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Top 10 Classic British Bands to Crack the US

VO: Ashley Bowman
Written by George Pacheco These icons never go out of style. Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Classic British Bands to Crack the U.S. For this list, we'll be ranking the most prominent, popular and influential British bands to cross over into the American market. We'll be considering groups which achieved success prior to the 1990s for this list, while also omitting artists known primarily for their solo work, such as Elton John and David Bowie. Special thanks to our user Dan Paradis for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 Classic British Bands to Crack the US


These icons never go out of style. Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Classic British Bands to Crack the U.S.

For this list, we'll be ranking the most prominent, popular and influential British bands to cross over into the American market. We'll be considering groups which achieved success prior to the 1990s for this list, while also omitting artists known primarily for their solo work, such as Elton John and David Bowie.
 



#10: The Clash


There's a bit of argument as to exactly who were the first punk-rock band, but there's no denying the impact of The Clash upon groups in America, as well as at home.  This was due to wide variety of influences The Clash brought into their sound. It wasn't always about aggression when it came to these Londoners, as songwriters Mick Jones and Joe Strummer sought inspiration from genres as diverse as reggae, dub and ska. Then, there was "Combat Rock," the 1982 album which went double platinum in the U.S., and featured such hit singles as "Rock the Casbah" and "Should I Stay or Should I Go?” And the rest, as they say, is history.





#9: The Cure


Formed in West Sussex way back in 1976, The Cure were one of the earliest pioneers of goth rock, and are still going strong forty years later. This is thanks largely to the band's rabid fan base, who sell out the band's three-hour plus shows whenever the group goes on tour. It was the 1989 album "Disintegration" which served as the band's commercial crossroads, ushering them firmly into the American mainstream with such huge singles as "Lovesong" and "Pictures of You." They've continued to straddle the line between morose and upbeat pop, ensuring a little cure for everyone.



#8: Queen

 
There was no band, British or otherwise, past or present, quite like Queen, and no front man possessing the same level of charisma as Freddie Mercury. Perhaps this was why these London legends managed to cross over so firmly into America. Audiences around the world gravitated towards the band's quirky, layered rock orchestrations, while Mercury's superstar stage presence and impassioned vocals raised the bar for front men everywhere. Not even Mercury's 1991 death could stop Queen from entering the upper echelon of classic rock icons, thanks to such huge hits as "Bohemian Rhapsody," "Somebody to Love" and "The Show Must Go On."
 


#7: The Police


Sometimes, the best sort of creativity can arise from the worst sort of tension. This phrase could describe, in part, the lightning-in-a-bottle magic which was The Police, as the London-based group’s relationship came to be known as a notoriously bitter one. Still, these stressful working conditions didn't stop bassist/vocalist Sting, guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland from creating some of the most unique pop music of the 1980s. The talents of all three men combined in a magical way, delivering thoughtful and intelligent tunes featuring influences from the world of pop, rock, reggae and jazz.
 





#6: The Who


Diversity, eccentricity and electricity were par for the course for this progressive group, who thought nothing of writing expansive rock operas alongside short, riff-rock anthems. Singer Roger Daltrey seemed cut from stone as the prototypical hard rock front man, while guitarist and songwriter Pete Townshend was all wind-milling energy. The Who seemed to write tunes tailor made for overseas crossover potential, as proven by the success of radio mainstays "Who Are You?" "I Can't Explain," "Substitute" and "My Generation."
 


#5: Black Sabbath


Wind, rain, and that ominous church bell. These were the sounds which heralded Black Sabbath's 1970 self-titled debut, a crushing record which signified the onset of heavy metal into the public consciousness. There were few bands performing over-amplified blues as pounding as Sabbath during this time, and it wasn't only British audiences which started paying attention. Subsequent LPs such as "Paranoid," "Master of Reality" and "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" would garner the Birmingham lads a devout following in the States, one which would continue through multiple line-up shifts and changing trends to ensure Black Sabbath certified icon status.




#4: Pink Floyd


Fans searching for the hazy roots of psychedelic rock need look no further than the discography of these London legends, who pioneered the style during the late 60s before perfecting it in the 1970s. Pink Floyd did it all, from loud and noisy to smooth, mellow and emotional. The group suffered a couple of lineup changes, but have remained relevant throughout the years, especially in America where such albums as "The Wall" and "Dark Side of the Moon" saw Floyd's music reach a larger international audience than ever before.



#3: Led Zeppelin

 
Just as Black Sabbath pioneered heavy metal in the 1970s, so too did their contemporaries Led Zeppelin overhaul blues into something similarly innovative. Although these London-based legends had a slightly more sensitive side than Sabbath, embracing diverse folk and psychedelic influences, that didn't stop Zeppelin from crossing over big time in America. Jimmy Page's superb riffing, Robert Plant's epic wail and the incredible rhythm section of John Bonham and John Paul Jones were second to none during their day, and in the process crafted some of the most enduring rock anthems of all time.





#2: The Rolling Stones


There are few British bands with as much instant international appeal as the iconic Rolling Stones. Maybe it's their raunchy, bluesy songwriting, or perhaps it's that stage magic which occurs between Stones front man Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards. Whatever the reason, there's no denying that this London rock institution has made commercial waves all over the world, America most definitely included. For many, it's The Rolling Stones that define rock 'n roll at its purest, most distilled essence, so who are we to argue?


 

Before we name our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions!

Cream


Iron Maiden


Depeche Mode


#1: The Beatles


If you’ve ever even dabbled in music post 1960, it is practically a given that you were influenced somehow by The Beatles. John, Paul, George and Ringo dared to raise and then smash the bar when it came to creative songwriting and unique arrangements, turning pop music on its head with a genius which has rarely been equaled. "The British Invasion" was just that when The Beatles led an influx of English talent towards American shores; an incredible crossing over of talent whose legacy continues to be felt by artists around the world to this day.

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