1. The Beatles
The most popular and influential rock act of all time, a band that blazed several new trails for popular music.
Essential Album: Revolver (1966)
2. Bob Dylan
Iconic singer/songwriter and musical wanderer who rose to prominence during the ’60s folk revival and changed the world of music.
Essential Album: Highway 61 Revisited (1965)
3. The Velvet Underground
The quintessential bohemian New York band of the ’60s that fused art, rock, and poetry in a fashion that proved incalculably influential.
Essential Album: The Velvet Underground And Nico (1967)
4. The Beach Boys
One of the most influential acts of the rock era, purveyors of both infectious surf music and sophisticated baroque/psychedelic pop.
Essential Album: Pet Sounds (1966)
5. The Jimi Hendrix Experience
The greatest rock guitarist of all time, with a raw, blues-influenced style that brought fire and emotion to rock music unseen before or since.
Essential Album: Are You Experienced (1967)
6. Led Zeppelin
Acknowledged as the most successful and influential band of the heavy rock era, with a catalogue that continues to inspire.
Essential Album: Led Zeppelin II (1969)
7. The Rolling Stones
The premier British rock band for over half a century, creators of the sound and style imitated by countless groups.
Essential Album: Let It Bleed (1969)
8. The Doors
Mystical blues-based rock group based around the dark poetry and shamanic presence of Jim Morrison.
Essential Album: The Doors (1967)
9. King Crimson
Spurred on by Robert Fripp’s innovative guitar work, arguably the definitive exponents of British progressive rock.
Essential Album: In The Court Of The Crimson King (1969)
10. Van Morrison
Soulful Irish singer/songwriter who combines folk, gospel, R&B, rock, and jazz, often with a mystical bent.
Essential Album: Astral Weeks (1968)
One of the best West Coast folk/psych bands and producers of the seminal Forever Changes, a symphonic explosion of lush textures and surreal lyrics.
Essential Album: Forever Changes (1967)
12. The Kinks
An early highlight of the British Invasion that artfully chronicled British life past and present, fueled by the songwriting genius of Ray Davies.
Essential Album: The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society (1968)
13. John Coltrane
The supreme jazz icon of the late 20th century, whose transition from devoted traditionalist to radical innovator made him the preeminent stylist in jazz.
Essential Album: A Love Supreme (1965)
14. The Who
An explosive combo that pioneered progressive and arena rock, each new sound increasing their influence and legacy.
Essential Album: Tommy (1969)
15. The Band
The former Bob Dylan backing band that ushered in the roots rock of the ’70s, embodying Americana in a way that no one else has approached.
Essential Album: The Band (1969)
16. Pink Floyd
One of the most predominant and celebrated rock bands of all time, prog- and space-rock legends, known for superlative musicianship.
Essential Album: The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn (1967)
17. The Zombies
Popular British Invasion beat group who also redefined the concept of the rock album with their chamber pop masterpiece Odessey and Oracle.
Essential Album: Odessey And Oracle (1968)
18. Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band
Influential figure who fused disparate forms (free jazz, the avant-garde, blues, rock) into a highly original and nearly unclassifiable style.
Essential Album: Trout Mask Replica (1969)
19. Charles Mingus
A legendary composer, innovator, and bass virtuoso who articulated contemporary emotional currents as well as anyone in jazz.
Essential Album: The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady (1963)
The first and best power trio, whose brand of highly amplified, free-form playing took blues and rock in new directions.
Essential Album: Disraeli Gears (1967)