In the 1960s and 1970s, though plenty of musicians found fame, the majority of bands that left a lasting impression were rock bands. In some cases, multiple top bands formed in a specific year. Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Who both formed in 1964; Pink Floyd, The Doors, and Grateful Dead all came together in 1965; and Fleetwood Mac, Chicago, and Steve Miller Band formed in 1967. Through the lens of our metrics, only one band from each year is the most famous.
In later years, genres begin to blur. While the Beastie Boys evolved into a group that primarily performed hip hop, they began as a more rock-oriented act in 1979. Traces of this style were still present on their 1986 album, “Licensed to Ill,” which featured guitar-driven tracks like “Fight For Your Right.” Other bands with rap influences include Red Hot Chili Peppers, Linkin Park, and Gorillaz.
As pop music has increasingly become more popular, bands also transitioned to more pop than rock. Such more recent bands include Fall Out Boy and Maroon 5, which outpace other bands the year they were formed.
To determine the most famous band formed the year you were born, 24/7 Wall St. created an index based on the bands listed on ranking website Ranker.com’s user-generated “The Best Rock Bands of All Time” list. In addition to the number of up and down votes for each band on the list, we considered the number of Wikipedia page views each group’s page has received over the past two years and the number of certified albums and singles sold by retailers since the time of each band’s formation as reported by the Recording Industry Association of America. Editorial discretion was used to include bands that performed especially well in all metrics but were absent from the Ranker.com list.
The year a band was formed can sometimes be difficult to pinpoint, so to be consistent, we used the band formation years listed by MusicBrainz, an extensive music database created and curated by industry experts.
A band’s top charting track is based on Billboard Hot 100 performance and the top charting album is based on Billboard 200 performance. Compilation and “greatest hits” albums were excluded. In rare cases where a band did not have any songs on the Hot 100 chart, we included their most popular song on streaming service Spotify.