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Jim's Top 10 Rock Artists of All Time

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The following are my favorite rock artists of all time. Each of these groups or individuals has maintained an exceedingly high level of musical quality throughout the years while exerting a heavy influence on the course of rock and pop music. To find out more about a particular artist, click on the artist's name.

  1. The Beatles - Need I explain? These guys are among this century's finest songwriters, and their influence in rock will extend for centuries to come.

  2. Steely Dan - America's greatest - and most unique - rock band of all time. No one has ever come close to sounding like this band's mix of jazz and rock.

  3. Prefab Sprout - This is one of the fabbest bands in the world. Songwriter and singer Paddy McAloon is a clever lad who crosses the buoyant melodicism of the Beatles with the lyrical wit of Cole Porter. However, a mere handful of words are inadequate to describe the group's excellence.

  4. The Beach Boys - OK. I know that these guys sometimes seemed pathetic in their latter days. But from the early '60s to the late '70s, when Brian Wilson was their major songwriter and/or producer, they were brilliant. From the masterful album "Pet Sounds" album (which inspired the Beatles "Sergeant Pepper's" opus) to mesmerizing singles like "Good Vibrations" to lesser-known gems like "'Til I Die," the Beach Boys work during this period was unsurpassed.

  5. Earth, Wind & Fire - This soul/funk/rock band was one of the most successful singles acts of the '70s and early '80s - both commercially and artistically. Their infectious tunes and positive messages are danceable and irresistible to the ear. And to see them in concert is to experience a celebration of pure joy in music.

  6. Van Morrison - Since his early days with the British Invasion group Them (with whom he produced the classic rocker "Gloria"), Van's music has evolved into a hybrid of blues, gospel, folk, and rock that's all his own. His Celtic soul has produced many songs that are both joyous and yearningly spiritual.

  7. Led Zeppelin - Often incorrectly pegged as a heavy metal band, Zeppelin was a heavy rock band with its roots in both blues and folk. Yes, they could be one of the loudest bands you've ever heard, but they knew the importance of dynamics and had a great acoustic side as well - just check out side two of "Led Zeppelin III" for evidence.

  8. The Style Council - Paul Weller's finest songwriting and performing efforts were with this '80s band. He never seemed quite at home as a punk - you can tell by the way the Jam's music edged toward blue-eyed soul and funk before their breakup. With the Style Council he made his most relaxed, assured, and mature music.

  9. Marshall Crenshaw - Marshall has been putting out strong, highly-tuneful Beatlesque songs for almost two decades now. And he's definitely one of rock's most underrated guitarists.

  10. Stevie Wonder - Probably the most talented performer of the rock era, Stevie is a wellspring of melody and harmony. The influence of his ground breaking funk and soul music from the '70s is still being felt today. And he hasn't quit writing and performing great songs yet.


If you've got a comment or question about any of the artists listed here, or if there are musical artists not listed whom you think that I'd like, please send me a message.

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This page was last revised on July 17, 2003.

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