Top 10 Best Hard Rock Artists

The best hard rock artists of all time. No Jethro Tull on this list, so you can take your pansy little flute and go home.
The Top Ten
1 Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin was an English hard rock band formed in London in 1968 as the New Yardbirds. The group consisted of Robert Plant (Vocal), Jimmy Page (Guitar), John Paul Jones (Bass, Keyboard) and John Bonham (Drums) and was very much the child of Jimmy Page who even financed their first tour. He had tasted... read more

Anyone that likes hard rock should go out and buy Led Zeppelin albums 1-8. Once you get familiar with them, you won't dislike a single song on those albums. Led Zeppelin could perfect a studio song and make it different live every time. Look at the musicianship!

I'd like to see another band try to come up with anything near as epic as Stairway to Heaven. Jimmy Page is the best guitar player of all time, Robert Plant is outstanding, John Bonham's power will knock you out of your seat, and John Paul Jones is a genius. A song such as Kashmir, Trampled Underfoot, Nobody's Fault But Mine, Stairway to Heaven, Heartbreaker... I could go on. Any of those songs would tell you who the greatest hard rock band really is. There is only one answer to that, and that is Led Zeppelin.

2 Guns N' Roses Guns N' Roses is an American hard rock band from Los Angeles formed in 1985. The classic lineup, as signed to Geffen Records in 1986, consisted of vocalist Axl Rose, lead guitarist Slash, rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin, bassist Duff McKagan, and drummer Steven Adler. Apart from hard rock they are also... read more

Guns N' Roses is easily the greatest hard rock band ever formed. Simply from a numbers standpoint, Appetite for Destruction is the best-selling album of all time. Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II both broke records of their own.

But aside from numbers, they are iconic and a perfect example of 80s hard rock. With a dynamic duo like Axl Rose and Slash, who is better? It's a shame they couldn't stay together, but there are rumors of a reunion world tour.

Also, Slash is the greatest guitarist of all time, and the rest of the band are a bunch of badasses. It's an easy choice for number 1.

3 AC/DC AC/DC are a Australian hard rock band, formed in November 1973 by brothers Malcolm and Angus Young, who continued as members until Malcolm's illness and departure in 2014 . They were fronted by Bon Scott until his untimely death due to alcohol poisoning in 1979, after which they hired Brian Johnson... read more

Angus Young is in a class by himself when it comes to guitar playing. If you look at his athleticism, his skills, his acrobatics, and his physical endurance during any of his performances, one is amazed. Even late in his life! He's one of a kind. He's among the greatest rock and roll guitarists to ever lay his hands on a guitar. AC/DC, since the 1970s, has constantly toured and sold out audiences around the world, including stadiums greater than 100,000. If Angus Young was still with them, they could sell out a quarter million fans easily. Back in Black is the greatest selling hard rock album of all time, selling well over 40 million copies.

If you look at their touring schedules over the years, they could perform up to 90 to 100 shows a year and sell out every one of them. It is hard to decide who is number one since the greats like Led Zeppelin and many others are up for consideration. Arguably, AC/DC has stood the test of time, and the guitar playing of Angus Young and his brother is in a class by itself. One must factor in the athletic performance, not just the music.

4 Metallica Metallica is an American Heavy/Thrash Metal band formed in 1981. The original lineup was James Hetfield (Vocalist and Rhythm guitarist), Dave Mustaine (Lead Guitar), Lars Ulrich (Drums), Ron McGovney (Bassist). The group came into mainstream from their Self-Titled album and the hit single "Enter Sandman"... read more

It's been 30 years since I started listening to Metallica and attending numerous gigs. I have never grown tired of their music or watching them perform live. I enjoy most genres of music where artists can write and play their own instruments. I have over 200 rock bands in my collection, and I consider Metallica to be one of the top three!

Metallica is such a great band. Each member (early days with Cliff) has their own dramatic story to tell. Plus, all their albums were certified platinum at least one time, from the shredding anthems of Kill 'Em All to the lack of solos of St. Anger. I can't wait for Death Magnetic!

