Formed: Liverpool Active: 1960-1970 Output: 12 studio albums
One of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful bands of all time. Frequently top '[x] bands of all time' lists and helped define a decade with their music, clothing and all pervading influence on popular culture. To date, have sold over a billion albums world wide. Not too bad.
Formed: London Active: 1962-Present Day Output: 22 studio albums
Beginning life as a cover-band, the Stones soon hit the big time in the UK and were part of the British Invasion to hit America during the 60s. Rolling Stone magazine regard the band as the 4th greatest of all time, and 10 of their 22 albums feature in the 'Top 500 albums' list published by the same magazine. To date, the Stones have sold over 200 million albums.
Formed: London Active: 1964-1982, 1996-Present Day Output: 11 studio albums
The Who are regarded as a pioneering band, and may have invented another rock cliché by becoming the first notable band to destroy their instruments on stage. The Who are about to embark on another world tour, are alleged to be working on new material and are credited with over 100 million album sales worldwide.
Formed: London Active: 1964-Present Day Output: 24 studio albums
The Thin White Duke nearly has as many nicknames as album sales (136 million globally, by the way). Bowie was a fashion chameleon, ever adapting to the changing styles and trends of the passing decades. The British Public voted Bowie as the 29th Greatest Briton in 2002.
Formed: Cambridge Active: 1965-1994 Output: 14 studio albums
Pink Floyd's psychadelic and progressive music is some of the best selling of all time. The band came to international prominence after the release of heavyweight albums: The Dark Side of the Moon (1973), Wish You Were Here (1975), Animals (1977) and The Wall (1979), which were all pretty damn awesome. They have sold 210 million albums worldwide.
Formed: London Active: 1968-1980 Output: 9 studio albums
Regarded as one of the first great heavy metal bands, Led Zep were awarded the title of 'The biggest band of the 70s' by Rolling Stone magazine. Allegedly responsible for the greatest rock star cliché of throwing TVs out of hotel windows and trashing every room they stayed in. Since then, they've sold over 300 million albums worldwide.
Formed: Birmingham Active: 1968-Present Day Output: 18 studio albums
Sabbath have had so many line-up changes over the years that a total of 25 musicians can claim to have been members at one point or another. The band that made household names out of Ozzy Osbourne and Tony Iommi. Sabbath have sold over 100 million heavy metal albums worldwide. Nothing from Birmingham should be that famous.
Formed: London Active: 1975-present Output: 14 studio albums
Pioneers of the hair-metal style so commonly associated with bands from the time, Iron Maiden are landmarks of the heavy metal genre. They are also one of the most commercially successful heavy metal bands of all time and have shifted over 70 million records globally.
Formed: London Active: 1975-1978 Output: 1 studio album
A band accredited with initiating the punk music movement in Britain, their off-stage exploits often overshadow their musical achievements that include hitting the top of the charts with their anti-establishment début album. Allegedly, the Sex Pistols dispelled the myth that punk rockers 'couldn't play their instruments properly' and lead singer Johnny Rotten inspired Chris Nolan's portrayal of The Joker in The Dark Knight.
Formed: London Active: 1976-1986 Output: 6 studio albums
With their politicised lyrics and experimental music, The Clash became known as 'The only band that matters' during the 1980s, which saw them see success on both sides of the Atlantic with their third studio album 'London's Calling'.
Formed: Crawley Active: 1976-Present Output: 13 studio albums
Goth weirdo Robert Smith is The Cure's only consistent member throughout their numerous line-up changes over the past thirty years. He's done well out of it though, helping to found the dark and tormented goth genre, before going on to sell about 30 million records.
Formed: London Active: 1977-1984, 2007-2008 Output: 5 studio albums
The Police were formed by Stuart Copeland in 1977 in an attempt to cash in on the burgeoning punk scene in London at the time. They experimented with reggae and ska styles in the same vein as The Clash, before Sting proved himself a competent songwriter. The Police have just finished a massive reunion world tour and have sold over 50 million records.
Formed: Woking Active: 1977-1982 Output: 6 studio albums
The Jam carved out a neat image against the popular punk influenced style of the late 1970s, with their sharp tailor-made suits. They are famed for their involvement with the 'mod revival' movement and for their despair at the decline of 'Great' Britain.
Formed: Manchester Active: 1982-1987 Output: 4 studio albums
The combination of Morrissey's saturnine lyrics and Johnny Marr's guitar rhythms helped The Smiths become a commercial success. The Smiths still enjoy cult following despite their break up in 1987 over a disagreement between the two aforementioned band members. Both have gone on to enjoy successful music careers after the band.
Formed: Oxford Active: 1985-Present day Output: 7 studio albums
Ever controversial but unquestionably successful. Radiohead are one of the most popular, influential and experimental popular music acts of modern times. Radiohead have sold over 30 million albums worldwide since the release of Pablo Honey in 1993.
Formed: Manchester Active: 1991-Present day Output: 8 studio albums
Hit single merchants, Oasis, are another multi-award winning, middle of the road, rock band. Famed not only for their addictive and catchy tunes, but also their tired old off-stage 'controversial' rants. It all amounts to publicity though, and as a result they've sold over 50 million records (by the way, they claimed they were bigger than The Beatles... no).
Formed: London Active: 1998-Present day Output: 4 studio albums
Whilst their early material was compared to the music of Radiohead, Coldplay have evolved into a one-hundred percent user-friendly factory of hits. Their brand of inoffensive pop-music has given the band a platform to broadcast humanitarian charities such as Amnesty International and the Fair Trade campaign. To date, Coldplay have sold over 40 million albums, as well as winning a shed load of music awards.
The Flagship's rating:
Always a country to rest on our laurels and ultra-successful past, I thought I'd celebrate the most popular musical acts that good ol' Blighty has produced and dispersed throughout the rest of the world.
Each of these artists are influential in some way or another and most I've had some pleasure listening to over the years. These are, by and large, my favourite 'big' British bands and when I look over the list (and some of the acts I excluded), I can't help but think we've over achieved somehow on the world music stage!
The Spice Girls