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Ranked: The 10 Best British Bands Of All Time

Britain is a nation that’s proud of its rich musical history and heritage. Some of the world’s most iconic and universally recognised music has been recorded on our shores and still is today.

Music has been ingrained into British culture and identity since the beginning of time. But of course, everyone has their own opinion, so deciding on a top 10 is no easy task.

However, we’ve given it a go. We rank the 10 best British bands of all time.

10. The Stone Roses

How could we not kick things off with a bit of ‘Madchester’ magic?

The Roses’ eponymous debut album is often considered one of the best and most influential British records ever. It’s almost impossible to go on a night out in Manchester and not hear some of the classic tracks from this album, such as ‘I am the Resurrection’ or ‘She Bangs the Drums’.

It’s guitar music you can dance to – and if you’ve never heard ‘Fools Gold’, then you’ve probably been living on Mars.

Did you know?

Roses singer Ian Brown started his music career as a bass player.

9. Fleetwood Mac

Okay – we know the Mac are technically ‘British-American’, but that means we can still include them.

Formed in London in the late 60s, Fleetwood Mac have certainly stood the test of time.

Their music is still listened to worldwide – in fact, the iconic 1977 album Rumours is owned by a staggering one in six households in the US.

A fair few of the band’s members have come and gone from either side of the pond over the years, but that hasn’t bothered fans. Although now in their 70s, the present line-up is still more than capable of pulling in a crowd and putting on a show.

Did you know?

The pair of ‘balls’ Mick Fleetwood wears on the Rumours album cover are actually stolen toilet chains that he wore for good luck.

8. Queen

Famously fronted by the legendary Freddie Mercury in their heyday, Queen are another band that have proved good music is timeless.

Back in the 80s, and Queen were one of the biggest stadium bands on the planet. Decades later, their influence is still felt.

Bohemian Rhapsody is the third biggest-selling UK single of all time and was the title of the award-winning 2018 Freddy Mercury biopic of the same name.

Did you know?

Guitarist Brian May has a degree in astrophysics from Imperial College London. He began studying for it in 1971 and finished in 2007 after ‘pausing’ his studies to concentrate on music.

7. Led Zeppelin

As well as having an awesome name, Led Zeppelin also produced some pretty awesome music in their day.

Their unique, heavy, but blues-inspired style made them pioneers of the hard rock and heavy metal movements in the 70s, with many bands citing them as a major influence.

In the band’s early days, it wasn’t unusual for live performances to last for up to four hours, such was their energy and ability to improvise. Now that’s value for money!

Did you know?

Frontman Robert Plant recorded the vocals to the band’s 1976 album Presence while in a wheelchair recovering from a motorcycle accident.

6. The Who

The Who are without doubt one of the 20th century’s most influential bands. Their performance at Woodstock in 1969 also propelled their reputation as one of the greatest live rock acts.

Integral to mod culture, The Who were also major influences on British film and fashion. If you’ve never watched Quadrophenia, you should.

The band’s guitar-smashing incident at Harrow’s Railway Hotel in 1964 was also included in Rolling Stone magazine’s ‘50 Moments That Changed the History of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ list.

Did you know?

Frontman Roger Daltrey played Mickey Dunn in season 7 of American crime drama CSI.

5. The Rolling Stones

Inspired by blues and early rock and roll, the Rolling Stones were at the forefront of the British Invasion in the mid-60s, which saw British contemporary music become popular in the US for the first time.

The band’s songs ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’, ‘Paint It Black’, and ‘Get Off of My Cloud’ shot to number one in the UK, North America, Australia, and Europe.

Although now in his late seventies, Mick Jagger is still one of the greatest frontmen of all time and will continue to influence music in Britain and around the world for decades to come.

(You’ve heard ‘Moves like Jagger’ by Maroon 5, right?)

Did you know?

The band’s iconic ‘Tongue and Lips’ logo is inspired by Kali, the Hindu goddess of energy and empowerment.

4. The Jam

You could say The Jam is the epitome of British music. The sound, the image, the attitude – everything.

Considering the band’s frontman Paul Weller is still affectionately known as the Modfather years after its split, you know it represented something pretty special.

The Jam’s ‘angry young man’ attitude combined with their smart taste in suits meant they were the perfect contrast. And if you’re off to a disco, you could well hear ‘Town Called Malice’ at some point.

Did you know?

The hit ‘Down in the Tube Station at Midnight’ almost didn’t make it onto the band’s 1978 album All Mod Cons. In fact, Paul Weller threw the tape in the bin at the recording studio.

3. Oasis

One of the biggest and best-selling bands of the 90s, Oasis are still deemed one of the greatest all-time British acts today.

The rocky relationship between brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher added a dynamism to Oasis that very few other bands have had – with many fans still hoping for a future reunion.

Songs about being young, getting drunk, and having lasagne for tea earned 1994’s Definitely Maybe the record of fastest-selling debut album in British music history. When the band headlined Knebworth two years later, more than 4% of the British population applied for tickets.

As for Wonderwall – is there anyone on Earth that hasn’t heard it?

Did you know?

Film director Danny Boyle approached Oasis to produce the soundtrack for his classic 1996 film, Trainspotting. However, Noel Gallagher turned down the offer, as he thought the film would be about actual trains.

2. The Smiths

Another band hailing from the cobbles of Manchester, The Smiths are regarded as one of the most important and culturally significant groups ever.

Morrissey’s often bleak, dour lyrics about mundane life and unrequited love were the perfect juxtaposition with Johnny Marr’s jangly, melodic guitar riffs.

The 1985 album Meat is Murder went to number one in the UK charts, and was ranked number 295 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Salford Lads Club is a tourist attraction today, thanks to the band’s famous promo shots taken standing in front of the doorway.

Did you know?

The backing vocals on the band’s 1986 single Bigmouth Strikes Again were credited to female vocalist Ann Coates. However, Ann Coates is a fictional character made up by the band, whose name was derived from Ancoats, an inner-city area of Manchester. The vocals were actually sung by Morrissey himself.

1. The Beatles

John, Paul, George, Ringo. Say those four names in that order, and people know exactly who you’re talking about – even without the surnames.

Whether you like The Beatles or not, you can’t deny them the accolade of the biggest and most influential band of all time. And we mean globally, not just here in Britain.

The four lads from Liverpool were pioneers in recording, songwriting, and artistic presentation in the 1960s and beyond. You could say they completely revolutionised the music industry forever.

The voice and image of the late, great John Lennon is recognised the world over, and many of the bands in this top 10 would never have existed without The Beatles going before them.

Did you know?

The Beatles’ song Yesterday was originally called Scrambled Eggs.

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