Best Ten British Bands

Best Ten British Bands

  • Posted: Sep 12, 2015
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Here’s the list of the Top Ten British Bands of all time. That’s right – “Bands” – so no solo artists. Please note that in order to qualify as a band the members had to actively play musical instruments. This has ruled out almost all female pop groups such as the Spice girls, All Saints and Bananarama.

You can be absolutely certain that people are going to disagree with these rankings … and if we’d used different criteria then the order would definitely be different. This list was compiled using factors such as originality and social / cultural impact which means that some bands you might expect to see just didn’t make the cut. Also … a big factor is not just the number of #1’s a band achieved but the overall staying power and current interest based on the monthly number of searches carried out though the internet search engines – and you can’t get more democratic than that.

All figures used were based on the best available in the public domain but if you know of a more accurate figure and an official source have we’ll be happy to adjust the scores and re-rank the band. Hope you enjoy.

10. THE KINKS 1964-1996

The Kinks


Recognised as one of the most important British groups in the evolution of the UK music scene, The Kinks continue to attract interest and listeners nearly four decades after they were formed.Originally from Muswell Hill in London, The Kinks achieved tremendous success in Britain and later in America. Active between 1964 and 1996 the band was made up of Ray and Dave Davies, Pete Quaife and Mick Avory. During their career the band notched up three Number One hits in the British Charts: 'You Really Got Me' (1964), 'Tired of Waiting for You' (1965) and 'Sunny Afternoon' (1966). During their career they released a remarkable 24 studio albums and were recognised as an important part of the British invasion that made UK music so popular in the USA

   Current Interest: 49,500 /m   4.00
   Originality: Very Good 8.00
   Longevity:  32 Years 8.00
   Social Impact: High 8.00
   Record Sales: 21,000,000 0.84
   No. 1 British Hits: Three 3.00
   TOTAL SCORE:   31.84

9. OASIS 1991-2009*

OASIS 1991-2009


Oasis were formed in 1991 and rapidly rose to fame with the media often commenting on the similarities between the group and The Beatles. Long term public interest in the group has remained good but not exceptional. Throughout the band's life span it was dominated by the charismatic Gallagher brothers - Liam and Noel - from Manchester. Their sound, not wholly original but nevertheless appealing, drew its inspiration from earlier Rock bands such as The Who, Stone Roses, Bee Gees, Slade and T-Rex. Largely an Alternative Rock group, the band were labeled part of the Britpop movement even though they never wanted this association. They achieved eight Number One Hits in the UK charts which included: 'Some Might Say' (1995), 'Don't Look Back in Anger' (1996), 'D'You Know What I Mean?' (1997), 'All Around the World' (1998), 'Go Let It Out' (2000), 'The Hindu Times' (2002), 'Lyla' (2005) and 'The Importance of Being Idle' (2005). In 2010 the Guinness World Records book listed Oasis as the “Longest Top 10 UK Chart Run by a Group” in the history of music. A remarkable band that for a time dominated the British music scene.

   Current Interest: 60,000 /m   4.00
   Originality: Moderate 6.00
   Longevity:  18 Years 6.00
   Social Impact: Significant 7.00
   Record Sales: 50,000,000 2.00
   No. 1 British Hits: Eight 8.00
   TOTAL SCORE:   33.00

8. GENESIS 1967-1998 | 2006-2013

Genesis - Best British Bands


Genesis were formed in 1967 and went on to become one of the best-selling British bands of all time. The key members of the group have included: Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel. Other members included: Anthony Phillips, Chris Stewart, John Silver, John Mayhew, Mick Barnard, Steve Hackett and Ray Wilson. Early Genesis music was considered quite experimental but as time progressed the band developed a very recognisable sound based on a combination of Progressive and Symphonic Rock. Officially, the band never achieved a No. 1 hit in the UK but did develop a very large base of loyal fans. Some of the best Genesis music emerged during the first Phil Collins era and included tracks such as: 'Eleventh Earl of Mar' (1971), 'Abacab' (1981) and 'Tonight, Tonight, Tonight' (1986). The longevity of the band is remarkable and as recently as 2007 they performed live in front of 500,000 fans at the Circo Massimo in Rome, Italy.

   Current Interest: 70,000/m   4.00
   Originality: Very Good 8.00
   Longevity:  28 Years 8.00
   Social Impact: Significant 7.00
   Record Sales: 150,000,000 6.03
   No. 1 British Hits: None 0.00
   TOTAL SCORE:   33.03

7. LED ZEPPELIN 1969-1980

Led Zeppelin


Formed in London during 1968, Led Zeppelin are considered to be one of the pioneers of the Heavy Metal music genre. At the heart of the group were the music composing skills of guitarist Jimmy Page and the song writing ability of keyboardist John Paul Jones. Other members of the band included: singer, Robert Plant (pictured) and drummer John Bonham. The group never officially achieved a Number One UK hit single but had very significant commercial success with their album releases. Some of the group's most important tracks include: 'Baby I am gonna leave you' (1969), 'Since I have been loving you' (1970), 'Stairway To Heaven' (1971), 'When the Levee Breaks' (1971) and 'Kashmir' (1975). Led Zeppelin are generally accepted as the most influential Heavy Metal band of the 1970's.

