Top 10 Most Influential Rock Bands

The 10 most influential rock groups of the rock era.
The Top Ten
1 The Beatles The Beatles were an English pop rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. The members consisted of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. They were soon known as the foremost and most influential act of rock era. Rooted in skiffle, beat, and 1950s rock and roll, the Beatles later... read more

Having created several musical genres not normally associated with the Beatles, most notably Heavy Metal, and introducing music videos and the use of an album as a collective unit rather than songs added to promote the single, I can't truly say how great their impact was as I was not alive when the Beatles exploded.

But from what I can tell, they changed not only the world of music but the world in general.

Immensely talented in the art of wordcraft as well as brilliant melodies and harmonies. As I recall, on an awards show, the emcee stated that "their music is instantly recognizable and immediately unforgettable."

The best proof of their stature is that after 50+ years since their debut on the Ed Sullivan Show, they are still the benchmark by which every subsequent talent is compared!

2 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

Two bands are head and shoulders above everybody. Along with being revered as the most influential bands, most people still maintain that rock music reached its pinnacle with either or both of these titans: Led Zeppelin and The Beatles.

I consider Led Zeppelin to be the superior outfit and the zenith of rock music. Nobody before or since has equaled their eerie mystique or commanded their level of power.

Though every detail of Zeppelin's superficial qualities was (and is) endlessly studied, copied, emulated, etc., there's ultimately only one reason that they are still so revered. Because all the other elements will fade with the passage of time, and that is the music! Simply the music. They delivered the goods.

A few more decades will pass, and the unique magic and mystique will never again be truly understood. The people who experienced it will be gone, and all will be reduced to subjective interpretation. They call that history, and beyond cold unchanging facts and figures, most of what actually existed and occurred is grossly distorted or lost.

3 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

Just how in the hell are Sabbath below AC/DC, Bon Jovi, and Nirvana if Sabbath not only influenced these 3 bands but many more?

Sabbath influenced every band after them: hard rock, heavy metal, punk, then glam metal and thrash metal, then grunge, alternative rock, and other subgenres of metal like death, black, and groove.

Black Sabbath created the genre of Metal, simply put. There isn't a metal band that hasn't been influenced by Sabbath in some way or form. They're especially influential to Doom Metal and Stoner Metal.

Black Sabbath are the Led Zeppelin of Metal.

4 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

Huge Jovi fan here. These Days is one of the best 2-3 albums ever recorded, and Sambora is one of the most versatile players that America has ever produced. However, not even I would put Bon Jovi anywhere near the top 10.

Maybe somewhere in the 15-20th range, but even there, only because Slippery When Wet really opened a lot of doors for hard and heavy music and changed people's perspectives (especially those who were outside the genre).

So many metalheads I know got into rock/metal because of a Bon Jovi song they heard or because their parents were playing Jovi in their youth. That has to count for something. Direct influence on other bands, though, is rather limited.

5 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

Nirvana changed it all, and they didn't care. They grew up from nothing but divorced families and being picked on in school. Kurt Cobain, aka the Riff Master, became the voice of the voiceless, the grunge city saint, also giving a middle finger to glam rock.

I remember hearing Teen Spirit for the first time. At that moment, I knew glam rock was over, and Guns N' Roses would lose the title of the biggest band on the planet.

Nirvana brought a previously unknown genre, i.e., grunge, into the mainstream. And they rocked. They were truly the "Beatles" of the '90s - yeah, yeah, yeah!

6 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

Most influential rock band of all time. This band was way ahead of their time and definitely sits higher than 7 on this list. They popularized rock music with doses of funk and disco. They are rock music and have set the bar for bands after them to follow.

No one can do what Queen has done.

Is there anyone who has not listened to Queen? They influenced so many because their music is imprinted in DNA now, and they played in more genres than any other by miles.

Their musical is successfully played in many countries for many years. They started the video era. And on and on.

7 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

Largest rock group of all time! And the best!

8 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

Bearing in mind this is a list of the most influential rock groups, not necessarily the best, it's pretty shocking that Pink Floyd isn't in the top 5 at least, let alone the top 10.

