Combining elements of rhythm and blues, country, jazz and gospel, rock music has had a strong cultural impact throughout America and the world since its inception in the 1940s and 1950s. In the three-quarters of a century since then, a number of bands have left an indelible stamp on rock music, captivating millions and pushing the genre to new heights in the process.
Using data from Spotify, Facebook, Ranker and the Billboard 200 albums chart, 24/7 Tempo determined the 100 most popular rock bands of all time and, from among those, the most popular rock band of all time.
The bands on this list of finalists represent many different eras and movements in rock music, from British Invasion bands like the Rolling Stones to arena rock acts like Guns N’ Roses and to more recent experimental groups like Radiohead. They vary in places of origin and include bands from all over America. For more on this, see the most famous band from your state.
While solo artists like Prince, David Bowie and Elvis Presley certainly belong in any conversation about rock’s greatest figures, this list only considers bands. For more on solo performers, see the most famous musician born the year you were born.
The Beatles are the most famous rock band of all time. Among the metrics that put them at the top of the list are the number of their Spotify followers, which is 16.7 million, and their Facebook likes, which number 39.7 million.
Fifty years ago, the Beatles broke up, yet their influence on popular culture is scarcely diminished. Thirty years after the band dissolved, their “1” album, a compilation of all the Beatles number one singles, itself went to number one in 2000. Nineteen Beatles albums topped the Billboard 200, including such groundbreaking works as “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “Revolver” and “Rubber Soul.” Two of their 20 number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100, “Yesterday” and “Something,” are among the most covered songs of all time. The Beatles even have their own day, Global Beatles Day, observed on June 25.
To determine the most popular rock bands of all time, 24/7 Tempo generated an index based on the popularity of a band on streaming service Spotify and on Facebook; Ranker user votes as of July 21, 2020; and lifetime performance on the Billboard 200 album charts. Each component of the index was given equal weight.
Popularity on Spotify was based on the number of followers each artist has on the music streaming app, and Facebook popularity was based on the number of likes each artist has. User votes came from a list on crowdsourced ranking platform Ranker, which ranks the best rock bands of all time. To be included on our list, a band had to appear on the Ranker list. Billboard 200 performance includes both position and number of weeks an album spent on the chart, which tracks the popularity of albums across all genres.
Click here to see all the most popular rock bands of all time.
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