Music

The Greatest American Rock Bands 

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Originally by Ranker Community
Updated July 15, 2020 1.5M votes 58.5k voters 1.1M views 279 items

List Rules Bands must have formed in the United States and have mostly American band members

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Some of the greatest bands in rock history are from the United States. While the merits of their musical prowess can be fairly disputed between fans, these famous rock bands bring a certain American flair and bravado that other bands from different countries don't have. Almost all of the American bands on this list should be household names among rock fans and there should be few, if any surprises on this list.

A range of American cities are represented here. Bands from Los Angeles are the most populous here with classic rock bands like The Doors and Van Halen, as well as Guns N' Roses, The Beach Boys, Rage Against the Machine, and The Eagles. Due to the popularity of grunge in the early '90s, Seattle is well represented. Famous bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains are included on this list. There are metal bands (Metallica), hard rockers (Aerosmith, Alice Cooper), psych bands (Grateful Dead, Phish), punk outfits (The Ramones, Green Day) and even funk bands (Sly and the Family Stone, Prince) that are on this list. If a band is from America and awesome, it should be here.

Vote for the top American rock bands that you think are the best to come from the 50 states. Pick the band who you consider to be the greatest American rock band of all time. There are plenty of great choices to choose from so you can't really go wrong.

list ordered by
1
Creedence Clearwater Rev... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands

Albums: Green River, Cosmo's Factory, Willy and the Poor Boys, Bayou Country, Pendulum, + more

Creedence Clearwater Revival (often referred to as Creedence or CCR) was an American rock band active in the late 1960s and early 1970s which consisted of lead vocalist, lead guitarist, and ...more

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The Best Creedence Clearwater Revival Albums of All Time #44 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #10 of 263 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands

2
Aerosmith is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands

Albums: Toys in the Attic, Pump, Permanent Vacation, Aerosmith, Get a Grip, + more

Aerosmith is an American rock band formed in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1970. The group consists of Steven Tyler (vocals, keyboards), Joe Perry (guitar), Tom Hamilton (bass), Joey Kramer (drums), ...more

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The Best Aerosmith Songs of All Time #29 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #13 of 263 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands

3
Tom Petty and the Heartb... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands

Albums: The Last DJ, Damn the Torpedoes, Into the Great Wide Open, Southern Accents, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, + more

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (alternately Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers) were an American rock band from Gainesville, Florida. Formed in 1976, the band originally comprised Tom Petty ...more

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The Most Fascinating Facts You Didn't Know About Tom Petty #20 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #16 of 263 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands

4
Eagles is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands

Albums: Hotel California, Eagles Greatest Hits, Volume 2, Desperado, The Long Run, + more

The Eagles are an American rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1971 by Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon, and Randy Meisner. With five number-one singles, six Grammy Awards, five American ...more

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#201 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #8 of 263 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands #65 of 815 These Poetic Geniuses Wrote Your Favorite Songs of All Time

5
Elvis Presley is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands
Genre: Christian music, Pop music & Rock music; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Jailhouse Rock, The Sun Sessions, From Nashville to Memphis: The Essential '60s Masters, Can’t Help Falling in Love / Rock-A-Hula Baby, Elvis Presley (Legacy Edition), + more

Elvis Aaron Presley (January 8, 1935 – August 16, 1977), also known mononymously as Elvis, was an American singer and actor. Regarded as one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th ...more

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The Best Elvis Presley Movies #131 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Timelisted on 1970s Christian Pop Artists

6
Lynyrd Skynyrd is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands

Albums: (pronounced 'lĕh-'nérd 'skin-'nérd), Second Helping, Gold, Christmas Time Again, Nuthin' Fancy, + more

Lynyrd Skynyrd is an American rock band best known for popularizing the southern hard-rock genre during the 1970s. Originally formed in 1966 as The Pretty Ones in Jacksonville, Florida, they ...more

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Falling Free Bird: The Truth About The Infamous Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash Is Stranger Than Fiction #369 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #18 of 263 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands

7
Johnny Cash is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands
Genre: Outlaw country, Christian music & Americana; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: American V: A Hundred Highways, American IV: The Man Comes Around, At Folsom Prison, American Recordings, American III: Solitary Man, + more

John R. "Johnny" Cash (February 26, 1932 – September 12, 2003) was an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, actor, and author. He is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, ...more

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The Best Johnny Cash Songs of All Time #23 of 316 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Yearslisted on 1970s Christian Pop Artists

8
Nirvana is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands

Albums: Nevermind, In Utero, MTV Unplugged in New York, Bleach, Heart‐Shaped Box, + more

Nirvana was an American grunge band that was formed by singer/guitarist Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic in Aberdeen, Washington in 1987. Nirvana went through a succession of drummers, ...more

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Behind The Scenes Of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ Behind-The-Scenes Stories From Kurt Cobain's Childhood That Shed Light On The Enigmatic Frontman #216 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

9
The Beach Boys is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands

Albums: Pet Sounds, Surfin' USA, Ultimate Christmas, Endless Summer, Sounds of Summer: The Very Best of the Beach Boys, + more

The Beach Boys are an American rock and roll band. Formed in 1961, they gained popularity for their close vocal harmonies and lyrics reflecting a California youth culture of surfing, girls, and ...more

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The Best Beach Boys Songs of All Time #229 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #47 of 263 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands

10
Journey is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands

Albums: Escape, Frontiers, Evolution, Journey, Departure, + more

Journey is an American rock band that formed in San Francisco in 1973, composed of former members of Santana and Frumious Bandersnatch. The band has gone through several phases; its strongest ...more

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#220 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #35 of 263 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands #40 of 1,728 The Best Rock Bands of All Time

11
Van Halen is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands

Albums: Van Halen, 1984, Diver Down, OU812, Van Halen II, + more

Van Halen is an American hard rock band formed in Pasadena, California in 1972. Credited with "restoring hard rock to the forefront of the music scene", Van Halen is known for its ...more

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The Best Van Halen Songs of All Time #166 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #19 of 263 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands

12
The Revolution is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands

Albums: Purple Rain, Around the World in a Day, Parade - Music From The Motion Picture Under The Cherry Moon, When Doves Cry, Dream Factory, + more

The Revolution was an American rock band formed in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1979 by Prince. Although widely associated with rock music, the band's sound incorporated pop, funk, R&B and hard ...more

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#14 of 110 The Best Musical Artists From Minnesota #204 of 419 The Best Experimental Bands/Artists #9 of 23 All The Arroyo Seco Weekend Acts We Saw, Ranked

13
Jimi Hendrix is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands
Genre: Blues-rock, Rock music & Experimental rock; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: First Rays of the New Rising Sun, Band of Gypsys, Voodoo Child: The Jimi Hendrix Collection, Live at the Fillmore East, Live at Woodstock, + more

The greatest rock star of them all.

James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendrix; November 27, 1942 – September 18, 1970) was an American rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter. His mainstream career lasted ...more

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Wild Stories From The Guitar-Shredding Life Of Jimi Hendrix #6 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Timelisted on Members of The 27 Club

14
The Doors is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands

Albums: The Doors, L.A. Woman, Strange Days, Morrison Hotel, Light My Fire, + more

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

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The Best Doors Albums of All Time #308 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #11 of 263 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands

15
Santana is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands

Albums: Abraxas, Supernatural, Legacy Edition, The Best of Santana, Caravanserai, + more

Santana is a Latin rock band, founded in San Francisco during the late 1960s by Carlos Santana as a vehicle for his compositions and guitar style. The band first came to widespread public ...more

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#112 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #36 of 263 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands #133 of 603 The Best Rock Vocalists

16
Guns N' Roses is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands

Albums: Appetite for Destruction, G N' R Lies, Use Your Illusion I, Chinese Democracy, Use Your Illusion II, + more

