The Linear Canvas
This journal is about the wrongs and rights of the world, as I see them.

The Linear Canvas

VH1’s Top 100 Greatest Hard Rock Artists

January 5th, 2004 . by Alexander Fisher

I was watching a VH-1 TV special recently about the 100 Greatest Hard Rock bands of all time. I was very intrigued by it and immediately wanted to analyze it from a real hard rock fan’s perspective. I found myself searching the web for the complete list so that I could try to make sense of what VH1 had put together. I guess they asked real rock stars their opinions. Another thing, it was it was put together in about 2000. That would explain some of the really quircky additions like Hole being on the list. That band was among those that made the omissions that more glaring.

Some of the opinions of the rock artists that were polled were educated, but others must not be too connected to the history of hard rock. Everyone knows Black Sabbath and Deep Purple would make the list and I will not argue with Led Zeppelin being named the number one hard rock band of all time. They earned it.

It was just that some of the picks seem really cool on the surface, like The New York Dolls, justifying them on the list is hard, as they only put out three albums as I recall and one and a half of them stunk. Too much heroin does not make for memorable music. The other questionable artists on the list are,

Ckick here to view VH1 Top 100 Greatist Hard Rock Artists list

  • #99 Bad Brains  Who? This was supposed to be some bad ass group from the late 70’s that no one I know has ever heard.
  • #93 Lenny Kravitz Lenny is very good. I think that before long I could change my mind about him. He just isn’t top 100, yet.
  • #89 Lita Ford  I liked Lita Ford. Top 100 Greatest Rock Artist? Nah, I don’t think so. She deserves to be on the list before Hole though.
  • #87 King Crimson This was always a favorite group of mine. Top 100, only maybe. They were too much of a wierd art-rock group where the guitar player played way too fast. They had a few hard rock songs, but most of their songs were wierd feedback pieces with odd rhythms. None of my hard rock friends ever wanted to hear this group. King Crimson maybe should not be on the list, where other art-rockers like Genesis with or without Peter Gabriel and Yes should or could be included. Play the album Larks Tongue in Aspic at a party someday and see if they don’t ask you to leave.
  • #81  Pixies I thought the Pixies were more of Alt-Rock genre?
  • #75 Spinal Tap No fake bands allowed. What is this a joke? I love this movie and the additional two hours of improvisation on the DVD are hillarious. I bought both CD’s but have never listened to the second one. This is a joke right…?
  • #77 Hole Exactly what has Hole done to achieve this status? I like some of their music, but this is the worst example of a group that shouldn’t be on or near this list. I believe they only got on it because they had a hot album out, which I own and like, when the poll was taken. Take the same poll again and I bet they don’t make the cut.
  • #60 The New York Dolls In my opinion the most under and over rated bands of all time. Being a glitter rock fan from the seventies, I loved this group, but they self distructed early. One great album and too many drugs don’t make for a top 100 band, just some great memories, unless you took too many drugs. What were we talking about…?

I have problems with a few other groups like Green Day, that I don’t think have been around long enough to be included yet. I’d add Bush before I’d add Green Day, anyway. Others like Iron Maiden and Guns N’ Roses were were not personal favorites of mine, but I understand their inclusion in the list. Others like Husker Du and Primus, I am not that familiar with, but I’ll give ya those. I know the history.

The worst problem with the list, is the glaring ommission of some of the top hard rock bands of all time:

  • Grand Funk Railroad How can you have a top 100 hard rock band list and not have Grand Funk on it? Are you nuts? This is where real loud arena rock began. There was no better hard rock bands in the seventies than Grand Funk, Deep Purple, and Led Zeppelin. They were the big three.
  • Humble Pie Are you nuts? (I said that). Humble Pie didn’t have many commercial hits. They are best known for their live shows. Most people are familiar with Thirty Days in the Hole from the Smokin’ album, but check out I Don’t Need No Doctor from the Rockin’ the Fillmore album. The lead singer, Steve Marriot had been in Small Faces (Itchycoo Park), which then morphed into Rod Stewart’s Band, Faces, after Steve left. Peter Frampton was going to be a star anyway, but being in Humble Pie taught him how to rock, at least until his I’m in You album.
  • Uriah Heep I saw Uriah Heep twice. They were probably the best musicians I had ever seen and rocked as hard as all of the other arena acts of the seventies, but they added that little feel of gothic and sci-fi to their shows. It never came off cheesy either. It was very serious hard rock.
  • Bachman-Turner Overdrive Although a tad on the pop side of hard rock at times, they were very successfull and had several hit songs. They certainly fell into the heavy metal category too. Listen to either of the albums Not Fragile or Four Wheel Drive. Those albums kick butt and have great songs too. In addition, Randy Bachman was a founding member of The Guess Who and wrote the song American Woman.
  • Foghat Lonesome Dave had one of the hardest rocking bands of the seventies. The songs from Fool for the City album alone, like Slow Ride, are enough to qualify this band for the list.

I think those bands are the most deserving of the hard rock bands that were left off of this list. Other bands like Nazareth, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Ten Years After, Black Oak Arkansas, U2, and Iron Butterfly could all be on the list as well. When I did my list, I couldn’t come up with 100 great hard rock groups, I got about 95 or so. Maybe there aren’t 100 groups that should be on the list. But I wouldn’t dilute it by just filling it with questionable additions like Hole. I also think that a band needs to be around and almost be past their prime to be qualified for this list. Ranking them in some order also means little. I think you can rank the first ten or so, but after that, who should be rated higher is harder to judge. Having one good album and playing real loud should not be the minimum criteria either.

42 Responses to “VH1’s Top 100 Greatest Hard Rock Artists”

  1. comment number 1 by: Kevin

    Hi there,
    really dug reading your page [i am no GW Bush fan!] and your insite to the ridiculous VH1 Top 100 HR bands list. These lists are always just dumb!
    I am curious to know about the Heep shows you saw? [Always looking for UH stuff]


    Posted by: Kevin at February 17, 2004 07:32 PM

  2. comment number 2 by: Danny

    I think Top 100 bands were done mostly by musicians in general. (NIRVANA) DEFINITLY DERSERVED BEING IN THE TOP 10. WHY NOT? They’re one of my all time favs. In the 90’s Nirvana made it happen. Kurt Cobain was a genius when it came to writing lyrics just like Frank Zappa. His guitar playing wasn’t all that but a combination of DG, KN, and KC introduced Alternative music and made it popular. And that’s why Foo Fighters are in the list.

    Posted by: Danny at March 7, 2004 06:32 PM

  3. comment number 3 by: Steve Steffen

    Like any rocker I have my personal( perhaps obscure) favorites that I probably would not expect to see on a show like this. But when I saw the likes of The MC5 and Pixies I thought, hey, maybe their digging deep on this one.


    OK, so Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force and Hanoi Rocks were overlooked, thats expected. Asia? ok, Steve Howe made it with the nod to YES.
    Stryper? fine, religious taboo.
    Kansas? not fine! How can you think “Boston” without these guys popping up…and REO!?..ok, lets move on.
    Who brought up Bon Jovi and Twisted Sister then forgot about Cinderella and White Lion?
    There are countless others…April Wine, Dream Theatre, Jefferson Starship, Molly Hatchet, Night Ranger, Queen, Triumph, Styx. Did I miss something? Perhaps I nodded off around Frank Zappa for an hour or so.
    Lets end this rant with one final thought.

    NO BILLY IDOL?!?…Off with their heads!!:)

    Posted by: Steve Steffen at March 8, 2004 09:07 PM

  4. comment number 4 by: Steve Steffen

    OK, I just noticed the link to the official results. Queen made it and Sister did not. I feel much better now:)

    Posted by: Steve Steffen at March 8, 2004 09:23 PM

  5. comment number 5 by: Katie

    i thought that aspects of the list was okay.. but i agree with you about hole for sure.

    I think that the Pixies deserved to be on there because with no pixies, no nirvana.

    I don’t think Nirvana deserved to be in the top ten. they only made “grunge” popular, they didn’t make grunge. If kurt hadn’t of died, they would never be as “huge” as they are now.

    Posted by: Katie at March 9, 2004 04:41 PM

  6. comment number 6 by: Angie

    THE ROLLING STONES at 67??? What!?!?!?!!? The Stones were so influential, and they were one of the first rock bands-and songwriting is consistent. In my opinion the stones are almost as great as the who-so what are they doing only abuot 10 spots away from crap like hole?

    Posted by: Angie at March 22, 2004 04:15 PM

  7. comment number 7 by: Jerrell Londo

    C’mon you mean to tell me you never heard of Bad Brains they are the most influential punk bands of all time and are the best band to ever come out of Washington D.C.,and they have one of the best live shows in the world.

    They aren’t from the late 70’s they are from the early 80’s.

    Posted by: Jerrell Londo at April 1, 2004 05:01 PM

  8. comment number 8 by: Steve

    were the hell is slipknot, there one of the best bands EVER!!!!!!!!!

    Posted by: steve at April 16, 2004 09:55 PM

  9. comment number 9 by: Mr. Showtime

    Slipknot? On the top 100?! Haha, sorry…maybe some other time but not today. Bush and the likes of other bands do deserve a spot on the list. One other thing, why are we all banging on Hole?

    Posted by: Mr. Showtime at April 17, 2004 01:58 AM

  10. comment number 10 by: Mr. Showtime

    One last addition, where the FUCK are the likes of Fear Factory, Cannibal Corpse, Death Angel and Testament? They deserve a spot on that list. I mean come on…if you’re with me give me a rebel yell.

    Posted by: Mr. Showtime at April 17, 2004 02:03 AM

  11. comment number 11 by: Aaron

    Nirvana should have been #1 because they killed the 80’s bands if it was Van Halen or Gun’s n Roses.They stop an intire generation of rock with just one song.They were also not commercial like Metallica is Kurt Cobain hated pulblicty he just wanted to play music he wanted to take music and push it to its limts

    Posted by: Aaron at May 15, 2004 01:05 PM

  12. comment number 12 by: In Season Disease

    Just wanted to comment on this VH1 hardrock list. Yeah, the list sucked… But it was put together by actual musicians. Not just some over-opinionated dude in his basement (they probably knew what they were talking about).
    And by the way, if you seriously aren’t familiar with The Bad Brains and Husker Du, you might as well cross yourself off of the list of people who are qualified to make comments about who is or isn’t a great hard rock artist. The Bad Brains revolutionized punk rock AND reggae music all on the same album I might add (Banned in DC). Husker Du were THE Minneappolis band. Without them bands like The Replacements, Soul Asylum, etc. never even would have existed. So do a little research on your history before you go championing the causes of bands like Foghat. Thanks.

    Posted by: In Season Disease at May 22, 2004 04:42 PM

  13. comment number 13 by: nirvanasmyhero

    y r u bashing hole they were awesome pretty on the insides one of the best albums ever also nirvana was great but i do have complaints 1. what the hell is greenday doing on the list? 2. hair metal isnt hardcore 3.where the hell is flipper, Bad Brains are cool should be a little higher and i missed some were the sex pistols on it? (nirvanas my hero)

    Posted by: nirvanasmyhero at June 3, 2004 04:24 PM

  14. comment number 14 by: Justin

    It’s your decision to like Nirvana or not, if you don’t like ’em, that’s cool. A lot of people, myself included, think they’re a good band. I like the style of music they played, I like their songs. Kurt was charismatic, Dave an excellent drummer, and Krist mostly played simple bass riffs but they were catchy and attractive to me. I would have put them at #10 at best, they weren’t all that “hard” really.

    U2 isn’t a hard rock band, but a bunch of bands on there weren’t hard.

    Posted by: Justin at June 19, 2004 11:12 PM

  15. comment number 15 by: rockfan

    How can you have a top 100 greatest hard rock list without Ronnie James Dio???

    Posted by: rockfan at June 17, 2004 11:14 PM

  16. comment number 16 by: Justin

    This is a four year old list, and the list is just pathetic. It puts AC/DC, GNR, and Van Halen above Pink Floyd? Come on! I am a huge Nirvana fan, but not even they deserve to be ranked higher than Floyd.

    My other outrage at this was Tool was 88…. despicable. They are in a class all their own though. They’re experimental, they do things other bands don’t do, and explore where others don’t.

    Anyway… this is about ‘hardest rocking’ bands, not really ‘most creative’ or ‘best’ bands. Just because you rock hard it doesn’t mean you are great, or even good.

    Posted by: Justin at June 18, 2004 01:10 AM

  17. comment number 17 by: Blaise

    What makes Nirvana so great? Why are they so much more fantastic than any other band?

    I really don’t see why. I’ve always hated Nirvana. (And yes, I have taken out the time to listen to them. I sat in agaony through three whole albums.)

    Yes, I understand that they were “revolutionary” but I’ve never liked them, especially Kurt Cobain. I hate their lyrics, their sound, everything about them.

    I understand they were “progressive,” but I really think they should have been ranked much lower than they were.

    And another thing…is U2 really a hard rock band? Someone mentioned them up there, so I wanted to know.

    Posted by: Blaise at June 18, 2004 10:43 PM

  18. comment number 18 by: Flambee

    I was happy to see Queen make it at #13, but it absolutly baffles me that they would ever pick them to be on the list, because very few of their singles were ever anything that rocked even the least little bit, especially after they descended into pop in the eighties. (BoRap the exception.) However, their stuff on their albums, esp. their first 8 albums, the stuff that was never released on single, is really hard rocking. I’m glad to see that people have actually taken the time to listen to Queen and I’m happy that the people who chose these artists really knew Queen and what they were able to do.

