5. Led Zeppelin
I didn’t get Led Zeppelin when I was younger. I thought it was just a bunch of yelling and screaming and heavy metal BS. What a fool in the rain I was. Led Zeppelin were an English rock band formed in 1968 that consisted of guitarist Jimmy Page, singer Robert Plant, drummer John Bonham, and bassist John Paul Jones. The band played together for 12 years until Bonham died in 1980 (by choking on his on vomit after drinking too much) and this signified the end of Led Zeppelin. Bonham has been labeled as one of the greatest drummers of all time. John Paul Jones is currently playing with Dave Grohl and Josh Homme in Them Crooked Vultures. Jimmy Page is ranked as #9 in Rolling Stones top 100 guitarists. Robert Plant was the amazing vocalist and lyricist to this wonderful band and has had a successful solo career to boot. Led Zeppelin has sold over 200 million albums to date and some sources have the sales as high as 300. They are often cited as one of the key progenitors of heavy metal and hard rock. Their first 4 albums were titled Led Zeppelin I,II,III, and IV which makes for easy identifying. Classic songs like Black Dog, Kashmir, Stairway to Heaven, Immigrant Song, Going to California, Whole Lotta Love, What is and What Should Never Be (my personal fave), Ramble On, Moby Dick, Gallows Pole…. the list seriously doesn’t stop. This group has such an original, unreal sound that it’s hard to find anything like it. Bands today don’t compare with Led Zeppelin. A #5 ranking seems almost insulting but there really are only 4 spots better and there is no debate on one of them, which leaves 3 more open spots. Zeppelin is deserved of any of the remaining 4.
4. The Rolling Stones
We find another band who has caught my attention over the years. This isn’t like Ray Charles where I haven’t heard a song. I think the Stones are a great band and deserve a place in the top 10. Yes, I said 10 because even though they have countless amazing songs, I don’t find a ton that throw me over the edge.
The Rolling Stones are an English rock band, formed in London in April 1962 by guitarist and harmonica player Brian Jones and pianist Ian Stewart, with vocalist and harmonica player Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards. Bassist Bill Wyman and drummer Charlie Watts completed the early lineup. Jones initially led the band, but after teaming as songwriters, Jagger and Richards assumed leadership. Their worldwide estimated sales top 200 million albums. They have produced 22 studio albums which is a vast number. I think this is why I somewhat feel they have so many songs that I find them to be great, but not unbelievable. Their songs that top their list are Paint it Black, Sympathy for the Devil, You Can’t Always Get What you Want, Under my Thumb and Satisfaction. Others that I find very good songs are Midnight Rambler, Jumping Jack Flash, Street Fighting Man, Start Me Up, Shattered, Miss You, and Gimme Shelter. They even have “great” songs which I don’t particularly like like Angie, Beast of Burden, Ruby Tuesday, and Get off My Cloud. The amount of quality songs that this band has blows away competition. You just can’t argue that current bands are better then the Stones because no one has done it for as long, with as much consistency. A Bigger Bang was released in 2005! Plus they are known to party harder then anyone. Keith Richards fell out of tree at 60+ years old. I’ve probably listened to 30 of their popular songs and am still missing 100 of their other good songs. It’s hard to touch the Stones.
3. Bruce Springsteen
He is the Boss. Hailing from right across the bridge, Bruce is our local hero. Bruce sings for every blue collar guy and the emotion in his music is unmatched. After hanging with Gusto I’ve grown a real appreciation for Bruce. His band is known as the E Street Band but without Bruce, I can’t see them selling out arenas. Bruce is the man. He has sold more than 65 million albums domestically and 120 worldwide. I think I hold Bruce higher then I should because he hails from New Jersey which is just a stones throw away from Philly. I make the analogy that people from the Northeast love Bruce the way the South love anything Country. Born to Run and Born in the USA are some of the finest albums ever produced. He has 20 Grammy’s, has influenced dozens of the best artists and just owns in life. Gusto would be quick to say that Thunder Road or Rosalita are Bruce’s best songs. I’d quickly add Glory Days, Jungleland, Downbound Train, Cover Me, Dancing in the Dark, Born to Run, Racing in the Street, and Growin Up. Even the soundtrack songs Streets of Philadelphia and Secret Garden are great. I’m probably a bit biased to Bruce as well and he’s probably a bit high on the all-time list, but I don’t mind.
