When Labor Day came and went earlier this month, it reminded us of the American labor movement and the contributions American workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of the good ol' U.S. of A.
However, since we're Guitar World people, we couldn't help but apply those sentiments to music and the American people who made and make it—bands!
This, in turn, led to thoughts and theories about the greatest American band of all time, which led us to our latest readers' poll—the Best American Rock Band Ever! Yes, the gangs from Guitar World and Sweetwater want to get GW readers—you people!—involved as we attempt to crown the Best American Rock Band Ever!
Although we had thousands of bands to choose from, we decided to narrow things down to 32, which is perfect for a month's worth of intense—and fun (it's supposed to be fun, people!) matchups. All the bands were carefully selected by Guitar World's editorial staff.
Note that this poll includes current bands and bands that disappeared into the woodwork years ago. Also, if you're wondering why the Jimi Hendrix Experience aren't on this list, they weren't an American band. Hendrix was American, but he's not a band. Band of Gypsys were American, but they simply didn't make the cut based on the music released under the "Band of Gypsys" moniker. It's one of many tough sacrifices we had to make along the way. Speaking of which, be sure to read "How the Bracket Was Compiled" at the bottom of this story.
Anyway, here are our 32 American bands, which are presented in alphabetical order. You also can check out the entire 32-band bracket below.
Aerosmith, Alice In Chains, the Allman Brothers Band, the Beach Boys, Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Doors, Eagles, Foo Fighters, Grateful Dead, Green Day, Guns N' Roses, Heart, Kiss, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Metallica, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Queens of the Stone Age, Ramones, Red Hot Chili Peppers, R.E.M., Soundgarden, Steely Dan, Steve Miller Band, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, Styx, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Van Halen, the White Stripes and ZZ Top.
Enjoy our Best American Rock Band Ever Poll, which is sponsored by Sweetwater!
Soundgarden, from their beginnings in Seattle’s late-Eighties rock scene, were always a strangely intriguing hybrid. Their mix of arena-rock, punk and disparate genres like funk helped set the template for the sound that would come to be known as “grunge.” And though they didn’t get their due until after Nirvana had flamed out in the wake of Kurt Cobain’s death, and after Pearl Jam began to withdraw from the public eye, get their due they did. Their 1994 album, Superunknown, is still a rock masterpiece 20 years later. With Chris Cornell’s beautifully controlled shrieks, Kim Thayil’s monumental guitar playing and the thunderous rhythm section of Ben Shepherd and Matt Cameron, Soundgarden were an unstoppable force in their prime.
- ZZ Top
“That Little Ol’ Band From Texas” hasn’t changed much over the last 40 years, but they’ve never really needed to. In this crazy world of ours, they’re a model of consistency; relying on amusing videos, their unmistakable look and that infectious blues-rock boogie that’s never left them. Though commercial success and synthesizers came and went for the trio, they never lost their unmistakable attitude or their charm. More than a band, ZZ Top has truly become an institution.
The polls are closed! Soundgarden have advanced to the next round. This is what happens when bands share the poll with their fans via social media. ZZ Top didn't do this ...
Behold the Latest Bracket!
How the Bracket Was Compiled
Here's how the bracket was—very unscientifically—compiled.
We drew the artists' names out of a hat (It was, in fact, a smelly Quebec Nordiques baseball cap) to help us create our bracket, which is available for your viewing pleasure below. Obviously, none of these of bands are ranked or come from a previously compiled list, so we chose purely random matchups to have as little impact as possible on the final outcome. We're actually pretty pleased with the way the bracket turned out.
Remember that, as with any poll, genre might occasionally clash against genre, so you'll just need to decide which artist has (or has had) the most to offer within his/their genre, perhaps which one has or had more natural talent or technical skill, which one had the biggest influence on other live acts, etc.
As always, you can vote only once per matchup (once per device, that is), and we'll be posting match-ups pretty much every day of the month, sometimes more than once per day, just to give you an early warning.