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.
The Grateful Dead
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.
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.
Steve Miller Band
The American blues-rock band led by Steve Miller was formed in 1966 in San Francisco, California. The band's lead singer and guitarist, Steve Miller, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016. The band had evolved over the years from being mostly blues-rock to a more pop-oriented sound which, from the mid-1970s through the early 1980s, resulted in a series of highly popular singles and albums.
Steve Miller was also a smart and savvy businessman; capitalizing on the fact that songs earn individual royalties no matter how long or short they are, he took the 57-second electronic intro from the popular song "Sacrifice," named it "Electro Lux Imbroglio" and went on to make thousands of extra dollars as a result.
Recommended Listening: Steve Miller Band's "The Joker" was an iconic song released in 1973, with a groove and feel that moves us today just as much as it did in the '70s; this one is a true classic that just about everyone that has a TV or radio has heard at least once and would immediately recognize.
As one of the pioneering bands of the psychedelic rock genre, Jefferson Airplane headlined the Monterey, Woodstock, Altamont, and Isle of Wight festivals and went on to be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as well as receiving a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016. The band's lineup consisted of Marty Balin, Paul Kantner, Grace Slick, and Jorma Kaukonen, who all contributed to the vocals, Jack Casady on the bass, and Spencer Dryden manning the drums.
After 1972, the band fell apart and was split into two separate bands, Hot Tuna, and Jefferson Starship, with the latter achieving great commercial success and releasing ten gold and platinum-selling albums.
Recommended Listening: The band’s highest-rated and most popular song, "Somebody to Love," is, in our opinion, the absolute pinnacle of the band's musical lineup, with a more aggressive, catchy, and potent melody and lyrics than any of their other songs.