I know that Gusto is partial to Elton. He’ll say that he has a place in his heart for Elton and grew up listening to him. In his four-decade career John has sold more than 250 million records, making him one of the most successful artists of all time. His single “Candle in the Wind 1997” has sold over 33 million copies worldwide, and is the best selling single in Billboard history. Hard to argue with those last facts that Elton doesn’t deserve a top 5 spot. Billboard magazine has him listed as #3 most successful artists of all time. The Rolling Stone has him at #49 of the top 100. He adds 30 albums to his amazing arsenal of talent. I think some people associate Elton with soft, lovey music but they are so far off. Elton has become one of my favorite artists as well. To run through some of his best songs Rocket Man, Your Song, I’m Still Standing, Mona Lisa and Mad Hatters, Tiny Dancer, Madman Across the Water, Levon, Daniel, Indian Sunset, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Bennie and the Jets. My faves are Funeral for a Friend / Love Lies Bleeding (wonderful 2 part song) and Grey Seal (such a different sound). Elton has so much music that I haven’t possibly listened to most of it. His charisma, flamboyance, and magical singing talent should be landing him high up on all time lists.
1. The Beatles
This is no surprise. If you don’t agree, you haven’t listened to them enough. They are transcendent. I don’t know if I used that right but I know it means supreme or lying above the range of perception. In 8th grade I used to listen to Sgt Pepper while I did my homework. How on Earth does an 8th grader like a band from the 60’s? Because they are the greatest band ever created and there has been nothing like them since. A group of guys has never come together to surpass the Beatles. It’s not even close. Instead of just saying how good they are let me back this up with some facts and history.
From 1962, the group consisted of John Lennon (rhythm guitar, vocals), Paul McCartney (bass guitar, vocals), George Harrison (lead guitar, vocals) and Ringo Starr (drums, vocals). They have sold somewhere between 600 million to 1 billion albums. Only Elvis comes close to those numbers. Former Rolling Stone associate editor Robert Greenfield said, “People are still looking at Picasso … at artists who broke through the constraints of their time period to come up with something that was unique and original. In the form that they worked in, in the form of popular music, no one will ever be more revolutionary, more creative and more distinctive.” In 7 years they produced 12 albums. Do you understand how short that time period is to produce 12 albums? You put these guys together and all they did was create outstanding pieces of work. I almost feel bad listing some of their great songs because I don’t have the time to list everyone – Something, Here Comes the Sun, Yesterday, Across the Universe, Let It Be, In My Life, Come Together, Golden Slumbers, Get Back, Eleanor Rigby, All You Need is Love… Their albums Revolver, Abbey Road, Sgt Pepper… and all the others for that matter are great. They didn’t make bad music. What the Beatles did as a group is something that none of us will ever see again in our lifetimes. I wasn’t even a part of it, yet I can tell it’s was a completely amazing, glorious and distinguished period of time. I have never heard anything else that sounds like the Beatles. Probably never will and for that, they will hold the #1 spot for the next century.
Thanks to everyone who reads this and thought it was a worthwhile effort from someone who is just an average Joe who listens to music. I got all my facts from Wikipedia and if there are any copyright issues, I’ll reference everything to them (who then reference it to someone else.) The pics obviously swiped too. I tried to put as much knowledge in the small space without getting too lengthy. I also think it’s important to add that Gusto created this list in 2 tries. He didn’t go back and start shifting spots for the most complete list and I know there are bands he missed. Some artists that come to mind – The Who, Neil Young, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Wonder and the Doors are 5 that have to be ahead of Green Day, KOL and Alice in Chains, Jim Croce. However, I think it was a good idea to leave his list in tact without mangling it because this is what first came to his mind. My particular list wouldn’t have as many singers (Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, Van Morrison) and I would be substituting some bands I like that I know don’t get recognition as being “great” by the critics. I think his top 5 though is a marquee round out. Thanks for reading.