5 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

The best thing about Queen was that they didn't just do hard rock. They dabbled in heavy metal (e.g., Liar), opera (e.g., Somebody to Love), classic rock (in several of their songs), progressive rock (e.g., The Prophet's Song), soft rock (e.g., Don't Stop Me Now), dance rock (e.g., Another One Bites the Dust), glam rock (e.g., Killer Queen), synth-pop (e.g., Radio Ga Ga), and rock ballads (e.g., We Are the Champions and Who Wants to Live Forever). Their songs have stood the test of time better than most from the '70s and '80s. I know many people who have heard some of their songs, even the ones that aren't "Bohemian Rhapsody" and the "We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions" medley.

In my opinion, however, they excelled in hard rock. Their best hard rock songs include Bohemian Rhapsody (just after the opera section), I Want It All, and Hammer to Fall.

Brian May also had a distinctive guitar sound with his Red Special that was well-suited to hard rock, best demonstrated in "Fat Bottomed Girls."

Freddie Mercury may have had a great operatic voice, but he also possessed a gritty, rough voice for many hard rock songs. This is best shown in tracks like "Spread Your Wings," "It's Late," "Hammer to Fall," "Tear It Up," and "I Want It All." Unarguably, Freddie Mercury had one of the most impressive rock voices of all time.

Roger Taylor and John Deacon were also reliable when called upon for playing a little "rock 'n' roll." Just listen to the backing track of "Don't Stop Me Now." Although "Don't Stop Me Now" is not considered a hard rock song, it shares many characteristics with hard rock, such as a driving beat and rhythm, as well as a deep sound, accomplished by John Deacon's driving bass.

6 Aerosmith Aerosmith is an American rock band, sometimes referred to as "the Bad Boys from Boston" and "America's Greatest Rock and Roll Band".

Either Aerosmith, Nirvana, Metallica, or Green Day for me. I went with Aerosmith as I believe that Steven Tyler is an amazing vocalist and probably, in my opinion, the third best ever after the late great Freddie Mercury and the energetic Robert Plant.

Queen is my favorite band, but they are not purely hard rock. They have elements of it but have always incorporated soft rock, funk, disco, and pop into their songs as well.

Aerosmith was rocking when a lot of these top 10 bands shown here were babies strumming on their crib rails. They learned how to rock by listening to them.

7 Bon Jovi Bon Jovi is a hard rock/pop rock band formed in 1983, which had a streak of successful albums in the late 1980s. The band originally consisted of lead vocalist Jon Bon Jovi, guitarist Ritchie Sambora (left in 2013), bassist Alec John Such (left in 1994), keyboard David Bryan, and drummer Tico Torres... read more

100 percent Bon Jovi: great songs and great in concert. I saw them many, many times. They have been voted the number one band to see. Plus, they made the most money at their last few concerts, touring all over the world!

Don't get me wrong, I love lots of other bands and have been to their concerts, but Bon Jovi is my all-time favorite. Second is the boss, Bruce Springsteen. And they don't need the money. Bon Jovi just loves what they do. Just read Jon's bio. It says it all!

Absolute is the greatest band of all time, and Jon is the most beautiful, hot man I have ever seen in this world. Absolute human perfection. But not only that, Jon Bon Jovi is also the best human soul I've ever seen alive in this world. The god of love. Jon Bon Jovi in my heart forever! Paola S.

8 Van Halen Van Halen was an American hard rock band formed in Pasadena, California, in 1972. From 1974 until 1985, the band consisted of guitarist Eddie Van Halen, vocalist David Lee Roth, drummer Alex Van Halen, and bassist Michael Anthony.

Van Halen is definitely a top-five live band. In one of their concerts, they opened for Aerosmith and outperformed them with an amazing show! They had great energy, entertainment (David Lee Roth is an awesome frontman), and an underrated but talented drummer and bass player. And, of course, Edward Van Halen is one of the greatest guitar players ever!

When it comes to this list, true fans are shouting, Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love!

