Who is the best American rock and roll band?

AllmansQuickly: Give me your vote for the greatest American rock and roll band.

Content: A few years ago I went to an Aerosmith concert with two of my sons and some of my childhood friends. En-route, we argued about who was the greatest American rock and roll band.

There's rough consensus that the Brits dominate the overall list (The Who, Beatles, Stones, Zep, Cream, et. al.).But who would be at the top of the American list

We had two rules: 1) You can't choose an individual, so that eliminates Dylan, Elvis, and arguably Jimi, and Bruce. 2) We tolerated a smattering of Canadians, so that keeps The Band and Crazy Horse in the running.

I am ridiculously consistent, so I gave my impassioned case for The Allman Brothers Band (...if you come to Forrester's U.S. headquarters in Cambridge, MA, you'll find the above picture hanging in our lobby). My case for the jury: The Allmans are: 1) blues-based, a requirement in my book, 2) have an extensive catalog, 3) were/are instrumentally skilled (unlike the incompetent Dead), 4) great song writers, 5) still going/still popular, 6) complex (unlike the simplistic Skynyrd). I could go on (...and if you ever want to spend a few hours and have a few drinks, I will).

But hey, that's my opinion. Give me your comments and votes and we'll attempt to divine the top spot. A little diversion from all of the gloomy economic news...

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Comments

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

ok, George, you took one of my faves...i'll go with ZZ Top. Thanks for a fun diversion. :-)

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

Best American Band: Aerosmith, of course, but then I'm on the South Shore. Betcha hear from a lot of Grateful Deadheads.

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

While my personal choice would align with yours George, I've gotta give honorable mention to the Grateful Dead, who probably had a larger, more cult-like following than the Allmans ever did. But, the fact that the Allmans are still going strong-as are their spin-offs like Gov't Mule-makes them a clear winner in my book.

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

Sing with me, sing for the yearSing for the laughter, sing for the tearSing with me, if it's just for todayMaybe tomorrow, the good Lord will take you awayDream On, Dream On, Dream OnDream until your dreams come true!No doubt about it, the best band from America is clearly: Aerosmith

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

Definitely Allmans--disclosure--I played in a band in college that played a lot of Allman's tunes si I am biased. Honorable mentions to Los Lobos and NRBQ. Ixnay on the Dead--I'm permanently scarred from watching people dance at their shows back in the sixties and seventies...

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

I can't argue too much with the Allmans, but as a proud native Texan, I have to go with ZZ Top. The li'l old band from Texas might not be as complex musically as the Allmans, but their outsized showmanship more than makes up for that. Also, they are arguably the greatest rock 'n roll trio of all time.

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

Without a doubt George, the greatest American rock and roll and is....The Band. Just a gorgeous and raw blend of Americana - full rock, jazz, blues, elements of good country, etc. One of the most influential rock bands in the history of the U.S. The Dylan connection, "Music from the Big Pink," the glorious swan song that is "The Last Waltz." It is...The Band.But you threw something out there that bothered me - the "incompetence of the Dead" in terms of musical skill? say what you want about The Grateful Dead, but that is one thing I've *never* heard. Phil Lesh and Jerry Garcia, just to pick out two, were/are extaordinary musicians. I don't think that's even arguable. Garcia is widely lauded as having created tones, and footprints that will never be matched.As for people that complain about the Dead because of "seeing people dance or spin" - i say, look at the music, look at the output as musicians. Not the baggage that may have resulted. They didn't create that. Keep your eyes on the prize.Great post!Tucker WalshATG

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

George - I also don't get the comment about the incompetence of the dead. Anyway, it's a matter of taste. Stones, Beatles, Who, Zep - which is best? For the Americans I would pick the Replacements and REM ahead of the Allmans. If the Canadians are allowed The Band is in that group too.

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

Oh dear. Yep, i've made a mistake. I forgot that most, if not all, of The Band is Canadian.Doh. R.E.M. fits up there. As do the Allmans, for sure.When all is said and done, Wilco might rank. They are one of the most important American bands today.

