London’s 10 Most Famous Bands

List of 10 famous and influential London bands:

Often hailed as one of the most influential cities for popular culture in the whole world, it’s unsurprising that London has spawned a fair few notable bands over the years. Just choosing 10 London bands to mention in this list seemed a bit of a tall order. This isn’t a top ten either. I’m not grading or rating the bands. Hey, I don’t even really like some of them! Because of the sheer number of famous bands to emerge from the UK’s capital, it’s hard to pick out certain artists, so I set a few rules:

  • Famousness. You have heard of all of these bands. Or you really should have.
  • Sales. They have all done quite well all over the world. Substitute the word ‘quite’ for ‘ outrageously’.
  • Sound. If you can’t capture the whole sound of a city, you can at least get a snapshot. There’s a fairly good snapshot right here of about 40 years worth of music history. So all that considered I did pretty well in narrowing it down!
  • They’re actual bands: No boy bands, no solo artists. Actual instruments are played. Them’s the rules!

Influential London bands in 60s and 70s:

The Rolling Stones

Fronted by co-founders and stalwarts Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, The Rolling Stones continues to thunder like a dinosaur releasing albums and performing on tours. The band celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, with a greatest hits album and two new tracks. Incredibly well received, The Rolling Stones is one of those bands that still fascinates, thanks in part to the mythos and wild tales that have grown around the band over the years, but also some amazing music.

The Who

The ultimate festival band, The Who rose to prominence in the mid 1960s and kept going in earnest until the early eighties. It was the band’s experimental forays that would gain them notoriety, however, with such projects as their rock opera, Tommy. The Who were probably the band that has the most influence on other rock bands of the 1960s and 1970s, from Led Zeppelin to The Clash, as well as later bands of the Brit pop wave in the 90s, such as Blur.

Led Zeppelin

Very few bands can claim to have the reach of influence of Led Zeppelin, as nearly every London guitar shop plays host to someone test driving a new instrument to Stairway To Heaven. The hard, blues rock riffs were unlike anything else in the early-70s, making them one of the most enduring British bands for popularity ever.

Queen

Pompous, pretentious, silly and wonderful, it’s hard not to have real fondness for the overblown antics of Queen. It was perhaps the sad loss of Freddie Mercury in 1991 that reminded people just how many songs had become part of the soundtrack of their lives. Although I had got to the stage where if I heard Bohemian Rhapsody one more time I would have gone postal.

queen logo wallpaper
Logo wallpaper of band Queen

The Sex Pistols

The ultimate British punk band, The Sex Pistols epitomised the angst and frustrations of the UK’s disenfranchised youth. The effect the band had on the musical landscape of Britain in the late 70s, particularly in the summer of 1977, was like a force of nature. The successes centred around the release of ‘God Save The Queen’ at the time of Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee.

sex pistols logo wallpaper
Logo wallpaper of punk band Sex Pistols

Influential London bands in 80s:

Madness

The giants of Two-Tone Ska, Madness were one of the biggest British bands in the early 1980s. It was their fun loving, lively stage personas, solid production and, above all, catchy hits that ensured their success. Tracks like ‘Our House’ and ‘House of Fun’ are forever ingrained onto the nation’s collective memories thanks to rotational airplay and adverts.

Pet Shop Boys

From their humble beginnings of meeting in a Chelsea electronics shop in 1981, Chris Lowe and Neil Tennant have become the most successful two-piece band to come from the UK. As well as selling 50 million albums all over the world, the group’s successes also include the film It Couldn’t Happen Here and the stage musical Closer To Heaven.

Pet Shop Boys logo
Logo wallpaper of band Pet Shop Boys

Influential London bands in 90s:

Blur

As one of the key Britpop bands of the 90s, Blur attracted worldwide attention with their thoughtful lyrics and apathetic delivery. The band formed when Alex James met longtime friends Graham Coxon and Damon Albarn at Goldsmith’s College, London. It was the single Parklife that gave the band its first big smash, followed by Girls & Boys, reflecting the very Britishness of the group.

Groove Armada

Known for playing around with musical styles like jazz, funk and rock, Groove Armada’s foot tapping type of pop has been followed by their fans for more than 10 years. Groove Armada is made up of London musicians Tom Findlay and Andy Cato. It was their hits I See You Baby and Superstylin’ that really made their name among the music buying public.

Coldplay

Love ’em or hate ’em, Coldplay is perhaps one of the most successful British bands in recent years. It was at University College London that guitarist Jonny Buckland first met Chris Martin. As other members joined, the band chose a few terrible names such as Pectoralz and Starfish. Considering those choices, Coldplay isn’t a bad name.

Author:

Peter Shorney writes about popular culture, with a particular fondness for the 1960s.

Images by smorioo.deviantart.com

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