Best Rock Bands of the 1990s

Many rock bands of the 1990s actually got their start earlier. Some of them struggled, and perhaps released a few albums but did not truly find commercial success until the 1990s. Rock had evolved if you can call it that and by the 1990s new styles of rock had emerged. Grunge rock which came from the Seattle Washington area, referred to the “dirty” sound and the generally unkempt appearance of the musicians. Several British bands had somewhat of a revival in the 90s, which led to the coining of the term “Britpop”. These are only two of the styles of rock, which emerged in the 90s.

Here are a few of the best-known bands of the 1990s.


This band actually did get its start in 1980 in Athens Georgia. The members were Michael Stipe, (lead vocals) Peter Buck, (lead guitar) Mike Mills, (bass guitar) and Bill Berry. (drums and percussion) During the 80s R.E.M. Released five albums, but did not really begin to find success until 1987 with the hit, “The One I Love ”. In 1990, The band released “Out of Time”, using alternative instruments such as mandolins, organ, and acoustic guitar. This was the beginning of the Alternative Rock phase of rock. R.E.M. topped the charts for the first time with this album.The lead single from this album, “Losing my Religion”, got heavy radio rotation and quickly climbed the charts. The band has since faded but was able to fill seats in their concert tours in the 90’s.


The term “Grunge Rock” was coined to describe the kind of music played by this band with Seattle origins. It was actually a subgenre of Alternative Rock. Kirk Cobain (lead singer/ guitar) and Krist Novoselic (bass guitar) formed the band in 1987, and went through a succession of drummers, with Dave Grohl lasting the longest. (Grohl joined the band in 1990) They also were known by several different names before settling on Nirvana. Their first big single, “Smells like Teen Spirit” from their second album, “Nevermind”, launched the band into the national spotlight. They enjoyed a successful run until Cobain’s heroin addiction led to his shotgun suicide in 1994.

Stone Temple Pilots

Stone Temple Pilots AKA STP, consisted of Scott Weiland, (lead vocals) Robert DeLeo, (bass guitar, vocals) Dean DeLeo, (guitars) and Eric Kretz. (drums, percussion) The band released its debut album “Core” in 1992 which went 8X platinum. The band was considered one of the most popular 90’s rock bands, with 15 Top Ten singles on the Billboard charts, including 6 numbers at number one. Weiland’s drug addiction and run ins with the law helped end their successful run by 2003.

Alice in Chains

This is another Seattle “Grunge” band in the tradition of Nirvana, and Soundgarden. Consisting of Lead guitarist Jerry Cantrell, and vocalist Layne Staley, their distinctive sound came from their harmonizing vocals. Other band members included Mike Starr on bass, and Sean Kinney on drums and percussion.They played an interesting mix of Grunge, Heavy metal, and acoustic numbers, and their debut album, “Facelift” made it to number 42 on the Billboard 200. Not bad for a debut disc. The band was hot for a time in the 90’s but founding member Layne Staley battled his demons. Like many rock stars of the past and present, Staley was addicted to drugs, which caused his death in 2002. Alice in Chains enjoyed a bit of a renaissance in the early days of the 21st century, but has gone the way of many 90’s bands.


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