The groups that have made this list of the top 5 rock bands of all time, have broken records, stood the test of time and paved the way for the next generation of rock bands.
1. The Fab Four
Ask any person if they like The Beatles and they’ll either say yes…or they’re lying. By far the most successful band of all time, The Beatles were a critical and commercial smash since leading the British Invasion of pop rock in the early 60s. Having sold more than 1 billion records worldwide, members John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr’s contribution to music evolved over the years, from the changing sound of The Beatles’ music to subsequent successful solo and side projects by many of its members. Heck, even Ringo had a solo number one in the 1973 song “Photograph”.
The Beatles recorded over 240 songs, 27 of which hit number one worldwide. They broke records, won the hearts of many and were the first band ever to be transmitted via the television to nearly 400 million fans when they famously performed on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Today their influence is still felt. Recently providing the inspiration for the Circque du Soleil stage show “Love,” the 2007 Julie Taymor film Across the Universe, and the seemingly unending career of Yoko Ono, The Beatles’ pop culture domination shows no signs of stopping.
2. Page & Plant
Led Zeppelin was established in 1968 and signed by Atlantic records in the same year that the label picked up such big acts as Cream and the Bee Gees. A meteoric rise for any young group, Led Zeppelin’s deal was all the sweeter for the fact that they signed with a $200,000 advance- what was one of the most lucrative recording deals at the time. The English based group, quickly gained momentum and popularity. In their time they have sold over 300 million records worldwide. The bands song “Stairway to Heaven”, though never officially released as a single, is believed to be one of the most radio-played songs of all time.
The band’s impact is no surprise when considering the talent involved. Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, John Bonham, and Robert Plant could have each had successful careers on their own, but together their genius was unstoppable. And what an unstoppable force it was. All of their albums landed in the top ten with six going to number.
Even more impressive was their reputation as a touring band. Not only did they routinely sell out arenas in record-breaking numbers, their rock star lifestyle basically gave rise to our understanding of what a rock star lifestyle was. Flying by private jet, vandalizing hotels that they rented out by the building-Led Zeppelin is considered on of the biggest bands in the world in every sense of the word.
3. Comfortably Great
Pink Floyd’s success has spanned more than five decades. They have sold more than 250 million records, having 16 gold albums, 13 platinum, and 10 multi-platinum albums. The success of their album the Dark Side Of The Moon was on the billboard top 200 list for more than 736 weeks, which was over 14 years. This album alone sold over 52 million records.
Just for a little perspective, in recent years only a handful of albums have crossed the 10 million sold mark (Adele’s 21 among them) and an album is considered a smash if it manages to sell even a million in its lifetime. To be fair, the landscape of music sales has changed considerably in recent years. But there’s still something to be said for a band that captures the zeitgesit for a longer than many of it’s fans have even been alive.
4. Sympathy For The Elderly
The Rolling Stones is yet another band that came along during the British invasion of rock bands in the 1960’s. They have sold over 250 million records worldwide. They have spanned 5 decades and hold the title of the “World’s Greatest Rock Band of All Time” by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They received their record by not only their accomplishments but their longevity; though they have had hiatus, there has never been a break up.
5. Back In Shorts
AC/DC is an Australian rock band that formed in 1973 by brothers Malcolm and Angus Young. Their success spreads far beyond their home down under, however, as they have sold more than 200 million records worldwide, 71 million being sold in the United States alone. This makes them the fifth best-selling band in U.S. history, a success that was formally recognized in the rock world when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.
The band’s success is attributable to more than just talent and luck. A strong spirit of resilience carried the band through many difficult times, including notably the death of co-songwriter Bon Scott during the recording of the album that would become Back in Black. Despite this, Back in Black would go on to become the second best selling album of all time (being beat out only by Michael Jackson’s Thriller).
Rock legends are not born they are created. They are established through amazing music, one of a kind talent, loyal fans, longevity and record breaking sales. And even among those bands that succeed, not every one can be counted as a part of Rock n Roll history. These five bands have set the bar high for others that have followed in their footsteps.
They are one-of-a-kind talent that has spanned decades, making them the top five rock bands of all time!