The Best Bands Of All Time

5 December 2018, 12:11 | Updated: 3 January 2019, 14:07

Mick Jagger, Liam Gallagher, Debbie Harry, Kurt Cobain and Freddie Mercury
Mick Jagger, Liam Gallagher, Debbie Harry, Kurt Cobain and Freddie Mercury. Picture: JACQUES MORELL/Kevin Mazur/WireImage/Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns/Gus Stewart/Redferns/Getty Images

Who are the best bands in the history of rock? From Arctic Monkeys to AC/DC, The Beatles to Biffy Clyro, here are the essential groups you need.

  1. Arctic Monkeys

    Arguably the best British band of the Millennium? The Monkeys themselves probably think so.

    Arctic Monkeys in 2006: Alex Turner, Matt Helders, Jamie Cook and Andy Nicholson.
    Arctic Monkeys in 2006: Alex Turner, Matt Helders, Jamie Cook and Andy Nicholson. Picture: Andy Willsher/Redferns/Getty Images
  2. Foo Fighters

    The nicest man in rock. The biggest rock band of the 21st Century. Simple.

    Foo Fighters in 2017: Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Dave Grohl, Pat Smear, Chris Shiflett and Rami Jaffee.
    Foo Fighters in 2017: Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Dave Grohl, Pat Smear, Chris Shiflett and Rami Jaffee. Picture: RCA Press/Brantley Gutierrez
  3. Blur

    Never afraid to evolve, Blur have grown up a lot since the 1990s - but never stopped making challenging music.

    Blur in 1996: Dave Rowntree, Damon Albarn, Alex James, Graham Coxon.
    Blur in 1996: Dave Rowntree, Damon Albarn, Alex James, Graham Coxon. Picture: Tim Roney/Getty Images
  4. The Beatles

    John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr: four men from Liverpool who literally changed the way we understood and enjoyed pop music. They will live on forever.

    The Beatles in July 1968: Ringo Starr, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison
    The Beatles in July 1968: Ringo Starr, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison. Picture: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
  5. Oasis

    Oasis once turned the UK music industry upside down - and a reunion of Liam and Noel Gallagher is on a lot of people’s wish lists.

    Oasis in 1994: Tony McCarroll, Paul 'Bonehead' Arthurs, Noel Gallagher, Liam Gallagher, Paul 'Guigsy' McGuigan
    Oasis in 1994: Tony McCarroll, Paul 'Bonehead' Arthurs, Noel Gallagher, Liam Gallagher, Paul 'Guigsy' McGuigan. Picture: Michel Linssen/Redferns/Getty Images
  6. Guns N' Roses

    No other band captured the madness of the 80s rock quite like Axl, Slash and the boys did.

    Guns N’ Roses in 1986: Duff McKagan, Slash, Izzy Stradlin, Axl Rose and Steven Adler
    Guns N’ Roses in 1986: Duff McKagan, Slash, Izzy Stradlin, Axl Rose and Steven Adler. Picture: Marc S Canter/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
  7. Kasabian

    Claiming the crown of Britain's biggest rock band came easily to a band as confident as Kasabian.

    Kasabian in 2004: Chris Edwards, Tom Meighan, Sergio Pizzorno, Christopher Karloff
    Kasabian in 2004: Chris Edwards, Tom Meighan, Sergio Pizzorno, Christopher Karloff. Picture: Mick Hutson/Redferns/Getty Images
  8. Green Day

    American Idiot reinvented the Californian punks and made a whole new generation love them.

    Green Day in 2016: Mike Dirnt, Billie Joe Armstrong and Tre Cool
    Green Day in 2016: Mike Dirnt, Billie Joe Armstrong and Tre Cool. Picture: Frank Maddocks/Warner Bros Records
  9. AC/DC

    The hard-rocking Australians have been blasting eardrums since 1973 and kept going despite death, deafness and changing trends.

    AC/DC in 1979
    AC/DC in 1979. Picture: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
  10. Florence + The Machine

    Florence Welch and her collective of like-minded friends are one of the best live acts in the world at the moment.

    Florence Welch in 2018
    Florence Welch in 2018. Picture: Vincent Haycock/Press
  11. Courteeners

    Middleton’s favourite sons have become one of the biggest live draws in the UK, thanks to Liam Fray’s superb songwriting.

    Courteeners in 2014: Michael Campbell, Liam Fray, Daniel 'Conan' Moores and Mark Cuppello
    Courteeners in 2014: Michael Campbell, Liam Fray, Daniel 'Conan' Moores and Mark Cuppello. Picture: Shirlaine Forrest/WireImage/Getty Images
  12. Joy Division

    As influential as ever, Joy Division's dark sound remains as haunting now as it did in the post-punk years.

