Combining elements of rhythm and blues, country, jazz, and gospel, rock music has had a strong cultural impact throughout America and the world since its early inception in the 1940s and 1950s. In the three-quarters of a century that has followed, a number of bands have left an indelible stamp on the art form, captivating millions and pushing the genre to new and unforeseen heights in the process.
Using data from Spotify, Facebook, Ranker, and the Billboard 200 albums chart, 24/7 Tempo determined the 100 most popular rock bands of all time.
The bands on this list represent many different eras and movements in rock music, from British invasion bands like The Rolling Stones to arena rock acts like Guns N’ Roses to more recent experimental groups like Radiohead. For more on trends in recent music, see the most popular bands of the last 10 years.
While solo artists like Prince, David Bowie, and Elvis certainly belong in any conversation about rock’s greatest figures, this list only considers rock bands. For more on solo performers, see the most famous musician born the year you were born.
To determine the most popular rock bands of all time, 24/7 Tempo generated an index based on the popularity of a band on streaming service Spotify, popularity on Facebook, Ranker user votes as of Feb. 11, 2020, and lifetime performance on the Billboard 200 album charts. Each component of the index was given equal weight.
Popularity on Spotify was based on the number of followers each artist has on the music streaming app, and Facebook popularity was based on the number of “likes” each artist has. User votes came from a list on crowdsourced ranking platform Ranker that ranks the best rock bands of all time. To be included on our list, a band had to appear on this Ranker list. Billboard 200 performance includes both position and number of weeks an album spent on the chart, which tracks the popularity of albums across all genres.