In its most basic form, garage rock prioritizes emotion and intensity. Following in the footsteps of well-known bands like The Beatles, numerous amateur bands bought guitars and drums and began performing even without any training. Many of these bands also got their start in the most unassuming setting imaginable: a garage.
Importantly, garage rock does not challenge other movements like British pop or surf rock. Instead, it utilized those trends. Another characteristic of the genre is its use of straightforward, repeated hooks.
The 1960s were the golden decade for garage rock bands but the genre continues to exist because of these bands. Here are some of the best and most well known.
Nirvana is a perfect place to start the list. They rank among the greatest bands ever, and singer Kurt Cobain was a titan in the grunge scene.
Nirvana, along with Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and other 90s icons, revolutionized music by transforming rock into a more angst-filled, earthier sound that was all their own. It is impossible to overstate their impact on rock and alternative music.
One of the most significant records of the ten years is Nirvana’s album Nevermind. Perhaps even the later half of the 20th century, perhaps. Their popular song “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is the most famous track on the album
Cobain tragically passed away at a young age, and Nirvana disintegrated fast. Yet, the band’s distinctive sound and approach continues today.
The Ramones are a well-known garage band with a distinctive sound. The band came together in 1974 in New York City. It all started when Thomas Erdelyi and John Cummings joined a high school garage band. They subsequently enlisted Jeff Hyman and Douglas Colvin to join them in starting their own band.
Soon after, the group members had their names changed to reflect the Ramone surname. Hyman, then known as Joey Ramone, rose to the position as lead vocalist. In the short, catchy Ramones songs, his distinctive voice is truly unique.
The Ramones’ song “I Want Get Sedated” is by far the most well-known. Yet, there are many others, such as “Rockaway Beach.” The Ramones, who helped establish the genre and pave the way for the second wave of pop punk in the late 1990s, are now among the most recognizable and well-known punk acts.
The Troggs, who were founded in Andover, Hampshire, perfectly captured the feel of the late 1960s with songs like “Crazy Thing.” They were well-known in both their own United Kingdom and the United States thanks to their distinctive sound and manner.
The band’s original moniker was “the Troglodytes.” Once they got going, this was abbreviated to “The Troggs,” which is simpler to remember.
The Troggs were one of the pioneers of pop, rock, and punk fusion. They undoubtedly set the way for other greats who came after them, such as the Ramones.
Creedence Clearwater Revival
Creedence Clearwater Revival, or CCR as they are more often known, were founded in the year 1959. Before deciding on CCR in 1967, they went by the name The Blue Velvets.
Among the all time greatest time’s hit makers, CCR produced number-one singles and protest songs like no other. And the garage the most unassuming setting was where it all began.
The musical prowess of the Fogerty brothers, together with Doug Clifford and Stu Cook, is what gives CCR its distinctive sound. Before creating CCR, the foursome played in various bands, finding their voice with a blend of folk, southern rock, and snappy guitar melodies.
Sam The Sham And The Pharaohs
There’s no doubt that you’ve heard “Wooly Bully,” Sam the Sham and the Pharoah’s most famous tune, even if you don’t know who “Sam” and “Sham” are. Three million copies of the song, which peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, were sold.
The band became well-known for its distinctive look and unorthodox clothes, such as robes and turbans, which were both elements of theater and rock music.
Sadly, they aren’t as well known as some of the other garage bands on our list. But there’s no denying that “Wooly Bully,” a timeless college anthem, will live on in history.
The Runaways were one of the first rock bands consisting of only women. Some of the finest punk breakout stars of the 1970s played in the band, which got its start playing in a garage.
In the US, The Runaways were not a big success. Yet because of their single “Cherry Bomb,” they gained popularity abroad, particularly in Japan.
Regrettably, a number of the band’s members left due to a variety of reasons. It finally split apart in 1979. The Runaways left a mark in musical history despite their breakup. Playing punk songs in a heavily male-dominated musical genre allowed them to stand out.
Them is not so much recognized for their music than for their legendary singer, Van Morrison. The band was founded by Van Morrison in his late teens, and he provided the driving vocals for their breakthrough song, “Gloria.”
Them released eleven singles and two albums when they were signed to Decca Records. Here Comes the Night, Mystic Eyes, and Baby, Please Don’t Go were all top-charting songs. But, “Gloria” is the song that set the standard for garage rock.
Them achieved a small amount of success in the UK, but they were never as well-known as Morrison would become in his later years. Them were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999 thanks in part to “Gloria,” one of the top songs of the time.
The Kingsmen, one of Oregon’s first and most well-known garage rock bands, was founded in the late 1950s. Jack Ely and Lynn Easton, who were friends, played music together at neighborhood parties while Ely sang and played the guitar. Easton played the drums. They enlisted more musicians for the band and performed at various occasions.
“Louie Louie,” their biggest success of their career, was released in 1963. Their rendition of the song was so well-liked that it quickly became a pop and rock staple. Ely remembered shouting the song throughout the recording in order to be heard over the instruments.
At the time, he was also sporting braces, which contributed to the song’s infamously jumbled lyrics. Although the band didn’t like the recording, their manager praised their rawness and enthusiasm.
Tommy James And The Shondells
The beautiful, honeyed vocals and charming tunes of Tommy James and the Shondells may make it difficult for you to picture them beginning in a garage.
With top hits like “Crimson and Clover,” the band perfectly captured the spirit of the 1960s. Nonetheless, songs like “Crystal Blue Persuasion” still had a hint of a psychedelic tinge to them.
The band on our list might not be the most well-known. Yet, “Crystal Blue Persuasion” did receive new life a few years ago when it was included in the Breaking Bad television series.
In addition to these popular songs, their entire catalog is enjoyable to listen to. It encompasses both the lovely, sappy tunes of the 1960s and the ethereal druggy aesthetic of that decade.
The Kinks, a British garage rock band, produced popular songs including You Really Got Me. Their tight, intricate rock sound thrilled audiences all around the world.
The Kinks were undoubtedly one of the most popular garage bands to originate from the UK. That’s due to the upbeat themes and catchy tunes.
They provided a fun diversion from the more folk-oriented 1960s tunes and had an impact on the punk bands of the 1970s.