With Van Halen not in the top five, this list shows its suckiness. They are #1 in my opinion, but I could accept top 5 because there are some other great bands as well. However, this is a travesty. Eddie Van Halen is the greatest guitar player ever!

And what other band has survived changing lead singers? Van Halen, that's who! That, in itself, shows their genius.

9 Nirvana Nirvana was an American grunge band that was formed in Aberdeen, Washington in 1987. Nirvana disbanded after Kurt Cobain committed suicide in 1994. The drummer of the band, David Grohl, went on to start the Foo-Fighters, an alternative rock band... read more

If Nirvana were alive, no other band would have existed or come close to it in the present day. Kurt Cobain was the best rock singer ever created by the almighty. His wit was reflected in the playing style of his guitar. His riffs were intelligent, simple, and showed his pain.

Also, Dave Grohl played the real drums, and the bass by Krist Novoselic simply ran through one's veins. It's very unfortunate that Kurt died so soon.


Kurt Donald Cobain, the man who turned the music industry upside down with his music, showed that rock is still as good as before when everyone was going with hip-hop. He will always live in my heart.

10 X Japan X Japan is a Japanese heavy metal band from Chiba, formed in 1982 by drummer Yoshiki and lead vocalist Toshi.

X Japan is the greatest hard rock artist that I've never seen before. This band is a legend, and they came back to be X Japan again a few years ago.

It's cool seeing X Japan doing so well on these lists. It's clear there are a lot of hardcore fans on this site.

X Japan is the best band in Japanese history.

The Contenders
11 Kiss Kiss, often styled as KISS, was an American rock band formed in New York City in 1973. The original members were Paul Stanley (vocals, rhythm guitar), Gene Simmons (vocals, bass guitar), Ace Frehley (lead guitar, vocals), and Peter Criss (drums, vocals)... read more

A lot of great bands up there: Priest, Rush, Van Halen, Zeppelin, Metallica, etc. But even more awesome bands are lower, and that's how it should be. I love some of these bands with all my heart, but it was KISS who got me into rock 'n' roll and metal, and that stays forever. It's like a brand on my heart, no matter what happens, it will always be KISS. That's why I'm voting for them. KISS Forever.

A member of KISS Army Finland

Kiss is the greatest. There is not another rock band that filled the seats like Kiss, bigger crowds than Elvis and the Beatles. Also, they put on the greatest live rock show of all bands. On stage, Kiss would blow Metallica away.

12 Black Sabbath Black Sabbath were a Heavy Metal band formed in Birmingham, England in 1968 by guitarist and songwriter Tony Iommi, singer John "Ozzy" Osbourne, bassist and main lyricist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward... read more

Black Sabbath changed the face of hard rock forever and invented heavy metal along the way. They should stand as second to Zeppelin, or else I'm going to have to bring in a lawyer.

Also, where the hell is Thin Lizzy?

Black Sabbath is one of the most influential bands in rock history and the godfather of heavy metal! They should be higher up on the list. They rock! Black Sabbath forever!

Can someone please explain to me why the birth givers of hard rock and metal, as we know it, are ranked below all these other bands? I'm sorry, but that includes Metallica.

13 The Who The Who is an English rock band formed in London, England in 1964. The most recognizable lineup was Roger Daltrey (lead vocals), Pete Townshend (guitar), John Entwistle (bass guitar), and Keith Moon (drums). They are best known for their live performances and hit songs Baba O'Riley, My Generation, and... read more

Metallica is a great band, although not in the same genre. The Who, on the other hand, is a great band composed of some of the most unique characters and artists in rock. Daltrey swung his microphone like a lasso, while Pete Townshend had immense talent that he chose not to showcase, sacrificing his individual spotlight for the band. John Entwistle, also known as the Ox, took an instrument previously considered a "background instrument" and led with his relentless typewriter attack. And then there's Keith Moon, possibly the most innovative and original drummer of all time, inspiring generations that followed, including John Bonham and Neil Peart.

However, what truly sets the Who apart is their complete embodiment of rock. Their energy, wild demolitions, and off-stage antics define the very genre they created. They emerged after the Beatles and Rolling Stones, paving the way for a future that we continue to enjoy.

