UPDATE: This post originally ran on September 13th 2012 but with the recent launch of our new UK site we wanted to bring it back! Do you agree with our list?
One of my favorite things about the UK is the music. Many of my favorite bands (including my top three favorites of all time) come from the UK. Something magic must have been in the air over there in the ‘60s, the decade that brought us Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks, Pink Floyd, and The Beatles (among others). I think it’s also the reason why I’m so enamored with the city of London. When I was studying there I would walk the same streets many of these bands did, dreaming of seeing them at a small, sweaty London club, wishing I could have been born in an earlier decade so I could walk alongside them. Here’s a countdown of our favorite British bands, and a playlist of their greatest tunes!
10. Fleetwood Mac
They would be higher on the list but they are part American so that detracted a bit from their score. :) Still, the group that brought us “Rhiannon,” “Landslide,” “Dreams,” and so many more cannot be left out. Not to mention, their style still influences us today!
9. The Stone Roses
One of my personal favorites, the Manchester band was a pioneer of the “Madchester” music scene that produced many acts in the late ‘80s and ‘90s. Led by singer Ian Brown, their music has a grungy, psychedelic, almost funk sound that has been incredibly influential to numerous bands that follow them. Some of their biggest hits include “Fools Gold” and “I Wanna Be Adored.”
One of the most notable British bands from my generation, Oasis was often criticized for sounding too much like the Beatles, but that’s probably what initially drew me to their music. Their catchy songs like “Champagne Supernova” and “Don’t Look Back In Anger” are some of my all-time favorites, and I loved their mod look and “who the f— cares” attitude… I had such a crush on Liam Gallagher!
7. The Kinks
One of the most influential bands of the era (and all time, for that matter), the Kinks were formed in 1964 by brothers Ray and Dave Davies. Their music is a true reflection of their time and place (North London) with songs like “Sunny Afternoon” and “Waterloo Sunset” that, with their descriptive lyrics, make you feel like you are in London in the ‘60s.
6. The Who
The Who are probably one of the first that come to mind when thinking of British Bands, as they are so iconic and so tied to the image of the Union Jack. Also formed in 1964 in London, they went on to become one of the most successful rock bands of all time with hits like “My Generation” and “Baba O’Riley” and are also known for their legendary performances – which luckily were caught on tape in the documentaries Monterey Pop and Woodstock, most notably.
Others may not agree with me putting them above some of these other bands, but it’s only because they’re from my generation and are, in my opinion, one of the best bands – period – from the past decade. I have every single one of their albums and love every song on them. I love that they make music unlike anything else and are constantly pushing their own boundaries – plus their live shows are incredible.
4. Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd is another band who really did their own thing and I love that about them. Their music may not be for everyone, but we can all agree that it is incredibly innovative and original – and their album Dark Side of the Moon is one of the top selling records of all time (and also lived on the Billboard charts for 741 weeks). I recommend the documentary Live From Pompeii to anyone who is a fan of the band, and those who aren’t, as well – it will make you a fan (and, young David Gilmour = swoon).
3. Led Zeppelin
This is where it gets tough. I would say that it’s a tie between the top three, if that is possible. :) Led Zeppelin is one of the greatest bands of all time… if I could travel back in time, it would be to see them live in their heyday. In terms of rock ‘n’ roll, I don’t think any other band comes close to them.
2. The Rolling Stones
When thinking about iconic British bands, the Rolling Stones are the first to come to mind. I’m not totally sure why…something about their style and debaucherous attitude screams gritty, grey London. Exile on Main Street is my second favorite album of all time, but I love pretty much all of their albums and how they incorporated other influences like Blues and Soul. I don’t care what anyone says, Keith Richards is dreamy.
1. The Beatles
Of course. :) My all-time favorite, but they also really started the whole British Invasion and were the first band to attract swarms of screaming female fans, which today has become pretty commonplace. It goes without saying how influential their music has been in the music world – it speaks for itself.