Top 10 Best Progressive Rock Bands

The Top Ten
1 Pink Floyd Pink Floyd are an English progressive rock band formed in 1965 in London, England. They achieved international acclaim with their progressive and psychedelic music. The band consisted of 5 members - David Gilmour (Vocals and Guitar), Syd Barrett (Vocals and Guitar), Nick Mason (Drums), Roger Waters... read more

Without any doubt, the best band ever. Great lyrics, fantastic guitar solos. Maybe underrated keyboards and drum parts. These four guys were the perfect blend for a progressive rock band.

Rush is okay, ELP is amazing, and Supertramp is underrated. However, in the end, Pink Floyd will always be THE master of Progressive Rock. Not just progressive rock, but let's say... rock in general. Now that I think about it, they were the best in the entire history of music. Seriously, there's nothing like Pink Floyd. NOTHING. Their music was unique. What's even more impressive is that each of their songs has a distinct style. There isn't a single Pink Floyd song that sounds like another. If you've listened to all of their albums, you know what I mean.

Just consider A Saucerful of Secrets, Dark Side of the Moon, The Wall, and Division Bell. All four albums were produced by the same team, yet they all sound completely different. Pink Floyd wasn't afraid to follow their artistic vision. Also, I want to address a misconception. People who claim you need LSD or some kind of drug to appreciate Pink Floyd are simply wrong. Why? Because Pink Floyd's music itself is a trip. It's an auditory journey like no other. Pink Floyd forever.

2 Rush Rush was a Canadian progressive rock band that was formed in 1968. The band has had an iconic lineup since 1975, which included Neil Peart (Drums, Percussion), Geddy Lee (Vocals, Bass, Keyboards), and the guitarist, Alex Lifeson. Peart passed away after a 3 year battle with brain cancer in January of... read more

Dude! They have 20 studio albums, started in 1968, and never broke up. They boast the greatest rock bassist, the greatest rock drummer, and an incredible guitarist. I understand that some people aren't big fans of their lyrics, and they weren't as commercially successful, but give them a chance. They've produced some powerful albums, especially ones like Counterparts, Test For Echo, Grace Under Pressure, and Fly By Night, to name a few. For 40 years, they've been a band. They took a 6-year hiatus but have never called it quits. They always find ways to try new musical styles and make their next album better than the last. Listen to Geddy Lee's bass solos and Neil Peart's drumming. They are unbelievably good! And don't overlook Alex Lifeson's solos. There's powerful stuff in all of their albums. They deserve the #1 slot! In my opinion, they're not only the best prog rock band but the best band ever.

3 King Crimson King Crimson were a British progressive rock band that was formed in 1969. While the band has had numerous lineup changes, the head of the band has always been Robert Fripp (guitar). However, the most notable lineup is between 1972-75, consisting of Fripp, John Wetton (bass/vocals), Bill Bruford (drums),... read more

Come on, they've got to be higher than this. Pink Floyd is obviously number one, but this should be at number 2! I love them because of all the variety in their music. Just listen to different parts of their career! You can hardly tell they're the same band!

Their first period of music, in my opinion, was from 1969-70 with their first three albums. ITCOTCK is very complex and innovative. Remember, this was 1969. Progressive rock was hardly in its infancy yet. Lizard is a very weird album with strange lyrics. In 1971, they released Islands. I love the jazz-rock style they went for here. The title track is beautiful.

From 1973-74, they started to make heavier and more experimental music. In 1981-84, they delved into more new wave and a bit of pop music. From 1995-2003, they got WAY heavier than ever and made tons of industrial rock. Some songs could even be considered progressive metal. Now that they've reformed again, who knows what direction they will take!

4 Yes Yes is an English progressive rock band formed in 1968 by bassist Chris Squire and singer Jon Anderson. They first achieved success in the 1970s with a progressive, art and symphonic style of rock music. Their best known song is their 1971 hit "Roundabout" off of their album Fragile.

Yes deserves a higher place than Rush as a prog rock band. Prog isn't just about the complexity of the music, the intelligence of the lyrics, or the talent of the musicians. Rush is great, but they aren't as harmonious as Yes. Moreover, Geddy's vocals can't compare to Ian's. Pink Floyd is the master of prog, with Yes not too far behind. Genesis is closer, followed by King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. What is Dream Theater doing on this list? They don't measure up to these legends. They merely imitated King Crimson but with a heavier and faster sound. Here's the list that should have been made for the best prog rock bands:

1. Pink Floyd
2. Genesis
3. Emerson, Lake & Palmer
4. Yes
5. King Crimson

That's the top 5. As for Muse and Radiohead, they don't belong in the prog scene.

