100 Greatest Rock Bands Of All Time

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Top 100 Best Rock Bands Of All Time
Self

Rock and roll has reshaped music and culture since its earliest appearances in 1950s music.

Narrowing down the best rock bands of all time is no easy task given the wealth of talent throughout history. But with the cultural impact of some of the following bands, it’s impossible not to give credit where credit is due. 

Rock is a genre that has set the curve for pop music. With more sub genres and sub-sub genres than can be named, rock has given rise to punk, grunge, metal, indie, alternative and psychedelic sounds that can still be heard in today’s music.

Though many solo artists also impacted the rock genre, it's the work of these iconic bands that have raised the bar for musicians and instrumentalists everywhere.

Here are the 100 best rock bands of all time!

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You rock and roll enthusiasts might dispute this line-up, but what’s rock without a good brawl?

100. Avenged Sevenfold

The band is known for exploring different sounds emerging as a metal-core band but later moving into hard rock. Their third album and first major-label release, City Of Evil, catapulted them to mainstream success where they have enjoyed an impressive reign since. 

Years active: 1999-present

Members: M. Shadows, Zacky Vengeance, Synyster Gates, Johnny Christ, Brooks Wackerman

Past members: The Rev, Matt Wendt, Justin Sane, Dameon Ash, Arin Ilejay

99. Minor Threat

Their time as a band was brief, but their legacy made a strong impact on the rock movement, particularly in the punk rock scene. Advocating for a rock and roll lifestyle without alcohol, drugs, or promiscuity, their music became the basis of the “straight-edge” movement within rock. 

Years active: 1980-1983

Members: Ian MacKaye, Jeff Nelson, Brian Baker, Lyle Preslar, Steve Hansgen

98. Sleater-Kinney

Known for their feminist anthems and left-leaning politics, this band got their start within the riot grrrl movement. They released an impressive 7 albums between 1994 and 2006 before going on an 8-year hiatus. Reforming in 2014, the band has released albums as recently as 2019. 

Years active: 1994-present

Members: Carrie Brownstein, Corin Tucker

Past members: Laura Macfarlane, Toni Gogin, Misty Farrell, Janet Weiss

97. Kings Of Leon

Formed in Nashville, Kings of Leon blends southern blues influence with arena rock to make their alternative sound. The band is made up of 3 brothers and a cousin who have achieved enormous success with 7 albums and 3 Grammy Awards. 

Years active: 1999-present

Members: Caleb Followill, Jared Followill, Matthew Followill, Nathan Followill  

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96. Hole

Fronted by Courtney Love, Hole is one of the most commercially successful bands led by a woman.

The band achieved mainstream fame with "Live Through This," released one week after the death of Courtney Love’s husband, Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain. Months later, their own bassist Kristen Pfaff would die from a drug overdose. 

Years active: 1989-2002, 2010-2012

Members: Courtney Love, Eric Erlandson, Patty Schemel, Kristen Pfaff, Melissa Auf der Maur

95. Muse

English rock band Muse are famous for their melancholic alternative rock style. Incorporating electronic and pop elements, the band often explores themes of government oppression and civil uprising.

Years active: 1994-present

Members: Matt Bellamy, Chris Wolstenholme, Dominic Howard

94. Pixies

Some of the biggest acts in alternative rock including Nirvana, Radiohead, and Smashing Pumpkins, credit the Pixies as their influences. Despite this, the band initially achieved more commercial success in Europe than the US.

After a hiatus, their reunion allowed them to finally get the appreciation they deserved on both sides of the Atlantic. 

Years active: 1986-1993, 2004-present

Members: Black Francis, David Lovering, Joey Santiago, Paz Lenchantin

Past members: Kim Deal, Kim Shattuck

93. Rage Against the Machine

RATM is known for the revolutionary political ideas often expressed in their music. Despite having numerous separations due to their creative differences, the band has maintained the same members since their formation and has reunited many times to continue to make music. 

Years active: 1991-2000, 2007-2011, 2019-present

Members: Tim Commerford, Zack de la Rocha, Tom Morello, Brad Wilk 

92. Blink-182

Making pop-punk mainstream, Blink-182 led the sound of the late 90s and early 2000s.

Their blend of genres granted them more radio-friendly accessibility than previous punk bands. This allowed them to sell over 50 million albums worldwide and create a sound that would influence bands from Fall Out Boy to All Time Low. 

Years active: 1992-2005, 2009-present

Members: Mark Hoppus, Travis Barker, Matt Skiba

Past members: Scott Raynor, Tom DeLonge

91. Deep Purple

Formed in England in 1986, Deep Purple is considered among the pioneers of heavy metal and modern hard rock. Along with Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, they are the Unholy Trinity of British hard rock that took over radios in the 70s.  

Years active: 1968-1976, 1984-present

Members: Ian Paice, Roger Glover, Ian Gillan, Steve Morse, Don Airey

90. Steely Dan

Blending elements of rock, jazz, latin music, R&B, blues, the unique music of Steely Dan is loved by both fans and critics.

Core members Walter Becker and Donald Fagen fronted the band until Becker's death in 2017, often joined by a revolving cast of touring and recording musicians. The duo write cryptic, often ironic lyrics, that gained them a devoted cult following even throughout their inactive years. 

Years active: 1971—1981, 1993—present

Members: Walter Becker, Donald Fagen

89. Maroon 5

Though their recent work has remained devoted to the dance-pop genre, much of Maroon 5’s early influences come from rock. The original band members came together while still at high school in California.

Maroon 5 has sold more than 120 million records, making them one of the world's best-selling music artists.

Years active: 1994-present

Members: Adam Levine, Jesse Carmichael, James Valentine, Matt Flynn, PJ Morton, Sam Farrar

Past members: Ryan Dusick, Mickey Madden

88. Evanescence

After the release of their first album, "Fallen," in 2003, the band sold over 17 million copies and earned 2 Grammy Awards out of 6 nominations.

Because of multiple fall outs and group changes, no two Evanescence albums feature the same line-up. Despite this, lead singer, Amy Lee, has kept a stronghold on the band and continues to make music both as a solo artist and under Evanescence.  

