Music
60.8k voters

The Greatest American Rock Bands

Updated July 15, 2020 1.5m votes 60.8k voters 1.2m views279 items

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

Update: Follow Ranker's official New Rock 2020 playlist on Spotify!

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.

Photo:
...more
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival1
    16,758
    10,400

    Creedence Clearwater Revival

    Green River, Cosmo's Factory

    Genres (Music)Blues-rock, Blue-eyed soul, Swamp pop, Rock music, Garage rock

    Creedence Clearwater Revival (often referred to as Creedence or CCR) was an American rock band...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Creedence Clearwater Revival 

    The Best Creedence Clearwater Revival Albums of All Time#3 of 219 The Top Pop Artists of the 1960s

  • Elvis Presley2
    10,436
    5,205

    Elvis Presley

    Jailhouse Rock, The Sun Sessions

    Genres (Music)Christian music, Pop music, Rock music, Rockabilly, Country rock

    Elvis Aaron Presley (January 8, 1935 – August 16, 1977), also known mononymously as Elvis, was...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Elvis Presley 

    The Best Elvis Presley Songs of All Time#131 of 162 1970s Christian Pop Artists

  • Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers3
    14,167
    8,025

    Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

    The Last DJ, Damn the Torpedoes

    Genres (Music)Blues-rock, New Wave, Classic rock, Heartland rock, Rock music

    Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (alternately Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers) were an American...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers 

    The Most Fascinating Facts You Didn't Know About Tom Petty#6 of 465 The Greatest Musical Artists of the '80s

  • Aerosmith4
    16,184
    10,333

    Aerosmith

    Toys in the Attic, Pump

    Genres (Music)Glam metal, Blues-rock, Rock music, Heavy metal, Rock and roll

    Aerosmith is an American rock band formed in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1970. The group...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Aerosmith 

    The Best Aerosmith Songs of All Time#31 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

  • Eagles5
    17,877
    11,562

    Eagles

    Hotel California, Eagles Greatest Hits

    Genres (Music)Country pop, Rock music, Folk rock, Country rock, Soft rock

    The Eagles are an American rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1971 by Glenn Frey, Don Henley,...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Eagles 

    #7 of 39 Who Is The Most Famous Rock Band In The World Right Now?#14 of 80 The Best Southern Rock Bands of All Time

  • Johnny Cash6
    9,515
    4,219

    Johnny Cash

    American V: A Hundred Highways, American IV: The Man Comes Around

    Genres (Music)Outlaw country, Christian music, Americana, Rock music, Rockabilly

    John R. "Johnny" Cash (February 26, 1932 – September 12, 2003) was an American...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Johnny Cash 

    The Best Johnny Cash Songs of All Time#105 of 310 The Coolest Actors Ever

  • Jimi Hendrix7
    12,799
    4,098

    Jimi Hendrix

    First Rays of the New Rising Sun, Band of Gypsys

    Genres (Music)Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock, Psychedelia, Heavy metal

    The greatest rock star of them all.

    James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendrix; November 27, 1942 – September 18,...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Jimi Hendrix 

    Wild Stories From The Guitar-Shredding Life Of Jimi Hendrix#3 of 29 Members of The 27 Club

  • Lynyrd Skynyrd8
    14,662
    9,517

    Lynyrd Skynyrd

    (pronounced 'lĕh-'nérd 'skin-'nérd), Second Helping

    Genres (Music)Outlaw country, Blues-rock, Boogie rock, Rock music, Country rock

    Lynyrd Skynyrd is an American rock band best known for popularizing the southern hard-rock...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Lynyrd Skynyrd 

    Falling Free Bird: The Truth About The Infamous Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash Is Stranger Than Fiction#132 of 291 The Top Country Artists of All Time

  • The Beach Boys9
    13,737
    9,483

    The Beach Boys

    Pet Sounds, Surfin' USA

    Genres (Music)Pop music, Rock music, Psychedelic pop, Traditional pop music, Country rock

    The Beach Boys are an American rock and roll band. Formed in 1961, they gained popularity for...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More The Beach Boys 

    The Best Beach Boys Songs of All Time#97 of 461 The Best Current Pop Groups/Singers

  • Nirvana10
    13,596
    9,424

    Nirvana

    Nevermind, In Utero

    Genres (Music)Rock music, Grunge, Alternative rock, Punk rock, Hardcore punk

    Nirvana was an American grunge band that was formed by singer/guitarist Kurt Cobain and...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Nirvana 

    Behind The Scenes Of Nirvana's Timeless 'MTV Unplugged' Performance#28 of 265 Rank the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame Inductees

  • Chuck Berry11
    5,229
    2,939

    Chuck Berry

    The Great Twenty-Eight, Maybellene

    Genres (Music)Rock music, Rhythm and blues, Rock and roll, Blues

    Charles Edward Anderson Berry (October 18, 1926 – March 18, 2017) was an American singer and...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Chuck Berry 

    The Best Chuck Berry Albums of All Time#406 of 1,355 The Greatest Minds of All Time

  • Guns N' Roses12
    12,771
    8,415

    Guns N' Roses

    Appetite for Destruction, G N' R Lies

    Genres (Music)Glam metal, Blues-rock, Rock music, Heavy metal, Rock and roll

    Guns N' Roses is an American hard rock band formed in Los Angeles, in 1985. The classic lineup...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Guns N' Roses 

