The Damned: Forget the Pistols and The Clash. The Damned’s New Rose was the first British punk single, opening the floodgates and making them the unlikely fathers of everything that followed.
Mott The Hoople
Theirs was the classic gang mentality, reflected in their relationship with a fan base who grasped that it was all about the heat of the moment. No Queen, Clash or Def Leppard without them.
One quarter of thrash’s fabled Big Four, the Californians are arguably more loved and respected than fellow charter members Metallica. One listen to 1986’s game-changing Reign In Blood and you can hear why.
Crimson CEO Robert Fripp is rock’s one-man awkward squad. But his professorial approach and uniquely British brand of orneriness has seen his band redraw music’s boundaries many times over. There is truly no one like them.
Now that Don’t Stop Believin’ is a 21st-century pop-cultural anthem, it’s easy to forget that Journey ruled radio rock from the late 70s to the mid-80s. AOR wouldn’t sound the same, or be a fraction as popular, without ’em.
More claim than most to being the fathers of heavy metal. You can trace its wailing, primal screaming all the way back to San Francisco trio’s rejection of the hippie dream. Why they’re not held in the same esteem as their British peers is baffling.
They self-deprecatingly described themselves as “everyone’s fifth-favourite band”. But, with their textbook power-pop, there are a lot worse fifth-favourite bands to have.
A true maverick with a keen sense of rock’n’roll history, for every glorious pastiche he turned in, there was a moment of transcendent genius. Like the man himself said: a wizard, a true star.
Pomp rock was the Broadway version of British prog, and Styx were its 70s overlords – one part complex musical alchemists, one part jazz-handed showmen. Bonus fact: Hollywood comedian Adam Sandler is their biggest fan.
Where their Detroit compadres The Stooges were stoned savants, the MC5 were a more furious beast: a snortin’, rabble-rousin’, free-jazzin’ explosion of noise, attitude and hair who burned like a comet across the post-hippie firmament. They weren’t built to last. Gloriously, they didn’t.
The long version: the Crüe bridged the 70s and the 80s, imported British glam to California and fired up the Sunset Strip scene. The short version: no Mötley Crüe, no Guns N’ Roses.
Faith No More
Funk metal? Partly. But you can chuck jazz, avant-garde, hard rock and the kitchen sink into the mix. Jane’s Addiction got the kudos for taking alt.rock into the mainstream, but it was FNM who kicked down the door.
How ex-members of Spooky Tooth and King Crimson helped draw the blueprint for melodic rock is anyone’s guess, but draw it up they did. And Mick Jones was one of the finest songwriters of the era.
The Germs might have beat them to the punk rock punch, but Jello Biafra’s provocateurs were laying the groundwork for hardcore in the 80s. Angry, funny and surreal, they sound as fresh today as they did then.