Years active: 1995-present (hiatus: 2007-2009, 2012-2015)

Members: Amy Lee, Tim McCord, Will Hunt, Troy McLawhorn, Jen Majura

Past members: Ben Moody, David Hodges, Will Boyd, Rocky Gray, John LeCompt, Terry Balsamo

87. The Cranberries

Originally fronted by Niall Quinn, this Irish band wouldn’t see mainstream success until they were joined by the haunting, distinct vocals of the late Dolores O’Riordan. The band officially classify themselves as an alternative rock group, but incorporate aspects of indie pop, post-punk, folk-rock, and pop-rock into their sound.

After O’Riordan’s sudden death in 2018, the band announced they would no longer continue, releasing only a final album that they had been recording prior to her passing. 

Years active: 1989-2003, 2009-2019

Members: Mike Hogan, Noel Hogan, Fergal Lawler, Niall Quinn, Dolores O'Riordan

86. Scorpions

Originating from Germany, this band has enjoyed a long global success with 18 albums spanning over 5 decades. Since the band's inception, its musical style has ranged from hard rock to heavy metal, achieving critical acclaim for their many power ballads. 

Years active: 1965-present

Members: Rudolf Schenker, Klaus Meine, Matthias Jabs, Paweł Mąciwoda, Mikkey Dee

85. Huey Lewis & The News

California-based band, Huey Lewis & The News, draw much of their influence from blues and blue-eyed soul music, creating a blend of pop-rock and blues-rock.

Their popularity expanded after their 1983 song “The Power Of Love” was featured in the famous 1985 film Back To The Future. This allowed them to produce a string of hit singles throughout the 80s and 90s.

Years active: 1979-present

Members: Huey Lewis, Johnny Colla, Sean Hopper, Bill Gibson, John Pierce, Stef Burns, James Harrah

Past members: Mario Cipollina, Chris Hayes

84. The Cars

The Cars catapulted to success in the early 80s by merging 1970s guitar-oriented rock with the new synthesizer-oriented pop that was then becoming popular. Blending sounds from punk minimalism to power pop, the band has sold over 23 million albums in the US alone. 

Years active: 1976-1988, 2010-2011

Members: Ric Ocasek, Benjamin Orr, Elliot Easton, Greg Hawkes, David Robinson

83. Alice In Chains

Although widely associated with grunge music, Alice in Chains' sound incorporates heavy metal elements that speaks to their diversity within the rock music space. Though the band still tours and makes music together occasionally, their initial success was shortlived.

The group was largely inactive after 1996 due to frontman Layne Staley‘s struggles with both fame and drug, which eventually led to his death from a heroin overdose in 2002.

Years active: 1987-present

Members: Jerry Cantrell, Sean Kinney, Mike Inez, William DuVall

Past members: Layne Staley, Mike Starr

82. INXS

INXS (pronounced "in excess") was formed in Sydney, Australia in 1977 as part of the new wave movement. The band later developed a harder pub rock style that included funk and dance elements, uniquely including a saxophone in many of their songs and live performances. 

Years active: 1979-2012

Members: Garry Gary Beers, Andrew Farriss, Jon Farriss, Tim Farriss, Michael Hutchence, Kirk Pengilly, Jon Stevens, J. D. Fortune, Ciaran Gribbin

81. Sonic Youth

Sonic Youth guitarists, Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo, were famous for using alternative tunings and would use specific guitars tuned for specific songs. Though this must have been a challenge during live performances, this technique raised the bar for guitarists in the rock industry.

The group disbanded in 2011 after Moore and vocalist Kill Gordon ended their 27-year marriage. 

Years active: 1981—2011

Members: Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon, Lee Ranaldo, Richard Edson, Anne DeMarinis, Bob Bert, Jim Sclavunos, Steve Shelley, Jim O'Rourke, Mark Ibold

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80. Slipknot

Slipknot is well known for its attention-grabbing image, aggressive style of music, and energetic and chaotic live shows. After several line-up changes, the group settled on an 8-man line-up that has toured across the globe for many years. 

Years active: 1995-present

Members: Shawn Crahan, Craig Jones, Mick Thomson, Corey Taylor, Sid Wilson, Jim Root, Alessandro Venturella, Jay Weinberg

Past members: Anders Colsefni, Greg Welts, Josh Brainard, Paul Gray, Joey Jordison, Donnie Steele, Chris Fehn

79. MC5

Emerging as innovators of the punk movement in the United States, MC5’s leftist political ties and anti-establishment lyrics spoke to a budding counterculture movement of the 1960s. Including elements of garage rock, hard rock, blues rock, and psychedelic rock, MC5 are known for their loud, energetic style. 

Years active: 1964-1972, 1992, 2003-2012

Members: Wayne Kramer, Fred "Sonic" Smith, Rob Tyner, Michael Davis, Dennis Thompson

78. Styx

With their progressive rock sound, Styx is known for incorporating elements of musical theatre into hard rock. They have enjoyed astounding commercial success, selling over 53 million albums worldwide.

Despite their 1984 breakup, the band has launched multiple reunion albums and tours since. 

Years active: 1972-1984, 1990-1991, 1995-present

Members: James "J.Y." Young, Chuck Panozzo, Tommy Shaw, Todd Sucherman, Lawrence Gowan, Ricky Phillips

Past members: Dennis DeYoung, John Panozzo, John "J.C." Curulewski, Glen Burtnik

77. Goo Goo Dolls

Emerging as a punk-rock band, Goo Goo Dolls are perhaps better known for their pop-rock and alternative-rock musings. The band has had 19 top ten singles across various charts and has sold over 12 million albums worldwide. 

Years active: 1986-present

Members: Johnny Rzeznik, Robby Takac

Past members: George Tutuska, Mike Malinin

76. Beastie Boys

Infusing their punk roots with rock and hip-hop influence, the Beastie Boys had a long, successful career before separating in 2012, citing that they could not make music without vocalist Adam Yauch who had died from cancer. 

Years active: 1978-2012

Members: John Berry, Michael "Mike D" Diamond, Kate Schellenbach, Adam "MCA" Yauch, Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz

75. Korn

Korn is credited with pioneering the nu-metal genre, a subgenre of alternative metal that combines elements of heavy metal music with elements of other music genres. Bringing this genre to mainstream success, the band has released 13 albums since their formation. 

