While our friends across the pond may try to argue otherwise, rock ‘n’ roll is an inherently American creation. Many of the most successful artists in the genre’s history were born and bred in the U.S.A. But who is the greatest American rock band of all time?
Assembling a list of the Top 50 American Bands of All Time isn’t easy. The genre has gone through many evolutions, with folk, psychedelic, garage, punk, metal, glam and grunge all enjoying moments of mainstream popularity over the years.
Because music is a subjective medium, there’s no perfect formula for assessing whether one act is better than another. Does critical acclaim count more than commercial sales? Should a band whose longevity spanned multiple decades be ranked higher than a popular group that burned out quickly? And what about artists who never enjoyed mainstream success yet have been cited as heavy influences on future generations of performers?
The writers at UCR – having previously separated the greatest American bands into decades (‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s) – decided to finally tackle a master list of the Top 50 American Rock Bands of All Time. Solo acts were excluded, which is why you won’t see Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel or Prince on our list. We also left out bands that have foreign members, even if they’re predominantly American. The result is impressively diverse, with acts representing a variety of eras and subgenres. Check it out below.