   Current Interest: 683,500 /m   9.00
   Originality: Good 7.00
   Longevity:  12 Years 5.00
   Social Impact: Significant 7.00
   Record Sales: 1359000,000 5.44
   No. 1 British Hits: None 0.00
   TOTAL SCORE:   33.44

6. BLACK SABBATH 1967-1998 | 2006-2013

Black Sabbath


Black Sabbath are recognised as leaders of the Heavy Metal music movement and set many of the benchmarks by which the music genre would come to be judged over the next five decades. The band was originally made up of vocalist Ozzy Osbourne, guitarist Tony Lommi, bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward. As with both Led Zeppelin and Genesis the Band never achieved a Number One Hit in the UK charts. However, the overall support for their music was both widespread and enduring. Key tracks included: 'Black Sabbath' (1970),' Laguna Sunrise' (1972), 'Heaven & Hell' (1980) and 'The Shining' (1987). The band had a reputation for addressing occult themes with horror-inspired lyrics and social issues such as political corruption and drug abuse. Their reputation for eccentricity and for being the 'Bad Boys' of British Heavy Metal remains unchallenged.

   Current Interest: 90,500 /m   7.00
   Originality: Good 7.00
   Longevity:  38 Years 9.00
   Social Impact: High 8.00
   Record Sales: 70,000,000 2.80
   No. 1 British Hits: None 0.00
   TOTAL SCORE:   33.80

5. THE WHO 1964-1982 | 1988-1989 | 1996-2013

The Who


Created in 1964 by singer Roger Daltrey, guitarist Pete Townshend and bassist John Entwistle, The Who soon recruited drummer Keith Moon and quickly became famous in Britain with a succession of top ten hit singles. Although the band never actually achieved a number one hit in the UK many of their songs have significantly outlasted many that did. Some of The Who's most memorable songs include: 'My Generation' (1965), 'I Can See For Miles' (1967), 'Pinball Wizard' (1969), 'Baba O'Riley' (1971), 'Won't Get Fooled Again' (1971) and 'Behind Blue Eyes' (1971). At least two of the Who's songs have been used as theme tracks for the hit American TV crime drama CSI. The Who can also claim to have been involved with the production and sound tracks of four films. Two of which were classed as The Who Rock Operas. These included: Tommy (1975), Quadrophenia (1979), The Kids Are Alright (1979) and McVicar (1980). The Who, The Stones and the Beatles are sometimes referred to as the Trinity of British Rock Music.

   Current Interest: 201,000 /m   6.00
   Originality: Very Good   8.00
   Longevity:  39 Years 9.00
   Social Impact: Excellent 9.00
   Record Sales: 100,000,000 4.00
   No. 1 British Hits: None 0.00
   TOTAL SCORE:   36.00

4. QUEEN 1996-2013



One of the top three greatest bands to ever come out of London, Queen has had a phenomenal impact on the worldwide music scene. Their hit 'Bohemian Rhapsody' was recently voted the greatest British rock song of all time. The band was originally made up of Freddie Mercury, Brian May, John Deacon and Roger Taylor. Although the band is still officially active many of its fans felt that it was not complete without its front man, Freddy Mercury, who died of bronchopneumonia in 1991. The band achieved six Number One Hits in the UK charts which included: 'Bohemian Rhapsody' (1975), 'We Will Rock You' (1977), 'Under Pressure' (1981), 'Innuendo' (1991), 'These Are the Days of Our Lives' (1991) and the Extend Play single 'Five Live' (1993). Their unmistakable sound made Queen stand out from other musical offerings and is sometimes referred to as Operatic Rock - not to be confused with rock operas. During the 1980's Queen had become one of the world's largest stadium bands and were the authors of two of music's greatest rock anthems - 'We Will Rock You' (1977) and 'We Are The Champions' (1977).

   Current Interest: 140,500 /m   5.00
   Originality: Excellent 9.00
   Longevity:  21 Years 6.00
   Social Impact: High 8.00
   Record Sales: 90,400,000 3.62
   No. 1 British Hits: Six 6.00
   TOTAL SCORE:   37.60

3. PINK FLOYD 1965-1995

Pink Floyd


Renowned for their progressive and pioneering approach to Psychedelic Rock music, Pink Floyd have made a psychological connection with each new generation of music enthusiasts for nearly five decades. Currently number three in the list of Top Tten British bands they have had a huge impact both on the music industry and society as a whole. They have recently enjoyed a huge surge of interest from the hipster community and the social commentary woven throughout their music seems as relevant today as when it was written. They score extremely well for originality in both conceptual ideas and the sound of their music. Pink Floyd originated from London's underground music scene and was made up of Syd Barrett, Nick Mason, Roger Waters, and Richard Wright. David Gilmour joined in 1967 and effectively replaced Syd Barrett in who left in 1968. Over the lifes pan of the band they achieved only one UK Number One Hit - 'Another Brick in the Wall' (1979). However this was offset by a widespread popularity for all their music that has seen record sales steadily climb into the hundreds of millions.