Years active: 1993-present

Members: Jonathan Davis, James Shaffer, Reginald Arvizu, Brian Welch, Ray Luzier

Past members: David Silveria

74. Matchbox Twenty

With a debut album that has been certified 3x Platinum, Matchbox Twenty was a powerful sound in 90s rock. Their style mediates between post-grunge, alternative rock, and pop-rock. 

Years active: 1995-present

Members: Rob Thomas, Brian Yale, Paul Doucette, Kyle Cook

Past members: Adam Gaynor

73. Mumford & Sons

British folk-rock band Mumford & Sons have released 4 successful studio albums. Their second album, "Babel," became the fastest-selling rock album of the decade after it’s 2012 release and received 8 Grammy Award nominations, taking home the award for Album Of The Year. 

Years active: 2007-present

Members: Marcus Mumford, Winston Marshall, Ben Lovett, Ted Dwane

72. Funkadelic

As the name suggests, this Detroit band was a funk rock band that pioneered the funk music culture of the 1970s. The band was led by George Clinton who also fronted its sister band Parliament.

Championing a heavier, psychedelic rock-oriented sound than its sister, Funkadelic became a popular band in the rock community achieving significant mainstream success between 1975 and 1978.

Years active: 1968-1982

Members: George Clinton, Billy Bass Nelson, Eddie Hazel, Tawl Ross, Tiki Fulwood

71. Arctic Monkeys

Formed in Sheffield in 2002, Arctic Monkeys’ sound mediates between indie-rock, garage-rock, and post-punk revival.

They are widely considered to be one of the first bands that gained their fame from the internet and, in the early 2000s, represented the possibility of a change in the way in which new bands are promoted and marketed.

Years active: 2002-present

Members: Alex Turner, Jamie Cook, Nick O'Malley, Matt Helders

Past members: Andy Nicholson

70. Disturbed

As one of the most successful rock bands of the modern era, Disturbed has released seven studio albums, 5 of which have consecutively debuted at number one on the Billboard 200.

Their lyrical themes range from the Judeo-Christian concept of Heaven and Hell, domestic abuse, suicide, insanity, relationships, war, to more fantastical themes, such as vampirism, werewolves and demons.

Years active: 1994-present

Members: Dan Donegan, Mike Wengren, David Draiman, John Moyer

Past members: Erich Awalt, Steve Kmak

69. Creed

Formed in Tallahassee, Florida, Creed dabbled in post-grunge, hard-rock, alternative rock, and alternative metal across their 5 studio albums. Becoming popular in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Creed released three consecutive multi-platinum albums, with their album "Human Clay" being a certified diamond album.

Years active: 1994-2004, 2009-2012

Members: Brian Marshall, Scott Phillips, Scott Stapp, Mark Tremonti

Past members: Brian Brasher 

68. System Of A Down

Known for their heavy metal sound, this Armenian-American band incorporated elements of alternative metal, nu-metal, hard-rock, and progressive metal across their 5 studio albums, three of which debuted at number one on US Billboard 200. 

Years active: 1994-2006, 2010-present

Members: Serj Tankian, Daron Malakian, Shavo Odadjian, John Dolmayan

Past members: Ontronik Khachaturian

67. The Killers

The Killers made dance-rock mainstream again with their soaring melodies and the heart-wrenching voice of frontman, Brandon Flowers. They are considered the most successful act to ever emerge from Nevada, selling more than 28 million albums. 

Years active: 2001-present

Members: Brandon Flowers, Dave Keuning, Mark Stoermer, Ronnie Vannucci Jr.

Past members: Dell Neal, Matt Norcross, Brian Havens

66. Arcade Fire

Canadian band Arcade Fire incorporates a slew of unique musical elements to create a sound unmatched by any other rock band. Their live shows feature frontman Win Butler‘s signature 12-string guitar, French horns, glockenspiels, mandolins, synthesizers, harps, and more.

Years active: 2001-present

Members: Win Butler, Régine Chassagne, Richard Reed Parry, Tim Kingsbury, William Butler, Jeremy Gara

Past members: Josh Deu, Adam Etinson, Myles Broscoe, Brendan Reed, Dane Mills, Tim Kile, Howard Bilerman, Sarah Neufeld

65. No Doubt

Before achieving fame as a solo artist, Gwen Stefani fronted the ska-punk band, No Doubt. The band released many breakup anthems penned by Stefani about bandmate and ex-boyfriend, Tony Kanal.

No Doubt have taken several long hiatuses throughout their career but a reunion is never out of the cards. 

Years active: 1986-present

Members: Gwen Stefani, Tom Dumont, Tony Kanal, Adrian Young

64. Toto

Everyone knows Toto for the infectiously catchy song, “Africa.” Their musical style combines elements of pop, rock, soul, funk, progressive rock, hard rock, R&B, blues, and jazz. They are currently on hiatus. 

Years active: 1977-2008, 2010-2019

Members: Steve Lukather, David Paich, Steve Porcaro, Joseph Williams, David Hungate, Bobby Kimball, Jeff Porcaro, Mike Porcaro, Fergie Frederiksen, Jean-Michel Byron, Simon Phillips, Greg Phillinganes, Keith Carlock

63. REO Speedwagon

Over the course of their career, the band has sold more than 40 million records and has charted 13 Top 40 hits, including the number one "Keep On Loving You" which recently re-entered charts after featuring in popular TV series, Ozark

Years active: 1967—present

Members: Neal Doughty, Kevin Cronin, Bruce Hall, Dave Amato, Bryan Hitt

62. Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden is considered one of the most influential and successful heavy metal bands in history, selling over 100 million copies of their albums to date. Throughout their career, they have faced a backlash from Christian groups in the US who claim the band support Satanism through their lyrics, a suggestion that the British rockers vehemently refute.

Years active: 1975-present

Members: Steve Harris, Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, Bruce Dickinson, Nicko McBrain, Janick Gers

Past members: Doug Sampson, Paul Di'Anno, Dennis Stratton, Clive Burr

61. Garbage

Formed in the US, Garbage is fronted by Scottish vocalist, Shirley Manson. The band achieved commercial success and critical acclaim throughout the creation of their first 3 albums, but quietly split during the making of their fourth.

After reuniting in 2005, they finally completed the project but have had numerous splits since. 

Years active: 1993-2005, 2007, 2010-present 

Members: Shirley Manson, Duke Erikson, Steve Marker, Butch Vig

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60. Radiohead

Influenced by multiple musical genres, Radiohead's experimental approach to rock has been credited for advancing the sound of alternative rock and the development of the unique subgenre, art-rock.

The band famously hate their first hit and breakout single “Creep,” but its catchy tune has sustained popularity since the band’s emergence on the charts. 

Years active: 1985-present

Members: Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Colin Greenwood, Ed O'Brien, Philip Selway

59. The Replacements 

Initially a punk-rock band, The Replacements are considered one of the pioneers of alternative rock achieving critical acclaim with their early albums. Devoted to their rock and roll lifestyles inside and outside the studio, self-sabotage got in the way of the band’s long-term success.

Due to many live concerts performed under the influence, they were banned from several venues and unable to tour. 

Years active: 1979-1991, 2006, 2012-2015

Members: Paul Westerberg, Tommy Stinson, Chris Mars, Bob Stinson, Slim Dunlap, Steve Foley

58. The Black Keys

Childhood best friends Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney formed this duo after dropping out of college.

The pair began as an independent act, recording music in basements and self-producing their records before they eventually broke out as one of the most popular garage rock artists during a second wave of the genre's revival in the 2010s.

Years active: 2001-present

Members: Dan Auerbach, Patrick Carney

57. Oasis

Oasis, formed in Machester, was one of the most successful bands in British-rock history. The band's second album "(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?" remains one of the most best-selling albums of all time.

Outside of their music, frontmen and brothers, Liam and Noel Gallagher, became regular features in tabloid newspapers because of their wild lifestyles and sibling disputes. The latter of these problems would lead to the end of the band.

The long-standing public feud between the Gallaghers quashes any hopes of an Oasis reunion. 

Years active: 1991-2009

Members: Liam Gallagher, Noel Gallagher, Paul Arthurs, Paul McGuigan, Tony McCarroll, Alan White, Gem Archer, Andy Bell

56. Paramore

Paramore has a distinct sound thanks to the powerful vocals of lead singer, Hayley Williams. The band has enjoyed huge commercial success despite internal feuds over record deals and contracts.

The original line-up disbanded after the departure of Zach and Josh Farro in 2010. The latter released a scathing attack on ex-girlfriend, Williams, due to the fact that she's the only band member who is actually officially signed with the band’s label.

Zach Farro would later rejoin the band, and continue to make music and tour the globe. 

Years active: 2004-present

Members: Hayley Williams, Taylor York, Zac Farro

Past members: Josh Farro, Jeremy Davis, Jason Bynum, John Hembree, Hunter Lamb

55. Phish

Psychedelic rock band, Phish, draws influence from many genres including funk, progressive rock, folk, country, jazz, blues, bluegrass, and pop. Their live performances are famous for extended jams and musical improvisation that make each show unique.

After a brief hiatus from 2004-2009, the band reunited and have since resumed regular touring 

Years active: 1983-2004, 2009-present

Members: Trey Anastasio, Jon Fishman, Mike Gordon, Page McConnell

Past members: Jeff Holdsworth, Marc Daubert

54. Nine Inch Nails

Formed in 1988, Trent Reznor remained the only official member of this band until 2016 with the addition of Atticus Rose. The duo tour with an extensive live band to perform their extensive musical catalogue.

Nine Inch Nails is known to tailor songs to specific performances and use extensive lighting and special effects. 

Years active: 1988-present

Members: Trent Reznor, Atticus Rose

53. The Runaways

This all-female line-up boasted some impressive members who have gone on to achieve solo success. Their distinctive look and glam punk sound gained a cult following long after their disbandment.

Even though US audiences never fully appreciated The Runaways, they were a sensation overseas, particularly in Japan. 

Years active: 1975-1979

Members: Joan Jett, Sandy West, Micki Steele, Lita Ford, Peggy Foster, Cherie Currie, Jackie Fox, Vicki Blue, Laurie McAllister

52. Green Day

Green Day emerged as one of the most popular bands of the 1990s, but their success dwindled significantly towards the end of the decade. A testament to their talent, the band had a major comeback with their 2004 album "American Idiot!" inspired by the Iraq war and George W. Bush’s presidency. 

Years active: 1987—present

Members: Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt, Tré Cool

Past members: Sean Hughes, Raj Punjabi, John Kiffmeyer, Jason White

51. Depeche Mode

Depeche Mode remains a leading force in the electronic rock genre 3 decades after their original formation. The band famously lost keyboard player, Alan Wilder, in 1995 due to internal dispute during the recording and touring of the band’s 8th album, but have maintained the same line-up since. 

Years active: 1980-present

Members: Andy Fletcher, Martin Gore, Dave Gahan

Past members: Vince Clarke, Alan Wilder

50. U2

Irish band, U2, formed as teenagers while attending the same school in Dublin. Even though their early work charted well in UK charts, the band faced a creative stagnation for many years.

Much of their commercial achievement and critical acclaim came 25 years after their initial formation, proving that determination is the key to success.

Years active: 1976-present

Members: Bono, Adam Clayton, The Edge, Larry Mullen Jr.

Past members: Dik Evans, Ivan McCormick

49. Ramones

Cited as the first true punk band, the Ramones initially had limited commercial success but made a great live act, touring almost non-stop for 22 years.

Inspired by Paul McCartney, who reportedly used the alias Paul Ramon to anonymously check into hotels, the band members all adopted pseudonyms ending with the surname Ramone. 

Years active: 1974-1996

Members: Johnny Ramone, Dee Dee Ramone, Joey Ramone, Tommy Ramone, Marky Ramone, Richie Ramone, C. J. Ramone

48. Foo Fighters

After the death of frontman Kurt Cobain, Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl fronted the Foo Fighters. Initially a solo project, Grohl soon recruited other members including fellow Nirvana bandmate, Pat Smear.

