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The Greatest American Rock Bands 

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Originally by Ranker Community
Updated July 9, 2020 1.4M votes 57.7k voters 1.1M views 318 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
The Doors is listed (or ranked) 1 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 The Best Songs on The Doors' Self-Titled Debut Album #11 of 333 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands

2
Eagles is listed (or ranked) 2 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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#89 of 332 The Top Country Artists of All Time #8 of 333 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands #16 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time

3
Creedence Clearwater Rev... is listed (or ranked) 3 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 #10 of 333 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands #13 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time

4
Van Halen is listed (or ranked) 4 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 The Best Van Halen Albums of All Time #19 of 333 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands

5
The Beach Boys is listed (or ranked) 5 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 The Best Beach Boys Albums of All Time #47 of 333 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands

6
Aerosmith is listed (or ranked) 6 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 The Best Aerosmith Albums of All Time #17 of 333 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands

7
Lynyrd Skynyrd is listed (or ranked) 7 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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The Best Lynyrd Skynyrd Albums of All Time #142 of 332 The Top Country Artists of All Time #18 of 333 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands

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’ 15 Crazy But True Stories About Nirvana #32 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time

9
Tom Petty and the Heartb... is listed (or ranked) 9 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 The Best Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers Albums of All Time #16 of 333 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands

10
Metallica is listed (or ranked) 10 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 Metallica’s ‘Some Kind Of Monster’ Might Be The Least Metal Documentary Ever Made #26 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time

11
Journey is listed (or ranked) 11 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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#36 of 333 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands #44 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #418 of 604 The Most Hipster Bands

12
The Allman Brothers Band... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands

Albums: At Fillmore East, Beginnings, Eat a Peach, Brothers and Sisters, Hittin’ the Note, + more

The Allman Brothers Band was an American rock band formed in Macon, Georgia, in 1969 by brothers Duane Allman (founder, slide guitar and lead guitar) and Gregg Allman (vocals, keyboards, ...more

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The Best Allman Brothers Band Albums of All Time #44 of 333 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands #64 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time

13
ZZ Top is listed (or ranked) 13 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 The Best ZZ Top Albums of All Time #24 of 333 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands

14
Pearl Jam is listed (or ranked) 14 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 #27 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time

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

Albums: Boston, Greatest Hits, Third Stage, Don't Look Back, Walk On, + more

Boston is an American rock band from Boston, Massachusetts, which had its most notable successes during the 1970s and 1980s. Centered on multi-instrumentalist founder and leader Tom Scholz, who ...more

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#1 of 418 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame #37 of 333 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands #52 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time

16
Steve Miller Band is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands

Albums: Fly Like an Eagle, Book of Dreams, Young Hearts, Circle of Love, The Joker, + more

The Steve Miller Band is an American rock band formed in 1966 in San Francisco, California. The band is managed by Steve Miller on guitar and lead vocals, and is best known today for a string of ...more

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The Best Steve Miller Band Songs of All Time The Best Steve Miller Band Albums of All Time #53 of 333 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands

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

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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#32 of 333 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands #55 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #54 of 2,042 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

18
Bob Seger & the Silv... is listed (or ranked) 18 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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#43 of 333 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands #58 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #532 of 2,042 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

19
R.E.M. is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands

Albums: Murmur, Green, Automatic for the People, Out of Time, Reckoning, + more

R.E.M. was an American rock band from Athens, Georgia, formed in 1980 by drummer Bill Berry, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist/backing vocalist Mike Mills, and lead vocalist Michael Stipe. One of ...more

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#48 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #21 of 408 The Greatest Musical Artists of the '90s #720 of 2,042 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

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

Albums: Ramones, Rocket to Russia, End of the Century, Ramones Mania, Loud, + more

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 true punk rock group. Despite ...more

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Were The Ramones The Most Dysfunctional Band That Stayed Together? All The Things The Ramones Want (According to Their Songs), Ranked #96 of 333 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands

21
Santana is listed (or ranked) 21 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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#136 of 668 The Best Rock Vocalists #33 of 333 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands #35 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time

22
Bruce Springsteen is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands
Genre: Americana, Blues-rock & Country; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Born to Run, Born in the U.S.A., The Rising, Darkness on the Edge of Town, The River, + more

Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen (born September 23, 1949), nicknamed "The Boss", is an American singer-songwriter who is a solo artist and is the leader of the E Street Band. ...more

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The Best Bruce Springsteen Albums of All Time #80 of 265 The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters #111 of 668 The Best Rock Vocalists

23
Guns N' Roses is listed (or ranked) 23 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 Behind The Scenes Of Guns N’ Roses Hit Single ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ #11 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time

24
Chicago is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands

Albums: Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago II, Chicago Christmas: What's It Gonna Be, Santa?, Chicago IX: Chicago's Greatest Hits, + more

Chicago is an American rock band formed in 1967 in Chicago, Illinois, calling themselves the Chicago Transit Authority in 1968 before shortening the name in 1969. The self-described “rock and ...more

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#71 of 333 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands #81 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #210 of 2,042 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

25
Grateful Dead is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest American Rock Bands

Albums: American Beauty, Europe '72 (disc 1), Aoxomoxoa, Workingman's Dead, Terrapin Station, + more

The Grateful Dead was an American rock band formed in 1965 in Palo Alto, California. The band is known for its eclectic style, which fused elements of rock, folk, country, jazz, bluegrass, ...more

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The Best Grateful Dead Songs of All Time Wild Stories You Haven't Heard About The Grateful Dead #91 of 333 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands