Everybody knows who Joan Jett is, and once she left the famous all-female rock band, The Runaways, she went on to form the Blackhearts in 1981. The Blackhearts were made of Ricky Byrd, Lee Crystal, and Gary Ryan. The band went on to release great albums during the ’80s, with their single “I Hate Myself for Loving You” reaching the Top Ten charts in 1988.
The Blackhearts’ fame continued throughout the ’80s, but by the 1990s, they had significantly slowed down. Joan Jett, however, is still one of the most iconic American punk rock figures in music history.
Recommended Listening: Definitely go for their smash hit, “I Hate Myself for Loving You”.
Southern rock band, The Drive-By Truckers was formed by original members Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley in 1996. The band gained nationwide fame with their 2001 album, 'Southern Rock Opera,' which is a mix of sound effects (including a car wreck and a plane crash), mentions of teenage chastity belts and George Wallace, and just incredible music.
Once guitarist and songwriter Jason Isbell joined the band, they released a critically-acclaimed album called 'Decoration Day.' Drive-By Truckers went on to record darker, more hardcore rock music in the following years. Most of all, the Truckers deserve recognition because they gave life and pride to Southern rock while acknowledging the controversial past of their region.
Recommended Listening: When it comes to the Drive-By Truckers, you might want to stick to their first album, 'Southern Rock Opera.' Every song is a musical masterpiece.
Sonic Youth was founded back in 1981, by Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo, and Kim Gordon, in New York City. The three members would remain in the band throughout its history, and they certainly made rock history.
Using alternative tunings and feedback, Sonic Youth invented a new guitar sound that was simply exhilarating. After the release of their first album, 'Confusion is Sex,' in 1983, they gained a massive fan base and continued to climb the rock charts. Five years later, in 1988, they released 'Daydream Nation,' which was a huge commercial hit, along with their 'Goo' and 'Dirty' albums, released in the early '90s. The band had a nice run until 2001 when they officially disbanded.
Recommended Listening: While we would argue that any Sonic Youth album should be listened to, we would suggest starting with “Youth Against Fascism” and “Sugar Kane” from the 'Dirty' album.
Kings of Leon
American rock band Kings of Leon was formed in 1999 in Nashville, Tennessee. The band is made up of brothers Caleb, Jared, and Nathan Followill and their cousin, Mathew Followill. Initially, Kings of Leon was a killer mix of Southern rock and blues, but through the years, they've become more alternative rock.
Their first three albums reached the top five in the UK Albums Chart, with the third one, 'Because of the Times', making it to number one. In 2008, the band released their first Platinum-selling album in the United States, 'Only by the Night,' and have since gone on to release critically-acclaimed albums. They've won 4 Grammys and have been nominated 12 times.
Recommended Listening: Two of our favorite songs from these Southern rock legends are 'Charmer' and 'The Bucket.' And if you're in the mood for sitting down and listening to an entire album, 'Because of the Times' is definitely the one.
Huey Lewis & the News
The famous American rock band Huey Lewis and the News was formed in 1979 in San Francisco, California. The band released a number of hit singles in the 1980s and '90s, with their biggest claim to fame being the 1983 album, 'Sports.'
The album, whose videos also became wildly popular after being released on MTV, became famous around the world. And the album's hit single, "The Power of Love," was featured in the 1985 blockbuster hit, 'Back to the Future.' The song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart and got a nomination for an Oscar for Best Original Song.
Recommended Listening: "Heart of Rock and Roll," "Do You Believe in Love," "Perfect World," and "Heart and Soul" would be great tunes to start with, but if you just want to listen to an entire album, go for 'Sports.'