It’s hard to imagine a world without classic rock. The Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin- their music has been around for decades, and it doesn’t look like it will be going away anytime soon. However, there are some classic rock bands who should have been bigger than they were. Here are ten of them.
Thin Lizzy was a rock band formed in Dublin, Ireland, in 1969. Many consider the classic line-up of members as the late Philip Lynott, Brian Downey, Scott Gorham, and Brian Robertson.
Philip Lynott was the lead singer and bassist for this band, who sadly passed in a hospital in Salisbury, Wiltshire, on 4 January 1986, at age 36. His passing was a huge loss to the rock world, and his legacy lives on through Thin Lizzy.
Thin Lizzy is one of those bands that have influenced so many others, but their name has unfairly become a footnote in the history books. Their influence isn’t just limited to guitar players either; Thin Lizzy’s frontman, Phil Lynott , was an important part of the ’70s hard rock/arena rock scene and continues to inspire people to this day.
Thin Lizzy and Lynott never quite made it to the level of fame that they deserved. Sure, they had a devoted fanbase and sold plenty of records, but their name doesn’t come up nearly as often when discussing classic rock’s most legendary bands. They have inspired so many great guitar players in so many genres, but too few people know their name or understand what they contributed to the rock music world.
Our 2 Favorite Thin Lizzy Albums
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UFO is an English rock band that originally formed in 1969.
The band was founded by vocalist Phil Mogg, guitarist Mick Bolton, bassist Pete Way, and drummer Andy Parker.
Their first two studio albums, ”UFO 1” and ”UFO 2”, were released in 1970 and 1971. The albums were not commercially successful, but they did gain the band a following of fans in the United Kingdom.
In 1974, the band released their first album that charted, called ”Phenomenon”, their first with German guitarist Michael Schenker.
UFO is another band with a devoted fanbase, but not nearly as big a name in the rock community. Part of the reason is that their classic line-up of Mogg, Parker, Way and Schenker could not keep it together and they were often lumped in with bands like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Alice Cooper when people think of bands from that era.
UFO is a band worthy of your attention, though. They were a great rock band and did some wonderful things with their songs. Guitarist Michael Schenker played on UFO’s first five studio albums and helped create what many people consider the greatest era of the band, when they had songs like “Doctor Doctor,” “Lights Out,” and “Rock Bottom” on their resume. He came back in 1995 to record three albums with the band-Walk on Water (1995), Covenant (2000) and Sharks (2002).
If they had been able to stay together for a few more years, UFO might have achieved the same sort of success as bands like Van Halen or Iron Maiden did in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Instead, UFO is a band most people know only by reputation. Which is a shame.
Our 2 Favorite UFO Albums
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Riot was formed in 1975 in New York City by guitarist Mark Reale and drummer Peter Bitelli. They recruited bassist Phil Feit and vocalist Guy Speranza to start the band.
RIOT is another band that’s not as well-known as they deserve, their name rarely gets mentioned when great classic rock bands are discussed. Over the course of their first three albums in the ’70s, RIOT had some great songs like “Swords and Tequila,” “Narita,” “Road Racin'” and “Warrior,” that never found a wide audience.
RIOT isn’t a band you can really pin into one genre, but they were definitely metal at heart. They had some huge hits in Japan on their third album, “Fire Down Under,” but for all the wrong reasons. Thanks to some controversy surrounding the cover art, “Fire Down Under” sold well in Japan because people wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
On January 25, 2012, founding band member Mark Reale died of complications resulting from Crohn’s disease. He was only 56 years old. The band has continued under the name Riot V.
Riot released 14 studio albums.
Our 2 Favorite Riot Albums
Head East formed in 1969 and was a rock band from Illinois. The band has been through many changes over the years, but they have reunited several times to play various shows over the decades. Their first album, titled Flat as a Pancake, is Head East’s only album to be certified Gold by the RIAA
Head East only only had one big hit, ” Never Been Any Reason ,” but they made some other great music on their following 9 albums. Originally known as the Time Ations, the band adopted the name Head East which was suggested by a member of the bands road crew.
Head East was a great band. They had some solid albums and songs, but they never quite broke through to the next level of success. Still, Head East’s catalog is worth exploring if you’re a fan of classic rock from the ’70s.
Our 2 Favorite Head East Albums
Head East Lyrics Quiz!
Nazareth formed in December 1968 in Dunfermline, Scotland by vocalist Dan McCafferty, guitarist Manny Charlton, bassist Pete Agnew, and drummer Darrell Sweet. They are widely considered to be one of the great underrated bands of classic rock, known for their unique sound.
Nazareth had success in the 1970s and 1980s. The band has sold more than 60 million albums worldwide.
Their most successful album to date has been Hair of the Dog released in 1975, which reached number 11 in the UK album chart and is their only album to break the US top 100.
Nazareth has had 17 songs on the Billboard Hot 100, but more than 20 songs that received substantial airplay on classic rock radio stations.
Their most famous song is probably “Love Hurts”, which reached #8 in 1975, and is one of the most played songs on classic rock radio.
The band played their debut show in the summer of ’68 and shortly thereafter landed a spot on the bill at The Biggar Festival. They were signed to Philips Records after being spotted by Elmer Valentine while playing in London clubs such as The Speakeasy and The Marquee. With this, they relocated to London and began working on their debut album, “Nazareth”, which sold moderately well and spawned two minor hits: a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “This Flight Tonight” (UK No.21) and “Morning Dew” (UK No.42).