    Joy Division in 1979: Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris, an Curtis, Peter Hook
    Joy Division in 1979: Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris, an Curtis, Peter Hook. Picture: Martin O'Neill/Redferns/Getty Images
  13. The Stone Roses

    A band so good that they reduced fans to tears of joy when they got back together in 2012. Their debut album is a stone cold classic.

    The Stone Roses in 1989: Ian Brown, John Squire, Mani and Reni
    The Stone Roses in 1989: Ian Brown, John Squire, Mani and Reni. Picture: Joe Dilworth/Photoshot/Getty Images
  14. The Rolling Stones

    As they call themselves, they ARE the greatest rock ’n’ roll band in the world. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are the quintessential rock duo.

    The Rolling Stones in 1968: Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts, Brian Jones, Mick Jagger.
    The Rolling Stones in 1968: Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts, Brian Jones, Mick Jagger. Picture: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
  15. Biffy Clyro

    After years of hard work and raucous shows, the Biff became stars of rock in 2007. They're now one of the country's biggest acts.

    Biffy Clyro: James Johnston, Simon Neil and Ben Johnston
    Biffy Clyro: James Johnston, Simon Neil and Ben Johnston. Picture: Steve Brown/Photoshot/Getty Images
  16. Coldplay

    Ignore the haters, Chris Martin and the boys can write a tune that'll lift up the heaviest of hearts.

    Coldplay in 2000: Guy Berryman, Will Champion, Chris Martin and Jonny Buckland
    Coldplay in 2000: Guy Berryman, Will Champion, Chris Martin and Jonny Buckland. Picture: Mick Hutson/Redferns/Getty Images
  17. Blondie

    Fronted by the iconic Deborah Harry, these New York punks went stellar worldwide with some memorable hits.

    Blondie in 1976: Gary Valentine, Clem Burke, Debbie Harry, Chris Stein and Jimmy Destri
    Blondie in 1976: Gary Valentine, Clem Burke, Debbie Harry, Chris Stein and Jimmy Destri. Picture: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
  18. Depeche Mode

    From their synth-pop roots in Essex to their dark rock stadium success in the 80s and 90s, Depeche Mode are a world-beating act.

    Depeche Mode in 2005: Martin Gore, Dave Gahan and Andrew Fletcher
    Depeche Mode in 2005: Martin Gore, Dave Gahan and Andrew Fletcher. Picture: Joe Dilworth/Photoshot/Getty Images
  19. Elbow

    The heartfelt lyrics of Guy Garvey rightfully made Elbow the nation's favourite band.

    Elbow in 2008: Craig Potter, Guy Garvey, Richard Jupp, Pete Turner and Mark Potter
    Elbow in 2008: Craig Potter, Guy Garvey, Richard Jupp, Pete Turner and Mark Potter. Picture: Howard Barlow/Redferns/Getty Images
  20. Fleetwood Mac

    Founded as a blues band, this British-American group weathered line-up changes and transformed their style into the epitome of West Coast rock cool.

    Fleetwood Mac in 1975: John McVie, Christine McVie, Stevie Nicks, Mick Fleetwood, and Lindsey Buckingham
    Fleetwood Mac in 1975: John McVie, Christine McVie, Stevie Nicks, Mick Fleetwood, and Lindsey Buckingham. Picture: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
  21. Led Zeppelin

    There's a reason people would sell their soul for a Zeppelin reunion - they invented the rock rule book.

    Led Zeppelin in 1970: John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, John Bonham, Robert Plant
    Led Zeppelin in 1970: John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, John Bonham, Robert Plant. Picture: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
  22. Pink Floyd

    From eccentric psychedelia to stadium-straddling rock stars, the Floyd redefined what the rock album could do.

    Pink Floyd in 1973: Nick Mason, Dave Gilmour, Roger Waters and Rick Wright
    Pink Floyd in 1973: Nick Mason, Dave Gilmour, Roger Waters and Rick Wright. Picture: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
  23. Muse

    Muse have created their own sound and revolutionised what stadium rock can do. Not bad for three lads from Devon.

    Muse in 1999:  Matthew Bellamy, Dominic Howard and Christopher Wolstenholme
    Muse in 1999: Matthew Bellamy, Dominic Howard and Christopher Wolstenholme. Picture: Jim Dyson/Getty Images
  24. Kings Of Leon

    Sex On Fire made them superstars but the band's brilliant and eclectic back catalogue offers something for everyone.

