TALKING POINTS: The Top 5 Most Influential Bands?

Okay, guys–

I’m turning to you to weigh in on a debate I was having with my neighbors a couple nights ago. 

My wife and I were having a barbecue with our neighbors and we decided to make a list of the top 5 most influential bands/musical artists of the last… well… we didn’t really clarify, but I guess we’re pretty much talking about the 5 most influential artists who have shaped rock/pop music today.

This doesn’t mean they’re necessarily our favorites, it just means they’re major “rocks” that changed the course of the stream.  Here’s my list…

1.  The Beatles
2.  Led Zeppelin
3.  Elvis Presley
4.  The Sex Pistols/The Clash/The Ramones (3-way tie, depending on who you credit with the real birth of punk– which technically, would probably have to be The Sex Pistols, but I think the others are valid choices)
5.  Bob Dylan (to be fair, my original list included a 2-way tie here between Nirvana and Black Sabbath, but then I got talked out of it– I think rightfully so– to put in Dylan)

Anyway, things got heated when some people felt The Rolling Stones should be included in the top five.  Now, I like the Stones… but come on– they weren’t really all that influential.  Or at least, not “top five” influential.  I mean, anything they did, the Beatles did first: first hit, first album, first Ed Sullivan appearance.  And while Keith was an incredible guitarist, I don’t know that he contributed more than Jimmy Page, Hendrix, or– perhaps most importantly– Chuck Berry.  In fact, you could probably argue that the Stones’ biggest influence on music wasn’t music at all… it was their bad-boy/fight-the-establishment persona, which– honestly– may be more important than anything music-related anyway.  (I’m not actually arguing that, I’m just saying you could.  If you wanted to.  Which I’m not.  Yet.)

Anyway, things got pretty fiery around the grill, so I figured I’d open up the floor to you guys and the comment section. 

So… whaddaya think, screenwriters?  Who are your top 5 most influential bands/musical acts?  And do the Stones deserve to be in the top five? 

Post away…

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4 thoughts on “TALKING POINTS: The Top 5 Most Influential Bands?

  1. alex

    dude, what about Kraftwerk? Sure they are nerdy, but they’re great, and they’re pretty much the source of all electronic/dance/pop music…. a pretty major influence… on everything from hip hop to lame slick radio pop (even if the current "artists" are getting the influence second or third hand).

  2. Jason

    You’re list really needs some clarity in its guidelines. You seem to stick to white male rockers. What about Blondie who brought rap to mainstream America with the release of "Rapture"? Or Run-D.M.C. pairing with Aerosmith to create rap/rock? For that matter you ignore/dismiss genres of hip-hop and rap all together as music. The Sugarhill Gang, Biggy, Jay-Z, Kayne??? These "music acts" are relevant despite your personal preference. I guess I don’t quite get your rationalization of influence. Yes, Dylan took folk electric, but in terms of lasting effect I would argue Michael Jackson and Madonna win. They harnessed the power of video, unlike any of their predecessors or peers. And in terms of style found in today’s music you can’t forget The Cure. Their sounds are heard all over the radio channeled through current bands. Can you either define the terms better or look beyond the "rock" tab in your iTunes store? Thanks.

  3. DJG

    I’ve thought a little more about "the list." I’m not sure I wouldn’t replace Bob D. with some one like Ray Charles. Ray Charles didn’t compose much of his own music, but he was one of first, if not the first, to develop a hybrid of rock, country, dixieland and jazz. We could go on forever about this.

  4. DJG

    I’m old enough to have grown up with The Beatles, Elvis, Bob Dylan and Led Z. Yep, those are the ones you have to have on your list, not the Stones. The Stones created a following, but musically I always felt they piggy-backed the Beatles and few others. As for the punk rock groups, I totally ignored them.