11 BRITISH BANDS THAT CHANGED MUSIC HISTORY
The industrial Revolution began there and it also happens to be the motherland of the most famous queen and sport (soccer as the Yanks call it) around the world. It has been the donator of the most spoken language of the modern world and the “factory” of sexy blond girls with cool accents.
It used to be a great empire before it became the 51st state of the United States (you know what I mean), has constant rainy weather, and also happens to be the birthplace of the coolest action movie star in the world, Jason Statham. However, all these things wouldn’t mean much to us if it hadn’t given the world so many great music bands during the twentieth century. We are of course referring to the UK and today we’re honoring the country that managed to invade every house around the world in the most peaceful way—its music.
It’s quite hard to write down or describe the world’s most popular, revolutionary, and successful music band in history inside half a dozen lines. Their records and accomplishments say it all: most #1 albums on both the UK and US charts, most #1 singles on the Hot 100 Billboard Charts (20), the biggest-selling music act ever with their record sales exceeding 1 billion globally. Even though I am not a fan of them, I acknowledge as every sane human should, that the band from Liverpool changed it all.
TCMAG’s Playlist: “Come Together,” “She Loves You,” “Let It Be”
How many other bands do you know where the best rock vocalist coexisted with the greatest guitar player ever? Exactly. We are talking about Robert Plant and Jimmy Page and even though such a statement might be nothing but a personal opinion after all, the fact remains that both of them are always included in every Top 3 including the greatest front men and guitar players ever.
The legendary group split up in 1980, only twelve years after they launched their mythic career while in the meantime they made sure to become the second-biggest-selling group in music history (behind the Beatles), perform live in front of millions of people around the world on their record-breaking tours, and influence a series of other great rock and roll bands such as Guns n’ Roses, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Queen, and Mötley Crüe.
TCMAG’s Playlist: “Whole Lotta Love,” “Stairway to Heaven,” “Black Dog”
Pink Floyd is one of the most commercially successful and influential rock bands of all time with record sales of more than 250 million worldwide. Their progressive, space rock, and psychedelic music influenced many other great artists including David Bowie, Queen, and Radiohead. They experimented with the notes, wrote philosophical lyrics, and included innovative cover art on pretty much every single on their albums. As for their live shows they were really one of a kind and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that their masterpiece album The Dark Side of the Moon (1973) is one of the five most important albums in music history. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005.
TCMAG’s Playlist: “Another Brick in the Wall,” “Wish You Were Here,” “Comfortably Numb”
THE ROLLING STONES
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are the definition of the term living legends. Their record sales exceed 250 million; Rolling Stone magazine ranked them fourth on the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time" list; they have released twenty-nine studio albums, eighteen live albums and numerous compilations; they have number one albums and singles on every single chart around the world; four of their tours are in the Top 15 highest-grossing concert tours, and we could keep going on and on about their achievements but in reality none of this really matters if you take into consideration one thing only: They started kicking it back in 1962 as cute teenagers and fifty-two years later, in 2014, those dirty rock and roll bastards are still kickin’ it like teenagers! Enough said!
TCMAG’s Playlist: “Gimme Shelter,” “Miss You,” “Anybody Seen My Baby?”
The BBC once described The Smiths as "the band that inspired deeper devotion than any British group since The Beatles” and without any sign of exaggeration this statement might not be that far from the truth. The Smiths formed in Manchester in 1982, heavily favored from the extremely weak era, musically speaking, that they were in, they literally had no serious competition if one takes into account that bands or artists like Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Wham!, Michael Jackson, and Madonna were supposed to be the era’s most significant artists.
In 2007, Q magazine’s Simon Goddard stated that The Smiths were “the one truly vital voice of the ’80s,” and the “first indie outsiders to achieve mainstream success on their own terms,’’ and we fully agree with his statements. Not many artists have influenced the music scene as Morrissey and The Smiths did, who were the first to treat their fans as their equals and allowed them to get onstage, hugging them, and keeping real contact with the artists they paid to watch live, contrary to the star system of the era, and every era really, that clearly separates the stars who are performing on the stage from the thousands of commoners.
TCMAG’s Playlist: “This Charming Man,” “Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now,” “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out,” “Wonderful Woman,” “This Night Has Opened My Eyes”
In the early 2000s, almost three decades after the beginning of their career and while Freddie Mercury was dead, Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" was voted "the UK's favorite hit of all time" in a poll conducted by the Guinness World Records British Hit Singles book.
Also, Queen currently holds the UK record for the biggest-selling album of all time with their Greatest Hits compilation, which has spent a total of 1,322 weeks on the UK charts and has sold over six million copies in the UK alone; astonishing stats and numbers that show the undeniable influence and success of the band throughout the years. However, nothing can overshadow Freddie Mercury’s incredible vocal skills and Brian May’s genius and crazy skills on the guitar. In our opinion, only Robert Plant and Jimmy Page can compare to them.
