27 Iconic Bands That Shaped a Generation of Rock Music

Classic rock by guitar bands is often fantastic; I’m a fan. But rock’s had a long and extremely varied history, and it seems a shame to restrict greatness to the one and only subgenre.

So this list is an effort to imagine what the greatest rock band might mean if we peeled our ears off the usual suspects for a second and heard what else was out there rocking.


You can't talk about rock and roll without talking about grunge. Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl, and Krist Novoselic spearheaded a genre in the mid to late '90s that was like punk's little sister, until Cobain's death in 1994. 

Foo Fighters

Grohl has made a name for Foo in rock and roll history and they are still going strong, even after the unfortunate loss of their drummer, Taylor Hawkins.

Clara Ward Singers

Songs like the barn burner “Packing Up” unleash Williams’ “OOOOOO” at full force, a gigantic barbaric yawp that rock bands have been trying to recapture since.

Louis Jordan and The Tympani Five

The band’s single most famous rock moment is Carl Hogan’s stinging electric guitar solo at the beginning of “Ain’t That Just Like a Woman,” which inspired Chuck Berry and the rest of rock guitar to come.

Johnny Cash and The Tennessee Three

They weren’t virtuosos, but that’s why “I shot a man in Reno/just to watch him die” sounds so bare-knuckled and lonesome.

Smokey Robinson and The Miracles

They rocked so hard they were almost funk on songs like “Mickey’s Monkey,” sighed into the supersensual proto-quiet-storm of “Ooo, Baby Baby,” and built the prototype of orchestral pop on masterpieces like “Tears of a Clown” and “Tracks of My Tears.”

Swipe up to learn more!