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

Hi George,While I agree that the rock and roll prowess of the Allman Brothers is legendary, they too stood (and still stand) in admiration of the Grateful Dead. In fact, according to Dead.net, just this past weekend Bobby and Phil of the Dead played with what's left of the Allman brothers band in New York City at the Beacon Theater. They played "Sugaree", "I Know You Rider" and "Franklin's Tower" together.So, to say that the Dead is incompetent is a travesty! While I could allow you to dismiss the vocals of Phil, sometimes Jerry and their various Keyboardists, their instrumental genius remains unmatched.That's my take,John Lovett

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

I agree 100% with the Allmans, and they are great with either Dickey Betts or Derek Trucks. Although I still enjoy Little Feat, even though when they lost Lowell George, they changed dramatically. Doobie Brothers would rank high too.

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

Did I forget to mention that Warren Haynes is filling in on the lead guitar spot for the Dead's 2009 Spring Tour?

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

It's a toss-up between The Ramones, Iggy & The Stooges, Kiss, The Doors and MC5. If forced to decide, I'd go for The Stooges.

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

And if you write a follow-up post about best solo act, I'm voting for Janis Joplin, Nina Simone, RL Burnside, Bob Dylan and, as you're admitting Canadians, Neil Young.

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

I think I am going to agree with Steven Goldstein - I'd also take The Replacements and R.E.M. ahead of the Allmans ... and out on a limb - Velvet Underground.

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

old - Jefferson Airplane for their domination of the era, and introduction of that West Coast guitarMid term - CSNY - must have the Y - pretty sappy otherwise.Recent - Nirvana - groundbreaking and got us out of disco.Cheers!

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

Hi George,Ex-Forresterite from Finland here... I'd have to add Guns'n'Roses. Could argue that the catalogue is not extensive (really, 4 albums), but Appetite, Lies and Illusion vols 1 and 2 are good. The writing is solid, as is the playing.-Charly

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

Hi George - sorry but you have to include Springsteen and the E Street Band as an entity. The tuff rocked and was Classic Americana. Gotta also agree with the Band and Allman Bros. though.

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

The best American band broke up 40 years ago - The Velvet Underground. The apocryphal story is that they only had 1,000 fans, but each of them formed their own. So best and most influential.

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

I'm shocked no one had made the correct call... PHISH

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

George, good to see you finally covering important issues on "Counterintuitive." Better this than opining on whether Jonathan Schwartz will have to give up his ponytail as part of IBM's Sun takeover.We've discussed this before. In my Springsteen book, I made the case for the E Street Band, but I'm on your blog and so I'll play by your rule: No backup musicians for solo performers. (That's why I'm not arguing for the great Creedence Clearwater Revival, which was basically John Fogerty.)I'm an Allmans fan, although not at the Colony Level. They keep playing, with an intensity and focus that could embarrass the many jam bands they inspired. But where are the songs? The loss of Duane Allman early in their career deprived them not only of his dynamic improvisations but of someone who could help them flesh out a repertoire to match their chops. And a band that shares a guitar player with the Dead is always a bit suspect. (There's another Forrester-Allmans connection here, by the way: Eric Hellweg, now King of Digital at Harvard Business and previously an executive editor of Forrester magazine, plays in a band that has opened for the ABB a couple of times.)Could it be The Band? They made two peerless albums, right, Music from Big Pink and the one with the cover photo that looked like it was shot before Lincoln was? Then they fell off a cliff, give or take the occasional strong cut or live record. Booker T. and the MG’s are strong candidates indeed: soulful, precise, surprising, not an ounce of selfishness in their playing. No singer, though.Three punk-era bands are contenders. The Pretenders had an American sensibility, thanks to the peerless Ohio native Chrissie Hynde, but great songs about Ohio notwithstanding they were 75 percent British so the judges have no choice but to disqualify. The Ramones had as distinctive and original a sound as that of any American rock'n'roll band and their first four albums just got better and better. But did they ever grow in the 20 years that followed. X was a punk band that did grow and expand despite the songwriters thinking they were poets, but they’re docked multiple notches for allying themselves with the creepy Doors veteran Ray Manzarek.There is no "best" American rock'n'roll band, of course. One of the many great things about rock'n'roll, even at this late date, is how diverse it is. Every night a thousand bands have a crack at being the best thing around, whether they're in basement clubs or antiseptic arenas. The form renews itself constantly. With any luck, the best American rock'n'roll band, if such a thing exists, hasn't been formed yet.Now that we have that solved, may I remind my own boss publicly that I work in Kendall Square again and I'd be very open to you buying me lunch sometime soon.

