Other Players

So what IS the Greatest American Rock Band?


Does this question need to be answered? Of course not, but it’s a great subject for discussion.

Rock is not really my thing so I don’t have a horse in this race, but I see a couple of issues that are clouding the debate somewhat.

Firstly, rock is not an American art form. You guys are responsible for pretty much every other form of popular music - Rock n roll, doo wop, soul (Detroit & Atlantic), bluegrass, Western swing, R&B, (arguably) jazz, be-bop, disco, hip hop - the list is endless. But ‘rock’ in and of itself is an intrinsically British - dare I say English - product. So the best the rest can ever be is No.2.

Secondly, The Stones are not just the greatest rock band in England, or Britain, or Europe. They are the greatest rock band IN THE WORLD. There cannot be a US equivalent, nor Canadian.

Having said that, my vote is Bruce and the E Street Band.


Hello, some more names:

Beach Boys

the Sonics

The Velvet Underground

Lynyrd Skynyrd

Tommy James and the Shondells

Joan Jett & The Blackhearts


The Cramps

Talking Heads

The Traveling Wilburys

Red Hot Chili Peppers


Greta Van fleet is, IMO, the best current American Rock Band! If you haven't already, please check them out. They consist of 3 brothers Jake, Josh and Sam Kiszka, and their best friend Danny Wagner on drums. They're young, ages 19 - 22, and they're kicking it old school! There hasn't been a rock band like Greta Van Fleet in over 30 years, they're picking up where rock died, and are bringing it forward. I'm sick of listening to the same old classic rock radio songs over and over again, Greta Van Fleet is offering an exciting fresh new face to the Rock world. And yes, that's an original 1961 Gibson SG!

– Wade H

I disagree with you. While I was intrigued by this band at first, they seem to have become a bunch of poseurs. They haven't actually put out a full album, the lead singer is stiff and their Achilles Heel seems to be a lack of ability to write songs.


There seems to be a lot of silly nominations of bands that have lived on the fringe of popularity in the US. I feel the criteria should be a large catalog of work /longevity, major influences on the music scene and a recognition by even those that are not fans of the rock genre. Certainly the fact that Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band made it on the covers of two major news magazines is testimony to their entitlement to this crown. I also agree the TP and the Heartbreakers should be up there. CCR, while I loved them and owned a couple of their singles as a kid, for me does not quite fulfill my requirements. But as long as we're throwing out some dark horse candidates, has anyone mentioned Santana or the Jimi Hendrix Experience? Just saying.


Santana's been by. as to the JHE, they were 2/3 British.


OK, let's dispose of this Creedence thing once and for all.

"Why would instrumental prowess be a factor in this evaluation? "

because if you're "greatest, " you should at least be able to play decently. the Stones, for example, have always had two ripping guitarists and the Wyman/Watts section was deeply steeped in jazz.

"John Fogerty was a talented guitarist while not a pyrotechnic type. But, the band absolutely rocked."

Fogerty was a decent guitarist for someone who can only play cowboy and barre chords, but was utterly incapable of coloring outside the lines and as far as i can tell never came up with a new idea after a song was recorded and was limited to reiterating the recorded solos--which were neither particularly melodic nor particularly cutting--note-for-note. as to the rest of the band, they "rocked" only in a stiff, funkless, utterly Caucasian way. their version of "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" is ludicrous, and its long solo reaches a "Time Has Come Today" level of badness. their "rock" is utterly devoid of "roll." bloody hell, Yes were funkier than CCR. for that matter, the Beach Boys in the 70s were funkier than that, and has there ever been a whiter band than the BBs?

i actually enjoy Creedence in a kind of distant way...they were nice enough at the time, but there's nothing compelling enough about that stuff to make me want to listen to it today.


"I feel the criteria should be a large catalog of work /longevity, major influences on the music scene and a recognition by even those that are not fans of the rock genre. "

i don't know about that. why should people who don't even like rock be a determinant of what's great about it? does my disinterest in Tupac mean that he wasn't important to hip-hop? or the fact that 80% of classical music bores me to tears mean that Ravel is better than Mozart?


their version of "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" is ludicrous, and its long solo exists on a "Time Has Come Today" level of badness. their "rock" is utterly devoid of "roll." bloody hell, Yes were funkier than CCR.

I Love both HITTG and THCT extended versions, and think they're great Rock & Roll songs.

Yes being funkier than CCR. If I had coffee in my mouth, it'd be all over the monitor. Thanks for that laugh!