    Wild, Over-The-Top Stories From The Making Of Guns N' Roses' 'Appetite for Destruction'Behind The Scenes Of Guns N’ Roses Hit Single ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’

  • Journey13
    11,054
    8,029

    Journey

    Escape, Frontiers

    Genres (Music)Rock music, Jazz fusion, Pop rock, Soft rock, Progressive rock

    Journey is an American rock band that formed in San Francisco in 1973, composed of former...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Journey 

    #12 of 20 Famous Bands That Changed Lead Singers#8 of 40 The Best Supergroups Ever Made

  • Van Halen14
    13,387
    9,888

    Van Halen

    Van Halen, 1984

    Genres (Music)Glam metal, Rock music, Heavy metal, Hard rock

    Van Halen is an American hard rock band formed in Pasadena, California in 1972. Credited with...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Van Halen 

    The Best Van Halen Songs of All Time#4 of 156 The Best Hair Metal Bands Of All Time

  • The Doors15
    15,809
    11,679

    The Doors

    The Doors, L.A. Woman

    Genres (Music)Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk, Heavy metal, Jazz fusion

    The Doors were an American rock band formed in 1965 in Los Angeles, with vocalist Jim...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More The Doors 

    The Best Doors Albums of All Time#11 of 66 The Greatest Rock Band Logos of All Time

  • Prince and the Revolution16
    7,960
    5,631

    Prince and the Revolution

    Purple Rain, Around the World in a Day

    Genres (Music)Rock music, Heavy metal, Rhythm and blues, Pop rock, Experimental music

    The Revolution was an American rock band formed in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1979 by Prince....  more
    Amazon buy button

    More The Revolution 

    #14 of 113 The Best Musical Artists From Minnesota#212 of 419 The Best Experimental Bands/Artists

  • Simon and Garfunkel17
    5,507
    3,381

    Simon and Garfunkel

    Bridge Over Troubled Water, Sounds of Silence

    Genres (Music)Pop music, Worldbeat, Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

    I Am a Rock, etc.

    Simon & Garfunkel were an American folk rock duo consisting of singer-songwriter Paul Simon...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Simon and Garfunkel 

    The Best Simon And Garfunkel Songs#99 of 297 The Best Duos of All Time

  • Santana18
    9,266
    6,823

    Santana

    Abraxas, Supernatural

    Genres (Music)Blues-rock, Chicano rock, Rock music, Rock en Español, Jazz fusion

    Santana is a Latin rock band, founded in San Francisco during the late 1960s by Carlos Santana...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Santana 

    #74 of 126 The Best Black Rock Bands#15 of 93 The Best Opening Act You've Ever Seen

  • Metallica19
    13,010
    9,633

    Metallica

    Master of Puppets, Ride the Lightning

    Genres (Music)Thrash metal, Rock music, Heavy metal, Speed metal, Hard rock

    Metallica is an American heavy metal band. The band was formed in 1981 in Los Angeles by...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Metallica 

    The Best Metallica Songs of All TimeFascinating Facts From The Making Of Metallica's 'Master Of Puppets'

  • Pearl Jam20
    10,876
    8,259

    Pearl Jam

    Ten, Vs.

    Genres (Music)Rock music, Grunge, Post-grunge, Alternative rock, Hard rock

    Pearl Jam is an American rock band, formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1990. Since its...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Pearl Jam 

    The Tragic Story Of Pearl Jam's Deadly Roskilde Show#9 of 179 The Best Bands That Are Named After Foods

  • ZZ Top21
    10,602
    7,945

    ZZ Top

    Tres Hombres, Eliminator

    Genres (Music)Blues-rock, Boogie rock, Rock music, Electric blues, Heavy metal

    ZZ Top is an American rock band formed in 1969 in Houston, Texas. The band has, since 1970,...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More ZZ Top 

    The Best ZZ Top Songs of All Time#4 of 110 The Best Musical Trios Of All-Time

  • Foo Fighters22
    8,207
    6,209

    Foo Fighters

    Wasting Light, The Colour and the Shape

    Genres (Music)Alternative rock, Post-grunge

    Foo Fighters is an American rock band, formed in Seattle in 1994. It was founded by Nirvana...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Foo Fighters 

    The Best Foo Fighters Songs of All Time#28 of 355 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

  • Buddy Holly and the Crickets23
    4,243
    2,981

    Buddy Holly and the Crickets

    Buddy, 20 Golden Greats

    Genres (Music)Lubbock sound, Rock music, Rockabilly, Pop rock, Rock and roll

    Peggy Sue, etc.

    Charles Hardin Holley (September 7, 1936 – February 3, 1959), known professionally as Buddy...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Buddy Holly 

    What Actually Happened The Day The Music Died?#396 of 739 The Best Singers of All Time

  • Heart24
    8,942
    6,959

    Heart

    Dreamboat Annie, Little Queen

    Genres (Music)Pop music, Rock music, Folk rock, Heavy metal, Pop rock

    Heart is a rock band that first found success in Canada and later in the United States and...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Heart 

    #1 of 151 The Greatest Chick Rock Bands Ever#11 of 74 The Best Bands Named After Body Parts

  • Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band25
    9,009
    6,877

    Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band

    'Live' Bullet, Against the Wind

    Genres (Music)Rock music

    Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band are an American rock band led by Bob Seger....  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band 

    #991 of 1,019 The Worst Bands & Musicians of All Time#11 of 541 The Greatest Live Bands of All Time