Grateful Dead’s psychedelic rock, which contained elements of country, folk, gospel, and blues, was the type of music that “touches on ground that most other groups don’t even know exists.” The band’s fans often called “Deadheads” would travel to see the band in as many shows and festivals as they possibly could. The band was founded in San Fransisco during the mid-60s by lead guitarist Jerry Garcia, singer Bob Weir (also on rhythm guitar and vocals), and others.
Following the death of Garcia in 1995, other members of the band continued touring under different names, such as “The Other Ones” and “The Dead.” The Grateful Dead was ranked 57 in Rolling Stone’s ‘100 Greatest Artists of All Time list.
Recommended Listening: The band’s most popular song, “Casey Jones,” is iconic to even non-Deadheads. It was inspired by an actual train engineer named Casey Jones and is the band’s most universally recognized song to this day.
Founded in 1972 by the duo Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, Steely Dan is a unique rock band that blends everything from jazz to reggae, pop, and even Latin and blues. The two members have recorded their albums with a large cast of musicians. Early on in their careers, the band members chose to retire from live performances and become a mostly studio-album band in 1974. They were described by Rolling Stones as "the perfect musical antiheroes for the Seventies."
The duo’s musical style puts great emphasis and attention on the individual sound of each instrument, leading to a diverse sound that's often considered "jazzy" and relaxing. The band disbanded in 1981 and has since gained a cult following. Since their reunion in 1993, the band has changed its performance policy and has toured steadily and released two new albums, one of which earned a Grammy Award for Album of the Year. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001 and sold over 40 million albums worldwide. Walter Becker, one of the band's two key members, passed away in 2017, leaving Fagen as the only official member of the band.
Recommended Listening: If you ask anyone, Steely Dan's "Deacon Blues" is one of the band's best songs. At 7 and a half minutes, it takes you on a jazzy adventure that's sad, cynical, and emotionally uplifting - all at the same time. If you like Deacon Blues, you'd love the rest of the band's material.
Widely credited for restoring hard rock to the front and center of the music scene, Van Halen was known for its energetic shows, and incredible lead guitarist, Eddie Van Halen, and by the early '80s, the California band became one of the most successful rock acts of all time.
The band has sold around 80 million albums worldwide and had the most number-one hits of any band on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart. Unfortunately, the band is also known for much soap-opera drama surrounding its members. Both lead singers, David Lee Roth, and Sammy Hagar were the focus of many controversies and contrasting statements between band members.
Recommended Listening: Our personal favorite from Van Halen is their instrumental track, "Eruption." An incredible feat of guitar virtuoso, the song introduced many of the band's musical inventions, including two-handed tapping, rapid flutter picking, whammy bar tricks, and more. 'Eruption' made guitar tapping a popular skill that decades of rock and metal enthusiasts practice to this day.
Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band
Known for his classic, raspy, and powerful voice, Bob Seger is a roots rocker who wrote and recorded timeless songs that deal with love, women, and blue-collar themes. The singer, songwriter, and musician's career has been around for a lot longer than most people reading this, spanning almost 60 years since his debut in 1961.
After years of performing, Seger finally found commercial success with his 1976 album, "Night Moves". The album was a hit, selling over 6 million copies in the U.S. by 2006. A small piece of less-known trivia is that Lincoln Park, Michigan, declared November 17 as "Bob Seger Day" for Seger's contributions and being the voice of the city and the entire generation.
Recommended Listening: Written by Bob Seger after a tough tour in 1972, "Turn the Page" was the singer and songwriter's way of pouring his feelings of frustration for having little to show for his work after years of work as a musician. The song is moving, relatable, and tugs on you exactly where and when you need it the most.
When you think of grunge, the first band that comes to mind has to be Nirvana. Formed in 1987 in Aberdeen, Washington, by lead singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain, the band went on to become a massive success and established itself as the best grunge band of all time. The band found international mainstream success with their single "Smells Like Teen Spirit," which sold over 30 million copies and elevated Cobain to the unofficial "spokesman" of the generation he was representing.
The band included other highly talented members, such as the legendary drummer Dave Grohl, who went on to found the popular Foo Fighters following Kurt Cobain's death and the band's breakup in 1994. Nirvana was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014 - the first year they were eligible for it. The band was also ranked as one of the greatest musical groups of all time by various music magazines.
Recommended Listening: While almost everyone recognizes Nirvana instantly when listening to “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” their musical library goes far deeper, which is why we recommend "Heart-Shaped Box" to anyone who's interested in Nirvana. In the song, we meet Cobain at his most haunting and disturbing, with a lyrical-melodic combination that makes the song hard to stomach but deeply rewarding and engaging, which is what grunge is all about.