We’re An American Band

Photo from cdn.funcheap.com/

Photo from cdn.funcheap.com/

Let’s face it, America is known for individualism.  Most of our musical juggernauts are solo artists like Elvis Presley, James Brown, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen, etc.  Meanwhile, the Mt. Rushmore of great rock groups are filled with British monsters like the Beatles, Stones, Zeppelin and The Who.  We’re selfish Americans.  Sharing groupies is for those Commie Brits!  In the spirit of American unity this Fourth of July, here’s a list of the top ten American groups that made a mainstream splash on the Billboard charts.  Don’t get cocky though, England.  Other than Elton John and David Bowie, your next best solo artist is Aveda Hair Salon trainee Rod Stewart.

The Beach Boys were an early influence on "Where's Waldo?" Photo from rickcyge.com/

The Beach Boys were an early influence on “Where’s Waldo?” Photo from rickcyge.com

  1. The Beach BoysWith 80 charting singles worldwide and 36 #1 singles in America alone, the Beach Boys are the only American powerhouse that can rank up there with the British bands.  And they absolutely deserve to be in the conversation with the Beatles and Stones.  Even then, they are possibly the dorkiest rock stars in the history of the world.  They look like the most successful wedding party band ever.  Although they did just as many drugs as Keith Richards, hung out with Charles Manson and had all kinds of crazy mental rock & roll freakouts, they still wore those damn pin-striped shirts, tried to rap with the Fat Boys and unleashed Kokomo on the world.  Even in their 20s, the Beach Boys looked like somebody’s narc dad. “The kids dress like candy canes, right?” Nothing but love and respect for the Boys, but let’s face it: Our #1 band are freaking dweebs.

"Uh Tom, your one-hitter is getting a bit conspicuous." Photo from inthestudio.net

“Uh Tom, your one-hitter is getting a bit conspicuous.” Photo from inthestudio.net

  1. Creedence Clearwater RevivalCreedence was so damn good.  They kicked out classics faster than a White Castle Slider propelling itself out of your body, including three stellar albums in ONE YEAR.  But still, is Creedence in the conversation for greatest band of all time?  Unfortunately, no.  If the Beatles and Stones are Jaguars and Rolls Royces, then Creedence is a really strong, reliable Ford F150.  It’ll get you where you need to go, and for a long time, but you don’t take it on dates and it might have deer urine in it.  Also, Creedence Clearwater REVISITED is really embarrassing.  That’s like if Radiohead broke-up and reformed without Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood and called themselves Radionoggin.

That tragic time Cheap Trick got stuck on a fly-strip. Photo from assets.rollingstone.com/

That tragic time Cheap Trick got stuck on a fly-strip. Photo from assets.rollingstone.com/

  1. Cheap Trick Cheap Trick were the American Beatles.  They wrote pop gems with an edge that stick in your head for weeks.  But whereas the Beatles had four clearly defined personalities, Cheap Trick only had three out of four. They had a dork/punk, a dork/accountant and two pretty boys.  Maybe if Tom Petersson had dressed like a genie or gotten a face tattoo he would have stood out more.  Instead, he came off just like Rock & Roll Guy #2.  Regardless of this small complaint, they had some huge hits and even had a big comeback in the late 80s with “The Flame”, but anybody claiming that Cheap Trick deserves to be on the Mt. Rushmore of all-time great rock bands probably also thinks that “Bleach” is Nirvana’s best album.

"Hey, if you three can just step back a LITTLE bit more into the dark, that'd be great." Photo from nikoraffaele.altervista.org/

“Hey, if you three can just step back a LITTLE bit more into the dark, that’d be great.” Photo from nikoraffaele.altervista.org

  1. The Doors The Doors were and remain extremely popular, as well as wildly divisive.  It seems that almost no one has a neutral opinion on them. They’re either the greatest band the world has ever seen or a complete joke lead by an underwear model and three guys you’d find working at the post office.  The truth is that they’re somewhere in between.  Songs like “Break On Through”, “The End” and “Light My Fire” are undeniable.  But man, their bad songs are atrocious.  Towards the end they sounded like a very white blues band lead by a fat open mic poet reading Mad Libs.  You can make a really killer 12 song compilation of Doors hits, but a band can’t be considered one of the very best if their filler is comparable to being stuck at an Old Country Buffett with an 8th grade poetry teacher.  