Not only did they lay the groundwork for an enormous portion of all music to follow, but they dared to go places that most others wouldn't and do things that people wouldn't try. Music benefited greatly as a result.

They took their music to a level that transcended what we consider as music, and as a result, cemented their position in the history books as one of the forefathers of not only modern rock but modern music in general. Maybe they're not one of the best rock groups (personally, I believe they are), but they sure as hell are one of the most influential. The idea that some people actually think Green Day is more influential than Pink Floyd is a truly demoralizing thought.

9 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

For me, influential is different from popular. Influential is when a band influences the next generations of musicians. Very often, the most influential bands are not the most popular bands.

Deep Purple gets my vote because they were the most influential in the music genres I like the most: heavy metal and hard rock.

The best band in the world that influenced the bands that are higher on this list. In addition to the general sound, they influenced on an individual level and brought many innovations that became the basis for subsequent groups in the rock genre.

10 The Beach Boys The Beach Boys are an American pop rock band formed in Hawthorne, California in 1961. The group's original lineup consisted of brothers Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wilson, their cousin Mike Love, and their friend Al Jardine.

Punk took influence by vocal surf, so no punk without early Beach Boys. And don't get me started on late Beach Boys.

They first catalyzed the Progressive movement with Pet Sounds, attempted to push Experimental into the mainstream with SMiLE, and then released a trilogy of albums that would be the first recorded Lo-Fi music.

The Beach Boys not being number one on this list discredits the list and makes it a joke. I mean, seriously, none of the other bands before them here are worth a damn.

I have a sense of humor like anyone, but I don't get it. Summerkat called it: longevity, vocal styling - number one all the way!

The Contenders
11 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

Easily the #1 most influential band in metal and with a wide reach outside of metal. The Beatles did more in rock, but everybody else is at most equal in influence.

These guys literally shaped the image of rock throughout the '80s and '90s. The fact that they still kick ass to this day, while everyone else mentioned on this list... Well, you know.

Their live concerts are unbelievably awesome! Even better than recorded ones and that's amazing. And he really has the sound!

12 Rolling Stones The Rolling Stones are an English rock band formed in London in 1962. The first settled line-up consisted of Brian Jones (guitar, harmonica), Ian Stewart (piano), Mick Jagger (lead vocals, harmonica), Keith Richards (guitar), Bill Wyman (bass) and Charlie Watts (drums)... read more

Enduring and yet remaining the same, they really took blues to the masses.

13 The Ramones The Ramones were an American punk rock band that formed in the New York City neighborhood of Forest Hills, Queens, in 1974. They are often cited as the first band to define the punk rock sound.

The Ramones should be at least in the top five. They made "punk" clothes, such as leather jackets and ripped jeans, popular and released the first pure punk rock album.

The Ramones and the Beatles are the reasons why simple and vigorous rock songs are so popular. If only they weren't so horribly underrated.

The Ramones inspired bands like The Clash, who are in the top ten, to play. They are the most influential punk band, without a doubt. By the way, they are in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. Not many bands on this list are.

14 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

How is The Who not in the top 10? The fact that Journey, KISS, Queen, and the Scorpions are in front of them is laughable. I understand this is all subjective, but really?

Half the bands that came after these guys copied some element of them, and countless guitarists credit Townshend as why they play guitar. These guys were the first great "live" band.

Moon was arguably the best drummer ever, Entwistle was the real bass player, and Townshend is a great innovator (keyboards on "Baba O'Riley," "Won't Get Fooled Again"). He essentially invented the rock opera. "My Generation" was what Punk Rock was all about. Daltrey is one of the better frontmen as well.

15 The Allman Brothers Band The Allman Brothers Band was an American rock band formed in Jacksonville, Florida in 1969 by brothers Duane Allman and Gregg Allman, as well as Dickey Betts, Berry Oakley, Butch Trucks, and Jai Johanny "Jaimoe" Johanson.
16 The Jimi Hendrix Experience The Jimi Hendrix Experience was an English-American rock band that formed in Westminster, London, in September 1966. Composed of singer, songwriter, and guitarist Jimi Hendrix, bassist and backing vocalist Noel Redding, and drummer Mitch Mitchell, the band was active until June 1969. During this time... read more

I don't think you people understand that this is a list about influential bands. That being said, why are Bon Jovi at number 2? Why are Journey at number 15?! So many of these bands on this list did nothing in terms of influence.

