Music

The Best Experimental Rock Bands/Artists 

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Updated April 18, 2019 8.7k votes 1.2k voters 45.2k views 118 items

Similarly to avant-garde rock and avant-garde rock bands, experimental rock takes rock music and takes it to places where many mainstream bands are afraid to go. Experimental rock bands are among the most interesting bands with extremely rabid, loyal fanbases. Usually, experimental rock bands will tinker with things like song structure, and showcases a different side of a rock band. Technical prowess is crucial for experimental rock bands to challenge the status quo. Beginning in the 1960s, experimental rock used elements from free jazz, classical music and even psychedelic rock to create a sound people had never heard before. Experimental rock has also called post-rock.

So, who are considered experimental rock bands? You can't think of experimental rock without bringing up Frank Zappa, Brian Eno and even Neil Young. These guys took traditional rock music and decide to create their own subtexture to their sound. How else can you accurately explain what Zappa and the Mothers of Invention did? They took traditional music and made it their own, hence the experimental rock label. Elements of Krautrock, ambient music and underground music were embraced by experimental rock bands.

This list of experimental rock bands should be a guide to the genre. Experimental rock This list answers the questions "who are the best experimental rock bands of all time?" and "who is the greatest experimental rock musician ever?"(118 items)
list ordered by
1
King Crimson is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Experimental Rock Bands/Artists
King Crimson are an English progressive rock band formed in London in 1968, that now is more international in membership. King Crimson have been influential both on the early 1970s progressive ...more

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The Best King Crimson Songs #154 of 418 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame #294 of 2,042 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

2
Pink Floyd is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Experimental Rock Bands/Artists
Pink Floyd were an English rock band formed in London in 1965. They emerged from London's underground music scene during the late 1960s, and became one of the most commercially successful and ...more

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The Best Pink Floyd Albums of All Time #94 of 668 The Best Rock Vocalists #298 of 2,042 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

3
Radiohead is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Experimental Rock Bands/Artists
Radiohead are an English rock band formed in Abingdon-on-Thames in 1985. The band consists of Thom Yorke (vocals, guitar, piano, keyboards), brothers Jonny Greenwood (lead guitar, keyboards, ...more

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The Best Radiohead Songs of All Time #448 of 2,042 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #102 of 465 The Best Current Pop Groups/Singers

4
Frank Zappa is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Experimental Rock Bands/Artists
Frank Vincent Zappa (December 21, 1940 – December 4, 1993) was an American multi-instrumentalist musician, composer, and bandleader. His work is characterized by nonconformity, free-form ...more

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The Best Frank Zappa Albums List #223 of 668 The Best Rock Vocalists #367 of 2,042 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

5
The Velvet Underground ... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Experimental Rock Bands/Artists
The Velvet Underground was an American rock band formed in 1964 in New York City by singer/guitarist Lou Reed, multi-instrumentalist John Cale, guitarist Sterling Morrison, and drummer Angus ...more

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The Best Velvet Underground Albums of All Time #157 of 418 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame #266 of 2,042 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

6
Talking Heads is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Experimental Rock Bands/Artists
RayFracalossy added
Talking Heads were an American rock band formed in 1975 in New York City and active until 1991. The band comprised David Byrne (lead vocals, guitar), Chris Frantz (drums), Tina Weymouth (bass), ...more

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The Best Talking Heads Albums of All Time #171 of 2,042 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #89 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time

7
The Mothers of Invention... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Experimental Rock Bands/Artists
The Mothers of Invention was an American rock band from California. Formed in 1964, their work is marked by the use of sonic experimentation, innovative album art, and elaborate live shows. ...more

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The Best Mothers Of Invention Albums of All Time #1,202 of 2,042 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #220 of 324 The Greatest American Rock Bands

8
Alice Cooper is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Experimental Rock Bands/Artists
Kassie Lanzarotta added
Alice Cooper (born Vincent Damon Furnier; February 4, 1948) is an American singer, songwriter, and actor whose career spans over 50 years. With his distinctive raspy voice and a stage show that ...more

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The Best Alice Cooper Albums of All Time #11 of 269 The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters #93 of 668 The Best Rock Vocalists

9
Sonic Youth is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Experimental Rock Bands/Artists
Sonic Youth was an American rock band based in New York City, formed in 1981. Founding members Thurston Moore (guitar, vocals), Kim Gordon (bass, vocals, guitar) and Lee Ranaldo (guitar, vocals) ...more

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The Best Sonic Youth Songs of All Time #235 of 418 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame #359 of 2,042 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

10
The Beatles is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Experimental Rock Bands/Artists
Kassie Lanzarotta added
The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. With a line-up comprising John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, they are regarded as the most ...more

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New Things About Paul McCartney, The Beatles, And Wings From His 2018 Interviews #3 of 2,042 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Timelisted on The Best English Boy Bands

