Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant singing

Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant singing ("Led Zeppelin 2203730006" by Heinrich Klaffs is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/?ref=openverse.)

Great Britain has given the world some of the most iconic musical acts of all time. From hard rock to pop and punk and new wave, bands from Britain have been setting the bar high for decades. With so much talent to choose from over several decades, it can be tough landing on the best British rock bands of all time.

The “British Invasion” is often thought of as a golden era of music to come from Britain. It was during this time, the 1960s, that the world saw an explosion of media coverage that would fan the excitement of fans from in the United States and every corner of the globe. Some of these British musical acts even went on to become some of the most internationally successful and influential rock bands of all time.

Many people even attribute the “British Invasion” as a catalyst for American rock bands to adopt some of the groovy and heavy influences that were coming from across the pond. It’s hard to imagine what American rock music would have done without some of Britain’s most experimental figures, and the best British rock bands of all time were hotbeds for talented lead singers and musicians alike.

With so many great bands to come out of Great Britain over the years, it’s hard to say which ones are the best. To narrow it down, StudyFinds went to 10 expert websites to come up with a list of the best British rock bands of all time. Tell us which one is your favorite in the comments below!

The List: Best British Rock Bands of All Time, Per Music Experts

1. The Beatles

Topping IMDb’s and Ranker’s lists of the best British rock bands of all time, it’ll be hard to top the Fab Four in the foreseeable future. The original members were Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, and the band released 12 studio albums in the United Kingdom and 17 studio albums in America. As Paste says of The Beatles, “They changed everything.”

The Beatles Albums records
Beatles vinyl record (Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash)

“Battle-hardened in the clubs of Hamburg, the fab four transformed from squeaky-clean pop sweethearts to rock monsters during the course of their career, and produced some of the best music ever made along the way,” notes Evening Standard. “They constantly pushed boundaries, took their sound to places you’d never think possible and together with pioneering producer George Martin used the studio as an instrument unlike ever before. Their story and their music are legendary, and you just can’t look past them as the greatest British rock band of all time.”

“The foursome is a musical institution that changed the landscape of the times and influenced countless other bands and artists,” writes Yardbarker. “The Beatles’ aura still has not waned, and surviving members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr continue to make music and tour, playing the songs millions fell in love with more than 50 years ago.

2. Led Zeppelin

Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page and John Bonham formed one of the most iconic rock bands to ever come out of England. They have a powerful sound and unmistakable chemistry that resulted in legendary live performances. “The band’s heavy, guitar-driven sound, rooted in blues and psychedelia on their early albums, has earned them recognition as one of the progenitors of heavy metal,” gushes TheTopTens.

Jimmy Page (left) on stage with Robert Plant (right)
Jimmy Page (left) on stage with Robert Plant (right) (“File:Jimmy Page with Robert Plant 2 – Led Zeppelin – 1977.jpg” by Jim Summaria, http://www.jimsummariaphoto.com/ is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.)

“Through their timeless songs and excellent albums, Led Zeppelin gave a new meaning to hard rock in 1968,” writes Antigua News Room. “Today, Led Zeppelin’s rock stars are still among the best with their musical brilliance remaining unrivaled.”

“Led Zeppelin gave ‘hard rock’ a new meaning,” states I Love Classic Rock. “Every single member of the band is a legend and some of the best individual musicians – they’re the crème de la crème. Together, no one could hold a candle to them. As rock gods go, they were untouchable even after all these years. Their legacy is mind-blowing – timeless classics and excellent albums. And as a live act – they sound just as good (or in some cases, even better) than the recording.”

3. Pink Floyd

England’s quintessential progressive and psychedelic rock band. Formed in 1965 (the original members were David Gilmour, Syd Barrett, Nick Mason, Roger Waters, and Richard Wright) the band has enjoyed commercial and critical success all over the world ever since.

“Pink Floyd has created some of the most accomplished and successful UK rock music ever made and always maintained a distinctively British sense of eccentricity and idiosyncrasy,” writes Evening Standard. “The prog rock legends are one of the most commercially successful British bands ever and David Gilmour remains one of the most revered guitarists of his generation too.”

“The influence that Floyd has had on bands that have come after is truly incredible,” states Yardbarker. “Whether psychedelic rock, progressive rock, alternative rock, and even some aspects of metal, Pink Floyd has been able to leave its mark with bands like Queensryche, Alice in Chains, Foo Fighters, and Pearl Jam. The band’s 1973 album The Dark Side of the Moon has spent more than 900 weeks on the Billboard 200.”

Mind-altering, aloof, and serene, Pink Floyd eludes definition, and remain mysteriously hard to encounter on their own terms,” says Midder Music. “Their music transcends the limits of what sound is capable of and indeed their lyrical voyages elevate song to the level of philosophy, metaphysics, and epistemology itself.”

4. The Rolling Stones

This British rock band has been going strong since forming in London in 1962. The original members were all wildly talented: Brian Jones, Ian Stewart, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, and Charlie Watts.

