New Delhi: If there is one genre of music that has received more than an equal share of scorn and fan devotion, it would undoubtedly be Rock n Roll. Touted by some as havoc on their ears while for others, a doorway to a world new, rock music has certainly got a lot of mouths talking over the years. After having discovered the rock music of the 70s, 80s and 90s fairly recently, I personally find my music taste to have been elevated to an entirely new level, because to me, rock music, like all other genres is simply an outlet, albeit one with ear-splitting vocals and heavenly guitar riffs. There’s no way to determine what exactly it is that makes a band great. Sometimes their transcendent powers come largely from a single member, as with Freddie Mercury of Queen. Sometimes it’s the mix of personalities, as it was with The Beatles.
1. Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd was an English progressive rock band formed in 1965 in London, England. They achieved international acclaim with their progressive and psychedelic music. The band consisted of five members – David Gilmour (Vocals and Guitar), Syd Barrett (Vocals and Guitar), Nick Mason (Drums), Roger Waters (Vocals and Bass), and Richard Wright (Vocals and Keyboard). Barrett was replaced by Gilmour in 1968. Their critically and commercially successful albums are The Dark Side of the Moon (1973), Wish You Were Here (1975), Animals (1977), The Wall (1979), and The Final Cut (1983). They also recorded A Saucerful of Secrets (1968), Ummagumma (1969), Obscured By Clouds (1972). Their debut album was The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967), created after releasing some singles.
Metallica is an American Thrash Metal band formed in 1981. The original line-up was James Hetfield (Vocalist and Rhythm guitarist), Dave Mustaine (Lead Guitar), Lars Ulrich (Drums), Ron McGovney (Bassist). The group came into mainstream from their self-titled album and the hit single “Enter Sandman.|
With their first two albums, Kill 'Em All and Ride The Lightning reaching underground success, their third effort, Master of Puppets has since become one of the most important heavy metal albums ever, as it became the first thrash metal album to be certified platinum. The title track has since become the band's most played song live
Metallica released their first music video in 1989. The song was one from their 1988 album, And Justice for All. The song received heavy critical acclaim and has since become their most played song from the album. The album also saw the debut of new bassist, Jason Newsted. Metallica is currently on a worldwide tour called “WorldWired Tour” with Avenged Sevenfold and Volbeat.
3. Guns N’ Roses
Guns N' Roses is an American hard rock band from Los Angeles, formed in 1985. The classic line-up, assigned to Geffen Records in 1986, consisted of vocalist Axl Rose, lead guitarist Slash, rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin, bassist Duff McKagan, and drummer Steven Adler. Apart from hard rock, they are also associated with heavy metal.
They are best known for their album ‘Appetite for Destruction’ and songs like ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’. Guns N' Roses has been credited with reviving the mainstream popularity of rock music, at a time when popular music was dominated by dance music and glam metal. Its late 1980s and early 1990s years have been described as the period in which the group brought forth a “hedonistic rebelliousness” reminiscent of the early Rolling Stones, a reputation that had earned the group the nickname “the most dangerous band in the world.” The band's classic lineup, along with later members Reed and drummer Matt Sorum, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, in its first year of eligibility.
4. Led Zepplin
Another English giant from the same era, Led Zeppelin first appeared in 1968, with rock legends Robert Plant who wrote the abundance of the lyrics. Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and John Bonham formed the line-up.
Again Led Zeppelin is known to be one of the best-selling rock bands of all time. Their music was more guitars based seminally influencing the heavy metal genre going forward. Similar to The Who, Led Zeppelin was a stadium rock band, originally known as the Yard birds.
Their first three albums were unimaginatively titled Led Zeppelin I, II and III. The fourth was untitled originally and is now known as Led Zeppelin IV. Many more followed.
If you want a good introduction to the band try the following tracks. Stairway to Heaven (1971), Kashmir (1975), Since I’ve Been Loving You (1970), Immigrant Song (1970), Whole Lotta Love (1969). Some have said that the band were the Beatles of the seventies such was their popularity and acclaim.
5. The Beatles
The Beatles were an English rock band, formed in Liverpool in 1960. With members John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, they became widely regarded as the foremost and most influential act of the rock era. Rooted in skiffle, beat, and 1950s rock and roll, the Beatles later experimented with several musical styles, ranging from pop ballads and Indian music to psychedelic and hard rock, often incorporating classical elements in innovative ways. In the early 1960s, their enormous popularity first emerged as “Beatle Mania,” they came to be perceived as an embodiment of the ideals shared by the counterculture of the 1960s.
From 1965 onwards, the Beatles produced increasingly innovative recordings, including the widely influential albums Rubber Soul (1965), Revolver (1966), Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), The Beatles (commonly known as the White Album, 1968) and Abbey Road (1969). After their break-up in 1970, they each enjoyed successful musical careers of varying lengths. McCartney and Starr, the surviving members, remain musically active. Lennon was shot and killed in December 1980, and Harrison died of lung cancer in November 2001.
Think of Nirvana and you will certainly start humming the guitar riff to ‘Smells like Teen Spirit’, frequently cited as one of the greatest songs in the history of rock music and an anthem for teens across the globe. Fronted by singer Kurt Cobain, the band initially focused on the independent grunge scene with their first album, Bleach. However, they achieved mainstream success with the release of their second album, Nevermind (smiling baby in a pool with a dollar, ring any bells?), that actually displaced Michael Jackson’s Thriller from the Billboard charts, which is just a small testament to the amount of popularity and success it achieved.
Their third album, In Utero reiterated the success story that Nirvana was, with hits like Heart Shaped Box and All Apologies and tragically, also marked the last album of their career. On April 8, 1994, the world woke up to lament the loss of one of the most iconic musicians ever. Cobain, whose life had been riddled by heroin addiction and controversies throughout, finally decided to end it, a tragedy that shook the music fraternity. Nevertheless, Nirvana’s true legacy lies in their music and an aura that continues to appeal to the youth even today!
Another British Rock band of the 70s. With a famous line-up, Freddie Mercury, Roger Taylor, Brian May and John Deacon, their first album “Queen” was released in 1973.
Freddie Mercury was by any judgement, one of the most charismatic front men of all time. The list of albums and tours is huge. A momentous highlight was the 1985 Live Aid in Wembley, London, UK. Nearly 2 billion watched via TV and Queens performance is said to be one of the most iconic Rock performances ever.
Freddie died of AIDS in November 1991. Furthermore, Queen still exists as a strong and influential rock band performing as “Queen + Adam Lambert.” Their latest release in 2020 is “Queen + Adam Lambert Live around the World.”
Finally, Brian May is also known for the guitar he made as a youngster, with his father, still in use today as his main instrument.
8. The Doors
The Doors gets the nod for one of the best rock bands because of their ground-breaking live performances and also for having one of the greatest frontmen in rock history. Jim Morrison and his band released eight albums between 1967 and 1971 and all but one landed in the Top 10. The Doors were huge in the US, selling three million singles with their hits “Light My Fire,” “Hello, I Love You” and “Touch Me.” Jim Morrison died in France in 1971 at the age of 27.