    Posted by: Flambee at June 18, 2004 10:37 PM

  19. comment number 19 by: John

    nirvana sucks. cobain was a horrible guitarist grohl was ok and krist played simple riffs. no way should they be in the top ten. this is what the top three should of been:
    3. Black Sabbath
    2. Led Zeppelin
    1. AC/DC AC/dc is amazing. Angus young is one of the amazing axe players of all time. there is no band that sounds like ac/dc. i saw them 4 times and they have great high energy shows that blew me away. their simply amazing.
    o ya bands like fear factory, slipknot and other bands like that should abslutely NOT be anywhere near the list. they are all god awful unskilled bands that SUCK. and van halen gn’r and iron maiden should of been in the top ten.

    Posted by: John at July 10, 2004 09:29 PM

  20. comment number 20 by: poop

    this what steve says. slipknot is GOD AWFUL. the list is for good hard classic rock bands. not sick stupid untalented fags with horrible lyrics and idiotic masks! by the way ac/dc is the best band of all time

    Posted by: poop at July 10, 2004 09:35 PM

  21. comment number 21 by: jak

    ac/dc is awesome ur rite

    Posted by: jak at July 10, 2004 09:37 PM

  22. comment number 22 by: joulian

    JOHN MAYER SUCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted by: joulian at July 11, 2004 01:15 PM

  23. comment number 23 by: joulian

    ac/dc is awesome. slipknot is horrible. that is all i hav to say.

    Posted by: joulian at July 11, 2004 01:13 PM

  24. comment number 24 by: Jaime

    What about ?????
    1- Dokken
    2- White Lion
    3- Winger
    4- Billy Idol
    5- L.A. Guns
    6- Poison
    7- Scorpions
    8- Skid Row
    9- Tesla
    10- Accept

    This list sucks!!!!!!!!!

    Posted by: Jaime at October 20, 2004 11:41 AM

  25. comment number 25 by: adam

    Nirvana is my fav. band but i dont think they deserved number 1 but i think they should have been swapped with metallica

    I dont like Slipknot srry but they give me a headache

    and floyd bon jovi rolling stones quiet riot 9100 thats bogus) should have got a better spot this would be my top 10

    10. Poison
    9.van halen
    8. Led zepplin
    7. Guns and Roses
    6. Metallica
    4. Ac/Dc
    3. Nirvana
    2.Bon Jovi
    1. Kiss

    Posted by: adam at November 11, 2004 10:18 PM

  26. comment number 26 by: chris

    this list blows. tool deserved a hell of a lot higher than 88. no fucking way. they deserve a spot in the top 25 at least. they’re my fav, but i understand people have an opinion. they are just so revolutionizing with they’re long songs and amazing sound, they deserve a top 10 spot. Then Anthrax made the list under 50. Pink Floyd wasn’t even in the top 10. And the Chili Peppers did not deserve a spot. They’re good and all, but Flea makes them what they are. The rest of the band sucks. And what’s with the Ramones, how the hell did they get so high? This list was a load of shit to me.

    Posted by: chris at November 12, 2004 09:59 AM

  27. comment number 27 by: KJ

    It’s funny to me that so many people that are into punk/hard rock but aren’t from the NorthEast have never heard of the Bad Brains. For those of you that never heard of the Bad Brains you missed out on one of the most intense bands of all time. That they’re only ranked #99 is a bit of an insult because they are the Godfathers of hardcore.

    I first saw them my Sr. year of high school in 1987 at a place called the 9:30 club in Washington, DC. The Bad Brains are Rastafarian punks from SouthEast DC and seeing that show was a total mindblower.

    As a black kid I was told that I shouldn’t listen to rock & roll and that I had to listen to R&B and rap exclusively, but the Bad Brains gave me a band to point to when people said that I was “acting white” by listening to rock.

    Posted by: KJ at November 13, 2004 12:29 AM

  28. comment number 28 by: ZACH


    Posted by: ZACH at November 13, 2004 11:01 PM

  29. comment number 29 by: dylan

    You don’t know the bad brains,that sucks this list is too general. I wouldn’t classify alot of these bands as “hard rock”.

    Posted by: dylan at November 18, 2004 04:30 PM

  30. comment number 30 by: ZACH


    Posted by: ZACH at January 3, 2005 11:03 PM

  31. comment number 31 by: Nolan

    Agreed that tool should of done much better than 88… At least below 40 somewhere, past Korn..I like Korn but tools music is so much more deep than theirs is aswell as others on this list.

    Posted by: Nolan at July 31, 2005 04:48 AM

  32. comment number 32 by: person

    man…green day beat The Misfits…thats a bummer..

