50 American Bands > The Eagles: Epilogue

Rules and criteria – 41-50 – 31-40 – 21-3011-20 – 1-10

About 25 percent of what I said in the course of presenting this list was a lie. I don’t, for instance, really trust that Faith No More is a greater band than the Eagles. I would rather listen to them any day of the week, but a “greater” band they are not. How one defines “band,” where particular bands fit in the American pantheon of popular music and the continuing usefulness of the band are questions I find interminably interesting. My unjustified loathing of the Eagles was just a jumping off point. In that spirit, there are some points of marginalia I wanted to clear up.

The Snubs

There are bands that absolutely deserve to be on this list, some of them probably quite high in the rankings, that I left off simply because I don’t like them. Most of them I find as boring and anemic as the Eagles. One of them I just flat out forgot about until it was too late. It’s not fair and I deserve to be called out. What I found fascinating is that, with the exception of the Allman Brothers, no one did. In no particular order:

The Allman Brothers


The Byrds

Fleetwood Mac


The Margins

There were even more bands on the bubble that I just couldn’t justify, either because they weren’t more important than a band that was listed or because doing so wouldn’t allow me to score comedic points by including James Gang and Tenacious D. They are:

Spinal Tap

Blue Oyster Cult

Smothers Brothers

Drive-By Truckers

Guided By Voices

Los Lobos


The Replacements

Sonic Youth


What if no “and the” exclusions

By a mile, the most controversial rule was “The Tom Petty Rule,” which disqualified Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and other “and the” groups. It also shut out notable backing bands attached to headliner personalities. These are the bands I would’ve included had ignored those distinctions:

The J.B.’s

Sly and the Family Stone

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

The Wrecking Crew

Booker T. and the MGs

What if no The Band Rule

The Band is the greatest American Band of all time.

Most “LOL” Quote I Forgot to Include Somewhere

“To this day, it simply doesn’t get any better than that guitar riff from ‘Life in the Fast Lane.'” – Sheryl Crow

Ye gods, Sheryl! Because I’m short on time, here’s five off the top of my head:

“Satisfaction” – Rolling Stones

“Whole Lotta Love” – Led Zeppelin

“I Wanna Be Your Dog” – The Stooges

“Mississippi Queen” – Mountain

“You Really Got Me” – The Kinks

Stat Trivia

Only eight bands on this list had all their studio albums certified platinum or better like the Eagles:


Van Halen

Guns N’ Roses

The Doors

Rage Against the Machine


Boston Jane’s Addiction

Only nine on this list had a Diamond-certified album:

Van Halen

Guns N’ Roses




The Smashing Pumpkins

Green Day

Pearl Jam

ZZ Top

Seven other American bands that had a Diamond-certified album, but belong on a different list authored by Dante:

Bon Jovi


Linkin Park

Dixie chicks

REO Speedwagon

No Doubt

Matchbox 20

Only 10 bands had 10+ Top 40 hits:

The Beach Boys

Kool & the Gang



Earth, Wind and Fire

Van Halen


Creedence Clearwater Revival



At approximately 150 million units sold, the Eagles are the best-selling American Band, by my definition. Much of this is due to the Greatest Hits album (~32M), which is only a success the way George Costanza as Arkansan tourist was. The Eagles are trailed, in order, by:


Bon Jovi

Fleetwood Mac

Guns N’ Roses


The Beach Boys

Earth, Wind and Fire


Van Halen

Red HOt Chili Peppers

The Doors






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