The Big Five, I call them, are the greatest groups in the history of popular music. There are five bands that have stood out for me and have had the biggest impact on popular music since the 1950s. I will list them in order of the number of albums and singles they have sold in the world.
First, The Beatles (1960-1970) sold the most albums of any artist in popular music history, all of which were celebrated around the world.
Second, Led Zeppelin (1968-1980; Reunion 1985, 1988, 1995 and 2007) is known as the originator of heavy metal music. Because of their success, they were able to negotiate higher royalties than even the Beatles before them. After the death of drummer John Bonham in 1980, the band ended unexpectedly.
Third, Pink Floyd. Pink Floyd is arguably the most successful progressive rock band in musical history. “Hey You”, “Comfortably Numb”, “Another Brick In The Wall Part II”, “Money”, “Wish You Were Here” and “Shine on You Crazy Diamond Parts 1-4” have made them well known to the world. . They started out as an underground band in London nightclubs and under the direction of Syd Barret their early music was greeted with enthusiasm and ranked among the greatest art rock music in history. After Syd left in the late 1960s due to failing sanity, Roger Water took over the group’s leadership and made Pink Floyd known for who they are today.
Fourth, the Rolling Stones. The Rolling Stones arrived in America a year after the Beatles in the early 1960s. They established themselves as a popular rhythm and blues group, with rock elements implemented in their music. They were influenced, like many bands, by the Beatles and became very good friends with them. The Rolling Stones are known today for their mega tours and hold the record for some of the greatest concert tours in the history of popular music. Their hit songs, âPaint It Blackâ, âStart Me Upâ, âMiss Youâ, âHappyâ, âBeast of Burdenâ, âLast Timeâ, among others, were celebrated all over the world.
Finally the fifth group that I put in the big five, Queen. Queen was defined by Freddie Mercury, a natural leader. Together with guitarist Brian May they have created some of the best songs in rock. “We Are The Champions”, “We Will Rock You”, “Another One Bites The Dust”, “Your My Best Friend”, “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Stone Cold Crazy”. They still perform today without Freddie and are successful in America and around the world. Guitarist Brian May is perhaps one of the few rock guitarists to hold a doctorate. In mid-2008 Brian May completed his PhD in Astrophysics at Imperial College London, well done.
I find these bands to be the best rock bands in musical history, not just because of the massive sales of their albums, but the massive success of their longevity beyond their creation. If you notice, they are all of English origin. They brought this music to the United States and the bands were influenced by it and they are now inspiring the younger generations in rock and pop music. They are my favorite bands and that’s why they are known to me as âthe Big Fiveâ.