We’re An American Band
With British bands it’s fairly easy.
The Beatles invaded. Started it all, then had the talent and creativity to sustain it for the rest of the 60’s.
From there The Stones, Zeppelin, The Who, Kinks et al. Probably close to or around that order as well.
But what about America? Who are the greatest American bands?
The Eagles have sold the most, and are an obvious choice, but would you really put them at number one of the greatest of all time? The Eagles were (are) great, but some think they could be on the sterile side and corporate sounding. But as far al longevity and helping start that entire California country/ rock period (with a big thank you to Gram Parsons and The Flying Burrito Brothers) they cannot be denied. The Eagles tried very hard to be the greatest American band.
The album ‘Hotel California’ is a seminal record in recorded history. And it It connected with the American audience.
The Grateful Dead would have to get a nod just for what they did live. An unbelievable cult following that will never be duplicated. But greatest band?
The Beach Boys would have to be the list, they are 100% all American. And what Brian Wilson did with ‘Pet Sounds’ and ‘Good Vibrations’ really does prove his genius. But it’s just all the silly surfing stuff that moves them down a notch or three. And Mike love. That and they never really “rocked”. And did I mention Mike Love?
The Doors are fine but they didn’t have a bass player and I think there’s a rule somewhere…
Aerosmith rocks with authority, but put them next to the Stones and….well.
There’s REM, Gun’s and Roses, Van Halen, The Ramones, and several others that an argument could be made for.
Hell, an argument could be made for Grand Funk for the song “We’re an American Band” alone…
And has anybody ever truly thought about the amount of great songs from Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers? It’s mind-boggling.
The top of my personal list is basically a tie. I hate to be a fence rider, but I truly can’t make up my mind between The Band and Creedence Clearwater Revival.
The Band didn’t sell as many records as many mentioned above.
But they changed music. Maybe the most influential American band that there was.
With one album, ‘Music from Big Pink’ they basically killed all the psychedelia that was going on around them. Eric Clapton said it made him feel silly. All of a sudden, all the paisley shirts and pink scarves gave way to jeans and old suit jackets. The same with the music. Studio trickery gave way to honest, straight ahead playing.
And nobody encapsulates that honest, straight ahead rock and roll like CCR.
And CCR did it with several undeniable radio friendly hits as well like ‘Proud Mary’, ‘Bad Moon Rising’, ‘Down on the Corner’ and ‘Ever Seen the Rain’. And what voices from both bands. Levon Helm and John Fogerty had two of the most distinct and wonderful voices to ever be recorded.
Both bands sum up American Rock and Roll.
God bless them both.
My Top Ten American Bands:
1. (Tie) The Band / Creedence Clearwater Revival
2. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
3. The Eagles
4. The Beach Boys
5. Steely Dan
6. Van Halen
8. Allman Brothers
9. Fleetwood Mac (loses points for being…half British)
10. Lynyrd Skynyrd