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Top 10 British Rock Bands

VO: Matt Campbell
Script written by Q.V. Hough Punk Rock, Classic Rock and New Wave Icons from the UK. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we'll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 British Rock Bands. For this list, we're counting down the most influential music groups from the United Kingdom, regardless of whether they were together for decades or just a few years. Special thanks to our users Jack Morris, Elgan Chia, Shawn Frary, Fergdawginater, zendaddy621, Zack Neulander and jinga102 roblox for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 British Rock Bands


Punk Rock, Classic Rock and New Wave Icons from the UK. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we'll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 British Rock Bands.

For this list, we’re counting down the most influential music groups from the United Kingdom, regardless of whether they were together for decades or just a few years.

#10: The Police

Some of our younger Mojoholics may not correlate the recent version of Sting with punk rock, however back in 1978, he and his fellow Londoners of The Police burst onto the scene with an eclectic debut album. Working both as the lead vocalist and primary songwriter, Sting touched on his literary influences as the band proceeded to deliver four more innovate productions within a five-year span leading up their most famous hit, “Every Breath You Take”. In essence, The Police could rock out with the best of their fellow post-punk artists, however their cultured aesthetics ultimately produced a universal appeal.

#9: Radiohead

A staple of the 90s alternative sound, this band actually formed in the mid-80s while attending a boarding school in Abingdon. Originally known as “On a Friday,” the crew looked to a Talking Heads song for their new name, and when “Creep” hit the radio in 1992, Thom Yorke and company solidified themselves as one of the most promising bands around. Of course, transformative albums like The Bends and OK Computer would cement Radiohead as international stars, while the lyrical proficiency and melancholic sound touched a nerve with Generation X. And perhaps to everyone’s surprise, they managed to not only stay together but deliver another decade of iconic indie albums through the 2000s.

#8: Iron Maiden

Here’s a bunch of “New Wave” Brits, albeit of a slightly different order than the pop sounds of the early '80s. Born and bred in Leyton, England, Iron Maiden took their name from the iconic Alexandre Dumas novel “The Man in the Iron Mask” and dropped their self-titled debut in April of 1980. Decades and dozens of albums later, Iron Maiden has become the most influential band of the heavy metal genre, and their mascot remains an unmistakable fixture of the musical culture. They set the standard for a new era of musicians and never stopped thrashing.

#7: Black Sabbath

Before there was Maiden, there was Black Sabbath. Based in Birmingham, England, this group joined forces in the late '60s and fused together a blend of classic rock with something a bit more heavy. In fact, Ozzy Osbourne and his bandmates innovated the Heavy Metal genre and kicked off the 70s with a string of albums that would provide an alternative to the more pop-friendly sounds of the time. Back in the day, it wasn’t necessarily the “cool kids” that were listening to Sabbath, but as it turns out, that’s exactly who they were. Independent and anti-establishment, this wrecking crew changed the game for aspiring metalhead musicians everywhere.

#6: The Who

It’s somewhat of a rock cliché to destroy a guitar on stage, but it was this band that first embraced the form of “auto-destructive art.” Undoubtedly one of the most influential rock bands ever formed, The Who emerged during the British invasion, and their outlaw antics stood them apart from other musicians exhibiting more, um, appropriate behavior. They closed off the 60s with the groundbreaking rock opera Tommy, and they later established themselves as one of the quintessential rock bands with a full decade’s worth of personal anthems for the more album-orientated rock fans of the early Rolling Stone era.

#5: Queen

Today, a former “American Idol” contestant fronts this operatic fraternity, however the late Freddie Mercury is the undeniable face of Queen, and one of the most recognizable faces of rock music. With a plethora of popular British rock to draw their sound from, this band ultimately found a niche through the personality exhibited in both their lyrics and the deeply dramatic aesthetics of their evolving stage shows. Beginning with their self-titled debut in 1973, Queen remained the grandmasters of musical opera all the way to 1995’s Made in Heaven, the final studio release upon the untimely death of their legendary front man.

#4: Pink Floyd

Like many other progressive bands of the late '60s and '70s, it would be a crime to simply label these Londoners as “acid rockers,” but whaddya expect when you make albums that make listeners drift away into their dreams. The average music fan will immediately associate Pink Floyd with “The Wall” or “The Dark Side of the Moon” – and with good reason, but truth be told, the multifaceted band released four late '60s classics that set the tone for the equally mind-blowing productions of the '70s. Pink Floyd created an atmospheric experience to be enjoyed with no moderation necessary, well, musically speaking that is.

#3: The Rolling Stones

No one here gets out alive, except Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. The American blues originally influenced this band of rockers, and when the British invasion occurred during the early '60s, you know they were at the forefront. As the most enduring British rock band of the last 50 years, the Rolling Stones were arguably most popular from 1965 to 1980, delivering hard-hitting rock and roll licks that highlighted the band’s personality. And while their musical output has been rather tame since the 1990s, it doesn’t really matter given they continue inspire by touring the world year after year.

#2: Led Zeppelin

Yet another classic rock band influenced by American blues music, this London group applied a heavy dose of psychedelia to their sound in order to mystify fellow musicians and certainly their fans. In other words, they could wail, and there wasn’t a weak spot in the group. With each member coming from other notable projects, Led Zeppelin was a fine-tuned machine when they formed in 1968, and within just three years, they released four explosive albums that firmly took a hold over the younger demographic. In a time when rock fans pledged their allegiance to one particular band, everybody loved them some Led Zeppelin, even if they claimed otherwise. Unfortunately, the music ended with the 1980 death of drummer John Bonham.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Oasis

Genesis

The Kinks

Def Leppard

The Clash

#1: The Beatles

Ok, ok – you all expected these guys to be our #1 choice, and there’s a good reason for that: it’s because they’re (bleeping) awesome. Unless you actually lived through The Beatles’ music of the 1960s, you should forget about what pop culture tells you to believe and simply experience the music for yourself. Album by album. Track by track. There’s no other band that influenced rock and roll like these lads from Liverpool, and they were already a well-rehearsed act when they first arrived in America. John. Paul. Ringo. George. For eight momentous years, The Beatles functioned on a higher level than most and changed the world as we know it.

So, do you agree with our selections? Who is your favorite British rock band? For more mind-blowing Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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