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!
The Beach Boys
Though they began as the musical embodiment of the squeaky-clean cultural zeitgeist of the late 1950s, the Beach Boys slowly morphed into a game-changing pop powerhouse. Brian Wilson, the group’s main songwriter, left the touring incarnation of the band in 1965 to focus on the group’s increasingly intricate studio output. The peak of his experimentation, 1966’s Pet Sounds, remains one of the great rock albums of all time. With the rest of the Beach Boys in tow, Wilson crafted some of the most astoundingly complex and melodically rich pop songs of the era; songs that became an essential part of the American musical lexicon.
Though Lynyrd Skynyrd’s time was cut tragically short by the plane crash that killed the band’s lead singer, Ronnie Van Zant, in 1977, they were around long enough to stamp their authority as the definitive icons of Southern rock. Loud, rowdy and proud, they spun blues-rock and boogie into a uniquely, unmistakably Southern three-guitar concoction. They wrote perhaps the ultimate power ballad and rock show-closer in their opus, “Free Bird,” and an iconic Southern anthem in “Sweet Home Alabama.”
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.