Since then, the band have gained a large mainstream following and earned themselves 12 Grammys. 

Years active: 1994-present

Members: Dave Grohl, Nate Mendel, Pat Smear, Taylor Hawkins, Chris Shiflett, Rami Jaffee

Past members: William Goldsmith, Franz Stahl

47. Panic! At The Disco

This pop-rock band was initially formed by childhood friends, but now exists as a solo project presented by frontman Brendon Uerie. As a group, the band exploded onto the pop and rock scenes in the early 2000s, continuing to make music together throughout the decade.

Throughout the 2010s, however, creative differences and hectic schedules caused several band members to part from the group, leaving only Uerie to continue the project. 

Years active: 2004-present

Members: Brendon Urie

Past members: Ryan Ross, Spencer Smith, Brent Wilson, Jon Walker, Dallon Weekes

46. Talking Heads

Talking Heads created the sound of the 80s with their experimental punk, art rock, funk music and avant-garde sensibilities. Their influence over pop music is still palpable today with Selena Gomez recently sampling the “Psycho Killer” bassline for her song “Bad Liar.”

Years active: 1975-2002

Members: David Byrne, Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth, Jerry Harrison

45. Bon Jovi

New Jersey band, Bon Jovi, are a leading sound in arena rock thanks to their extensive discography of athemic singles including, “Livin’ On a Prayer,” “Runaway,” “Bad Medicine,” “You Give Love a Bad Name” and “It’s My Life.”

Years active: 1983-present

Members: Jon Bon Jovi, David Bryan, Tico Torres, Phil X, Hugh McDonald

Past members: Alec John Such, Richie Sambora

44. Coldplay

British band, Coldplay, have maintained the same line-up since their formation as college students playing together at the University College London. The band’s most notable single, and album of the same name, is "Viva La Vida," which allowed them to break into the US market.

While no work of theirs has topped this song’s success, they’ve still sustained popularity and acclaim throughout their 4 subsequent albums. 

Years active: 1996-present

Members: Chris Martin, Jonny Buckland, Guy Berryman, Will Champion

43. The Police

Led by vocalist and bassist, Sting, The Police have forged their own brand of rock, drawing from punk, reggae and jazz influences. The band was considered among the leaders of the Second British Invasion in the US music scene.

The Police disbanded in 1986, but reunited in early 2007 for a one-off world tour that ended in August 2008, making them the high-earning musicians of that year. 

Years active: 1977-1986, 2007-2008

Members: Sting, Stewart Copeland, Henry Padovani, Andy Summers

42. The Beach Boys

Influenced by their Californian roots, surf songs and vocal harmonies were the basis of this band’s early success. Incorporating jazz and classical elements, the band created their own kind of rock that made them one of the most influential groups of their time. 

Years active: 1961-present

Members: Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston

Past members: Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson, David Marks, Ricky Fataar, Blondie Chaplin

41. Rush

Canadian rock band, Rush, went through several configurations before arriving at their classic line-up best known to fans. Known for musicianship, complex compositions, and eclectic lyrical motifs, the band draws heavily on science fiction, fantasy, and philosophy.

Rush’s musical style has changed several times over the years, from a blues-inspired hard rock beginning, later moving into progressive rock, and including a period marked by heavy use of synthesizers.

Years active: 1968—2018

Members: Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, Neil Peart, John Rutsey, Jeff Jones, Lindy Young, Joe Perna, Mitchel Bossi

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40. Kiss

Kiss is recognizable for its members' face painting and their distinguishable logo. As a live act, they create memorable performances for their fans with fire breathing, blood-spitting, smoking guitars, shooting rockets, levitating drum kits, and pyrotechnics. 

Years active: 1973—present

Members: Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Eric Singer, Tommy Thayer

Past members: Ace Frehley, Peter Criss, Eric Carr, Vinnie Vincent, Mark St. John, Bruce Kulick

39. The Doors

The Doors were among the most controversial and influential rock acts of the 1960s, mostly because of frontman Jim Morrison's lyrics and voice along with his erratic stage persona, and the group was widely regarded as an important part of the era's counterculture.

After Morrison’s sudden death in 1971, the band continued as a trio for 2 years before eventually calling it quits. Since then, they have performed together for special occasions and released albums featuring early demos by Morrison that had never been completed. 

Years active: 1967-1973

Members: Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger, John Densmore

38. Heart

To date, Heart has sold over 35 million records worldwide, including over 22.5 million in album sales in the U.S. Attesting to their long-standing success, they have had top 10 albums on the Billboard 200 in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2010s.

Years active: 1973-present

Members: Ann Wilson, Nancy Wilson, Denny Fongheiser, Craig Bartock, Ryan Waters, Dan Walker, Andy Stoller

37. ZZ Top

Initially rooted in blues, ZZ Top's style has evolved throughout their career to a more blues-rock style. In the 1970s they experimented with instruments including clavinets, saxophones, and synthesizers while more recent releases have seen a transition to punk and dance rock. 

Years active: 1969-present

Members: Billy Gibbons, Frank Beard, Dusty Hill

Past members: Lanier Greig, Dan Mitchell, Billy Ethridge

36. R.E.M.

Thanks to the band’s obscure lyrics, melodic bass lines, and the distinctive vocals of Micheal Stipe, R.E.M. is viewed as the act that paved the way for the likes of Nirvana and Pavement. 

Years active: 1980-2011

Members: Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Michael Stipe

35. Genesis

Genesis have explored several genres throughout their early career, but have an overarching consistency with rock undertones.

The band moved from folk music to progressive rock in the 1970s, before moving towards pop-leaning rock at the end of the decade. This would kickstart a long career of success in both the UK and US. 

Years active: 1967-2000, 2006-2007, 2020-present

Members: Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, Phil Collins

Past members: Peter Gabriel, Anthony Phillips, Chris Stewart, John Silver, John Mayhew, Mick Barnard, Steve Hackett, Ray Wilson

34. Def Leppard

Throughout their long, successful career, this band has overcome hardship, making music despite struggles. After their initial rise to fame, drummer Rick Allen lost his left arm in a car accident. Refusing to let this stop him, he designed a custom electric drum kit that allows him to play the drums using just his right arm and legs.

