Despite their on-stage antics and entertaining car videos, ZZ Top’s amped-up blues-rock is the real reason fans are traveling in droves to this day just to watch the band play live. Hailing from Houston, Texas, ZZ Top is considered to be one of the best blues-inspired rock bands of all time. The band has since progressed to new wave, punk rock, and dance-rock and has often been credited for hiding humorous lyrics in their songs using innuendos.
ZZ Top’s music has won them several awards, from being named “Official Heroes for the State of Texas” to getting inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.
Recommended Listening: Without a doubt, the band’s most popular song of all time is “La Grange,” a homage to the famous Texas brothel from Tres Hombres. This one’s a classic that you don’t want to miss, and probably can’t since it is still often played on the radio and TV to this day.
They are spies in the house of love. The Doors are one of those bands that somehow managed to create a completely new sound. With smooth, jazz-like tones and a true passion for timeless songs, the band is one that many fans still swear by and listen to on a daily basis, and for good reason.
Jim Morrison’s chilling poetry, combined with Ray Manzarek’s brilliant performance on the keyboard and bass, helped create some of the most unique and memorable songs in the 20th century. Unfortunately, the band broke up not long after Jim Morrison's passing in 1971.
Recommended Listening: Our two favorite Doors songs are “People Are Strange” and “The Spy.” The chilling but relatable lyrics and tones of the former are contrasted brilliantly with the more suave and mysterious feel of the latter. Give them both a listen, and you'll see how the band built such a raving fanbase.
Jimi Hendrix is perhaps one of the most iconic and legendary guitarists, singers, and songwriters of all time. Though the musician's mainstream career only lasted for roughly four years, he quickly became regarded as one of history's most important artists and most influential guitarists of the 20th century. He was described by The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as "the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music."
Hendrix was inspired by rock and roll and electric blues, often favoring overdriven amplifiers with high volume and gain. He was one of the first guitarists to popularize effects such as fuzz tone, wah-wah, and phasing.
Recommended Listening: It's hard to narrow Jimmy Hendrix’s musical library to just one recommendation, but we believe the safe bet for any newcomer to his music would be the classic "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)." The song was released shortly after Hendrix's death and quickly shot to #1 in the UK. The song has since been played around 10 billion times on classic rock radio.
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, also known simply as CSN (and later CSNY), was a vocal rock group from Los Angeles that used complex vocal harmonies. The band was comprised of American singer and songwriters David Crosby and Stephen Stills, as well as English singer-songwriter Graham Nash. CSN was often at the center of various political activism topics, especially the Vietnam War, and had a lasting influence on American culture and music. The group was eventually inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The key members, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, were also inducted for other side musical projects. The group has been on hiatus as of 2019. Just another one of their various breaks, which sometimes lasted over years at a time, caused by conflicts within the group. When asked about the possibility of the group returning for another album, one member said: "I think CSNY has every chance of getting together again. I'm not against it. There's been a lot of bad things happen[ing] among us, and many things have to be settled. But that's what brothers and families are all about. We'll see what happens. I'm open. I don't think I'm a major obstacle."
Recommended Listening: CSNY's famous "Wooden Ships," tells the captivating tale of survival in a nuclear holocaust. Written at the height of the Vietnam War and during the nuclear arms race between the United States and Soviet Russia, the song describes the consequence of an apocalyptic nuclear war. The song was co-written with Jefferson Airplane's Paul Kanter, who said that they "imagined [them]selves as the few survivors, escaping on a boat to create a new civilization" when writing the song.
Also from Los Angeles, the Byrds were a psychedelic pop, rock, and folk band that was popular for their blend of harmonious singing and McGuinn's 12-string guitar. The band is known for pioneering folk-rock in the mid-’60s by combining the influences of the Beatles with other traditional folk counterparts. The band underwent many frequent changes in its lineup of members, with only Roger McGuinn staying from the start until the band's disbandment in 1973.
The Byrds' final album was released in 1973, and many of the band's former members went on to have their own successful careers in other musical ventures. The band was eventually inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, leading to the band's last ever live performance together.
Recommended Listening: The Byrds' last hit song was considered both ahead of its time and extremely confusing. "Eight Miles High" is a complex psychedelic jazz journey through highs and lows.