When Labor Day came and went earlier this month, it reminded us of the American labor movement and the contributions American workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of the good ol’ U.S. of A.
However, since we’re Guitar World people, we couldn’t help but apply those sentiments to music and the American people who made and make it—bands!
This, in turn, led to thoughts and theories about the greatest American band of all time, which led us to our latest readers’ poll—the Best American Rock Band Ever! Yes, the gangs from Guitar World and Sweetwater want to get GW readers—you people!—involved as we attempt to crown the Best American Rock Band Ever!
Although we had thousands of bands to choose from, we decided to narrow things down to 32, which is perfect for a month’s worth of intense—and fun (it’s supposed to be fun, people!) matchups. All the bands were carefully selected by Guitar World’s editorial staff.
Note that this poll includes current bands and bands that disappeared into the woodwork years ago. Also, if you’re wondering why the Jimi Hendrix Experience aren’t on this list, they weren’t an American band. Hendrix was American, but he’s not a band. Band of Gypsys were American, but they simply didn’t make the cut based on the music released under the “Band of Gypsys” moniker. It’s one of many tough sacrifices we had to make along the way. Speaking of which, be sure to read “How the Bracket Was Compiled” at the bottom of this story.
Anyway, here are our 32 American bands, which are presented in alphabetical order. You also can check out the entire 32-band bracket below.
Aerosmith, Alice In Chains, the Allman Brothers Band, the Beach Boys, Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Doors, Eagles, Foo Fighters, Grateful Dead, Green Day, Guns N’ Roses, Heart, Kiss, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Metallica, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Queens of the Stone Age, Ramones, Red Hot Chili Peppers, R.E.M., Soundgarden, Steely Dan, Steve Miller Band, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, Styx, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Van Halen, the White Stripes and ZZ Top.
Enjoy our Best American Rock Band Ever Poll, which is sponsored by Sweetwater!
Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble
Stevie Ray Vaughan was arguably the heir to the throne of Jimi Hendrix. Before his career was cut tragically short in a helicopter crash in 1990, SRV and his ultra-tight ensemble, Double Trouble, left an endearing mark on blues and rock. Never submitting to the commercial urges that sapped Eric Clapton of his creative fire, SRV and Double Trouble were committed to the blues with a passion that never failed to shine through on their records, but especially in their live performances. Though Stevie Ray was always the star, the band was a force of nature.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Although Bruce Springsteen, one of the greatest songwriters of ours or any age, likely would’ve become a star with or without the E Street Band, they made masterpieces like “Born to Run” and “The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle” the revelations they were. The late, great Big Man, saxophonist Clarence Clemons, provided the soul, bassist Garry Tallent the pulse and lead guitarist Stevie Van Zandt the attitude. Anyone who wonders what the state of New Jersey has given the world should look no further.
Behold the Latest Bracket!
(Sorry, it’s coming soon! I’ll be here by 8:30 a.m. EST.)
How the Bracket Was Compiled
Here’s how the bracket was—very unscientifically—compiled.
We drew the artists’ names out of a hat (It was, in fact, a smelly Quebec Nordiques baseball cap) to help us create our bracket, which is available for your viewing pleasure below. Obviously, none of these of bands are ranked or come from a previously compiled list, so we chose purely random matchups to have as little impact as possible on the final outcome. We’re actually pretty pleased with the way the bracket turned out.
Remember that, as with any poll, genre might occasionally clash against genre, so you’ll just need to decide which artist has (or has had) the most to offer within his/their genre, perhaps which one has or had more natural talent or technical skill, which one had the biggest influence on other live acts, etc.
As always, you can vote only once per matchup (once per device, that is), and we’ll be posting match-ups pretty much every day of the month, sometimes more than once per day, just to give you an early warning.