Our 2 Favorite Nazareth Albums
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April Wine is a Canadian rock band formed in 1969. The band has released twenty studio albums and fifteen compilation albums to date, as well as five live albums and three video/DVDs. Although they never achieved huge levels of success outside of their native Canada, April Wine has been extensively recognized for their contributions to the hard rock and heavy metal genre, winning multiple Juno Awards and producing many certified hit songs, including “You Could Have Been a Lady”, “Lonely Man”, “Oowatanite” and “I Like to Rock”.
Today, April Wine is still recognized as an influential Canadian rock band with several original albums selling in the top twenty-five highest ranked Canadian albums on the Canadian charts between 1971 and 1993.
The band was formed in 1969. Original members were David Henman (guitar), Ritchie Henman (drums), their cousin Jim Henman (bass) and Myles Goodwyn on lead vocals and guitar. Their most successful lineup would eventually change to Myles Goodwyn-vocals, guitars, keyboards, Gary Moffet-guitars, background vocals, Steve Lang-bass, background vocals, Brian Greenway-vocals, guitars and Jerry Mercer-drums.
The original name of the band was Prism but was later changed to April Wine because it sounded good to the band.
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Triumph was a hard rock band formed in London, Ontario , Canada. The original line-up were active from 1975 until they broke up in 1988. Their most well known lineup consisted of Rik Emmett (vocals/guitar), Mike Levine (bass), and Gil Moore (drums).
To date, the band has released seven studio albums and one live album. During their career, they have also charted nine singles on the Canadian charts. They hold a record for winning six Juno Awards in Canada (and two more since reuniting). Despite never achieving much success outside of Canada during their run, Triumph is considered one of the most influential and important Canadian hard rock bands of the 1970s and 1980s, as well as a major influence on later Canadian artists such as Alexisonfire .
The origins of Triumph began as a four-piece blues-based band named Abernathy Shagnaster. Mike Levine (bass) and Gil Moore (drums, vocals) eventually met guitarist Rik Emmett in 1975 and after playing together decided to form the band Triumph.
In 1976, the band began playing various clubs across southern Ontario and eventually gained a sizable following in Canada. Their self-titled debut album, “Triumph” was released in late 1976.
The biggest hit of their career came with the group’s 1981 release, ” Allied Forces “. The song ” Fight the Fight “, which also had a popular video, became one of their most well-known songs.
Our 2 Favorite Triumph Albums
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Ram Jam was a late 1970s and early 1980s rock band. They are best known for their 1977 single “Black Betty”, which reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and #1 in Australia. This song later became a hit for Spiderbait (1994) as well as The Presidents of the United States of America (1996).
Ram Jam formed in New York City in 1977. The band consisted of Bill Bartlett (guitar and lead vocals), Howie Arthur Blauvelt (bass), Pete Charles (drums), and Myke Scavone (lead vocals) and Jimmy Santoro. They released two albums 1977’s “Ram Jam” and the harder, heavier Portrait of the Artist as a Young Ram released in 1978.
Our 2 Favorite Ram Jam Albums
The band’s origins go back to 1967 when 19-year-old guitarist Mick Box formed a band called Hogwash. After line-up changes, the band re-named themselves Spice. They would later re-name themselves Uriah Heap after the character from David Copperfield in December 1969. The band enjoyed success in the 1970s. Uriah Heep’s distinctive features include a massive keyboard sound, strong vocal harmonies and (in their early years) soulful lead vocals provided by David Byron. The band has sold over 40 million albums worldwide. Their best-selling album is “Demons & Wizards” (1972), which reached Number 9 in the UK Albums Chart and peaked at Number 11 on the Billboard 200 chart in the United States, spawning several successful singles, notably “Easy Livin'” and “The Wizard”.
The current line-up of Uriah Heep includes Mick Box as the lead guitarist and the only original member present since the beginning, as well as Bernie Shaw as vocalist and Phil Lanzon on keyboards since 1986.
Our 2 Favorite Uriah Heap Albums
Take a Uriah Heap Quiz!
Blue Oyster Cult
Blue Oyster Cult was formed in Long Island, New York in 1967. Their most successful work includes the hard rock songs “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” “Godzilla” and “Burnin’ for You.” Blue Öyster Cult has sold more than 24 million records worldwide, including 7 million in the United States alone. The band’s popularity peaked in the 1970s with the release of five albums, none of which was a commercial success but all of which received critical acclaim. They were referred to as “unsung heroes” by music critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine, and along with bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Motörhead, Def Leppard, and Scorpions, they were one of the most prominent acts in heavy metal music.
Blue Öyster Cult’s classic lineup included Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser (lead guitar, vocals), Eric Bloom (lead vocals, “stun guitar”), Allen Lanier (keyboards, rhythm guitar, backing vocals), Joe Bouchard (bass, vocals), and Albert Bouchard (drums, percussion, vocals).
They released an album in 2020 entitled The Symbol Remains to positive reviews.
Our 2 Favorite Blue Oyster cult Albums
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It’s hard to say why some bands make it and others don’t. Sometimes the stars align and everything just clicks, but other times it seems like pure luck or timing that determines a band’s success. We think these 10 classic rock bands should have been bigger than they were but we are also thankful we have their great music to listen to!