The states of origin of some bands may surprise casual fans. For instance, how many people are aware that the rock band Poison got its start in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, before moving to Los Angeles soon after it formed? Similarly, the dark, brooding image of industrial rock giants Nine Inch Nails may not fit with the blue-collar image of their hometown of Cleveland, Ohio.
Yet the majority of groups on our list go the extra mile when it comes to hometown and home-state pride. The bands Alabama and Kansas named themselves after their respective states. New Orleans-based heavy metal band Down named one of its most popular records “Nola,” a reference to New Orleans, Louisiana. Texas heroes ZZ Top, one of the most popular bands of all time, may be best known for the hit “La Grange,” named after a small town outside of the group’s home base of Houston.
Other artists have even found success singing about American locales they didn’t personally come from. While most people identify Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band with New Jersey – “E Street” refers to a street in Belmar, New Jersey – The Boss scored a major hit with his downbeat “Streets of Philadelphia.” Lynyrd Skynyrd, formed in 1964, is perhaps best known for “Sweet Home Alabama,” yet the band actually hails from Florida.
To determine the most famous band from each state, 24/7 Wall St. considered lists of the greatest American musicians and rankings of the greatest musicians in the world. These lists were generated on Ranker.com, a crowdsourced list generator that produced a list of the greatest bands in the world. We also measured popularity based on total views of the artists’ Wikipedia pages over the last two years. While we generally relied on lists put together by Ranker, we included artists who had substantially higher Wikipedia page views than the top-ranked band on Ranker. For individual artists to be included on this list they needed to often perform as part of a group that is billed along with the main performer, for example “Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band” or “Prince and The Revolution.” The state listed is not necessarily where an artist or group were born but where they got their start as musicians. The top-selling album is based on the Recording Industry Association of America certifications, excluding best of and other compilation albums. Because RIAA certification at the platinum level rounds to the millions of record sales, these do not necessarily reflect the top-selling album but rather one of the top-selling records.