TCMAG’s Playlist: “We Will Rock You,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “You Don't Fool Me,” “We Are the Champions”
I was never a fan of the group or their music, but the fact is that you can’t exclude the most famous ambassadors of punk from this list.
Right, the Sex Pistols weren’t the first punk band. They weren’t even the best punk band and their music sounded like shit. They were only together for two years, and released only one album but please try to find another punk band that had such a huge impact and influence during the ‘70s or even the ‘80s. No punk band changed the course of music history more than the Sex Pistols and maybe with the exception of The Beatles and later The Smiths, no other band had such a huge social impact in the UK and the rest of the West.
Once the Sex Pistols were gone and Sid Vicious died there popped up hundreds of thousands of bands around the globe who wanted to do “their own thing” too—now that’s true legacy.
TCMAG’s Playlist: “God Save the Queen,” “Holidays in the Sun,” “Anarchy in the U.K.”
Black Sabbath formed in Birmingham back in 1968 and were meant to become the fathers of what we know today as “heavy metal.” Their lead singer Ozzy Osborne is a mythical figure with some tales including him becoming urban legends during the years. They didn’t sell as many records as Led Zeppelin or The Beatles due to their wild image and anti-commercial music, but they were ranked by MTV as the “Greatest Metal Band” of all time, and placed second on VH1's “100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock” list.
According to rock veteran William Ruhlmann, Black Sabbath influenced rock music as very few bands in history:
“Black Sabbath has been so influential in the development of heavy metal rock music as to be a defining force in the style. The group took the blues-rock sound of late ‘60s acts like Cream, Blue Cheer, and Vanilla Fudge to its logical conclusion, slowing the tempo, accentuating the bass, and emphasizing screaming guitar solos and howled vocals full of lyrics expressing mental anguish and macabre fantasies. If their predecessors clearly came out of an electrified blues tradition, Black Sabbath took that tradition in a new direction, and in so doing helped give birth to a musical style that continued to attract millions of fans decades later.”
TCMAG’s Playlist: “Paranoid,” “The Wizard,” “War Pigs”
During the 1990s the world saw many drastic changes, especially on a technological level. Electronica music and the Internet started to dominate the world; wild raves and ecstasy replaced the soft-core cocaine parties of the ‘70s and ‘80s, and video games became the biggest addiction of the younger generation, who were violently transiting from the analog world to the digital one. The Prodigy, an underground group from that era, originally made anti-commercial music; they were something like a modern version of the Sex Pistols.
They popularized the underground breakbeat hardcore sound, while their dance-punk “musical theme,” once described as “rape of your ears and soul,” wasn’t produced for the masses. However, The Prodigy became the absolute pioneers of the big beat era, which managed to achieve (miraculously really) mainstream popularity during the 1990s and 2000s.
They’ve sold over 25 million records worldwide and played live in every corner of the planet. The group has won numerous music awards throughout their career, including two Brit Awards, three MTV Video Music Awards, and five MTV Europe Music Awards.
Really, if we look all around us today at what our modern pop culture includes, from video games to movies,and from the music industry to high technology, which group influenced the world more: The Beatles or The Prodigy?
TCMAG’s Playlist: “Firestarter,” “Smack My Bitch Up,” “No Good (Start the Dance), "Breathe,” "Spitfire, "Warrior's Dance"
Deep Purple is considered the third member of the “Holy Triangle” of hard rock (and heavy metal), along with Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. With over 100 million records sold around the world and the prestigious title “the globe's loudest band” (in response to a 1972 concert at London's Rainbow Theatre), Deep Purple is undoubtedly one of the few immortal rock and roll bands.
Metallica, Queen, Aerosmith, Van Halen, Bon Jovi, Motörhead, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Def Leppard have all cited Deep Purple as one of their main influences, and some of the members who have been part of the legendary band throughout the years include Ian Gillan, Jon Lord, Ritchie Blackmore, David Coverdale, and Ian Paice.
TCMAG’s Playlist: “Child in Time,” “Smoke on the Water,” “Strange Kind of Woman”
Let’s put it this way: They didn’t call them “the only band that matters” for no reason. The Sex Pistols popularized punk as a social movement, did their thing “musically” and didn’t give a crap about anything, but The Clash showed the world that punk can produce melody, nice tunes, and can touch a more sophisticated and diverse audience.
Joe Strummer was a true rebel who had so many things to say with his music, but at the same time he picked the more melodic and mellow side of music to do so. The Clash didn’t sound quite as angry as the Sex Pistols did, but their songs were just as revolutionary socially, if not more so. They also experimented with ska, reggae, funk, and rockabilly thanks to Strummer’s multicultural early musical influences and left-leaning (self-loathing and anti-European at times) ideology, trying to attract fans this way from a more diverse racial and cultural background.
TCMAG’s Playlist: “Magnificent Seven,” “London Calling,” “Rock the Casbah,” “Should I Stay Or Should I Go”
Written by Theodoros II for TCMag