The west coast of the USA has produced many rock bands and the region was the venue for the rock festivals in the late 1960s that showcased the early rock music talent. This inspired local musicians to follow in the footsteps of the world’s greatest bands.
The Grateful Dead were formed in the San Francisco Bay area and rose in a time of counter culture in the late 1960’s. Their music fused many elements including psychedelic, Jazz, reggae and blues to produce sounds that would often result in lengthy instrumentals. Their appearances at both the Monterey festival in 1967 and Woodstock festival in 1969 resulted in them acquiring a cult following who were known as the dead heads. Although they are not one of the biggest selling rock bands, not many other groups had such an influence on the rock music scene in those early years.
One of the biggest rock bands in the 1980s and 19990s has been Guns n’ Roses who formed in Los Angeles in 1985. Their music was very much hard rock, and they are as well known for their live performances as they are for the records they have sold. So far, they have released 6 studio albums that have sold over 100 million copies world-wide, with their debut album “Appetite for Destruction” selling 30 million copies. The band are most recognized by two of their members Axl Rose who is the lead singer and Slash who performs on the lead electric guitar.
One of the most famous punk bands to have emerged from the region are Green Day. They are actually a punk revival band to be exact, who originated from the Punk scene in Barkley California. They were formed in 1986 but didn’t release their first album “Dookie” until 1994 which sold over 10 million copies. The grouped were then relatively quiet until 2004 when they released their 7th album “American Idiot” which sold 7 million copies. This started a rush of other albums to be released and now the band are one of the best-selling rock acts of all time.
The masters of rock bands who appealed to mainstream audiences have been Van Halen. The band emerged from Pasadena in 1972 but they didn’t start making records until 1977. The band was fronted by David Lee Roth who appealed to many female audiences. The strength of the group’s music however, was inspired by the lead guitarist Eddie Van Halen. In time the band lost Roth who was replaced by Sammy Hagar, but the band continued to be popular selling over 80 million records world-wide.
During the mid-1960s surfing music became popular especially in California. Many groups were formed but none achieved greater success than the Beach Boys. Formed in 1961 in Hawthorne, the band contained the three Wilson brothers who played alongside various other band members during their time. Their songs were more known for their harmonies and during their best period they were rivalling the Beatles in who was topping the albums charts. The group have produced over 80 songs that have been in the charts all around the world.
Of all of the bands that have originated from the region none are bigger than the Eagles. The band has sold more than 150 million records around the world and two of them, “The Greatest Hits” and “Hotel California”, rank in the top twenty of the USA’s greatest selling album list.
The bank was formed in Los Angeles in 1971 when Glenn Fry and Don Henley decided to leave Linda Ronstadt’s backing band to form their own group. They were helped by Ronstadt who recommended to them Bernie Leadon, who was influential in fusing the bluegrass sound into their country rock that created their own unique music. The American west coast has produced many rock bands and there are many more who could have easily been covered such as the Doors, Metallica, the Byrds and Motley Crue. The influence of those summer rock festivals in the late 1960’s has never left the region.