The Greatest Rock Band of All Time
What is the greatest Rock band of all time? That questioned has spawned numerous radio and TV talk shows, several MTV and VH1 top 100 countdowns, and hours of debate amongst Rock music lovers.
Perspective is very important in looking at the prowess of a Rock band. Album sales is one facet of the answer, gross income is another, number of Grammy Awards is a third, and concert ticket sales is a fourth.
The Beatles and Elvis Presley both top the album sales all time list. Accurate worldwide numbers aren’t available because bootleg copies and internet sharing makes it difficult to be exact. Legitimate sales through outlets who report to the industry put both of these artists past the one billion albums sold milestone.
The Eagles who had their greatest hits album make more money than almost every other album ever released deserved to be mentioned as the greatest band for this feat. Although their total sales are lacking in comparison to the billion plus sellers, the strength of that one album at least get them an honorable mention.
Total income for a band is nearly impossible to gauge. What counts into gross sales? Merchandise, product endorsements, video games, concert tickets, movie revenues and albums are all elusive numbers individually. They could also all be included under a bands total lifetime earnings.
Concert ticket sales for bands such as Pink Floyd and Led Zepplin were higher per show than most other Rock musicians. However, The Grateful Dead, Rolling Stones, and Phish have sold lots of tickets for many years. Once again picking a winner is difficult.
Per show sales average isn’t a good measure. A band that toured for five years of sold out shows then fizzled, doesn’t compare to selling well for over 40 years like the Rolling Stones. Also, dollar value of tickets isn’t a good indicator unless the amount of revenue is adjusted to account for inflation.
Grammy Awards cloud the best Rock band picture even further. U2 has 22 Grammy’s the most total awards. Lenny Kravitz has 4 Male Rock Vocalist awards and is the only artist to win that one category as many times. Carlos Santana won eight awards in 2000 amongst the Male Solo Artist categories.
No clear winner emerges when looking at awards because one can’t say that winning in a particular category is more important than winning in another and that doesn’t even include total number of nominations which for many of the top Rock bands is in the sixties or seventies.
Finally, Metallica has to be considered as the greatest Rock band of all time for one reason. They are the only band to have five of their albums debut in the number one spot on the Billboard Rock charts.