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

Allmans or Aerosmith? Based on the physicality of their performances, I'd have to go with Aerosmith.Photo of Allman Brothers performance:http://www.backstagegallery.com/photodetail/Allman-Brothers-Band-JR-0451-027.htmlPhoto of Aerosmith performance:http://www.flickr.com/photos/livinghome/3408715179/

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

I was swayed by the earlier comment about Guns N Roses since I did love them, and I think Axl is the last great rock star.But for Greatest American Band I'm voting for Credence Clearwater Revival. Maybe my opinion is biased by the fact that I have always thought "Playing In A Travelling Band" was the musical equivalent of the classic Forrester reports -- starts by getting in your face, says what it needs to say and then stops.

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

I think the Phish argument if valid, but going to be hard to make to this audience. My heart is telling me to go with the dead (Warf Rat is still my favorite song ever!), but I think I'm missing someone or not thinking hard enough. The dead seems like the easy way out.I think the intangible live concert experience should be part of the criteria, and as such, Phish must be at the top of the list. Isn’t that what music was originally played for…an audience? The best Rock Band has to have taken the live concert experience to the fullest to be in contention.Photo's of a Phish performance: http://www.melophobe.com/concert-reviews/phish-hampton-va-friday-march-6/

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

I, too, have to agree with George's pick, the allman brothers. "At Fillmore East" is testament enough (and it really ties a company meeting together).

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

Dude...great topic. The Dead. No question (with Allman Bros. close behind)

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

(Caveat - I'm actually not a huge Metallica fan) But, I would say that Metallica deserves strong consideration. They are still relevant and making new music after 28 years. They consistently rank in the top 5 of "greatest" hard rock albums, song, band, etc. They are soon to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band, have won 9 grammys sold close to 100 million albums world wide and continue "sell out every seat in the house" on their tours. Their early music Kill Em All through The Black Album had lyrics that were far superior to any other in their genre, for that time period. Despite bad decisions in music (St. Anger and acoustic sets in concert), control issues, alcohol addiction and suing Napster they still had Death Magnetic reach #1 upon it's release. I think their millions of fans worldwide and all the bands that look up to them as gods would argue they deserve a spot at the top. They are musucally sound, and even the harshest critics often agree that there is a complexity to many of their tunes.

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

Well, I could easily go with Jefferson Airplane or The Velvet Underground, but since they haven't even been mentioned yet, I will have to say The Beach Boys. During the early sixties, when British bands like The Beatles, The Who, the Stones and the Kinks were laying their claims to rock immortality, The Beach Boys were really the only American group that were running in the same league. Pet Sounds is certainly one of the great albums of all time. Later albums, like Holland, Surf's Up and Sunflower, are gems that went mostly unnoticed by both the record-buying public and the rock critic intelligentsia of the time. The Beach Boys are unfairly overlooked several reasons, I think: they are mostly remembered for their top 40 hits, which have been overplayed and characterized mostly as California Surf nostalgia; rock critics of the time (and since) were consumed with Brian Wilson as the mad artist, and so ignored important albums that were fashioned to a large degree by other members of the group; none of the group's members ever had the instrumental chops to command any sort of respect in the era of the Guitar Gods; and the group's relentless pandering to their audience in pursuit of concert revenues in later years did nothing to enhance the group's reputation. Despite all this, though, they made some monumental records.