   Current Interest: 823,500 /m   4.00
   Originality: Excellent 4.00
   Longevity:  30 Years 8.00
   Social Impact: Excellent 8.00
   Record Sales: 111,500,000 0.84
   No. 1 British Hits: One 1.00
   TOTAL SCORE:   41.46


The Rolling Stones


The Rolling Stones are the longest surviving British band and have been recording music for over 51 years. The band was originally made up of Brian Jones (guitar & harmonica), Mick Jagger (lead vocals), Keith Richards (guitar & backing vocals) Ian Stewart (piano), Bill Wyman (bass) and Charlie Watts (drums). Although their music is said to have originally drawn its inspiration from pure Rhythm and Blues it quickly evolved into a more popular Hard Rock genre with Blues overtones. Considered by almost all reviewers as the second most important band in the history of British music, the Rolling Stones have come to represent the persistence and longevity of truly original and grass-roots inspired songs. Over the course of their career the band has had eight Number One Hits in the UK Charts. These are: 'It's All Over Now' (1964), 'Little Red Rooster' (1964), 'The Last Time' / 'Play With Fire' (1965), '(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction' / 'The Spider and the Fly' (1965), 'Get Off of My Cloud' / 'I'm Free' (1965), "Paint It, Black" / 'Stupid Girl' (1966), 'Jumpin' Jack Flash' (1968) and 'Honky Tonk Woman' / 'You Can't Always Get What You Want' (1969). In 2008 they were ranked 4th on the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time" list by Rolling Stone Magazine.

   Current Interest: 165,500 /m   5.00
   Originality: Excellent  9.00
   Longevity:  52 Years 10.00
   Social Impact: Excellent 9.00
   Record Sales: 92,000,000 3.66
   No. 1 British Hits: Eight 8.00
   TOTAL SCORE:   44.66

1. THE BEATLES 1960-1970

The Beatles


By far the undisputed champions of British music, The Beatles remain legends even three decades after the band broke up. Formed in Liverpool in 1960 they became, and remain, the most influential band of the Rock era and are credited with introducing more pop-music innovations than any other group in the world.

The final Beatles line-up as of 1962 consisted of John Lennon (guitar, keyboards), Paul McCartney (guitar, keyboards, drums), George Harrison (Lead Guitar, sitar, ukulele), and Ringo Starr - Richard Starkey (drums). Unusual for the time, all the band members contributed to the both vocals and the process of song writing.

The Beatles remain the best-selling band in both the UK and the USA. During the course of their relatively short career they achieved an incredible 17 Number One Hits in the UK charts. These included: 'From Me to You' (1963, 'She Loves You' (1963), 'I Want to Hold Your Hand' (1963), 'Can't Buy Me Love' (1964), 'A Hard Day's Night' (1964), 'I Feel Fine' (1964), 'Ticket to Ride' (1965), 'Help!' (1965), 'We Can Work It Out' / 'Day Tripper' (1965), 'Paperback Writer' (1966), 'Eleanor Rigby' / 'Yellow Submarine' (1966), 'All You Need is Love' (1967), 'Hello, Goodbye' (1967), 'Lady Madonna' (1968), 'Hey Jude' (1968), 'Get Back' (1969) and 'The Ballad of John and Yoko' (1969).

A short test conducted in 2012 revealed that most British people between the ages of 40 and 60 (even those that weren't Beatles fans) could actually recall and repeat the tunes of at least 80% of all the Beatles Number One Hits including being able to remember at least part of the lyrics.

The originality of The Beatles has been described as extraordinary and never again repeated on the same scale. The exact source of their unique musical style is said to have originated from a combination of skiffle and 1950s rock and roll. The truth is that the evolution of their 'sound' into pop ballads and Psychedelic Rock remains something of a mystery. They are credited with unintentionally introducing the word 'Beatlemania' to the English language and were pivotal in making UK music popular in the USA.

   Current Interest: 636,500 /m   9.00
   Originality: Excellent 10.00
   Longevity:  10 Years 4.00
   Social Impact: Outstanding 10.00
   Record Sales: 250,000,000 10.00
   No. 1 British Hits: Seventeen 17.00
   TOTAL SCORE:   60.00
Image Credits: The Kinks: Unknown | Oasis – Shutterstock Images (C) | Genesis – Andrew Bossi – Creative Commons | Led Zeppelin – Shutterstock Images (C) | Black Sabbath – Martin Johannessen | The Who – Voice of America (C) | Queen – Shutterstock Images (C) | Pink Floyd – Shutterstock Images (C) | Rolling Stones – Shutterstock Images (C) | The Beatles – Shutterstock Images (C)