11
Syd Barrett is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Experimental Rock Bands/Artists
Roger Keith "Syd" Barrett (6 January 1946 – 7 July 2006) was an English singer, songwriter, and musician who co-founded the rock band Pink Floyd in 1965. Characterised for his ...more

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#229 of 668 The Best Rock Vocalists #212 of 1,043 The Best Singers of All Time #1,114 of 2,042 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

12
David Bowie is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Experimental Rock Bands/Artists
Kassie Lanzarotta added
David Robert Jones (8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016), known professionally as David Bowie (, BOH-ee), was an English singer-songwriter and actor. He was a leading figure in the music industry ...more

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David Bowie and His Mysterious Connections to the Occult and Paganism #6 of 668 The Best Rock Vocalists #17 of 1,043 The Best Singers of All Time

13
Brian Eno is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Experimental Rock Bands/Artists
Brian Peter George St John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno, RDI (; born Brian Peter George Eno, 15 May 1948) is an English musician, record producer, visual artist, and theorist best known for his ...more

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The Best Brian Eno Albums of All Time #315 of 418 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame #302 of 2,042 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

14
Kraftwerk is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Experimental Rock Bands/Artists
TCUhimself added
Kraftwerk (German: [ˈkʁaftvɛɐ̯k], lit. "power station") is a German band formed in Düsseldorf in 1970 by Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider. Widely considered as innovators ...more

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#271 of 419 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame #404 of 2,047 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #252 of 465 The Best Current Pop Groups/Singers

15
Lou Reed is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Experimental Rock Bands/Artists
Lewis Allan Reed (March 2, 1942 – October 27, 2013) was an American musician, singer, songwriter and poet. He was the lead guitarist, singer and principal songwriter for the rock band the Velvet ...more

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Wild Stories About The Insane Life Of Music Pioneer Lou Reed #214 of 668 The Best Rock Vocalists #647 of 1,043 The Best Singers of All Time

16
Neil Young is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Experimental Rock Bands/Artists
Neil Percival Young (born November 12, 1945) is a Canadian singer-songwriter. After embarking on a music career in the 1960s, he moved to Los Angeles, where he formed Buffalo Springfield with ...more

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The Best Neil Young Albums of All Time #53 of 269 The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters #47 of 668 The Best Rock Vocalists

17
John Lennon is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Experimental Rock Bands/Artists
John Winston Ono Lennon (born John Winston Lennon, 9 October 1940 – 8 December 1980) was an English singer, songwriter and peace activist who gained worldwide fame as the rhythm guitarist for ...more

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18
Swans is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Experimental Rock Bands/Artists
bigwackywilly added
Swans is an American experimental rock band originally active from 1982 to 1997, led by singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Michael Gira. The band was one of the few groups to emerge ...more

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#806 of 2,042 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #1,125 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #399 of 408 The Greatest Musical Artists of the '90s

19
CAN is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Experimental Rock Bands/Artists
carl-taylor added
Can was a German experimental rock band formed in Cologne in 1968 by the core quartet of Holger Czukay (bass, tape editing), Irmin Schmidt (keyboards), Michael Karoli (guitar), and Jaki ...more

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#616 of 2,047 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #721 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #555 of 604 The Most Hipster Bands

20
Mr. Bungle is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Experimental Rock Bands/Artists
JackSalvucci added
Mr. Bungle is an American experimental rock band from Northern California. Known for a highly eclectic style, the band often cycled through several musical genres within the course of a single ...more
21
Soundgarden is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Experimental Rock Bands/Artists
AdamBell added
An interesting mix of metal, psychedelia, hard rock, punk, and eastern music that became iconic of one of the big four of the Seattle scene. Soundgarden was an American rock band formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1984 by singer and rhythm guitarist Chris Cornell, lead guitarist Kim Thayil (both of whom are the only members to appear ...more

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#60 of 418 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame #109 of 2,042 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #59 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time

22
George Harrison is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Experimental Rock Bands/Artists
George Harrison (25 February 1943 – 29 November 2001) was an English musician, singer-songwriter, and music and film producer who achieved international fame as the lead guitarist of the ...more

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The Best George Harrison Albums of All Time #59 of 668 The Best Rock Vocalists #472 of 1,043 The Best Singers of All Time

23
The Residents is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Experimental Rock Bands/Artists
RayFracalossy added
The Residents are an American art collective best known for their avant-garde music and multimedia works. Since their first official release, Meet the Residents (1974), the group has released ...more

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24
Robert Fripp is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Experimental Rock Bands/Artists
passionsears added
Robert Fripp (born 16 May 1946) is an English guitarist, composer and record producer. Best known as guitarist for the progressive rock band King Crimson, Fripp has been the only member to play ...more

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25
Captain Beefheart & ... is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Experimental Rock Bands/Artists
Kassie Lanzarotta added
Don Van Vliet (, born Don Glen Vliet; January 15, 1941 – December 17, 2010) was an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and visual artist best known by the stage name Captain ...more

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