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

Picking an American band is more difficult than I thought it would be! I have to align myself with several fellow posters and go with REM though they're not what they were when I was younger.Some others that are up there on my list but not -- never -- in front of the Beatles and Radiohead:- The Beach Boys (You've got to give it up for Pet Sounds)- Talking Heads (Amazing. enough said.)- The White Stripes (They've got the dirty blues component down, man.)This is the first post I've responded to. Thanks for starting Q2 with some fun!

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

The Doors. Nirvana.-Neil Raden

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

White Stripes, hands down

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

Well, I could easily go with Jefferson Airplane or The Velvet Underground, but since they haven't even been mentioned yet, I will have to say The Beach Boys. During the early sixties, when British bands like The Beatles, The Who, the Stones and the Kinks were laying their claims to rock immortality, The Beach Boys were really the only American group that were running in the same league. Pet Sounds is certainly one of the great albums of all time. Later albums, like Holland, Surf's Up and Sunflower, are gems that went mostly unnoticed by both the record-buying public and the rock critic intelligentsia of the time. The Beach Boys are unfairly overlooked several reasons, I think: they are mostly remembered for their top 40 hits, which have been overplayed and characterized mostly as California Surf nostalgia; rock critics of the time (and since) were consumed with Brian Wilson as the mad artist, and so ignored important albums that were fashioned to a large degree by other members of the group; none of the group's members ever had the instrumental chops to command any sort of respect in the era of the Guitar Gods; and the group's relentless pandering to their audience in pursuit of concert revenues in later years did nothing to enhance the group's reputation.For more background on my views, see:http://www.reasontorock.com/artists/beach_boys.html

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

The very first name to cross my mind: Fugazi.

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

Wow that is tough. Longevity and blues-oriented? Yes, the Allmans have to be there. But Springsteen/E Street, the Dead, even the Chili Peppers and Pearl Jam have been at it honestly and successfully for decades too. In terms of musical impact, Hendrix (the Experience was a band - they happened to be from England, so hard to classify), CSN&Y (almost all from North Am), the Byrds, even Jefferson Airplane, the Beach Boys and Nirvana could be considered. They aren't for me but Metallica has been huge in their genre for a long time. I suppose some would even make an argument for Van Halen. Just can't put Aerosmith or the Eagles on the consideration list though, too trite. Okay, decisions, decisions...I personally prefer Hendrix, Allmans (particularly with Duane), CSN&Y, heck even Soundgarden in that order, but I think Springsteen/E Street Band will go down in history as the greatest American band over about a 40 year span.

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

Hey George, your dismissal of the Dead is pretty shocking. While I will be the first to admit there are stretches of the dead catalog that are wholly unlistenable('65-'69 for example), their influence alone puts them in the top spot.Alt-country? Wilco? Ryan Adams? Never happens without the Dead.Sure, there are other contenders, namely The Band, Guns N Roses, The Ramones, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Talking Heads, and The White Stripes, but none have such a fantastic catalog of songs or have had such a big influence.Also, Aerosmith sucks. I'd take the Allman Brothers any day of the week; twice on Sunday. Even the crappy jam songs like Mountain Jam.

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

All the bands cited here are worthy of admiration. I vote for the Doors as the best American rock band. Talent, innovation, versatility, and influence: the Doors had it all. Although the band is well remembered for rock as theater ("The End"), the band's sound encompassed blues (most of the album "L.A. Woman"), pop ("Touch Me"), straightforward rock (most of "Morrison Hotel"),jazz (a good deal of "The Soft Parade") and protest rock ("The Unknown Soldier") -- and with talent to burn. Jim Morrison is arguably the most charismatic front man in all of rock, and Robbie Krieger is highly underrated in particular. The band also pushed the boundaries of the rock concert experience, extending rock into the realm of performance art (admittedly not always successfully). Finally, the band influenced many musicians such as Patti Smith.

