it as one of the greatest and famous rock bands. Genesis has outperformed genres, and the 80s saw them becoming Pop icons, which is saying a lot. Several fans have criticized their transition to a more commercial outfit, but one can’t deny the results.
8. Iron Maiden
Iron Maiden started in the mid-70s, debuted in 1980 and remains active. Their fast, technical and at the same time, melodic style has been one of the most important influences for heavy metal bands. Without a doubt one of the greatest and famous rock bands of all time.
The biggest recognition Iron Maiden deserves is the fact they became a musical colossus without selling out. They never tried to adapt to trends and that makes their success all the more incredible. Perhaps one of the greatest success stories in music.
Australia-based AC/DC is one of the most representative bands in rock music. Their energy and fast but at the same time catchy and accessible melodies have made them part of the worldwide popular culture. Therefore, they deserve a place at the top of greatest and famous rock bands.
U2‘s success throughout its career is impressive and still remains today. Each tour of the band generates many millions of dollars. Their songs touch on social, personal, or political issues attractively. U2 has sold almost 200 million copies of its albums, which is, of course, another reason for their place on this list.
5. Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath led by guitarist Tony Iommi and Ozzy Osbourne was a pioneer in the heavy metal genre. Their almost unique sound with a heavy and dark style achieved an incredible popularity. Few bands have had the impact of Black Sabbath and that is why they are among the greatest and famous rock bands.
Despite losing iconic vocalist Ozzy Osbourne in the 80s, Ronnie James Dio managed to fill in and create arguably the band’s finest hour, Heaven and Hell. Sabbath have had a lot of great albums and vocalists that haven’t received the credit they deserve.
Metallica reached the ideal of success for heavy metal bands and it is somewhat surprising considering that their focus was initially on playing Thrash Metal. Although their first albums were masterpieces, it was with the famous Black Album that they achieved unprecedented fame. There is no doubt that Metallica is one of the greatest and famous rock bands.
They are still the most known and commercially successful Metal band of all time. Everybody knows who Metallica is and has heard at least one of their songs. What Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield have achieved leading this band cannot be understated.
3. The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones is one of the longest-running and most influential bands in the artistic scene in music history. The Rolling Stones have been making great music since 1962 and continue touring worldwide to this day.
The beautiful thing about The Stones is how they have been around for so long and still continue to perform. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are two of the greatest music figures of all time. And they have made so much music that enjoying their discography is a very fascinating experience.
“We Are the Champions,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Will Rock You,” “Another One Bites the Dust,” and “Don’t Stop Me Now“… everybody has heard a Queen song at some point.
At this point, there must be a discussion about Queen‘s hit songs being anthems of humanity. Possibly, the best stadium band ever. For that and more, Queen deserves to be among the greatest and famous rock bands.
1. The Beatles
The Beatles is the most popular music band of all time. The band that started the British Invasion genre. The band that defined what a Pop sensation is. And there can be an argument about them being the greatest band of all time. The Beatles band members’ are also one of the richest rock musicians in the world too.
Not only are they the artists with the most sales in history (around 600 million), but they have influenced the vast majority of bands. It can be said that Rock music would not be the same if it were not for The Beatles. They lead the top of the greatest and famous rock bands.
What are your favorite and greatest rock bands of all time? Let us know in the comment section!