    KIngs Of Leon in 2003: Caleb Followill, Matthew Followill, Nathan Followill, and Jared Followil
    KIngs Of Leon in 2003: Caleb Followill, Matthew Followill, Nathan Followill, and Jared Followil. Picture: Maurits Sillem/Getty Images
  25. The Smiths

    The unique songwriting collaboration between Morrissey and Johnny Marr, backed by the impeccable engine room of bassist Andy Rourke and drummer Mike Joyce.

    The Smiths in 1984: Andy Rourke, Morrissey, Mike Joyce and Johnny Marr
    The Smiths in 1984: Andy Rourke, Morrissey, Mike Joyce and Johnny Marr. Picture: Lisa Haun/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
  26. Nirvana

    The sound of Generation X, now the blueprint for alternative rock, Kurt Cobain was the most charismatic frontman of the 90s.

    Nirvana in 1991: Dave Grohl, Kurt Coabin, Krist Novoselic
    Nirvana in 1991: Dave Grohl, Kurt Coabin, Krist Novoselic. Picture: Paul Bergen/Redferns/Getty Images
  27. Queen

    Prog rock meets stadium rock, courtesy of four incredible talents: Freddie Mercury, Brian May, John Deacon and Roger Taylor.

    Queen in 1979: Roger Taylor, John Deacon, Freddie Mercury and Brian May
    Queen in 1979: Roger Taylor, John Deacon, Freddie Mercury and Brian May. Picture: John Rodgers/Redferns/Getty Images
  28. Pulp

    The Pulp recipe is simple: some of the smartest lyrics in history, courtesy of Jarvis Cocker, combined with some of the best melodies.

    Pulp in 1998: Mark Webber, Nick Banks, Jarvis Cocker, Steve Mackey, Candida Doyle
    Pulp in 1998: Mark Webber, Nick Banks, Jarvis Cocker, Steve Mackey, Candida Doyle. Picture: Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images
  29. The Who

    They epitomised the Mod movement in the 60s and forged the heavy rock movement in the 70s, Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle and Keith Moon were an iconic unit.

    The Who in 1968: Pete Townshend, Keith Moon, Roger Daltrey and John Entwistle.
    The Who in 1968: Pete Townshend, Keith Moon, Roger Daltrey and John Entwistle. Picture: The Visualeyes Archive/Redferns/Getty Images
  30. Mumford And Sons

    As soon as America took the folk rockers to their hearts, it became clear they were going to take over the world.

    Mumford And Sons in 2009: Winston Marshall, Ben Lovett, Marcus Mumford, Ted Dwane
    Mumford And Sons in 2009: Winston Marshall, Ben Lovett, Marcus Mumford, Ted Dwane. Picture: Wendy Redfern/Redferns/Getty Images
  31. Primal Scream

    They've changed their sound over the years but never lost the incredible energy, thanks to the swagger of frontman Bobby Gillespie.

    Primal Scream in 1991: Robert Throb Young, Andrew Innes, Bobby Gillespie
    Primal Scream in 1991: Robert Throb Young, Andrew Innes, Bobby Gillespie. Picture: Michel Linssen/Redferns/Getty Images
  32. Manic Street Preachers

    Lesser bands would have given up after Richey Edwards' disappearance but the Manics just got even better.

    Manic Street Preachers in 1992: James Dean Bradfield, Sean Moore, Nicky Wire and Richey Edwards
    Manic Street Preachers in 1992: James Dean Bradfield, Sean Moore, Nicky Wire and Richey Edwards. Picture: Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty Images
  33. Radiohead

    They started in the Britpop years, but transcended fashion with some intelligent, challenging rock music.

    Radiohead in 1993: Ed O'Brien, Jonny Greenwood, Thom Yorke, Colin Greenwood and Phil Selway
    Radiohead in 1993: Ed O'Brien, Jonny Greenwood, Thom Yorke, Colin Greenwood and Phil Selway. Picture: Bob Berg/Getty Images
  34. R.E.M.

    They went from underdogs to the biggest record deal in the music industry, but a reunion sadly seems unlikely.

    R.E.M. in 1994: Peter Buck, Bill Berry, Michael Stipe and Mike Mills
    R.E.M. in 1994: Peter Buck, Bill Berry, Michael Stipe and Mike Mills. Picture: Chris Carroll/Corbis via Getty Images
  35. The Cure

    With a generation-spanning fanbase that loves them unconditionally, The Cure are a truly unique band.

    The Cure in 1987: Lol Tolhurst, Porl Thompson, Simon Gallup, Robert Smith, Boris Williams and Roger O'Donnell.
    The Cure in 1987: Lol Tolhurst, Porl Thompson, Simon Gallup, Robert Smith, Boris Williams and Roger O'Donnell. Picture: Ross Marino/Getty Images
  36. Red Hot Chill Peppers

    The Los Angeles funkateers have changed their line-up many time, but never lost their unique groove.

    Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1992: Anthony Kiedis, Chad Smith, John Frusciante, and Flea
    Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1992: Anthony Kiedis, Chad Smith, John Frusciante, and Flea. Picture: Paul Natkin/Getty Images
  37. The Jam

    Remarkably young and remarkably fresh, The Jam didn't stick around long but left a lasting impression - and of course, frontman Paul Weller remains an icon.

    The Jam in 1977: Bruce Foxton, Rick Buckler and Paul Weller
    The Jam in 1977: Bruce Foxton, Rick Buckler and Paul Weller. Picture: Chris Walter/WireImage/Getty Images
  38. The Strokes

    They gave rock music the kick up the backside it sorely needed in the early 2000s and for that we are eternally grateful.

    The Strokes in 2001: Fabrizio Moretti, Albert Hammond Jr, Nick Valensi, Julian Casablancas and Nikolai Fraiture.
    The Strokes in 2001: Fabrizio Moretti, Albert Hammond Jr, Nick Valensi, Julian Casablancas and Nikolai Fraiture. Picture: Anthony PIdgeon/Redferns/Getty Images
  39. Stereophonics

    Bringing a classic British rock sound back to the charts, Stereophonics blasted out of Wales with debut Word Gets Around and never looked back.

    Stereophonics in 1999: Richard Jones, Stuart Cable and Kelly Jones
    Stereophonics in 1999: Richard Jones, Stuart Cable and Kelly Jones. Picture: Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images
  40. Suede

    Throwing down the gauntlet for other 1990s Britpop titans, Suede sounded even more relevant when they reunited a few years ago.

    Suede in 1994: Bernard Butler, Mat Osman, Brett Anderson and Simon Gilbert
    Suede in 1994: Bernard Butler, Mat Osman, Brett Anderson and Simon Gilbert. Picture: Bob Berg/Getty Images
  41. The Charlatans

    Never settling into one sound for too long, The Charlatans have reshaped themselves time and again and never lost their following.

    The Charlatans in 1990
    The Charlatans in 1990. Picture: Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images
  42. Editors

    Blowing early comparisons to Joy Division out of the water, Editors became festival favourites for a very good reason and continue to produce addictive albums.

    Editors in 2013: Tom Smith, Ed Lay, Elliott Williams, Russell Leetch and Justin Lockey.
    Editors in 2013: Tom Smith, Ed Lay, Elliott Williams, Russell Leetch and Justin Lockey. Picture: PIAS/Press
  43. The Clash

    Loved when they first burst onto the scene and even more iconic now, The Clash added brilliant songwriting to punk's raw materials.

    The Clash in 1978: Joe Strummer, Paul Simonon, Mick Jones, Nicky 'Topper' Headon
    The Clash in 1978: Joe Strummer, Paul Simonon, Mick Jones, Nicky 'Topper' Headon. Picture: Michael Putland/Getty Images
  44. Bloc Party

    After a debut album that's still a classic, Bloc Party continue to perform compelling live shows.

    Bloc Party in 2005: Simon Tong, Russell Lissack, Kele Okereke and Gordon Moakes
    Bloc Party in 2005: Simon Tong, Russell Lissack, Kele Okereke and Gordon Moakes. Picture: PYMCA/UIG via Getty Images
  45. New Order

    From the ashes of the beloved Joy Division came a new sound, electronic, danceable and uniquely Mancunian.

    New Order in 1989: Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert
    New Order in 1989: Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert. Picture: Bob Berg/Getty Images
  46. The Killers

    If you've ever been to an club and haven't danced to Mr Brightside, you're doing it wrong.

    The Killers in 2007: Dave Keuning, Mark Stoermer, Brandon Flowers and Ronnie Vannuci Jr
    The Killers in 2007: Dave Keuning, Mark Stoermer, Brandon Flowers and Ronnie Vannuci Jr. Picture: MTV/Getty Images
  47. The Libertines

    Thrilling fans with their love/hate/love bond, Carl Barat and Pete Doherty also turned out some of the finest British tracks.

    The LIbertines in 2002: Pete Doherty, Carl Barat, Gary Powell, John Hassall
    The LIbertines in 2002: Pete Doherty, Carl Barat, Gary Powell, John Hassall. Picture: Eva Edsjo/Redferns/Getty Images
  48. U2

    Love 'em or hate 'em, it's hard to deny that Bono and the boys put on a show like nobody else.

    U2 in 1985: Adam Clayton, The Edge, Bono and Larry Mullen, Jr.
    U2 in 1985: Adam Clayton, The Edge, Bono and Larry Mullen, Jr. Picture: Aaron Rapoport/CORBIS OUTLINE/Corbis via Getty Images