Greatest Rock Bands of All Time That Will Have You Going "Crazy"

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Determining which bands are considered the greatest rock bands of all time is a pretty intimidating task. You may have talents like The Police, Metallica and Nirvana, but there are just too many others to choose from. Yet among all these options, there are rock bands that have stood out from the rest with their record-breaking sales and best-selling hits.

Rolling Stone magazine has offered up their extensive list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time," but narrowing that down to just 10 is a challenge, to say the least. Sure, that list consists of more than just rock bands, but many of these early groups did make up this top 100.

If you are a fan of early rock music, then you will probably agree with a lot of these groups that take up the top ten spots of the greatest rock bands of all time.

10. Lynyrd Skynyrd: Greatest rock bands of all time

Group of men posing; greatest rock bands of all time
Lynyrd Skynyrd (1976)
Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer / Getty

Formed by teenagers on rival baseball teams, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s beginnings trace back to Jacksonville, Florida in 1964. Original members Ronnie Van Zant, Bob Burns and Gary Rossington created the group and were soon joined by Allen Collins and Larry Junstrom. Their name changed multiple times — from My Backyard to The Noble Five and then The One Percent — eventually landing on Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1969.

The southern rock band has sold over 28 million records throughout their career. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s most popular songs include “Free Bird," “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Tuesday’s Gone." The band was slotted at No. 95 on the "100 Greatest Artists" list and in 2006, they were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

In 1977, just three days after the release of their album Street Survivors, the band was involved in a major plane crash that killed Van Zant as well as newer members Steve and Cassie Gaines and road manager Dean Kilpatrick. The crash marked the end of the road for the band for many years, until 1987. While their reunion was supposed to be a one-time tribute tour, it sparked the rebirth of Lynyrd Skynyrd.

9. AC/DC

Group of men posing; greatest rock bands of all time
AC/DC (1979)
Fin Costello / Staff / Getty

Falling somewhere between hard rock and heavy metal, AC/DC is certainly one of the greatest rock bands of all time. In 1973, brothers Malcolm and Angus Young founded the Australian group, which has sold over 200 million records worldwide throughout their run.

Unsurprisingly, their 1980 album Back in Black is one of the bestselling records of all time. Second only to Thriller by Michael Jackson, Back in Black sold an estimated 50 million copies. Some of their other well-known hits include “Highway to Hell” and “You Shook Me All Night Long." Additionally, their “Thunderstruck” has even become the pump-up song at sports games.

Though they had many nominations over the years, AC/DC only ever received one Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance for the song “War Machine." In 2003, the band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and they are still touring today.

8. Pink Floyd: Greatest rock bands of all time

3. Group of men posing; greatest rock bands of all time
Pink Floyd (1973)
Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer / Getty

The English rock band, formed in 1965, was one of the first known British psychedelic groups. Original members include Roger 'Syd' Barrett, Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Rick Wright.

Their most popular album, The Dark Side of the Moon, was their eighth and sold over 45 million copies. It remained on the Billboard 200 for about 750 weeks consecutively and has hit nearly 980 weeks overall.

Pink Floyd was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. Though the group has been inactive at times over the years, they have come back together for one-off performances. Most recently, they released their song, “Hey, Hey, Rise Up!” in 2022 after the invasion of Ukraine.

7. The Beach Boys

Group of boys hold a surfboard
The Beach Boys (1962)
Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer / Getty

The iconic surf rock group, known for hits “Kokomo”, “God Only Knows” and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” (among many others), formed in 1961. The band consisted of brothers Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson, their cousin Mike Love and friend, Al Jardine.

The Beach Boys became one of the most successful bands of all time, selling over 100 million records worldwide. Not only did this earn the group a place on this list of greatest rock bands of all time, but it placed them at the No. 12 spot on the “100 Greatest Artists” list.

In 1988, The Beach Boys was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and, in 2001, they won The Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Grammy. Their 1066 album Pet Sounds earned No. 2 on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time,” which only solidified their status as an American institution.

MUST READ: The Beach Boys Members: See the Band Then and Now

6. Fleetwood Mac: Greatest rock bands of all time

Band posing for a photo
Fleetwood Mac (1975)
Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer / Getty

Easily one of the greatest rock bands of all time, Fleetwood Mac has broken many barriers in their nearly six-decade-long career, selling over 120 million records worldwide. Members include Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Christine and John McVie, and Mick Fleetwood.

Their most iconic songs include “Dreams," “The Chain," “Landslide” and “Silver Springs," many of which came from their most popular album, Rumours. Not only did the 1977 album spend 31 nonconsecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, but it also sold over 40 million copies worldwide.

Rumours was considered a breakup album for all intents and purposes. It was written after the breakups of every band member — John and Christine and Mick and his wife were going through divorces, and Nicks and Buckingham were through romantically. Though there was a lot of heartbreak happening, it did create one of the most iconic albums of all time, earning No. 7 slot on the list of the 500 Greatest Albums.

In 1998, the original band members were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Though the group reunited many times over the years, Nicks has said that she doesn’t see another reunion in the future since the 2022 death of McVie.

5. Queen

Band of men posing for photo; greatest rock bands of all time
Queen (1978)
Richard E. Aaron / Contributor / Getty

The British rock band formed in 1970 and broke many barriers with their unprecedented fame for a 6-minute-long song and Freddie Mercury’s eclectic style. The group consisted of Mercury, Brian May, John Deacon and Roger Taylor. Known for their iconic performances and hit singles, Queen has earned its spot as one of the greatest rock bands of all time.

