While types of music such as hip hop and pop have become increasingly fashionable in recent years, rock music remains hugely popular. Since the 1950s, music fans have been drawn to the genre’s energy and rebellious identity, keeping it alive from one generation to the next.
Rock music has always been an innovative genre, with pioneering groups like The Beatles and The Beach Boys setting a precedent with their musical experimentations. This has resulted in seemingly endless subgenres such as heavy metal, power pop, and psychedelic rock. More modern sounds — especially those borrowed from electronic music — have pushed rock music even further into new territory. Today there are rock bands that appeal to fans with all different sorts of preferences.
Music consumption and artist appreciation today are far different than what they used to be. While some rock fans may still listen to vinyl records and hang posters of their favorite bands, most use streaming services like Spotify to listen to their favorite artists and social media to follow them.
Using several different metrics, 24/7 Tempo has identified the 100 most popular rock bands of all time. The selection of these artists was based on measures such as Wikipedia page views, Facebook “likes,” and popularity on the online streaming platform Spotify. While there may be great rock performers born in years past who are better known as solo artists – such as Prince, David Bowie, and Elvis Presley – 24/7 Tempo included only bands for this article.
Some of the most popular bands are newer or at least currently active. These artists utilize social media to build and engage with their fanbase. Yet more classic acts from the 1960s and 1970s are still hugely popular, indicating that the most iconic bands will endure for as long as people listen to rock.
To determine the most popular rock bands of all time, 24/7 Tempo generated an index based on the popularity of a band’s Wikipedia page, popularity on Spotify, popularity on Facebook, and Ranker user votes. Each component of the index was given equal weight except for Ranker user votes, which was weighted twice as heavily because of the significant nature of fan opinion.
Wikipedia page views were calculated for the past two years, from March 4, 2017 to March 4, 2019. Popularity on Spotify was based on the number of followers on Spotify. User votes came from a list on crowdsourced ranking platform Ranker that ranked the best rock bands of all time. To be included on our list, a band had to appear on this Ranker list.
A band’s best-selling album is based on Recording Industry Association of America data for U.S. album sales. In cases where a band had multiple albums that sold the same number of copies, the album that performed best on the Billboard 200 chart was selected.