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> The Lost Decade

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editorial

There are 24 comments on this article.

The 30 Greatest American Rock Bands of All time Part II

by Trent McMartin

Bio

Trent McMartin is a Canadian music journalist and entertainment writer. His career in journalism happened accidently when an editor from an online newspaper discovered his posts on the message boards at Rollingstone.com. His work has been featured in such daily newspaper publications as the Chicago Tribune and Calgary Herald.

visit trent at wikipedia

Five down now, twenty-five to go. The first five bands (numbers 30-26) on the Thirty Greatest American Rock Band list illustrated the diversity of what rock and roll is and has been in America over the past fifty years. There was an R&B/funk group (Earth, Wind, and Fire), a protopunk garage band (MC5), a southern act (Lynyrd Skynyrd), a sixties folk rock band (The Byrds) and an underground hardcore post punk group (Fugazi) bent on keeping ticket prices and album costs down to benefit fans.

Even though some of the biggest names in rock history originated outside America, rock and roll is uniquely an American art form, not unlike jazz or the blues. Musically Britain may have invaded America's shores in the sixties by means of radio and television (a record-breaking 73 million viewers -- approximately 40% of the US population at the time -- tuned in to the Beatles first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show on February 9, 1964), but without Elvis there would be no Beatles; without Chuck Berry there would be no Rolling Stones and without the MC5 and the Stooges there would be no Sex Pistols.

What's great about American rock and roll is its diversity. A band doesn't have to be the Eagles (which by the way did not make this list) and sell a millions of records to be considered one of the greatest American rock and roll bands of all time. A group like Fugazi deserves a place on this list, despite the fact that their album sales and concert grosses are meagre compared to some of the larger rock acts. Fugazi's influence, credibility and impact far outweigh any monetary value. The American underground has always been a vital and exciting place and Fugazi's inclusion on this list exemplifies the importance of the underground's role in shaping rock and roll.

The 30 Greatest American Rock Bands of All Time

30. Earth, Wind and Fire
29. MC5
28. Lynyrd Skynrd
27. The Byrds
26. Fugazi
25. The Miracles / Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
24. Rage Against the Machine
23. Patti Smith Group
22. Soundgarden
21. Creedence Clearwater Revival
20. KISS
19. Crosby, Stills, Nash (and Young)
18. Van Halen
17. The Stooges / Iggy and the Stooges
16. Sonic Youth
15. Blondie
14. The Red Hot Chili Peppers
13. Pearl Jam
12. The Beach Boys
11. Metallica
10. The Pixies
9. R.E.M.
8. The Grateful Dead
7. Parliament/Funkadelic
6. The Velvet Underground
5. The Doors
4. Sly and the Family Stone
3. The Ramones
2. Aerosmith
1. Nirvana



25. The Miracles / Smokey Robinson and the Miracles

The lone Motown representatives on the list, The Miracles were the first Motown group to have a song ("Shop Around") reach #1 on the R&B charts. Frontman Smokey Robinson had an uncanny knack for penning hit songs, having recorded seventy top 40 hits as a Miracle and solo artist for Motown between 1959 and 1990. The Miracles career faltered as it entered the seventies but they still managed to release two of their biggest hits, the number one singles "The Tears of a Clown" and "Love Machine Pt. 1," the latter without Robinson. The group currently tours with only one member, Bobby Rogers, from the classic Motown era.

24. Rage Against the Machine

Exploding out of the alternative rock era of the early 90's, RATM's blend of politics, rap and hard rock would earn the band three hit albums (two of which hit number one), countless sold out shows around the world and a spot on the 1993 Lollapalooza travelling festival. Their highly influential rap-rock style would be seen as a precursor in the development of nu-metal and the group's support and participation in various causes shed light and created interest in such campaigns as the Free Tibet movement, Rock for Choice (which unites artists together to protect abortion rights and women's health clinics) and the Leonard Peltier Defence Fund. RATM split up in 2001 with three of the members going on to form the supergroup Audioslave with ex-Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell.

23. Patti Smith Group

One of rock's most influential women, Patti Smith brought an intellectual female point of view to punk rock. Michael Stipe of REM once said of Smith, "Her influence today is undeniable. There's not anybody I know in a band anywhere who does not revere the records that she put out." The Patti Smith Group's first release 1975's Horses was a landmark release in the development of punk rock and is widely considered one of the greatest debuts in rock history. The group dissolved in the late seventies but reconvened in the nineties releasing a handful of critically acclaimed records over the last decade.

22. Soundgarden

Along with Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains, Seattle's Soundgarden helped usher in the style that became known as "grunge," blending the heaviness of classic metal with the fury and rawness of punk rock. Though often overshadowed by their Seattle contemporaries, Soundgarden may in actuality be the truest representation of what grunge was. In 1986 the band appeared on the Deep Six compilation, which has become widely recognized as the first record to embody the Seattle sound. In 1994, the group released the chart-topper The Superunknown, which spawned the hit singles "Spoonman" and "Blackhole Sun," but the follow-up, 1996's Down on the Upside, didn't fair as well and the band called it quits soon after.

21. Creedence Clearwater Revival

CCR never did fit in with most of the other groups associated with the sixties. Sure they had a few songs that epitomized the time ("Fortunate Son," "Proud Mary") but the band wasn't out to save the world -- they were only interested in playing their blend of bayou bar room rock for their fans. Three of their albums, Green River, Willy and the Poor Boys and Cosmo's Factory are on Rolling Stone's List of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Cosmo's Factory even charted high on the Billboard soul charts, unheard of for a white rock band at the time.

