Authored by Phil Dotree in Music
Published on 10-27-2009
Ask anyone what their favorite rock band is. Most people will have an immediate answer. You’ll also notice that most of the answers are completely different. Like most forms of music, rock and roll is very subjective. Even so, there are some bands that are incredibly influential to the genre. Here’s a look at some of the best rock bands of all time and what they contributed to rock.
1. Little Richard – Little Richard is, of course, a solo artist. When I refer to him as a band, I’m referring to the session musicians he used during his Georgia Peach recording sessions. They’re absolutely fearless. That’s saying something, because Georgia Peach was one of the first mainstream rock records. Richard’s vocal style was flamboyant. His lyrics were highly sexual for the time. His songs, well, rocked. On Little Richard’s first few albums, the band is tight, focused, and completely unafraid of the backlash. They forged rock and roll on simple 12 bar blues patterns, playing wildly the whole time. Every rock band since has owed a large debt of gratitude to Little Richard and his band.
2. The Rolling Stones – The Beatles made pop music what it was. The Rolling Stones did the same with rock and roll. They split from the 12 bar form and explored different ways to make the blues rock. Their playing was far from tight, but was brutally spectacular. Most importantly, the Stones brought a heavy dose of bad boy flavor to rock and roll. Mick Jagger would strut and preen while Richards smoked and nonchalantly hammered out great blues riffs. They partied, they referenced the Devil, they had frankly sexual lyrics. The Rolling Stones gave rock and roll its attitude, and they rightfully claim the title of the world’s greatest living rock band.
3. The Ramones – You can’t mention rock and roll without mentioning punk music. The Ramones did their piece for the genre by starting it. Throughout three decades, the Ramones popularized the barre chord heavy sound of punk music. They had great melodies that drew in casual listeners, and smart, counterculture lyrics that inspired thousands of bands. They weren’t a “smart’ rock band. That was the point. The Ramones brought rock and roll down to its most basic elements and annihilated it. Punk music from the Sex Pistols to Green Day simply couldn’t exist without the help of the Ramones.
4. Black Sabbath – Sabbath were the kings of heavy metal. Whether they were fronted by the legendary Ozzy Osbourne or the insatiable Ronnie James Dio, they made black, dark rock and roll that steamrolled the competition. They popularized furious drumming, fast guitar playing, and unspeakable onstage antics. Every time you see a rock band try to pull off a big, dark live show, they’re referencing Black Sabbath. They were also one of the most controversial bands of all time, but at their core was the music. Sabbath had a string of great albums and singles. They’re one of the few metal bands that you’re as likely to hear on the jukebox in a dive bar as you are in a stadium filled with sports fans. Black Sabbath rocks. Hard.
What do you think the greatest rock band of all time was? Post your opinion in the comments section below this article.