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The Greatest American Rock Bands 

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Originally by Ranker Community
Updated March 16, 2020 1.3M votes 54.6k voters 1.1M views 344 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
Fleetwood Mac is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands
BobbieJoReedKey added

Albums: Rumours, Fleetwood Mac, Tango in the Night, The Dance, The Original Fleetwood Mac, + more

Labels: CBS Records, Epic Records, Sanctuary Records Group, Reprise Records, Sire Records, + more

Fleetwood Mac are a British-American rock band formed in July 1967, in London. The band have sold more than 100 million records worldwide, making them one of the best-selling bands of all time. ...more

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#21 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #24 of 2,175 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time Fascinating Stories From Stevie Nicks’s Love Life

2
Creedence Clearwater Rev... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands

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

Labels: Fantasy Records

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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#15 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #54 of 620 The Greatest Live Bands of All Time The Best Creedence Clearwater Revival Albums of All Time

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

Labels: MCA Records, Warner Bros. Entertainment, Shelter Records, Backstreet Records, American Recordings, + 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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#30 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #10 of 2,175 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time The Most Fascinating Facts You Didn't Know About Tom Petty

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

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

Labels: Castle Classics, Geffen Records, Columbia

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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#24 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #907 of 1,038 The Worst Bands & Musicians of All Time The Best Aerosmith Songs of All Time

5
Eagles is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands

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

Labels: Warner Music Group, Geffen Records, Asylum Records, Universal Music Group, Polydor Records, + 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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#11 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #876 of 1,038 The Worst Bands & Musicians of All Time #13 of 620 The Greatest Live Bands of All Time

6
Elvis Presley is listed (or ranked) 6 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

Labels: Sun Records, RCA Records

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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#365 of 1,145 The Best Actors in Film History #5 of 1,042 The Best Singers of All Time The Best Elvis Presley Songs of All Time

7
Journey is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands

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

Labels: Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Sanctuary Records Group, Frontiers Records, Columbia

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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#75 of 2,175 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #389 of 561 The Most Hipster Bands

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

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

Labels: Atlantic Records, MCA Records, Universal Records, Roadrunner Records, Capricorn Records, + 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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#25 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #413 of 2,175 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time Falling Free Bird: The Truth About The Infamous Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash Is Stranger Than Fiction

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

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

Labels: Geffen Records, DGC Records, Sub Pop

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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#10 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #11 of 561 The Most Hipster Bands The Best Nirvana Songs

10
The Beach Boys is listed (or ranked) 10 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

Labels: Ariola Records, CBS Records, Caribou Records, Brother Records, Reprise Records, + 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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#982 of 1,038 The Worst Bands & Musicians of All Time #5 of 279 The Top Pop Artists of the 1960s The Best Beach Boys Songs of All Time

11
Johnny Cash is listed (or ranked) 11 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

Labels: Mercury, American Recordings, Legacy Recordings, Columbia, Sun Records

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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#24 of 1,042 The Best Singers of All Time #108 of 330 The Coolest Actors Ever The Best Johnny Cash Songs of All Time

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

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

Labels: Interscope Records, Warner Bros. Records

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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#20 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #59 of 620 The Greatest Live Bands of All Time The Best Van Halen Songs of All Time

13
Santana is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands

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

Labels: Sony Music Entertainment, Polydor Records, Arista Records, Columbia

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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#34 of 620 The Greatest Live Bands of All Time #196 of 695 The Best Rock Vocalists

14
The Revolution is listed (or ranked) 14 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

Labels: Paisley Park Records, Warner Bros. Records

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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#16 of 107 The Best Musical Artists From Minnesota #9 of 23 All The Arroyo Seco Weekend Acts We Saw, Ranked

15
Jimi Hendrix is listed (or ranked) 15 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

Labels: MCA Records, Vee-Jay Records, Polydor Records, Reprise Records, Barclay Records, + 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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#86 of 1,042 The Best Singers of All Time The Best Jimi Hendrix Songs of All Timelisted on Members of The 27 Club

16
Pearl Jam is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands

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

Labels: Epic Records, J Records, Monkeywrench, Universal Music Group

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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#25 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #1,059 of 1,038 The Worst Bands & Musicians of All Time The Best Pearl Jam Songs of All Time

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

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

Labels: Sony Records, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Mushroom Records, EMI, Portrait Records, + 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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#56 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #1 of 156 The Greatest Chick Rock Bands Ever

18
Guns N' Roses is listed (or ranked) 18 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

Labels: Geffen Records, Uzi Suicide

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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#14 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #8 of 180 The Best Hair Metal Bands Of All Time The Best Guns N' Roses Songs of All Time

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

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

Labels: Warner Music Group, Rhino Entertainment, Elektra Records

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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#22 of 620 The Greatest Live Bands of All Time #193 of 284 Musicians Who Belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame The Best Doors Albums of All Time

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

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

Labels: London Records, Warner Bros. Entertainment, Rhino Entertainment, American Recordings, Eagle Rock Records, + 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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#39 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #78 of 277 Rank the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame Inductees The Best ZZ Top Songs of All Time

21
Metallica is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands

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

Labels: Vertigo Records, Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc., Universal Records, Megaforce Records, Universal Music Group, + 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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#164 of 1,038 The Worst Bands & Musicians of All Time #7 of 620 The Greatest Live Bands of All Time The Best Metallica Songs of All Time

22
Bob Seger & the Silv... is listed (or ranked) 22 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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#594 of 2,175 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #38 of 620 The Greatest Live Bands of All Time

23
Foo Fighters is listed (or ranked) 23 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

Labels: RCA, RCA Records, Capitol Records

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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#41 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #40 of 620 The Greatest Live Bands of All Time The Best Foo Fighters Songs of All Time

24
Crosby, Stills, Nash &am... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands

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

Labels: Atlantic Records, Warner Music Group, Reprise Records

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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#47 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #78 of 464 The Best Current Pop Groups/Singers #116 of 2,175 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

25
Foreigner is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands
Superpayasadas added

Albums: 4, Complete Greatest Hits, Agent Provocateur, Foreigner, Can't Slow Down, + more

Labels: Atlantic Records, Warner Music Group

Foreigner is an English–American rock band, originally formed in New York City in 1976 by veteran English musician and ex-Spooky Tooth member Mick Jones, and fellow Briton and ex-King Crimson ...more

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#103 of 2,175 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #64 of 620 The Greatest Live Bands of All Time #5 of 284 Musicians Who Belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame