Since I just went to the Governor's Ball and have a top 10 hip-hop artist list, I felt I should do a list of my top 10 rock bands. This list may have a lot of honorable mentions considering there's some strange skew of bands I've seen live and bands that I'll never get a chance to live. Also let me preference in saying that there will be a lack of 80s bands (most didn't do it for me) and some you may not like, but hey it's my list.
Anyways, here's the list with ratings on library strength, musicality, live shows (if applicable), and overall creativity
1. Led Zeppelin - While I have recently learned that Led Zeppelin may not be as original as I once thought, they are still a multi-album strong rock band. People will argue if Stairway to Heaven is the best song and if Led Zep 4 is the best album until the end of the time. However, I think the most credit goes into 3 of the 4 man band. While I acknowledge John Paul Jones for being a strong artist, I think there are better and he pales in comparison to the rest of the band. Robert Plant is an amazing frontman with brilliant vocals and writing ability, arguably one of the most intense singers of classic rock. Jimmy Page is a guitar god and outside of Jimi Hendrix he is my number 2 for his creativity and riff after riff of rocking out. John Bonham rounds out the 4 with being my personal favorite rock drummer, it's a real shame he went so young because of how talented he was. I'm sure their live shows were wonderful and I haven't listened to them as much as I did in college, but they still hold my utmost respect over nearly any band.
2. Pink Floyd - I love Pink Floyd primarily for showing how warped music can be from both a musical and creative stance. With a bizarrely strong set of albums, including the one with Syd Barrett. For me Pink Floyd represents generational love (my father and uncle blared them in the Deep South in the 60s and 70s….let that sink in for a moment), creativity outside of the media - The Wall, the movie, strength over the years, and most importantly their ability to create the feeling of being on drugs without having them. While I think David Gilmour's ethereal guitar work and Roger Waters consistency are the strength of the band, I cannot rule out Richard Wright's songwriting contributions or the dream of Syd Barrett. I'm sure they had the most creative live shows out of anyone on this list and it's a true shame that my dad nor I will ever be able to see them.
3. The Rolling Stones - Yes, I am Stones/Zeppelin fan over Beatles/Rush (both will not be on this list, outside of Neil Peart I have no complaints). One aspect that I will respect the Stones for is their undying love of making music. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have been at it, including live shows (possibly still able to go? still bummed I missed their San Diego when I was 18) for nearly 50 years. Their lyricism is strong and quite centered on a blues background as Jagger knows how to be one of the best frontmen ever known. Keith is consistent on creating rifts and rhythm and the same goes for Charlie Watts on the drums. Also, enough can't be said for the creative genius of Brian Jones for when he was with the band. While I think the next bands I enjoy more than the Stones, I cannot deny how much respect I have for the Stones and all that they stand for. After all, you've got to have the Beatles or the Stones on your list somewhere or I'd be suspect if you understood rock.
4. Black Sabbath - Tony Iommi's creation and Ozzy Osborne's rise to fame is probably the hardest rocking on the list so far. I would also say that it is the strongest overall band in terms of musicality, as every member is a vital part. Sure, the band changed later on with Dio and Ozzy had many hits of his own, but the original Sabbath has seriously phenomenal songs and performances. The biggest reason why they are not #1 is that their longevity or lasting appeal is not on the level as the above 3. However, I do have to list the talents of riff and solo king Tony Iommi, Ozzy Osborne's antics as a frontman and his bizarre singing talents, Geezer Butler's bass work (N.I.B.) that puts him right after Bootsy Collins and Flea for me, and Bill Ward's consistency to bring it every time. While it may be a rocky band overall, I cannot deny their contribution to rock music.
5. The Jimi Hendrix Experience - For Jimi Hendrix alone, this band could even be #1. In my opinion, he is the best musician ever outside of only Stevie Wonder (and that is simply because Stevie has lived longer). I really cannot say more about Jimi than has already been said. As such, if you don't know about Jimi Hendrix, look him up, he's arguably better than anybody you can come up with. But, this band wouldn't be on here for just Jimi. Jimi was accompanied with the amazing Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding who are both extremely talented musicians especially Mitchell's work on Fire; however, Jimi is just that good he makes people like Noel Redding look like amateurs, which is insane. Lastly, Jimi's rock performances have live recordings all over the internet to look at for those who want to see the creativity of a left-handed guitarist who played right-handed guitars.
6. Red Hot Chili Peppers - With that ends my classic rock phase and begins my 90s rock love. This entry is as biased as my entry for 2pac. I'm from California and in musical terms that means Eagles, 2pac or RHCP. I think with the exception of Nas, I have more RHCP songs than any other band and dammit if they have been with me through every stage of my life. I starting listening to RHCP when I was in elementary school (like 4th or 5th grade) with that being said that's nearly 17 years of love for a band and about five albums. I also love the musicality of the band even with respect to Hillel Slovak. Furthermore, John Frusciante is a creative genius in using the guitar in respect to Hendrix and Page, while coming with musical talent. Kiedis is a great frontman who has changed and been through a lot over his years, but he still kicks ass. Flea is one of the most talented bassists in the entire realm of music and is the strongest, while Chad Smith never gets the respect he deserves. From a live show perspective, I saw them in their older years with a brilliant array of moving TVs that reflected their songs and while they've aged I know back in the day John could really put it down over Klingoffer. If nothing else, for me this band = California and that is all.
7. Radiohead - The only reason why RHCP is higher is because of bias, otherwise I personally think that Radiohead is the best band of the 90s and as such has created not only a legacy of hits and albums, but a legacy of developing a unique style that has now been imitated from Coldplay to James Blake. They also have one of the best live shows I've ever seen in regard to the LED light systems. Thom Yorke is all that is needed in the band, but the Greenwood brother combo has always added to the talent and creativity of the band. While I haven't enjoyed their recent music as much I can say that they have some of the best live music around and will continue to respect them for that.
8. Rage Against the Machine - This band rounds out my 90s rock music/live music love fest. Although their drummer is a weak part and Tim. Com will never reach the upper echelons of bassists, Tom Morello and Zac de La Rocha are just that good. Plus their political message, mosh pit-inducing live shows and mass appeal (crossing the hip-hop gap) really put them a cut above most rock bands I've seen. Tom is one of my favorite guitarists and certainly in my top 10 for the mere fact that he creates scratching DJ sounds from his guitar. On the other hand, Zac's liveliness, lyricism and political prowess makes him a stronger frontman than many frontmen of the past. They're not the most complete musically, but their hits, albums and power will always put them on the map for me.
9. Tie Nirvana/The Doors - While this is cheating with the Forever 27 bands (I have 4 out of 5 on this list), I just couldn't really decide to keep going with the 90s love or go back to the classical here. Nirvana started a revolution of music with grunge and created the best 3 person band since Cream as Dave Grohl's drum work (and later frontman & guitar work), Krist Noveselic strong bass skills, and of course the brilliance and craziness of Kurt Cobain as the frontman & guitarist is forever burned in people's minds. Also, Nevermind and In Utero are some of the best and iconic albums ever created in rock history.
On the flip side are The Doors front my personal favorite frontman Jim Morrison, reliable Robby Kreiger and arguably the best rock pianist ever Ray Mazarek. They are originally more synonymous with California, especially LA, than RHCP; however, I think their consistency is the big reason why they're this lost for me. Morrison never saw much into the 70s where his potential could've shined even brighter than it already did in the 60s. However, for what was made it was some of the best music ever produced and offered a nice change to the British Invasion. As such, I just had to put both bands on my list to make way for my person 10 pick.
10. The Strokes - After seeing The Strokes live, I can honestly say that Julian Casablancas and his very talented crew of Albert Hammond Jr., Fabrizio Moretti, Nick Valensi, and Nikolai Fraiture are the best musical group of the 2000s. While The Black Keys would've made this list, I think that these 5 have earned their longevity and ability to simply sound as good as anybody in the 20th century. If nothing else, I feel like I'm listening to classic rock every time I see them and they have the simplest live sets ever that are purely there to focus on the music. The biggest reason they made the list outside of hits, live performances and musicality is that I really respect as musicians yesteryear.
Cream - Todd Baker, Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton - what more do I need to say? However, it was too good to be true as I feel that they did not have enough longevity to be beyond amazing.
Tool - Dare I say, I wish they would sell out? I think Tool is a band I fought with whether or not to put them on the list. They have some hits, but based what I've heard about their live sets and how I feel their songs are I think they are more of an experience. As such, I feel that Tool is too difficult to harness and I merely respect the glorious musical team Maynard once rocked out with regardless of their lack of hit songs in favor of hit albums.
The Police - The only 80s band on this list and that is for the mere fact that my parents love them and played it to me when I was still in the womb. They are also the first cassette I listened to when I was extremely young in 1st grade/2nd grade as such seeing Sting, Stewart and Andy rock out as old guys was an experience that my whole family could admire…plus they've got tons of hits.
Black Keys - Arguably, the band of the 2010s, I would put them on the list if they had even more brilliance than they already do, but I just didn't think they earned the right to be on the list yet even though I think they are great live.
No Doubt - I would've put them on this list if they were more consistent, but while they have great live sets (Gwen is one of the best females to ever occur in the history of rock), I don't think I can give them enough love to put them on this list.
I think the biggest contention I will get from this list is my lack of 80s bands, Rush, The Who and The Beatles. Once again this is my list and also I've heard nearly all of The Who and Beatles' music and I cannot get down with most of it regardless of the musicality of those band members. Meanwhile, I don't even like Rush's hits so…..