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

Hey,Totally agree w. Jimmy that finally this blog is getting down to some important stuff.I first saw the Allmans (w Duane) in Chapel Hill in 1970. Yow. After the second encore ("You Don't Love Me") the audience couldn't even clap or cheer; it was impossible to ask for more. And "Done Somebody Wrong" is just about the all-time best.BUT they lack breadth. Crush the Willie Dixon numbers, but what else you got?For my money, I would take the variety, musicianship, and general ass-kicking of (in no particular order), T Heads, Los Lobos, The Jimi Hendrix Experience (that was a BAND no question),and the Dead.My all-time A #1, no-doubt-the-best-rockers of ALL time? Sorry, it's Brits: the Clash.

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

I think the Ramones are one of the greatest bands of all time and I would pick them but the Almmans are a close #2. My #3 would be Creedence Clearwater Revival, #4 goes to Santana.

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

GeorgeHope all is wellI have to say Little Feat....best playing LIVE of any american band in my opinion"fat man in a bathtub"

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

Always under the radar. The official house band of the Simpsons. NRBQ (New Rhythm and Blues Quartet) has my vote. They never sold out their principles to make a buck. As Jillette Penn from Penn and Teller said, "If you don't like NRBQ, then I don't like you"http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJlec3F0fN8&feature=related

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

Certainly Aerosmith has stayed the most active, even if everything after 1990 sucked until Bobo.CCR is a good candidate already mentioned, prolific but short-lived.Is the E Street Band a candidate? or an obvious rule breaker as band for Bruce?CSN/CSNY/Crazy Horse?Definitely... Pearl Jam. later arrivals but consistent ever since.

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

Since you're including the Canucks, I HAVE to go with Rush for the very reasons you outlined.1) OK, they aren't blues-based, but have you heard their rendition of "Ain't No Cure for the Summer Time Blues"? Better than the original!2)Been around since the mid-70s with about 30+ albums to their credit.3)Arguably some of the best musicians around. Neil Peart on the drums? He sounds like he's playing with five hands. Geddy Lee on the bass? No one in the same league. Alex Lifeson has his own great unique sound and style.4)Certainly great song writers. The drummer, Neil Peart, even writes all of the lyrics--how many drummers do that? He's brilliant.5)Still going/still popular--absolutely. They did their 30th anniversary tour five years ago and have put out 2 more albums and done two more tours since.6)Rush has a monopoly on complexity. How many cover bands even attempt to do any of their songs? No one can copy them and there are only three band members! How many trio rock bands can sound like a five member band, even live?With no disrepect to the Allman Bros, Rush is certainly up there. Do I sound passionate about this topic? :-) http://www.rush.com/

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

I can't stand Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band but you kind of have to give it to them. It hurts me to say that because there are dozens of quality bands to choose from that I like a lot more. Now, if you asked what the best concert you attended by an American band, for me it would be the triple combo of Marshall Tucker, The Outlaws and Charlie Daniels band all on stage together.

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

It's odd that there really aren't any iconic American rock bands. Beatles, Stones, Who, Led Zep, Pink Floyd all changed the game but, ironically perhaps, took their cues from American music. Maybe that's it - America has a musical continuum, whereas Brits can look across and spot trends and magnify them to make a huge leap. The greatest US rock bands are more akin to the great (as opposed to elite and iconic) British bands, such as Deep Purple, Genesis, U2, Radiohead etc. But include individuals who in reality fronted bands, at least for a time in your definition and Hendrix, Dylan and Springsteen definitely come into the iconic category. Elvis is probably in a league of his own. The biggest thing to note is that just because we define a band/artist as great or iconic doesn't mean you have to LIKE them! I love Yes, Alice Cooper, David Bowie and - these days - Lori McKenna and others like her....

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

What if we counted funk, soul, and R&B? I think the conversation would change considerably. We'd need to consider America's greatest exports to the world: the Isley Brothers, Supremes, Temptations, O'Jays, and Earth, Wind & Fire just for starters.

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

The RAMONES

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

The Temptations

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

The Four Tops

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

The Supremes

re: Who is the best American rock and roll band?

The E Street Band