5 Genesis Genesis are an English rock band formed at Charterhouse School, Godalming, Surrey in 1967. The most commercially successful and long-lasting line-up includes keyboardist Tony Banks, bassist/guitarist Mike Rutherford and drummer/singer Phil Collins.

From Trespass to Seconds Out, the albums are incredible. In my opinion, Peter Gabriel is one of the greatest singers in rock history. And let's talk about Phil Collins' drumming on those albums. He's possibly the best prog rock drummer, second only to Mr. Bill Bruford. He doesn't just pound on the drums. He plays intricate patterns in some of the most challenging time signatures. Like other progressive rock bands, Genesis boasts extremely talented musicians.

I find Pink Floyd to be overrated. The standout members in that band were David Gilmour and Richard Wright (RIP). Yes, they made good music, but I wouldn't categorize it all as prog. They leaned more towards art rock, with some tracks having a prog essence (like Animals), but largely, they were more psychedelic and experimental. Rush shifted more towards hard rock with their Moving Pictures album. If I were to rank, I'd say the top three would be Genesis, Yes, and King Crimson. But, of course, this is all just my opinion.

6 Dream Theater Dream Theater is an American progressive metal band from Boston, Massachusetts. The band was formed in 1985 under the name of "Majesty", only to change its name to Dream Theater later... read more

Not as good as Rush or Pink Floyd, but by God, they are good. John Petrucci is one of the greatest guitarists, period, and the same goes for John Myung on bass. James LaBrie has a great voice too. They are different than your average metal band. There are no deep metal "screams" and they don't have the typical lyrics and subject matter either. They really do have some interesting lyrics if you listen. They've produced some of the best solos and riffs ever. They're also great to see live. Their newer stuff isn't as good, but "Images and Words", "Scenes From A Memory", "A Dramatic Turn Of Events", and "Octavarium" are all masterpieces. They're definitely not for everyone. I think guitarists and bassists appreciate them more than the average person. Being a guitarist myself, I can attest to this. They're a great band that I believe stands alongside Sabbath, Maiden, Judas Priest, and Metallica in the fact that all metalheads and guitarists like them.

7 Porcupine Tree Porcupine Tree are an English progressive rock band formed by musician Steven Wilson in 1987. The band began essentially as a solo project for Wilson, who created all of the band's music.

I'll say this now: I'm 17, meaning I'm young enough to have missed both major prog rock eras. However, I've known about prog for a good 5 years. Only recently have I started listening to the older bands. Moving Pictures and In the Court of the Crimson King (though Discipline came close) are my favorite albums thus far. So, with this in mind, you may wonder what kept my prog fandom going for half a decade? It was Porcupine Tree, plain and simple. It was at least 4 and a half years before I heard other 90's bands such as Tool and Dream Theater. All I'm saying is, they must have done something right.

8 Emerson Lake And Palmer

What I like about ELP more than some other Prog Rock bands is the huge focus on the keys, the bass, and the drums. Most bands emphasize the electric guitar, but this band has Keith Emerson controlling the melody of the song. In that case, an electric guitar is insufficient.

With the variety brought to the table by Greg Lake, no song sounded like it was missing something. He sang, he played the bass, and he even picked up the guitar for some songs. This showed dedication and the diversity that Greg Lake brought to the band. And finally, Carl Palmer is a truly great drummer. He added rhythms that didn't always sound jazzy or grand, although he did for some songs. He added what was best for the song and the atmosphere created by Emerson and Lake. One of my favorite moments from Palmer was from the song "Rondo" (Live at Lyceum 1970). He had an excellent, long drum solo in which he really pushed the song forward through his extreme rudiments and skill.

I think that this band should be more well-known. I cannot get enough of ELP.

9 Jethro Tull Jethro Tull are a British rock group, formed in Luton, Bedfordshire, in December 1967. Initially playing blues rock, the band soon developed its sound to incorporate elements of British folk music and hard rock to forge a progressive rock signature.