I have been listening to Rock music since I can remember. Maybe Pop, at some times. I mean, when I was a kid, I listened to what the older kids listened to, with them. So radio music, which at the time was a bit generic. Wrecking crew stuff and Wall of sound with all of the horns and Motown with some Beatles and stones mixed in. So Pop, right? My Dad said that Rock -N Roll died in the 50's. So my Fathers definition of Rock-N-Roll is what we call Rockabilly, today. What I mean by generic is that it was all molded somehow by the same musicians and songwriters, except the Beatles and stones and a few others, at the time. Then the 60's hit full force with other bands that came out and recorded their own instruments.That certainly helped a bit. But you could hear Ricky Nelson one moment and then the Beatles. The variations were almost extreme. There was a lot of great music back then but a lot of it was a bit sleepy or Waltz-y too, if you know what I mean. So I get what Deke is saying about "Rock" not really being Rock-N-Roll or Rockabilly. I'd refer to some of that as early Americana or Folk rock. That's where a lot of bands like Buffalo Springfield and CSN&Y came form, right? That early americana and they learned to turn it up and add distortion and a new drive to it. They gave it a different feel.

By the time I was getting serious about what music I liked, in my pre-teen years, I began listening to Aerosmith and KISS but had a love for Zeppelin and began a new direction of Prog with Kansas that led me to Yes and Queen. Things were starting to get interesting and less sleepy. Radio was still a bit boring at times though, as always. Rocking along with Zeppelin in one moment then Bee Gees the next. Yep, Disco was rearing it's somewhat differed head. Not all disco was bad, just most, to me. It wasn't rock and my radio changed again. There was a new game in town though...Southern Rock. We got pretty excited about bands like Skynrd and Molly Hatchet and a few others and as well Van Halen was gaining ground as were a few other new sounds. Bands like Nazareth and Ted Nugent had kept the ROCK going. Not too much of that was mainstream though. Then came the Cars and Cheap Trick. More new sounds and talents. I guess Punk was a coastal thing. We didn't get much of that here in the Midwest so I never formed much of an opinion except that it was a culture and not one I seemed to be interested in at the time. I liked what I heard on the radio like the Clash and very few others but it was still a bit foreign to me.

I was still influenced by other genres, having a diverse household of listeners. Dad was into Hank Williams Sr. and Mom was into Montovanni. I was raised watching Hee Haw and Lawrence Welk. Through all of this was Led Zeppelin. Now that Bonzo had died, I knew there wouldn't be anything new coming from that camp anymore, right? Then CODA. I can see why most of this stuff was held back from being publicized, at first. It wasn't their best stuff but it did fill the void that would keep them interesting for me. I guess what I'm saying is that regardless of who may be the best or greatest American ROCK band, there will always be Led Zeppelin, for me. They may not be from America but they're music was always in America, for me and will always be the band that I consider the most diverse ROCK sound, to me. They kept me rocking through all of the other stuff that just didn't.

I have remained listening to mainstream rock radio to and from work daily and I have heard the changes through the years and yes John, The Foo Fighters still tick the 14 year old girl in me,if you catch my drift? The guitar tones are sweet. To me, there just isn't much more that does groove but it is mainstream radio. Over the years many genres have piqued my interest. Through my formative years, New wave stuff like Blondie and Devo were great. A refreshing take on Rock. The whole Cookie Monster screamo stuff does nothing for me. Especially when there is only one word that is understandable and it isn't radio friendly.

So with that said, the most influential guitarists to me were Jimmy Page, Ritchie Blackmore, Van Halen, Chet, Roy Clark,Jerry Reed and sorry, Ted Nugent.

Vocally it's always been Roy Orbison, Eric Burdon, Elvis, Roger Daltry, Paul Rodgers and Freddie Mercury.

Long Live Rock


SKINOTOOTH is the clear winner!

How could y’all fail to see the forest for the trees? 50 years in the biz. Irv from NYC. Chad from LA. Josh from the mid-west. Otis from Chicago. Sammy from the South. Together, they’re the compleat R & R rebels of all time and still rockin’ til they drop or slow down to Roll (a joint). How could anyone forget their debut album in the ‘60s: Jawbone? Their reinvented persona in the ‘70s with High Treason. Their disdain for disco in Dance 2 Dis. Embracing Punk ’n' Grunge with Spitoon. Transcending the millennium with the How Time Flies and Homogeny Never boxed sets. And now out of retirement with their acclaimed Still Dentate interactive, audiovisual, hologram production. When interviewed by Rolling Stone recently and asked to comment on the band’s longevity, Irv would only say, in typically-cool style, “Cryogenics has come a long way.” Long live Americana’s very own Rock icons - SKINOTOOTH !