Later, their guitarist Steve Clarke lost his life in his battle against substance abuse, but the band have continued to honor his legacy by making music. 

Years active: 1977-present

Members: Joe Elliott, Rick Savage, Rick Allen, Phil Collen, Vivian Campbell

Past members: Tony Kenning, Pete Willis, Steve Clark

33. Fall Out Boy

Initially formed by bassist Pete Wentz and guitarist Joe Trohman as a pop-punk side project of the members' respective hardcore bands, it didn’t take long for this hobby to transform the band into superstars.

Dabbling in pop-punk, pop-rock, alternative rock and emo pop, Fall Out Boy has achieved massive global success since the start of the millennium. 

Years active: 2001-present

Members: Patrick Stump, Joe Trohman, Pete Wentz, Andy Hurley

Past members: Ben Rose, Mike Pareskuwicz, T.J. Kunasch, Brandon Hamm

32. Van Halen

From the jump (pardon the pun), Van Halen were catapulted to success. Their debut album has sold over 10 million copies and their daring sound has changed guitar solos forever.

Years active: 1972-present

Members: David Lee Roth, Alex Van Halen, Eddie Van Halen, Wolfgang Van Halen

Past members: Mark Stone, Michael Anthony, Sammy Hagar, Gary Cherone

31. Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam was a staple in the grunge era and is considered one of the most popular rock bands of the 1990s. Often refusing to do interviews and make music videos, the band rejected music industry marketing practices, and relied only on the quality of their music to achieve their fame. 

Years active: 1990-present

Members: Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, Mike McCready, Eddie Vedder, Matt Cameron

Past members: Jack Irons, Dave Krusen, Matt Chamberlain, Dave Abbruzzese

30. Foreigner

Foreigner were formed on both sides of the Atlantic through the members' early meetings in London and New York. Given that the members consisted of both American and British musicians, they labeled the band with the name, “Foreigner.”

Years active: 1976-present

Members: Mick Jones, Thom Gimbel, Jeff Pilson, Kelly Hansen, Michael Bluestein, Chris Frazier, Bruce Watson

Past members: Jason Bonham, Lou Gramm, Al Greenwood, Ian McDonald, Dennis Elliott, Ed Gagliardi, Rick Wills, Johnny Edwards, Bruce Turgon

29. Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers

Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers' music is typically characterized as both Southern rock and heartland rock. They are often cited alongside artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seger, and John Mellencamp as progenitors of that genre that arose in the late 1970s and 1980s, making the band an important influence in the development of modern rock.

The band ceased touring and music production in 2017 after Petty passed away from an accidental overdose.

Years active: 1976-2017

Members: Tom Petty, Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench, Stan Lynch, Ron Blair, Howie Epstein, Scott Thurston, Steve Ferrone

28. The Smiths

Formed in Manchester, The Smiths were one of the most important bands to emerge from the English independent music scene in the 80s. Their sound was based on a fusion of 1960s rock and post-punk, rejecting the synthesized dance music of their era.

Internal tensions led to the band’s 1987 breakup and since then all suggestions of a reunion have been refused. 

Years active: 1982-1987

Members: Morrissey, Johnny Marr, Andy Rourke, Mike Joyce

27. Santana

Formed by Mexican-American guitarist and songwriter, Carlos Santana, this band demonstrated a new kind of rock laced with Latin influence. Their initial breakthrough was thanks to a powerful performance at Woodstock, a music festival that defined a generation of countercultural music.

Following their early success, Santana experimented with elements of jazz fusion to produce blues rock. The classic Santana line-up continues to tour and perform together today. 

Years active: 1966—present

Members: Carlos Santana, Tommy Anthony, Ray Greene, David K. Mathews, Paoli Mejías, Karl Perazzo, Benny Rietveld, Cindy Blackman Santana, Andy Vargas, Jim Jameson

26. Journey

Composed of former members of Santana and Frumious Bandersnatch, Journey achieved most of its commercial success between 1978 and 1987 with Steve Perry as frontman.

Their early work explored jazz fusion but the band is probably best known for their arena rock and progressive rock anthems. The group continues to make music together in different formations, but are currently embroiled in a lawsuit about which band members still have trademarks and rights to perform as Journey. 

Years active: 1973-1987, 1995-present

Members: Neal Schon, Ross Valory*, Steve Smith*, Jonathan Cain, Randy Jackson*, Arnel Pineda, Narada Michael Walden* (*pending resolution of lawsuit).

Past members: Prairie Prince, Gregg Rolie, George Tickner, Aynsley Dunbar, Robert Fleischman, Steve Perry, Steve Augeri, Deen Castronovo, Jeff Scott Soto

25. Eagles

Influenced by 1960s rhythm and blues, soul, bluegrass, and rock bands such as the Byrds and Buffalo Springfield, the Eagles' overall sound could be described as "California rock." While their early work plays around with folk rock and country rock, their more recent releases are associated with arena rock. 

Years active: 1971-1980, 1994-present

Members: Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Timothy B. Schmit, Deacon Frey, Vince Gill

Past members: Glenn Frey, Bernie Leadon, Randy Meisner, Don Felder

24. The Cure 

Hailing from West Sussex, The Cure quickly established its place in the new-wave rock that emerged in England in the 80s.

Their dark and tormented musical style, accompanied by their matching stage look, had a strong influence on the emerging genre of gothic rock as well as the subculture that eventually formed around the genre. The band has seen many rotating line-ups with lead vocalist, Robert Smith, as the only constant member. 

Years active: 1978-present

Members: Robert Smith, Simon Gallup, Roger O'Donnell, Jason Cooper, Reeves Gabrels

Past members: Michael Dempsey, Matthieu Hartley, Andy Anderson, Phil Thornalley, Lol Tolhurst, Boris Williams, Perry Bamonte, Pearl Thompson

23. Yes

Pioneers of progressive rock, Yes initially started out performing covers and originals that exhibited more of a pop, blues and jazz sound. They found fame with a change of direction in the 1970s, shifting to rock.

Yes is one of the most successful, influential, and longest-lasting progressive rock bands. They have sold 13.5 million albums in the US alone.