There is no one like Ian Anderson and no band like Tull, then or now. There's no middle ground here - you either love or hate this music. Like Yes, and to a lesser extent Genesis, the greatness diminished with the onslaught of the 80's. But up to A, they were my favorite band of the genre. Ian is the auteur of Prog, in my useless opinion, up until his voice abandoned him. But even after that unfortunate occurrence, there were gems to be mined. Watch their live performances from the 70's and bow down to breathtaking oddity and greatness. Och Aye!

10 Tool Tool is an American alternative metal/progressive metal band, that was formed in 1990.

The band is set together between Maynard James Keenan (Vocals), Danny Carey (Drums), Adam Jones (Guitar) and since 1995 Justin Chancellor (Bass).

The band is known for their influences from electronic... read more

Tool isn't just music. It's an experience. You might see fans say some odd things about this band, but give it a listen, and maybe you'll understand. Tool is one of my absolute favorites, and there's truly no other artist close to their sound. I could elaborate for several paragraphs, but I'd just be reiterating the same points.

Tool, like Yes, PF, and Rush, is uniquely brilliant. No one else sounds like them. I can listen to any of their albums repeatedly and have done so since their release. They are flawless live as well. Genesis took a downturn long ago when Gabriel left and became more commercial, if not "poppy". Yes did it too but was at least tolerable. Whoever created this list doesn't fully understand what prog rock is. The Dead? Lol. Where's Utopia? Haven't you heard the self-titled album? It ranks only second to 'Dark Side...' as one of the best prog albums of all time. As great as Todd Rundgren was in his other genre efforts, Utopia was his brilliant peak. Triumvirat's 'Illusions on a Double Dimple' is excellent as well.

The Newcomers

? Periphery Periphery is an American progressive metal band based in Washington, D.C., formed in 2005. They are known for their heavy, progressive sound which employs poly-rhythmic patterns and soaring melodies. They are credited with popularizing the modern djent scene. Over time they have progressed from djent... read more
? Architects Architects is a British Metalcore band formed in 2004 in Brighton, East Sussex. Consisting of five band members, Architects' discography consists of seven studio albums and one split EP.
The Contenders
11 Moody Blues The Moody Blues were an English rock band. They first came to prominence playing rhythm and blues music, but their second album, Days of Future Passed, which was released in 1967, was a fusion of rock with classical music and established them as pioneers in the development of art rock and progressive... read more

First, psychedelic and progressive are not exactly the same. The Moody Blues had multi-level meaningful themes - from individual to national, to global, to cosmic levels of analysis - and a variety of sounds. This should place them next to Pink Floyd. To rank such seemingly irrelevant or lesser-known bands as Yes or Emerson ahead of the Moody Blues is a great injustice. This is similar to their extremely late entrance into the RR Hall of Fame, which feels like an ignorant oversight, akin to the biases seen in Hollywood.

I agree that The Moody Blues should definitely be in the top 5 and that "their core 7 albums are pure genius." They elevated the mellotron to new heights, and their harmony singing was unparalleled. Although Justin Hayward sang lead on most of their hits, many of my favorite songs were sung by the other three lead singers: keyboardist Mike Pinder, flutist Ray Thomas, and bassist John Lodge.

12 Gentle Giant Gentle Giant was a British progressive rock band active between 1970 and 1980. The band was known for the complexity and sophistication of its music and for the varied musical skills of its members.

When you really think about it, any genuine prog rock fan cannot deny the incredible musical dexterity of Gentle Giant. They overlaid rhythms and vocals with some of the most complex compositions of any of the prog groups in existence. I am a big fan of well-known prog bands such as Yes, Tull, Crimso, UK, and ELP. However, Gentle Giant is unmatched in many ways, and each album offers a new height that the band reached at the time of its release. While each album from 1970 through 1976 was once my favorite, nearly four decades later, my vote goes to Octopus for being the quintessential Gentle Giant offering. If you haven't indulged yet, check them out and acquire the taste! - Eric Haubner

13 Kansas Kansas is an American rock band that became popular in the 1970s initially on album-oriented rock charts and later with hit singles such as "Carry On Wayward Son" and "Dust in the Wind".