Next week: numbers 20-16

Feedback

January 16, 2006 14:53 ::
You better have The Replacements on this list. The best band ever from Minnesota.
:: Feeling Minnesota from St. Paul

January 16, 2006 18:44 ::
#1 Eagles #2 Doors #3 Grateful Dead #4 ZZ Top #5 Chicago
:: mark king from huron, sd

January 16, 2006 19:20 ::
I just hope Metallica and Alice in Chains are in the top 10. Who the hell is fugazi and how did they make the top 30 much less top 100.
:: Nick Abbate from Staten Island

January 16, 2006 23:28 ::
I'm with the guy who thinks the Byrds should be higher. Any list of the best american bands has The Byrds, The 'Mats, The Band and REM in the top five or it ain't a real list.
:: Matt from LA

January 16, 2006 23:33 ::
Ok. Here is my case for the Eagles: #1 Had the First Platinum Album. (one million) #2 Had the First Diamond Award. (ten million) #3 Take it Easy, Best of my Love, Desperado, Heartache Tonite, I Can't Tell You Why, New Kid in Town and Tequila Sunrise have had more playtime than any other compilation of songs by any other group in the world not inclusive of the Beatles. #4 They recorded in England. (all the good music comes from there)
:: mark king from huron SD

January 16, 2006 23:36 ::
Hey The Band is not American. Levon Helm was the only Yank but the 4 other members were from Canada including the main star Robbie Robertson.
:: The Band is not American from Canada City

January 17, 2006 10:02 ::
When the baddest band ever, Earth Wind & Fire, doesn't even make your top five, the list loses all credibility! Your list now becomes nothing more than a JOKE!
:: Tina Martin from Corona

January 17, 2006 16:59 ::
Im with Mark. The Eagles should be #1
:: Bacon from Battletown KY

January 17, 2006 18:07 ::
stats may be misleading. The Eagles may be the biggest American band on paper but most people 30 and under aren't fans of the band. Three words to describe the Eagles: Boring! Boring! Boring!
:: Pinchy from Springfield

January 18, 2006 07:49 ::
Some of us over 30 agree. (Pinchy) The Eagles can be found in Webster under Bor Ring.
:: Sheilah from Paintsville

January 18, 2006 10:25 ::
The Eagles would never have existed if the Byrds hadn't released Sweetheart of the Rodeo in 1968. Don't confuse commercial success with musical influence. And some of you clearly need to listen to stations that go outside the classic rock format.
:: Dusty from Edmonton

January 18, 2006 11:33 ::
Enuff Znuff is probably number 1. They have always been underrated but I think that this is their time.
:: Mike from Waunakee

January 18, 2006 11:34 ::
Yep, Mike is right on. Enuff Znuff is the greatest band ever. Well, probably a toss up between them and L.A. Guns.
:: Jack from Lodi

January 18, 2006 11:34 ::
I once sucked the dick of a guy from Enuff Znuff.
:: MIndy from Dane

January 18, 2006 12:02 ::
classy girl you are Mindy
:: Fah-Q from The land that time forgot

January 18, 2006 23:03 ::
This list is bullshit. Who is the hack that made this?
:: BS

January 19, 2006 22:18 ::
Let me get this right, the Patti Smith group is on this list but Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are not. Where's the logic.
:: Buyawka

February 01, 2006 00:47 ::
What's the point of making a list of American-only bands (and no singers, just because the band does not get top billing)? Are you trying to point out that the best music comes from the U.K.? My top 10) 1) Zeppelin 2) Rush 3) Pink Floyd 4) Doors 5) Tom Petty 6) U2 7) Yes 8) The Who 9) Beatles 10) Jackson Browne Honorable Mention: Grateful Dead, Dire Straits, Cars, Cheap Trick Rolling Stones
:: Jimmy 86 from City Of Blinding Lights

February 04, 2006 14:05 ::
I predict that The Chili Peppers will make the list.
:: Jase from Hobart, tasmania, Aus.

February 17, 2006 13:04 ::
IN MY OPINION CCR AND KISS SHOULD GET A HIGHER PLACE IN THE LIST.
:: JSR from Cali

March 08, 2006 09:36 ::
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:: tom from London

March 08, 2006 09:49 ::
Follow your dreams, you can reach your goals. black lair wing national imprint longhorn council agatha christie and then there were none tinker field orlando tenon machine incense making control midge rose cum filled throat
:: carolee from Regina

March 08, 2006 16:17 ::
This site is a lot of fun very well designed. ideal body weight reptilian haven serial killer throughout history thousand oak honda mall ny sunrise empire blue the league of extraordinary gentleman putt putt golf course homosexual guys surgical mask
:: tom from London

March 08, 2006 16:25 ::
This site is a lot of fun very well designed. surgical shoes proverb bible study nude female body builder shadow puppet health benefit of laughter homosexual hollywood thousand oak hungry hunter steakhouse groove shake thing gilligan golf island putt putt
:: carolee from Rangoon


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editorial

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Why I Despise 50 Cent,
by Jeff Archibald, March 17, 2006

The Lost Decade,
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The 30 Greatest American Rock Bands of All Time Part VI,
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