Years active: 1968-present

Members: Steve Howe, Alan White, Geoff Downes, Billy Sherwood, Jon Davison

Past members: Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Peter Banks, Bill Bruford, Tony Kaye, Tony O'Reilly, Rick Wakeman, Patrick Moraz, Trevor Horn, Trevor Rabin, Eddie Jobson, Igor Khoroshev, Oliver Wakeman, Benoît David

22. The Clash

Formed in London, The Clash were among the key players in the original wave of punk rock that originated in Britain. Later on, they would contribute to the post-punk movement through their use of reggae, dub, funk, ska, and rockabilly genres.

They broke onto the US scene with their hit album "London Calling" in 1980. The cover of this album, based on an Elvis Presely album cover, became one of the best known in the history of rock.

Years active: 1976-1986

Members: Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, Topper Headon, Terry Chimes, Keith Levene, Rob Harper, Pete Howard, Nick Sheppard, Vince White

21. Metallica

Incorporating rock with a strong metal influence, Metallica is one of the most influential bands in heavy metal.

With an impressive catalogue of 10 studio albums, 4 live albums, a cover album, 5 extended plays, 37 singles and 39 music videos, it’s no surprise that the band ranks as one of the most commercially successful groups of all time. 

Years active: 1981-present

Members: James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, Robert Trujillo

Past members: Dave Mustaine, Ron McGovney, Cliff Burton, Jason Newsted

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20. Black Sabbath

Due to their occult themes and horror-inspired stylings, Black Sabbath, along with Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin, were named the “Unholy Trinity” of British hard rock and heavy metal in the 1970s.

They are often credited with the popularization of heavy metal music. Despite having a revolving door of over 30 members, it's perhaps their original line-up that is the most memorable.  

Years active: 1968-2006, 2011-2017

Members: Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Bill Ward

19. The Allman Brothers Band

Duane Allman‘s guitar work and Gregg Allman on the organ, coupled with their trademark raspy vocals, gave this band a distinctive blue-tinged rock that marked the music of their era.

The band faced tragedy early in their career, losing Duane Allman and bassist Berry Oakley in motorcycle accidents within a year of each other. Though the band continued, internal disputes and substance abuse would continue to play out behind the scenes of their success. 

Years active: 1969-1976, 1978-1982, 1989-2014

Members: Duane Allman, Gregg Allman, Dickey Betts, Jai Johanny "Jaimoe" Johanson, Berry Oakley, Butch Trucks, Chuck Leavell, Lamar Williams, David Goldflies

18. Chicago

The self-described "rock and roll band with horns" blended elements of classical music, jazz, R&B, and pop music. Illinois natives, Chicago, began writing songs with politically charged lyrics, and later moved to a softer sound, generating several hit ballads. 

Years active: 1967-present

Members: Robert Lamm, Lee Loughnane, James Pankow, Walter Parazaider, Keith Howland, Lou Pardini, Walfredo Reyes Jr., Ray Herrmann, Neil Donell, Brett Simons, Ramon Yslas

Past members: Terry Kath, Danny Seraphine, Peter Cetera, Laudir de Oliveira, Donnie Dacus, Chris Pinnick, Bill Champlin, Jason Scheff, Dawayne Bailey, Tris Imboden, Bruce Gaitsch, Drew Hester, Daniel de los Reyes, Jeff Coffey

17. Nirvana

Their tenure may have been short, but the lasting impact Nirvana has made on music and pop culture is immeasurable. Characterized by their punk aesthetic, Nirvana's fusion of pop melodies with noise, combines themes of abjection and social alienation.

After a battle with substance abuse, lead singer Kurt Cobain took his own life in 1994. The band disbanded afterward but have made several posthumous releases of demos and recordings to honor Kurt Cobain.

Years active: 1987-1994

Members: Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, Dave Grohl

16. The Kinks

The Kinks was formed by two brothers, Ray and Dave Davies, from North London in 1964. The band emerged during the height of British rhythm and blues and Merseybeat, and were briefly part of the British Invasion of the United States until their touring ban in 1965 due to the constant fighting between the brothers. 

Years active: 1964-1996

Members: Ray Davies, Dave Davies, Mick Avory, Peter Quaife

15. Red Hot Chilli Peppers

Red Hot Chilli Peppers is the most successful band in the history of alternative rock, holding the records for most number-one singles (13), most cumulative weeks at number one (85) and most top-ten songs (25) on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart.

Years active: 1983—present

Members: Anthony Kiedis, Flea, John Frusciante, Chad Smith

Past members: Hillel Slovak, Jack Irons, Cliff Martinez, Jack Sherman, DeWayne McKnight, D. H. Peligro, Arik Marshall, Jesse Tobias, Dave Navarro, Josh Klinghoffer

14. Linkin Park

In an effort to modernize rock, Linkin Park forged a sound of their own by fusing heavy metal with hip-hop and, later in their career, transitioning to electronica. They are among the best-selling bands of the 21st century, and the world's best-selling music artists, having sold over 100 million records worldwide. 

Years active: 1996-present

Members: Rob Bourdon, Brad Delson, Mike Shinoda, Dave Farrell, Joe Hahn

Past members: Mark Wakefield, Kyle Christner, Chester Bennington

13. Joan Jett & The Blackhearts

After The Runaways disbanded, Joan Jett expanded her solo project with a backing band called The Blackhearts. She famously formed the band after placing an advertisement in the LA Weekly looking for “three good men.”

Years active: 1980-present

Members: Joan Jett, Dougie Needles, Hal B. Selzer, Michael McDermott

Past members: Ricky Byrd, Tony Rey, Gary Ryan, Kasim Sulton, Phil Feit, Kenny Aaronson, Sami Yaffa, Enzo Penizzotto, Acey Slade, Lee Crystal, Thommy Price

12. Traveling Wilburys

Everyone’s favorite Beatle, George Harrison, was the brains behind this supergroup, comprised of some of the biggest names in rock music at the time. Combining their rock, pop and folk stylings with a self-effacing humour, the project was laced with personality.

Though their time as a band was brief, they combined some of the greatest talent in the music industry to produce many hits.  