I love Kansas. They're not quite like any other Prog band. They have a violin and a more orchestral sound than most prog bands. They weren't early enough to be a Prog pioneer, so they just sort of took the concept in a different direction. It's sort of like Pink Floyd but in another direction. They are certainly the first good American Prog group, and somehow that's perceived as bad by some.

I won't lie and say that Kansas kept making the best music ever into the 80s and 90s, although some of their later stuff is fine. I just prefer Kansas in the 70s more than any other band at any other point. Choosing a longer-standing band with a less impressive peak is like picking sour candy over chocolate. Who does that?

And I don't think they get enough credit for their hot period because A) they started in nowhere America, B) they started in the mid-70s as opposed to the late 60s, and they had cooled off a few years after people had finally caught on to how great they were. Listen to their first 3 albums. They're just as good as the next 2, which are the only ones people know from them because they hadn't caught on yet.

14 Camel Camel are an English progressive rock band formed in 1971. Led by founding member Andrew Latimer, they have produced fourteen original studio albums, fourteen singles plus numerous live albums and DVDs. Without achieving mass popularity, the band gained a cult following over the years with albums such... read more

What can I say? Just as The Beatles used to innovate, Camel capitalized on blending genres. In most of their songs, you get a fusion of Rock, Classical, Orchestra, and other musical elements, all in one track. I've always admired how they could craft a 9-minute song and make it feel like just a few minutes. You can sense the effort and meticulous care the band pours into all their music. They employ a myriad of instruments, and the fine details genuinely shine through, without feeling excessive. The vocals, though sparse, evoke a haunting ambiance that complements the music.

Camel's music is melodic and beautiful. Although they use time signatures like 5/4 and 7/4, the music never feels complex just for the sake of being complex. Numerous talented musicians have been part of the band over the years, including Peter Bardens, who contributed significantly to the unique Camel sound, and Andy Ward, the exceptional drummer for all their 1970s material. However, it's the unparalleled Andrew Latimer, a deeply emotional guitarist and flautist and a gifted composer, who is the heart and soul of this fantastic band.

15 Van der Graaf Generator Van der Graaf Generator are an English progressive rock band, formed in 1967 in Manchester by singer-songwriters Peter Hammill and Chris Judge Smith and the first act signed by Charisma Records.

The greatest band since The Beatles! Music that never grows old, whether you're in your teens or in your 60s. This band's greatness, along with the other fifty or so albums these astounding musicians made with each other under a variety of names (Peter Hammill, The Long Hello, Nic Potter, Judge Smith, Guy Evans, David Jackson) from 1967 until now (2016), and currently awaiting a brand new VdGG album (out September 30, 2016) - all prove quite substantially that these guys make up the ultimate prog band. No other comes even close. Sorry Genesis, Yes, and King Crimson fans. As for Pink Floyd, you may ask? They don't have enough material to compete with VdGG's prolific output. Van der Graaf Generator is for everyone!

16 Electric Light Orchestra The Electric Light Orchestra are an English rock band from Birmingham. They were formed in 1970 by songwriters/multi-instrumentalists Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne with drummer Bev Bevan.

They are progressive rock in the sense that Jeff Lynne openly embraced classical music and combined it with classic rock to create something unique. They advanced rock in an intriguing direction while still remaining widely accessible.

I find it hard to believe that ELO hasn't been on this list before. Some of their prog rock songs are among the best I've ever heard, and they remain one of my favorite bands today.

What?! ELO has to be my favorite band, alongside The Who and Pink Floyd. But why are The Who, Queen, and Smashing Pumpkins included here?

17 Supertramp Supertramp were an English progressive rock band that was founded in 1969 in London, United Kingdom with members Roger Hodgson, Frank Farrell, Rick Davies, Kevin Currie, and Dave Winthrop. The band reached their commercial peak with 1979's "Breakfast in America" which sold over 20,000,000 copies worldwide... read more

I'm astounded how low (#17) Supertramp is on the list.

Honestly? Supertramp is a terrific band with at least 3 (Crime Of The Century — Even In The Quietest Moments... — Breakfast In America) solid albums and many well-written tracks:

I'm an especially huge on "Fool's Overtune." It's genuinely beautiful- fantastic vocals from Hodgson per usual and Churchill's social commentary was a clever touch.

Who compiled this list?

It doesn't make sense!

Yes, Genesis, Supertramp.

Close to the Edge, Selling England by the Pound, and Crime of the Century.