With hits like “Bohemian Rhapsody," “We Will Rock You” and “Killer Queen," Queen has sold over 300 million records worldwide. The song “Bohemian Rhapsody” was one of the band’s greatest songs and landed at No. 17 on the 500 Best Songs of All Time list by Rolling Stone. Although their record company was reluctant to release the track, it has long since been regarded as a masterpiece.

In 1985, Queen performed at the Live Aid benefit concert, their performance of "Bohemian Rhapsody" turning out to be their best performance ever and the band offering up the best set of the event. Queen was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, while in 2003 each member was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

In 2018, their biggest hit became the biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, starring Rami Malek as as the late Freddie Mercury. Today, the group consists of Brian May and Roger Taylor, with the addition of vocalist, Adam Lambert.

4. Led Zeppelin: Greatest rock bands of all time

Boys with arms crossed posing
Led Zeppelin (1968)
Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer / Getty

The 1968 English rock band consisted of members Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham. Led Zeppelin is a hard rock/heavy metal band thanks to songs like “Immigrant Song” and “Kashmir."

At just No. 14 on the “100 Greatest Artists” list, Led Zeppelin has sold over 300 million records worldwide. Their most popular songs include “Stairway to Heaven," which ended up being a whopping 8 minutes long; and “Whole Lotta Love."

The band was on a high for the entirety of their run until 1980, when they abruptly came to an end. That year, drummer John Bonham died an accidental death resulting from pulmonary aspiration at age 32. The group decided to disband in his honor.

Led Zeppelin only reunited a few times after their breakup for one-off performances — the 1985 Live Aid Benefit, the 1988 Atlantic Records Anniversary, their 1995 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction as well as a 2007 tribute concert.

3. Aerosmith

Band excited, holding up instruments; greatest rock bands of all time
Aerosmith (1976)
Fin Costello / Staff / Getty

Had it not been for Steven Tyler and Joe Perry’s random meeting at a restaurant in New Hampshire, Aerosmith probably would have never been. This American hard rock band formed in 1970 in Boston, Massachusetts. Along with Tom Hamilton, Joey Kramer and Brad Whitford, Aerosmith became one of the best-selling rock groups.

Their drummer, Joey Kramer, came up with the name Aerosmith when he was in high school. Kramer recalled he wrote the name in his books and “he thought it would be a cool name for a rock band one day.”

With record sales at 150 million, Aerosmith landed at No. 59 on the “100 Greatest Artists” list. One of the most unique things about the group was the fact that they could perform ballads just as well as their upbeat rock songs.

Tunes like “Dream On," “Walk This Way” and “Crazy” made the fan base go wild and only increased their popularity. The album Get a Grip (1993) became their best-selling album, with over 20 million copies sold.

While there was no official break-up of the band, Aerosmith did have a rift that caused Joe Perry to leave for five years. Other musicians replaced Perry, but it was never the same.

The original quintet got back together in 1984 and have been one of the greatest rock bands of all time ever since.

MUST READ: Aerosmith Songs, Ranked: Rock Out to 12 Essential Hits by “The Bad Boys From Boston”

2. The Rolling Stones: Greatest rock bands of all time

Band on stage after a concert
The Rolling Stones (1989)
Paul Natkin / Contributor / Getty

Arguably one of the best English rock bands, The Rolling Stones came together in 1962, the blues rock band originally calling themselves The Blue Boys before landing on their more famous name. The original band members include Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts.

With songs including “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction," the Stones dominated the rock band scene. The group sold over 200 million records throughout their 60-year run and Mick Jagger recently revealed their extensive catalog is worth about $500 million.

But he also said that he has no plans to sell The Rolling Stones catalog, telling the Wall Street Journalthe children don’t need $500 million to live well.”

In 1986, the group received The Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award and in 1989, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inducted them. The Rolling Stones, who are still touring today, certainly deserve this spot on the list of greatest rock bands of all time.

1. The Beatles

Boys smiling for a photo; greatest rock bands of all time
The Beatles (1964)
Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer / Getty

And finally, at number 1, we have The Beatles. John, Paul, George and Ringo, the members of the extremely successful rock band, are recognizable just by the mention of their first names. The group’s Beatlemania era caused chaos among their female fans after their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964.

The Beatles are the best-selling artists of all time, with record sales at nearly 600 million worldwide. Formed in 1960 after John Lennon and Paul McCartney met as teenagers, The Beatles are a global phenomenon. Their standing in the world of rock landed them at No. 1 on the list of the “100 Greatest Artists”.

Their first major hit in the UK was “Love Me Do," but their initial No. 1 was “From Me to You." Other major hits include “I Want to Hold Your Hand," “Yesterday” and “Come Together," among many others.

Though John, Paul, George, and Ringo are the core members of the group, Ringo Starr didn’t join the band until 1962. Before being taken on as drummer, that position had previously been filled by Pete Best, who the others felt didn't quite fit in.

The group ended up splitting in 1970 (though legally they were tied together until 1974) for business reasons, creative differences and the desire to pursue solo careers. In 1980, the world lost John Lennon at age 40 and George Harrison died in 2001 at 58.

The Beatles were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.

Although Harrison and Lennon are no longer with us, The Beatles recently released their single “Now and Then." Lennon wrote and sang the song and McCartney and Starr recently finished it in 2023.

For more music, keep reading!

Bon Jovi Songs: 10 Rock Anthems and Power Ballads to Sing With the Windows Down

Rolling Stones Songs: 15 of Their Most Rockin’ and Iconic Hits, Ranked

Eagles Band Members: See The Country Rockers Then and Now