There are many ways to rank the most famous bands of all time, such as by sales, awards, influence, or popularity. Different sources may have different criteria and opinions on this topic, so there is no definitive answer. However, based on some searches, here are some possible candidates for the 10 most famous bands of all time:
#1. The Beatles – Certified Sales: 290,4 Million
Without a doubt, they’re the top dog of the music industry. The Fab Four from Liverpool have been an unstoppable force since their formation in 1960 and the influence they’ve had on pop culture is still felt to this day. Their dozen studio albums are some of the most beloved in history, with hits like “She Loves You,” “Hey Jude,” and “Let It Be” all classics that define a generation.
Over 236,387,564 records by The Be were sold, including 147,615,000 in the US and 19,920,000 in the UK. SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND, which sold over 32,000,000 copies, is THE BEATLES’ best-selling record.
2. Rolling Stones – Certified Sales: 240 Million
Rolling Stones ain’t no joke. These British badasses have been rockin’ since 1962, and they ain’t gonna stop anytime soon. They’ve made some of the most iconic songs of all time, from “Satisfaction” to “Sympathy for the Devil.” Hell, even their lesser-known tracks are still bangers. Add in a series of badass live performances and you can see why these cats got to where they’re at today.
They have sold more than 240 million albums globally throughout the course of their career. After the Beatles, they are listed by Billboard as the second greatest performer of all time. The Rolling Stones have amassed 37 top-10 albums (including 9 No. 1 albums) and 8 No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 songs.
3. Led Zeppelin – Certified Sales: 142.4 Million
These rockers have been influential ever since they formed in 1968 and they’ve cranked out some of the most recognizable tunes ever to grace the airwaves. From “Stairway to Heaven” to “Kashmir,” Zeppelin has been a mainstay on rock playlists for decades now and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. If you haven’t heard their music, it’s time to get acquainted with one of the original purveyors of hard-hitting rock ‘n’ roll.
Led Zeppelin, one of the most legendary rock bands of all time, has achieved remarkable sales success throughout their career. As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, Led Zeppelin’s total certified sales worldwide exceed 142.4 million units. However, it’s important to note that the exact number may have changed since then, as the band’s popularity continues to endure and their albums remain highly sought after by fans around the globe.
4. AC/DC – 200 million albums
It’s hard to find a rock fan who hasn’t heard of these Aussie bad boys. With heavy-hitting riffs, earworm choruses, and some of the best concert energy of all time, AC/DC has been a powerhouse in the music industry since their formation in 1973. As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, AC/DC’s total certified sales worldwide are estimated to be over 200 million units. It’s worth noting that this number may have changed since then, as the band’s popularity remains strong, and their timeless rock anthems continue to resonate with fans across generations.
5. Queen – 86.5 million certified records
If you’ve ever flipped through a list of greatest bands of all time, you’ve probably seen Queen near the top. This British group has been making music since 1971 and they’re still going strong. With anthems like “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Will Rock You,” and “Another One Bites the Dust” under their belt, it’s easy to see why Queen is a classic rock favorite.
6. Metallica – more than 125 million albums were sold worldwide
These thrash metal legends have been shredding since 1981. With albums like Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets, and …And Justice for All, Metallica have made their mark on the metal world and beyond. Even if you don’t consider yourself a metal head, there’s no denying their influence on the music industry. From the opening chords of “Enter Sandman” to the searing solos of “Master of Puppets,” Metallica’s music ignites a fire within, propelling you into a realm of pure sonic euphoria. Their infectious energy and unwavering commitment to their craft have earned them legions of devoted fans across the globe.
7. Pink Floyd – 250 million records
Psychedelic rockers Pink Floyd formed in 1965 and they are still regarded as one of the most influential bands of all time. With albums like The Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall, they paved the way for progressive rock that has been hugely influential in the decades since. Pink Floyd is without a doubt one of the greatest bands to ever exist. Over 250 million recordings have been sold by the group worldwide, including 75 million in the US.
8. Nirvana – Certified Sales: 30 Million
Grunge pioneers Nirvana changed music history when they broke out into mainstream success in 1991 with their seminal album Nevermind. Led by singer-song writer Kurt Cobain, Nirvana created some of the most iconic songs of the alternative era and their influence can still be felt today.
9. Guns N’ Roses – Certified Sales: 80 Million
Guns N’ Roses burst onto the music scene in Los Angeles during the mid-1980s, born out of the city’s vibrant rock ‘n’ roll underground. Their unique blend of hard rock, punk attitude, and bluesy swagger immediately caught the attention of fans and critics alike. With Axl Rose’s captivating vocals, Slash’s blistering guitar solos, and the band’s rebellious energy, Guns N’ Roses quickly carved a path to stardom.
It was their groundbreaking debut album, “Appetite for Destruction,” released in 1987, that catapulted Guns N’ Roses into global fame. The record unleashed an explosive collection of hits, including “Sweet Child o’ Mine,” “Welcome to the Jungle,” and “Paradise City.” With its raw, gritty sound and honest lyrics, “Appetite for Destruction” became an instant classic and remains one of the best-selling albums of all time.
Speaking of sales, Guns N’ Roses has achieved tremendous success in terms of certified sales. As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, the band’s total certified sales worldwide are estimated to exceed 100 million units. Their influence and popularity have stood the test of time, captivating multiple generations of rock enthusiasts.
10 – The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys were formed in 1961 in Hawthorne, California, by the Wilson brothers – Brian, Dennis, and Carl – along with their cousin Mike Love and friend Al Jardine. Inspired by their love for the beach culture and the harmonies of vocal groups, they crafted a unique sound that blended rock ‘n’ roll, doo-wop, and lush harmonies, capturing the carefree spirit of California.
Their breakthrough came in the early 1960s when they achieved international fame with their chart-topping hit “Surfin’ USA.” This surf-rock anthem propelled them into the spotlight and marked the beginning of their meteoric rise to stardom. The Beach Boys’ distinctive sound, characterized by layered harmonies and infectious melodies, resonated with audiences across the world.