These are the definitive prog rock albums to bring to a desert island.

There are many more albums by the same bands. But these are the perfect ones. Think about it!

18 Frank Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention The Mothers of Invention were an American rock band from California that served as the backing musicians for Frank Zappa. Their work is marked by the use of sonic experimentation, innovative album art, and elaborate live shows.
19 Soft Machine Soft Machine are an English rock and jazz band from Canterbury formed in mid-1966, named after the novel The Soft Machine by William S. Burroughs.

Soft Machine was one of the very first prog bands. They are incredibly talented musicians. They should be in the top 20.

20 The Police The Police were an English rock band formed in London in 1977. For the majority of their history, the band consisted of Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland. They are most known for their songs "Message In A Bottle", "Don't Stand So Close To Me", "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic", "Roxanne",... read more

While not officially a prog rock band, I do see hints of prog in some of their songs, especially if you delve deeper into their discography and move away from their pop rock hits. Either way, I love the band.

21 Gong

This band definitely needs to be higher up on the list. What an incredible band! They introduced such unique and interesting sounds to progressive rock and to music in general. They made amazing use of synthesizers, had really tasteful bass lines, and had incredibly goofy but wonderful lyrics in their own special way. This band is at least in the top 10 prog bands ever, in my opinion, and I am sure many would agree.

Gong explored various styles, but they certainly deserve a place in progressive rock.

22 Deep Purple Deep Purple are an English rock band formed in Hertford in 1968. They are considered to be among the pioneers of heavy metal and modern hard rock, although their musical approach changed over the years. Originally formed as a progressive rock band, the band shifted to a heavier sound in 1970. Deep Purple,... read more

I agree. Child in Time is prog. Try listening to April from 1969 and tell me that it's anything but prog. It's absolutely awesome, but mostly lost, as Deep Purple fans are generally oblivious to the early stuff.

I love this band. But they are not a progressive rock band. Maybe they're closer to a heavy metal blues band or just a metal band. However, that being said, they are one of the greatest bands of all time.

Deep Purple was formed as a progressive rock band and carried that style throughout their early years. They are one of the absolute best. Being 17th on this list is a joke.

23 Roxy Music Roxy Music were an English rock band formed in 1970 by Bryan Ferry, who became the band's lead vocalist and chief songwriter, and bassist Graham Simpson.

They started the "Art Rock" progressive movement.

24 Queen Queen are an English rock band formed in London in 1970. The original lineup was Freddie Mercury (lead vocals, piano), Brian May (guitar, vocals), Roger Taylor (drums, vocals), and John Deacon (bass guitar, vocals). Before forming into Queen, Brian May and Roger Taylor had played together in a band... read more

Contrary to what many believe, Queen was very much a Progressive Rock band. Their earliest works showcased their most intricately constructed pieces and innovative studio engineering. Their mid-career marked a more Pop-driven era, but they concluded with a more refined Prog Rock sound. Even Bohemian Rhapsody is a distinguished Progressive Rock track. Its immense popularity might overshadow its progressive nature, but it was ahead of its time. Prog is all about innovating with unique song structures, often merging classical themes with experimental recording. Queen embodies this essence. Queen II and A Night At The Opera are remarkable Prog albums, while The Miracle and Innuendo aptly encapsulate their association with the genre. Labeling them merely as Pop and Rock would be a dramatic understatement.

25 Opeth Opeth is a Swedish progressive death metal band from Stockholm, formed in 1990 by David Isberg, who invited Mikael Akerfeldt into the band as a bassist. Isberg ended up leaving the band, which lead to Mikael becoming the band's vocalist, guitarist, principal songwriter, and driving force. Along with... read more

Highly underrated. I find them to be the most interesting, complex, and original band of the last few decades. I especially appreciate them for not being preoccupied with just sounding "so metal hurr durr" (not that the other bands necessarily are, but some fans would want them to :D). Fascinating harmonies, always surprising, delicious, original, and fresh on every level. Not swamped in cliches. Music that is both intelligent and atmospheric.

18?!?! This band should be much higher. There is a ton of variety in their music, with some of it being very heavy and containing death growls, and some of it is very soft with clean vocals. They have been very prolific over the years with 11 studio albums since 1995. They are one of the best prog bands out there.

8Load More
PSearch List