After the 60s, if you identified as a rock musician and you did not cite Hendrix as an influence, then you were a fraud. Every person that plays the guitar today, acoustic or electric, was influenced by this man and this band.

Way ahead of their time. All of the modern Indie, Blues Rock, and Alt-rock bands would not have crafted trippy or psychedelic vibes if it wasn't for Hendrix.

17 The Velvet Underground The Velvet Underground was an American rock band, active between 1964 and 1973, formed in New York City.

This is the most influential band of all time. You can disagree all you want, but they shaped punk rock the most, predicted the way for industrial, experimental rock, and avant-garde rock, and greatly influenced glam rock and art rock.

The most influential rock band of all time. They had a greater impact on music than the Beatles. Sorry for bad English.

These guys did modern rock before anyone else did it. Absolutely as influential and essential to the rock canon.

18 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

Absolutely unbelievable sound! Powered by the greatest drummer the planet has ever known and one of the most unique voices to flow through a mic, the music of Rush is unmistakably Rush! Absolutely awesome!

I have heard many musicians, even from this list, who have stated that Rush was a huge influence on them.

Geezus, people! No group can match the musicianship these three have. Masters they are. Very hard to imitate! Everyone else is pretty easy to copy. The true rock peers and musicians know!

19 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.

I could think of more than 100 artists inspired by Scorpions. Even Bon Jovi was inspired by Scorpions. And Nirvana? Really? How can anyone even go for that garbage?

There are a lot of artists who have been influenced by Scorpions! It's just impossible not to be influenced by them! Scorpions rock!

Best rock ballads for every age and taste, and great hard songs for every rocker!

20 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' arena and hard rock usually inspired tons of thrash and alt-rock bands to do the same stuff they were doing.

21 Celtic Frost Celtic Frost was a Swiss extreme metal band from Zürich. They are known for their strong influence on the development of extreme metal. Formed in 1981 as Hellhammer, the band became Celtic Frost in 1984 and was active until 1993.
22 U2 U2 are an Irish rock band from Dublin. Formed in 1976, the group consists of Bono, the Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen Jr. U2's early sound was rooted in post-punk but eventually grew to incorporate influences from many genres of popular music. Throughout the group's musical pursuits, they have... read more

35-40 years of spectacular music, distinctive timeless guitar sound, meaningful lyrics, and a powerful lead singer. The fact that they influenced many rock bands from the 90s onward speaks volumes.

When some new indie rock bands say, "we want to be like U2," you know that's saying something.

Bon Jovi, Evanescence, Def Leppard, and Three Days Grace above U2! What a joke! U2 is one of the most influential bands of all time and the band of a generation. Top 10 easily!

Very unique sound. And every Christian band guitarist on the planet now sounds like The Edge! That's got to be worth a boost on this chart.

23 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
24 Green Day Green Day are an American pop punk/punk rock band formed in East Bay, California in 1987. The members include Billie Joe Armstrong (vocals and guitar), Mike Dirnt (bass), Tré Cool (drums) and Jason White (guitar). Green Day are associated with punk rock, pop punk and alternative rock. Some of their... read more

Green Day has been a main influence on most, if not all, of the mainstream bands for the past 20 years.

One of the most influential and best groups of all time. They are awesome.

25 Motörhead Motörhead were an English heavy metal band formed in June 1975 by bassist, singer, and songwriter Ian Fraser "Lemmy" Kilmister, who was the sole constant member; guitarist and songwriter Larry Wallis; and drummer Lucas Fox. The band's harsh vocals and fast paced tempos helped inspire speed metal and... read more

Motörhead inspired Lars Ulrich, a founding member of Metallica, as well as other groups such as Venom. No Motörhead - no Metallica. No Metallica, no thrash metal. No Venom, no black/extreme metal.

Motörhead should therefore be ranked ahead of both Metallica and Celtic Frost on this list.

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