Hey Jeffed, can you expand on them? Nothing comes up in google or youtube.


We've forgotten these guys. They only pretend to be Brits.


We've forgotten these guys. They only pretend to be Brits.

– Strummerson

Christopher Haden-Guest, 5th Baron Haden-Guest of Great Saling, holds dual citizenship and is a peer of the realm! So there!


Hey Jeffed, can you expand on them? Nothing comes up in google or youtube.

– Suprdave

Don't say they've been deleted for expletives again. Despite downloads of their songs from all of their albums unable to keep up with demand. Thank goodness the record-buying public will never forget them - they're so ingrained in the fabric of our collective psyche and our lives. Please tell me you haven't somehow missed them, dave.


Chain officially yanked.

  • Fishbone was the best band I have ever seen live. However, their live sound was hard to translate in a recording studio so they never sold enough albums to qualify.
  • There is a good argument for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. I do like them however their music isn't really that exciting, is it?
  • Cheap Trick is another great argument. They are STILL making great music and putting out great albums. They were just never as popular in the USA as The Beatles or The Stones were in the UK.
  • The Doors are too mellow. They aren't really rock and roll to me.
  • The Monkees are great. I love their songs but they are not the greatest American rock and roll band ever. They became a band through a TV show.
  • Aerosmith is a top contender. If they didn't sluff off with 80s power ballads they would still have my full respect as a rock and roll powerhouse.
  • The Beach Boys are great. They don't really rock though.
  • ZZ Top - well, yeah there is them. Nah!
  • Green Day - I personally love them but they are too polarizing to be considered.
  • Metallica - They actually rock too hard to be considered the greatest American rock and roll band.
  • The Ramones - Yes they are classic but they were intentionally stupid.
  • The Eagles don't rock hard enough.
  • Journey - They could be contenders but they are too polished.
  • Bruce and the E Street Band - Yeah, I can see some people claiming they deserve this title. Not me though.
  • REM were great before they got a major label deal and even then they put out a few good albums after.

I predict in 25 years Twenty One Pilots will be considered the greatest American band. You may laugh now but just wait.


Chain officially yanked.

– Suprdave


Carry on reminiscing.


I think this might be only the third mention of The Doobie Brothers, which doesn't exactly constitute a groundswell, but what the heck. They rocked, they wrote most of their own stuff (right?), and while their lineup has certainly changed over the years, Tom Johnston and Patrick Simmons are still out on the road doin' their thing.

So I vote Doobies.


Popularity Schmockularity...without a doubt: Big Star


My vote goes to... THE ELECTRIC FLAG - featuring the late, great Michael Bloomfield.

– Joe Carducci/Gretsch Guitars

The Flag certainly qualifies for musicianship, blending of styles (R&B, gospel, rock, blues, country, psychedelia, even some jazz), but only made 2 albums, with Bloomfield only on the first one. They were ahead of their time, with influences detectable in the work of Chicago and Blood, Sweat and Tears, but also never that widely known, sadly for all the people who would dig it if only they heard it.

"A Long Time Comin' " STILL raises the hairs on my neck every time I hear it --- LBJ's sonorous "I speak tonight ... for the dignity of man ..." followed by a burst of laughter and the horn blast kicking off Howlin' Wolf's "Killing Floor." There are other gems too --- "Groovin' Is Easy," "Sitting In Circles," the tribute to Otis Redding and Steve Cropper "You Don't Realize," Bloomfield's slow blues tour de force "Texas," and the hip trip of "Another Country."

After hearing so much praise for Big Star over the years, I finally watched the documentary about them "Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me," and I'm still scratching my head. I have to say, I don't get it --- nothing about them jumped out at me as especially memorable or compelling. Well-crafted, but ordinary to my ears.


Seattle still isn't Canada, yet.


Hello, some more names:

Beach Boys

the Sonics

The Velvet Underground

Lynyrd Skynyrd

Tommy James and the Shondells

Joan Jett & The Blackhearts


The Cramps

Talking Heads

The Traveling Wilburys

Red Hot Chili Peppers

– daedalus

+1 for the Sonics


you mean it might do soon? if so, sign me up!


I remember an interview, where the question was raised to a Well Known Performer whether or not everyone in the Band was essentially paid the same for a gig...making note that new band members may need to pay a few dues over time to earn a full share, and get extra benies....

Having said that, Royalties for Songs and Recordings may go directly to the Lyricist and Composer as would be customary.

If the gig Profit isn't split evenly as described above...it's not a Band to me.

And the Interviewer joked, "You are a Solo Act despite the name on the Ticket/Ad Poster".

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