14 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

The most talented, creative, innovative, technical, and advanced equals THE BEST. Deep Purple is a band of masters. Ritchie Blackmore alone is a whole music universe.

The riff that rules all other riffs is Smoke on the Water;
the solo that rules all other solos is Highway Star;
the screams that rule all other screams are in Child in Time;
the best band live is their Live in Japan performance;
they are the most technical pioneers of hard rock and heavy metal;
they were the globe's loudest band of the '70s, officially listed in the 1975 Guinness Book of World Records.

Anything else for number 1?

15 Scorpions Scorpions are a German rock band formed in 1965 in Hanover by Rudolf Schenker. Since the band's inception, its musical style has ranged from hard rock to heavy metal.

Scorpions: The band that defines rock ballads. They were the first hard rock/heavy metal band to really show that even hard rock can display emotions. A band built on the philosophy of friendship and friendship alone, they kick ass live even after fifty years. Riffing machine Rudolf Schenker and Klaus Meine (by far the man with the best rock voice) are standouts.

There are so many hits like Still Loving You, Wind of Change, When the Smoke is Going Down, Always Somewhere, Send Me an Angel... the list is truly endless. On the other hand, you have Rock You Like a Hurricane, Blackout, No One Like You, Alien Nation, Raised on Rock, etc. They are pioneers of the genre, one of those bands that define hard rock.

I agree, Led Zeppelin, Guns N' Roses, AC/DC, and all the greats are amazing, but love it or loathe it, Scorpions would have been in the top 5 if they were American or British. They deserve to be in the top 5 at least, if not the top 3.

16 The Doors The Doors were an American rock band formed in 1965 in Los Angeles, with vocalist Jim Morrison, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore.

Jim Morrison is the greatest rock frontman of all time. He created only masterpieces.

Avenged Sevenfold are above The Doors? Lots of teenage girls voting on this site then?

17 Judas Priest Judas Priest are a British heavy metal band that formed in Birmingham, England, in 1969. They are often referred to as one of the greatest metal bands of all time, and are even commonly called “The Metal Gods”, after one of the songs on their 1980 album “British Steel”... read more

The greatest artist in history, after Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, is my absolute favorite. Zeppelin and Sabbath simply deserve a higher ranking, that's all. However, I'm puzzled as to why bands like Judas Priest and Black Sabbath are included in this list of Hard Rock bands. And let's not forget about Metallica being ranked number one... They are fantastic, but number one? Are you kidding me?!

Well, Judas Priest should be at the top. They're the best band in the world. They have the great vocals from Halford, the amazing drumming from Travis, the beastly bass from Hill, and the overwhelming guitar solos by Downing and Tipton.

Here are some of their songs you should listen to: Painkiller, The Sentinel, Victim of Changes, Beyond the Realms of Death, Electric Eye, and Breaking the Law.

18 Avenged Sevenfold Avenged Sevenfold is an American heavy metal band, that was formed 1999 in California. Their longest lineup of members was M. Shadows (Vocals), Synyster Gates (Lead Guitar), Zacky Vengeance (Rhythm Guitar), Johnny Christ (Bass Guitar), and The Rev (Drums)... read more

Well, Avenged Sevenfold (A7X) is a band that has many genres, from death metal to hard countrified ballads. I must say that they are different from other metal bands, and all the members have different characters and talents.

My personal favorite is the late drummer, Jimmy "The Reverend" Sullivan. For me, he is the best drummer of all time. I got goosebumps when I heard their song called M.I.A. because he had an eccentric pattern on the bass drum. I also love Dear God because it's so unpredictable that a metal band would do a country song.

19 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

Nickelback? I don't mean to be offensive, but they need to get a life. Nickelback is less intelligent than a doorknob. Rush is way more musically talented than half of those bands combined. You're really concentrating on bad modern music. Please make Rush number 1, please?

Rush is the best rock band of all time. Their individual musicianship and collective musicianship are off the charts. Listen to La Villa Strangiato. Their 40-year body of work is unmatched by any other band.

