The Big Five: Most influential bands in popular music

The Big Five, I call them, are the biggest bands in the history of popular music. There are five bands that have stood out to me that have made the biggest impact on popular music since the 1950’s. I will list them in order of how many albums and singles they’ve sold worldwide.

First, the Beatles (1960-1970) have sold the most albums of any artist in the history of popular music, all of which have been celebrated world wide.

Second, Led Zeppelin (1968-1980; Reunion’s 1985, 1988, 1995, and 2007), have been known as the progenitor of heavy metal music. Because of their success, they were able to negotiate higher royalties than even the Beatles before them. Following the death of drummer John Bonham in 1980, the group ended unexpectedly.

Third, Pink Floyd. Pink Floyd are probably the most successful progressive rock band in the history of music. “Hey You”, “Comfortably Numb”, “Another Brick In The Wall Part II”, “Money”, “Wish You Were Here”, and “Shine on You Crazy Diamond Parts 1-4”, have made them well known to the world. They started out as an underground band in London’s night clubs and with the leadership of Syd Barret, their early music was rapturously received and sited as some of the great art rock music in history. Once Syd left in the last years of the 1960’s due to his failing mental health, Roger Water took over the bands leadership and made Pink Floyd known for what they are today.

Fourth, the Rolling Stones. The Rolling Stones came to America a year after the Beatles did in the early 1960’s. They established themselves as a popular rhythm and blues band, with rock elements implemented in their music. They were influenced, like many bands, by the Beatles and became very good friends with them. The Rolling Stones today are known for their mega touring and holding the record for some of the largest concert tours in the history of popular music. Their hit songs, “Paint It Black”, “Start Me Up”, “Miss You”, “Happy”, “Beast of Burden”, “Last Time”, among many others, have been celebrated worldwide.

Finally the fifth band I put in the big five, Queen. Queen was defined by Freddie Mercury, a natural front man. With guitarist Brian May, they created some of rocks best songs. “We Are The Champions”, “We Will Rock You”, “Another One Bites The Dust”, “Your My Best Friend”, “Bohemian Rhapsody”, and “Stone Cold Crazy”. They are still performing today without Freddie and are finding success in America and around the world. Guitarist, Brian May, might be one of the few rock guitarists to hold a PhD. In mid 2008 Brian May finished his PhD in Astrophysics at Imperial College London, cheers to him.

I find these bands to be the best rock bands in the history of music, not just because of the massive sales of their albums, but the massive success of their longevity beyond their creation. If you notice, all of them are of English origin. They brought that music to the United States and bands got influenced by it and they now are inspiring younger generations in rock and pop music. These are my favorite bands and that’s why they are known to me as, “the Big Five”.

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