    Posted by: person at August 11, 2005 07:25 PM

  33. comment number 33 by: feli

    OH my GOD!!! I saw the list, and i was really surprised. Led Zeppelin are awsome but really they didn’t really deserve to be #1.If it was for me,it will be:


    and that’s it.oh yeah BY THE WAY,LINKIN PARK SUCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted by: feli at October 17, 2005 12:27 PM

  34. comment number 34 by: mark

    OH my GOD!!! I saw the list, and i was really surprised. Led Zeppelin are awsome but really they didn’t really deserve to be #1.If it was for me,it will be:
    2.led zeppelin
    3.van halen sabbath

    Posted by: mark at October 29, 2005 05:34 PM

  35. comment number 35 by: one 1989

    Nirvana is the most lier of them all they are the one who are fake because he was protesting that other kick ass bands were fake had some type of fashion while Kurt Cobian started one and it didn’t last so long because he was the one who did it for the money too he became what he didn’t want so he realize it and kill himself plus hair metalbands didn’t die they went underground the real ones fuck grunge hair metal bands till i die kid do it for the fashion change I was till wearing MOTLEY CRUE, MISFITS, METALLICA, MOTORHEAD, PANTERA,and SLAYER SHIRTS back then in the 90’s when this bullshit grunge came on

    Posted by: one 1989 at December 8, 2005 05:14 PM

  36. comment number 36 by: Clasicrocker101

    I was watching this countdown and actually guessed the last 6 in order, overall i’m pretty happy with it but I was never a big Nirvana fan, i would move them down the list, my friend is a huge nirvana fanatic

    Posted by: Clasicrocker101 at February 12, 2006 06:52 PM

  37. comment number 37 by: hair =maniac

    come on ratt needs to be in the 80s or low 90s. o yea all you seattle band fanatics. seattle bands suck. they screwed rock over. winger and warrant was the last true rock.then gunge junk came. no winger and warrant arent the best but they are better than any seattle shit in the world.

    Posted by: hair =maniac at March 18, 2006 05:42 PM

  38. comment number 38 by: jb

    listen people. a lot of you are saying what you think should be on the list by your personal
    like for particular bands. in my personal opinion i think nirvana shouldnt be as high as they are. they had what maybe 6 hits? i like nirvana. but i’m not going to put a bunch of drug addicts with no talent in such a high honorable position. they were a bunch of burn outs that got lucky. i think this list should be based on. 1. number of hits/popularity then. 2. TALENT. if VH1 took some talented respected musicians that are over the age of 50. this list would be more acuarate.

    Posted by: jb at June 9, 2006 03:51 PM

  39. comment number 39 by: ThirdPartyPrimate

    They should have seperated ihe list into 10 year spans. Because half of the music on the list todays generation haven’t even heard of nor do they care about what grandpa rocked to in the 70’s. Music only applies to it’s time or era. Rarely do songs transcend their own era. So this list was obviously made by an older person. If todays youth were to make this list it wouldn’t have half of those groups up there. Half the groups weren’t even hard rock. They were just rock. ZZ top is not hard. Cannibal Corpse is hard, lol. Korn is higher on the list than Tool? What the heck? Lets check the cult following of each and see who is better.

    Posted by: ThirdPartyPrimate at November 11, 2006 07:15 PM

  40. comment number 40 by: Dustin

    as punk rock fan BAD BRAINS did alot for hardcore and punk. So many bands took influence from them and they rocked out hard. Though they lacked hardly any mainstream success they pushed an underground movement.

    Posted by: Dustin at November 26, 2006 02:12 PM

  41. comment number 41 by: Joe

    hey justin you try writing songs like Cobain you never could because oveusly your a fucking retard.
    Slipknot dosen’t deserve to be on the list basically they just scream. Pink Floyd does deserve to be lower than Nirvana because the singing was horse shit it only sounds good if your high.
    Pantera should have been higher than Mettalica because they are much harderd rock. U2 fucking sucks horse dick thats for sure. Lynard Skynard should be above Ac/Dc their guitar was epic Ac/Dc played three or four chords. my top 10

    10.The Sex Pistols
    8.Motley Crue
    7.Van Halen
    6.Lyrnard Skynard
    5.Iron Maiden
    4.Led Zepplin
    1. Black Sabbath they created Heavy Metal

    Posted by: Joe at May 28, 2007 01:35 PM

  42. comment number 42 by: ??????????????? ????????????

    how does greenday not deserve a spot. they restarted mainstream intrest in punk with Dookie. and they’ve been around since the late 80’s.

    Posted by: ??????????????? ???????????? at July 3, 2007 08:55 PM

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