Why is Rush ranked 7? This band, without a doubt, should be ranked 1! They are the greatest band of all time. The members are entering their 60s, and their new album acts like their first album (Clockwork Angels). It's unbelievable! Please check it out on YouTube!

20 Blue Oyster Cult Blue Öyster Cult is an American rock band from Long Island, New York, whose most successful work includes the hard rock and heavy metal songs "(Don't Fear) The Reaper", "Godzilla" and "Burnin' for You".

Really? Blue Oyster Cult at #83? No way this is right. They should be at least in the top 20 with Rush, Kiss, and Foghat. Cities on Flame, Godzilla, Veteran of the Psychic Wars, Don't Fear the Reaper, and Unknown Tongue definitely give this lyrically haunting, shock rock blues boogie band plenty of heavy hard rock.

For me, the two giants of hard rock are Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. But how I love Blue Oyster Cult, even though they were all but finished after 1981.

21 Iron Maiden Iron Maiden are an English Heavy Metal band formed in Leyton, East London, in 1975 by bassist and primary songwriter Steve Harris. The most critically acclaimed period for the band was from 1983-1989. With vocalist Bruce Dickinson, bassist Steve Harris, lead guitarist Dave Murray, rhythm guitarist Adrian... read more

In all technicality, Iron Maiden is classic heavy metal, as are Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Guns N' Roses, and Van Halen. Metallica is thrash metal, and Rush is art rock. Nirvana is grunge, and Bon Jovi is barely even rock.

But still, Iron Maiden is better than all of those in my eyes, so I would root for them even if they were in the pop category.

Actually, Iron Maiden is really a heavy metal band. They don't sing hard rock very much, but I think they still deserve to be in the top 5 because Rush and Linkin Park don't stand a chance.

22 Queensryche Queensrÿche is an American progressive heavy metal band formed in 1982 in Bellevue, Washington, out of the local band the Mob. They released their self titled EP in 1984, but didn’t gain notoriety until the release of their critically acclaimed album Operation: Mindcrime in 1988. As of now, they... read more
23 Jimi Hendrix Jimi Hendrix (born November 27, 1942 - September 18, 1970) was an American rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter.

Although his mainstream career spanned only four years, he is widely regarded as one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music, and one of the most... read more

He's only known for his guitar skills, but his songwriting style was very original. At the time, no one had heard anything as heavy as Hendrix. In my opinion, this makes him a legend. The guitar skills are just an amazing bonus.

One of the most innovative guitarists of all time, played with his soul more than his mind.

Jimi would recommend you turn off the computer, plug in the guitar, and let the smoke roll.

24 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

This is the absolute best band ever. Pink Floyd is what changed it all. There was nobody else like Pink Floyd. I hate the fact that they broke up the year I was born. I would have loved to see them live.

Most Floyd songs aren't that hard, to be honest. However, if you listen to their earlier stuff, they could outshine a lot of grunge bands. I still consider them the greatest band ever.

I grew up with Pink Floyd, the best-ever music. I did grow up with them. I just wish I could have gone to one of their concerts. The light shows and cover bands just can't do them justice.

25 Def Leppard Def Leppard are an English hard rock band formed in 1977 in Sheffield as part of the new wave of British heavy metal movement.

I came here to say that Def Leppard is definitely the best band ever. I've been to their concerts four times, and they rocked! My favorite songs from them are Pour Some Sugar on Me, Bringing on the Heartbreak, Photograph, and Animal.

So, people, vote for Def Leppard and go see them in concert. But you don't have to. They are awesome. Thanks! Put your thumbs up if you agree with me. P.S. Sorry, I didn't put any punctuation at the end of each sentence, but please vote for Def Leppard!

Guess what? I've always loved Def Leppard. I've also seen them in concert. They were awesome. Don't forget songs like Pour Some Sugar on Me, Bringin' on the Heartbreak, Animal, and Photograph. Go, Def Leppard! You're awesome!

8Load More
PSearch List