Mick Jagger
Mick Jagger (“Rolling Stones 04” by Gorup de Besanez is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.)

“Rock ‘n’ roll’s original bad boys, the Stones started off as an unlikely blues band and wound up laying the groundwork for generations to follow,” writes Paste. “Their sound is drenched in Americana, but it never feels inauthentic.”

“Nothing screams British Rock like The Rolling Stones,” states I Love Classic Rock. “More than crazy dancing on stage, or living a life of excesses, The Rolling Stones helped shape the genre. … When they were at the top of their game, they were unstoppable. When [the] British Invasion hit the US shore, they were at the frontline.”

“English rock band the Rolling Stones is one of the most popular and long-lasting rock bands in music history, giving fans six decades of hard rock sounds,” gushes Hello Music Theory. “Their chart-topping songs like ‘Paint It Black,’ ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,’ and ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ have earned Rolling Stones spots in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and UK Music Hall of Fame.”

5. Black Sabbath

With a pioneering sound and focus on darker subjects, this British rock band ushered in what would become known as “heavy metal.” The original foursome consisted of Tony Iommi, Bill Ward, Geezer Butler, and audacious singer John “Ozzy” Osbourne, who was eventually replaced by Ronnie James Dio.

Ozzy Osbourne on stage with Black Sabbath
Ozzy Osbourne on stage with Black Sabbath (blacksabbath.com)

“Ozzy Osbourne teamed up with fellow Brummies Geezer Butler, Bill Ward and Tony Iommi in the late 1960s to form the hugely influential Black Sabbath and pretty much invented heavy metal in the process,” states Evening Standard. “The group released era-defining classics like Paranoid, War Pigs and Iron Man, and influenced the outlook of British rock music more than most bands before or since.”

“Rightfully considered the fathers of heavy metal, Black Sabbath brought the occult, the iconoclastic, and the obscene to a generation weaned on the Summer of Love,” writes Midder Music. “They found solace and creative vitality in the darkness and they dove readily into the black hole of obscurantist and hermetic references, causing a mild moral panic during their first decade corrupting hearts and minds. Black Sabbath are more intelligent than many cursory listeners give them credit for, and a well-developed anti-establishment streak ran through their fare – they would make critical theorists and anarchists alike proud.”

“It’s generally acknowledged that the first true heavy metal band was Black Sabbath,” notes Yardbarker. “Though influenced heavily by the blues, Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Bill Ward played hard, often faced. Iommi’s memorable riffs and Osbourne’s distinctive voice spewing generally dark lyrics made Sabbath turn the rock world in its ears — and we’re still grateful for it all.”

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10 Comments

  1. Thomas Bohley says:

    Beatles- definitely number one. Zeppelin- definitely belongs. Stones- worthy also… but a list that doesn’t include Queen is worthless. Queen was one of the most successful, talented, and influential bands of the past century. They experimented with hundreds of different styles and have outsold all of the listed bands except the Beatles.

  2. Julie b says:

    You left off the WHO!😪

  3. Beatles4ever says:

    What a joke putting Black Sabbath on the list.
    Sure they were great but bands like Deep purple were miles ahead of them.

    1. roddy toddy says:

      not even close.. black sabbath revolutionized rock n roll, as same beatles did once. And a curious fact indeed, its that sabbath still making new fans, day by day, it includes the new gen of rock n roll fans, apart from the metal side, they conquered a huge legion of fans of all styles, since grunge, stoner, heavy, jazz (black sabbath name rendered a lot of jazzy tributes over the years)… if you saw the numbers of deep purple recent tour sounds a joke near black sabbath 2013 and 2016 reunion… black sabbath in 2013 made more money than stones!!!! black sabbath still young and innovative, meanwhile who, deep purple, stones or even zeppelin sounds a lil bit corny in this days!!! To me the 5 legendary english bands always will be: 1 beatles, 2 stones, 3 zeppelin, 4 pink floyd and 5 sabbath! then, you can add Queen, Who, Kinks, Cream, Deep Purple, Fletwood Mac, David Bowie, etc

  4. Mike says:

    Moody blues is # 1..Slade # 2..deep purple # 3..the sweet # 4.Pink Floyd # 5

    1. Ron Smith says:

      It’s The Beatles are Rolling Stones at number 1 either 1 I’m 70 years old I was there you were either a Beatles fan or a stones fan like Chevy or Ford that’s the way it was Number 3 Led Zeppelin number 4 Moody blues or flight either one however you want to do it number 5 also an extra the who does anyone remember the 1st album American album release from the who the who sell out the 1st concept rock album even before Quad. Honorable Fleetwood mac

  5. Mike says:

    The Who #5.

  6. Mike says:

    The Who #5.. Def Leopard #6

  7. Bob says:

    I actually agree with this for once. My order. Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin , Black Sabbath , Pink Floyd.

  8. John Lonsdale says:

    1 Shadows
    2 Gerry & The Pacemakers
    3 Beatles
    4 Stones
    5 Impossible to determine