Lars is wondering where he left his forehead hair.  Photo from postmediacanadadotcom.files.wordpress.com

Lars is wondering where he left his forehead hair. Photo from postmediacanadadotcom.files.wordpress.com

  1. Metallica Here’s where the list really starts to take a dive.  Metallica were great.  They changed the face of metal.  But if you list the greatest British bands, you could go about 15 deep before you start having to make apologies.  Metallica has aged like the Picture of Dorian Grey, if the picture was displayed on Itunes and not hidden away in an attic.  Metallica put out three undisputed metal classics, one half-classic, one insanely popular & controversial breakthrough and then a parade of embarrassments that would make Weezer blush.  They put out an album that sounds like Lars Ulrich is playing a popcorn tin and then collaborated with Lou Reed on a project so bad that people talk about it in hushed tones.  Kids are picking the Youtube “Light yourself on fire” challenge before having to listen to “Lulu”.  Yeah, the Stones petered out too.  But at least they picked a formula to suck with.  Metallica seems to be throwing a dart against wall of ideas.  “Okay, now let’s do a Bob Seeger cover, now let’s pretend to be a band with only $30 to record, now let’s make guitars out of circus carousel horses and record in Atlantis.”

Steven Tyler going for that lucrative Cruella de Vill/Pirates Of The Caribbean/slap bracelet crossover market. Photo from i.telegraph.co.uk/

Steven Tyler going for that lucrative Cruella de Vill/Pirates Of The Caribbean/slap bracelet crossover market. Photo from i.telegraph.co.uk

  1. Aerosmith If you have to put scarves on your mic-stand to appear more interesting, you’re not a very great band.  55 year old women will take great exception to this, but Aerosmith should have stopped about 35 years ago.  They are the American Led Zeppelin, if Led Zeppelin dressed like an Avon Lady and refused to leave your door.  Their only #1 hit was from a Ben Affleck movie and wasn’t even written by them.  Still, if you’re listing American bands, you have to mention them. Like how in American history you have to mention Japanese internment camps.  

FILE - In this Sunday, April 1, 2012 file photo, from left, Gene Simmons, Eric Singer, Tommy Thayer and Paul Stanley, of the musical group KISS, arrive at the 47th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas. KISS will perform at the NHL game at Dodger Stadium on Jan. 25, 2014. The NHL said Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014 that the rock band will play during the pregame festivities and first intermission of the Stadium Series game between the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken, File)

“Wait…ACM means ‘American Country Music’ awards? I thought it meant ‘Awesome Cat Man’! Damnit, Gene!” Photo from thenypost.files.wordpress.com

  1. KISSSee what I’m getting at?  Freaking KISS made the list!  England’s killing us here.  KISS accidentally wrote a couple good songs, but mostly they just paved the way for the Insane Clown Posse.  Their collected STD count outnumbers their classic song contribution.   “Beth” is the song that plays on the elevator to Hell.  They’re the only people in the world who have taken off their Cirque du Soleil make-up and everybody collectively went “Oh Jesus!  Put it back on!”

Rare photo of Nirvana with their short-lived second guitarist, Charles Barkley. Photo by madmuseum.org/

Rare photo of Nirvana with their short-lived second guitarist, Charles Barkley. Photo by madmuseum.org

  1. Nirvana Nirvana deserves to be on this list.  Not since the British Invasion had a band changed the face of music so completely overnight.  It’s not hard to imagine copycat bands like Candlebox about to go into the studio covered from head to toe in spandex and Maybelline freaking out once they heard “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.  “Oh crap!  It’s over!  Quick, gimme that flannel!  Does anybody know how to shave a soul-patch!?  Put those boas in the garbage before Pearl Jam sees them!  Let’s get moody!”

Lynyrd Skynyrd's current line-up. Photo from s80.photobucket.com/user/Tolep8nt

Lynyrd Skynyrd’s current line-up. Photo from s80.photobucket.com/user/Tolep8nt

  1. Lynyrd Skynard Skynard is your drunk, racist uncle at the family reunion.  You can’t really kick him out but you really try to avoid him if at all possible.  Some people would put Skynard at #1 for American bands.  Those people also think Barack Obama is the Ayatollah of Iran and make moonshine in their pig trough.

Axl narrowly missed out on the role of Apollo Creed in Rocky IV. Photo from xahlee.org/

Axl narrowly missed out on the role of Apollo Creed in Rocky IV. Photo from xahlee.org

  1. Guns ‘N Roses“Appetite For Destruction” may be the greatest debut album of all-time.  It gets a little sketchy after that.  “Use Your Illusion I & II” is hard rock’s “White Album”, but it’s never a good sign when listening to “Revolution #9” is preferable over Axl doing a rap-rock industrial song about whatever it is that damn song is about. They were truly rock stars, though.  They caused riots and wore lots of biker shorts.  Unfortunately, fans keep waiting for an original line-up return that isn’t going to happen, like a Harold Camping rapture party that keeps getting moved back.

Honorable mention – Red Hot Chili Peppers, REM, Allman Brothers, Byrds, ZZ Top, The Partridge Family, The Village People, Warrant.