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So what IS the Greatest American Rock Band?


When I read Proteus' original post only one name popped in my head: The Ramones.


I have that Album...

– Twangmeisternyc

One of the greatest albums of all time.


I can agree with all these candidates. It's hard see this objectively but I'll try and and another candidate:

Lynyrd Skynyrd

– Gerry Ratrod

The band (reputably) sells a million albums a year.


The Kingsmen. Best guitar solo ever!



Based on Band Democracy ( remember Democracy? ), I am leaning towards "Chicago Transit Authority", the CTA, known to most as "Chicago"...

Lots of great songs written many different band members, everyone contributing for the "whole".

Well, until Peter Cetera decided he was the Star early 80's, lost 25 lbs., found a Personal Trainer and a Hair Stylist, ... even @ 38+ decided to pass for ≤28yo to find a new audience but ended up Adult Contemporary!

Aerosmith or Chicago, a Daily Double bet...


Interesting topic. Somehow the US did not produce durable, iconic, chart-topping bands as the UK did so well in the 60s-70s - Beatles, Stones, Kinks, the Who, Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, etc.

The UK had art schools. IIRC John Lennon, Pete Townshend, and maybe some of these other guys went. Maybe that gave them a direction we didn't offer.

Maybe it just wasn't our thing. The US had dozens of doo-wop/vocal groups in the 50s. In the 60s so much of our best music came from studio musicians backing singers. And some of the tightest enduring road bands like James Brown and later Parliament/Funkadelic didn't really play rock.

We produced sub-Rolling Stones bands like Flamin' Groovies, New York Dolls, early Little Feat. But they were never so big.

It's hard to answer.


I'm very late to the discussion and haven't read all the posts, but from what I did read, I couldn't find any clear criteria for what constitutes the 'best American rock band.' It appears as though American bands with foreign members don't qualify, which seems a bit odd to me, but so be it. I'm going to throw out some criteria and then make a call based on that: [1] musicianship and song/music craftsmanship [2] social relevance [3] audience reach and iconic stature

I'm sorry, I know two thirds of the group was from England, but I can't think of the Jimi Hendrix Experience as anything other than an 'American' band. So that's my pick.


What a long thread, it makes me wonder what one can possilby add.

But I'll add two "+1's" for:

  • Los Lobos (45 year history, ~ 20 LPs, musical genres spanning rock and roll, blues, rockabilly, folk rock and god know's what else)

  • Electric Flag (sheer shimmering majesty of sonic blues brilliance)

And no, not the Eagles. Never.


I have to agree with Macphisto's assessment of Tom Petty. I was watching the video of the Bob Dylan 25th Whatever Show, with Bob, Neil Young, Roger McGuinn, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, and TP performing "My Back Pages" with a friend of mine. "Man, look at all that talent on the stage," I said. "And Tom Petty, too!"

Then he died a month later and made me feel guilty for the diss.

Buffalo Springfield was 60% Canadian (Dewey Martin was from Vancouver).

The Wilson sisters (Heart) were from Seattle. The band spent a lot of time in Canada, but I think they were all US'ers.

The Rascals have been too quickly dismissed. Damned brilliant: killer live, great songs and arrangements, with just enough rock 'n' roll raggedness.

Everybody likes the Doobie Brothers, but they don't like them enough.

The greatest American Rock Band may have been:

Prince and the Revolution

Or, if you need a bit of metal in your ears, it may have been:

Living Colour



Admit it, it's Skynyrd.



i didn't know Dewey was from Vancouver. the more you know...



Love their first two albums.


Grand Funk Railroad - word on the street is that they're an American band.


And they're getting closer to their home.


And they prefer black licorice.


I'll go ahead and throw Kansas into the mix. Y'all probably hate them too.


Chicago or Terry Kath’s band killed it but the current tribute band is much like the current Skynyrd, a tired circus. The first three LS records leave a mark but unfortunately many only know them for the cover band they are now.

Stones in for the win.


If anyone could name one of The Delaware Destroyers, I'd throw George Thorogood's name in the ring, but it's really more of a solo act/backing band thing too.


The Clash were from the UK, but they were Bored with the USA. And also they were The Clash. And they were the only band that mattered. So... Nothing.


If it's about finding the American Stones or Led Zep in terms of influence and impact on a global scale...

It's Hendrix.

On his own, doesn't matter who he played with.

And I'm not even a fan.


re: the Clash: i thought it was hilarious when fans used to call R.E.M. "the only band that mutters."


Didn't Skynyrd kind of settle this when they opened for the Stones (and marched out on the tongue during Freebird at the end?).

(K, ducking and running)


Jeff Simon, the Drummer, graduated HS with my brother.

Billy Blough, the Bassist, lived in my Apartment Complex while I was in College.

George grew up across the street from Family Friends in Naaman's Manor...Northern Delaware.

Yes, George plays Blues and RnR, "affordable RnR" as he likes to say!

Jeff and Billy and George are a Band...the newer guys probably earn a lesser share but not by much...

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