Guns N' Roses is an American hard rock band formed in Los Angeles, in 1985. The classic lineup as signed to Geffen Records in 1986 consisted of vocalist Axl Rose, lead guitarist Slash, rhythm ...more

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At Their Peaks, Guns N' Roses And Nirvana Hated Each Other - But They Found Common Ground In Rock #51 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #2 of 159 The Best Hair Metal Bands Of All Time

17
ZZ Top is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands

Albums: Tres Hombres, Eliminator, Rio Grande Mud, Greatest Hits, Fandango!, + more

ZZ Top is an American rock band formed in 1969 in Houston, Texas. The band has, since 1970, consisted of vocalist/guitarist Billy Gibbons (the band's leader, main lyricist and musical arranger), ...more

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The Best ZZ Top Songs of All Time #133 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #23 of 263 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands

18
Pearl Jam is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands

Albums: Ten, Vs., Vitalogy, Binaural, No Code, + more

Pearl Jam is an American rock band, formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1990. Since its inception, the band's line-up has comprised Eddie Vedder, Mike McCready, Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament. The ...more

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The Best Pearl Jam Songs of All Time The History And Enduring Controversy Behind Pearl Jam's 'Jeremy' Music Video #138 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

19
Metallica is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands

Albums: Master of Puppets, Ride the Lightning, Metallica, …and Justice for All, Kill 'Em All, + more

Metallica is an American heavy metal band. The band was formed in 1981 in Los Angeles by vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich, and has been based in San Francisco for most ...more

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The Best Metallica Songs of All Time #282 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #94 of 294 The Best Pop Artists of the 1980s

20
Heart is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands

Albums: Dreamboat Annie, Little Queen, Heart, These Dreams: Greatest Hits, Bebe Le Strange, + more

Heart is a rock band that first found success in Canada and later in the United States and worldwide. Over the group's history, it has had three primary lineups, with the constant center of the ...more

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#54 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #32 of 263 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands #52 of 159 The Best Hair Metal Bands Of All Time

21
Simon and Garfunkel is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands

Albums: Bridge Over Troubled Water, Sounds of Silence, Bookends, The Graduate, The Concert in Central Park, + more

I Am a Rock, etc.

Simon & Garfunkel were an American folk rock duo consisting of singer-songwriter Paul Simon and singer Art Garfunkel. They are best known for achieving commercial and critical success in the ...more

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The Best Simon And Garfunkel Songs #371 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #45 of 263 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands

22
Foo Fighters is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands

Albums: Wasting Light, The Colour and the Shape, Foo Fighters, One by One, There Is Nothing Left to Lose, + more

Foo Fighters is an American rock band, formed in Seattle in 1994. It was founded by Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl as a one-man project following the death of Kurt Cobain and the resulting ...more

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The Best Foo Fighters Songs of All Time #31 of 360 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame #140 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

23
Chuck Berry is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands
Genre: Rock music, Rhythm and blues & Rock and roll; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: The Great Twenty-Eight, Maybellene, Two Great Guitars, Rock, Rock, + more

Charles Edward Anderson Berry (October 18, 1926 – March 18, 2017) was an American singer and songwriter, and one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. With songs such as "Maybellene" ...more

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The Best Chuck Berry Albums of All Time #13 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #434 of 784 The Best Singers of All Time

24
Bob Seger & the Silv... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands

Albums: 'Live' Bullet, Against the Wind, Stranger in Town, It's a Mystery, Greatest Hits, + more

Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band are an American rock band led by Bob Seger.

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#501 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #43 of 263 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands #58 of 1,728 The Best Rock Bands of All Time

25
Crosby, Stills, Nash &am... is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands

Albums: Déjà vu, 4 Way Street, Crosby, Stills & Nash, So Far, + more

Crosby, Stills & Nash is a folk rock supergroup made up of David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash. They are known as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young when joined by occasional fourth ...more

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#31 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #30 of 263 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands #72 of 815 These Poetic Geniuses Wrote Your Favorite Songs of All Time