Years active: 1988-1991

Members: George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison

11. The Who

The Who is widely considered one of the most influential bands in history, not just in the rock genre but in music, in general. They established themselves as part of the pop art and mod movements featuring destructive artistic imagery in their live shows.

If you think of rock and roll as smashing guitars and drum kits on stage, you can thank The Who for that. Though they made magic together on stage and in the studio, the band members had an infamously bad working relationship, developing their aggressive stage presence partially as a result of disputes within the band.

In recent years, after the death of bass guitarist John Entwhistle, the remaining members have been able to put aside their differences and reunite. 

Years active: 1964-1983, 1989, 1996-present

Members: Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend

Past members: John Entwistle, Keith Moon, Doug Sandom, Kenney Jones

10. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band

Bruce Springsteen has led this backing band through several decades, numerous tours, and several albums. They are known to produce a powerful live show that makes audiences forget that the glory days of rock are long over. 

Years active: 1972-1989, 1995, 1999-present

Members: Bruce Springsteen, Garry Tallent, Roy Bittan, Max Weinberg, Steven Van Zandt, Nils Lofgren, Patti Scialfa, Jake Clemons

Past members: Clarence Clemons, Danny Federici, Vini Lopez, David Sancious, Ernest Carter

9. Fleetwood Mac

As one of the world's best-selling bands, Fleetwood Mac has racked up an impressive 120 million records sold worldwide. Though their line-up has changed numerous times over the years, fans are probably most familiar with Stevie Nicks fronting the group.

The addition of Nicks, with her pop-rock vocals and songwriting abilities, allowed the group to achieve mainstream success in 1974. 

Years active: 1967-1995, 1997-present

Members: Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Stevie Nicks, Mike Campbell, Neil Finn

8. Aerosmith

Steven Tyler and Joe Perry are the primary songwriters and frontmen behind Aerosmith, earning them the nickname “Toxic Twins.” The band embody everything we know as rock and roll with their wailing voices, scarves, and electric guitars. 

Years active: 1970—present

Members: Steven Tyler, Tom Hamilton, Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Joey Kramer

Past members: Ray Tabano, Jimmy Crespo, Rick Dufay

7. Creedence Clearwater Revival

With lyrics about bayous, catfish, the Mississippi River and roots rock, swamp rock, and blues-rock elements, you wouldn’t guess that the band originated in the San Francisco Bay Area.

This socially-conscious band was also one of the leading voices in the anti-war efforts during the Vietnam era in the US. You might recognize the voice of Tina Turner singing “Proud Mary,” but the song was originally released by the CCR. 

Years active: 1967—1972

Members: John Fogerty, Tom Fogerty, Stu Cook, Doug Clifford

6. AC/DC

Australian rock band AC/DC began in Sydney by Scottish-born brothers Malcolm and Angus Young in 1973.

The band took their name after seeing AC/DC on a sewing machine, an abbreviation meaning "alternating current/direct current" electricity. The brothers felt that this name symbolized the band's raw energy, power-driven performances of their music.

Years active: 1973-present

Members: Angus Young, Chris Slade, Stevie Young, Axl Rose

Past members: Malcolm Young, Dave Evans, Bon Scott, Phil Rudd, Mark Evans, Cliff Williams, Brian Johnson, Simon Wright

5. Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd rebranded rock to create their own personal genre that could best be described as psychedelic rock. They were distinguished for their extended compositions, sonic experimentation, philosophical lyrics, and elaborate live shows.

They began their career at the vanguard of London’s underground music scene but rapidly achieved mainstream international success throughout the 70s. 

Years active: 1965-1995, 2005, 2012-2014

Members: Nick Mason, Roger Waters, Bob Klose, Richard Wright, Syd Barrett, David Gilmour

4. Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin remains one of the most influential and enduring bands of the rock glory days. They are widely considered one of the progenitors of heavy metal, although their style drew from a variety of influences, including blues and folk music.

Consistently experimenting with new styles and sounds, the band remained commercially and critically successful throughout the entirety of its run. Even their reputations for excess and debauchery couldn’t slow their fame.

It was the sudden death of drummer John Bonham that brought the band to an end, though they have had many sporadic reunions over the years with Bonham’s son, Jason, taking his late father’s place. 

Years active: 1971—1980

Members: Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, John Bonham

3. Queen

Estimates of Queen's record sales range from 170 million to 200 million records, making them one of the world's best-selling music artists. Their innovative approach to rock, toying with operatic and pop influences, made them the sound of a generation.

Known for his on-stage theatricality, frontman Freddie Mercury is arguably one of the greatest performers to ever live. In 1991, Mercury tragically passed away after a long battle with AIDs, bringing an end to Queen as we knew it.

Today, Brian May and Roger Taylor honor Queen’s legacy with occasional tours and performances.  

Years active: 1970-present

Members: Brian May, Roger Taylor

Past members: Freddie Mercury, John Deacon

2. The Rolling Stones

With raunchy lyrics, killer musicianship and a mesmerizing stage presence, The Rolling Stones defined rock and roll as we know it.

At the forefront of the British Invasion of bands that became popular in the US in 1964, The Stones were identified with the youthful and rebellious counterculture of the 1960s. This has allowed them to achieve a worldwide, enduring success with one of the most recognizable line-ups in music history. 

Years active: 1962-present

Members: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Ronnie Wood

Past members: Brian Jones, Ian Stewart, Bill Wyman, Mick Taylor

1. The Beatles

Few bands have captivated audiences past and present quite like The Beatles. This Liverpool quartet revolutionized many aspects of the music industry and were often publicized as leaders of the era's youth and sociocultural movements.

The Beatlemania that took over music in their era has barely subsided as they are still heralded as one of the best bands of all time.

Early in their career, they embraced and reshaped 1950s rock and roll, helping to pioneer the Merseybeat genre. Their repertoire ultimately expanded to include the broad variety of pop music that they are known for today.

Hostility between the band members and creative differences would lead to their eventual separation but their influence as a band remains unmatched. 

Years active: 1960-1970

Members: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr

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Alice Kelly is a writer and storyteller with a passion for lifestyle, entertainment, and trending topics. When she’s not creating content for YourTango, you can catch her working on creative fiction and vintage shopping.

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