1. The Beatles
Origin: Liverpool, United Kingdom
Year Started: 1960
What more can anybody say about The Beatles? John, Paul, George, and Ringo became household names back in 1964. Soon they became known as the Fabulous Four or Fab Four. By the late 1960s, many people thought they were sent here to save the world. Fancy that! Perhaps their best album, Revolver, was VH1’s pick for best album of all time. Back in 1967, during the psychedelic era, many of us marveled at their enigmatic, post-acid lyrics. Some examples were: “The walrus was Paul,” “Lucy in the sky with diamonds,” “When ignorance and haste may mourn the dead.” Yeah, right, gimme a hit!
Many people believe that Yoko Ono broke them up. But, did she? Perhaps a more likely possibility is that aspirations for solo careers sent them in other directions. At any rate, we’ll probably never see their like again. But, people must try to bring them back in some fashion. Currently, the Cirque du Soleil production of Love in Las Vegas is a musical production based on the Beatles’ music.
2. Led Zeppelin
Origin: London, England
Year Started: 1968
I’ll never forget listening to the first album by Led Zeppelin. This was truly incredible music! I’d never heard anything like Jimmy Page’s searing, hyperkinetic guitar slinging or Robert Plant’s otherworldly screaming, chanting, and howling (and the other musicians were decidedly above average as well). The lead riff from the song “Dazed and Confused” is forever implanted in my gray matter—I may die contemplating it! Perhaps the band’s best album was Houses of the Holy, including its smash hits “Dancing Days,” “The Rain Song,” and “No Quarter.”
For 12 years, the Zep didn’t let me down. Although, there was a drop-off in quality material during and after the double album Physical Graffiti. That said, who can forget the tantric “Kashmir?”
3. The Rolling Stones
Origin: London, England
Year Started: 1962
In 1962, Brian Jones brought together the members of a rhythm and blues band that would become The Rolling Stones. Their list of classic albums is long, including Out of Our Heads, Aftermath, Their Satanic Majesties Request, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, and Exile on Mainstreet. Unfortunately, the band transmogrified after the death of guitarist/musicologist Brian Jones in July 1969. Some rock purists think the Rolling Stones were never as good afterwards. And, the Stones’ depressing Altamont concert in December 1969 (where a Hell’s Angel stabbed a black man to death) may also have damaged the group’s psyche.
Be that as it may, around the same time as that fateful concert, the band began trumpeting themselves as the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in the world. Evidence of this can be heard on their live album Flashpoint, released in 1991. Rock never sounded so good! At any rate, their longevity certainly speaks for itself. The band performed at the 12/12/12 Concert, highlighting a tour to celebrate 50 years of rocking out.