Top 10 Best Rock Trios

Posted on: June 21, 2013

The guys over at Ultimate Guitar asked their readers to vote for their favorite rock trios of all time. When the nominations were in, they had compiled a very solid list. As a child of the 90s though, I’m a little bummed Green Day didn’t make the cut.

From Ultimate Guitar:

The purest rock acts only need three instruments to make a big sound. That’s why we asked UG readers to nominate and vote for their favorite rock trios of all time this week.

These ten bands only use drums, bass and guitar, but with those simple ingredients have composed some remarkable music which stands the test of time.

So which three-piece rock acts did UG readers vote as the best ever? Read on to find out.


10. Emerson, Lake & Palmer

These prog superstars drew from their favorite classical and jazz music to produce their own vision of rock music. Over their career, the compositions became more accessible which brought them to a wider audience, but the musicianship was always on another level.

9. Primus

One of the quirkiest rock acts in history, Primus are best-known for writing the South Park theme tune but have been wowing rock audiences with their genuinely original brand of American rock since 1984. Check out this live set where they even cover Pink Floyd during the two-hour set.

8. Cream

Eric Clapton ranks as one of the best guitarists of all time, and his Cream cohorts inJack Bruce and Ginger Baker were among the best in their field back in the 1960s too. Many see them as the first real supergroup, and they went on to sell millions which was particularly impressive in their era.

7. The Police

The Police helped bring the New Wave movement to the mainstream, and became global stars thanks to songs like stalker-anthem “Every Breath You Take.” They’ve gotGrammy Awards falling off the mantlepiece, and were the world’s highest earning band in 2008. Not bad for three people.

6. The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Is it worth describing how godlike this band was? Simply the greatest psychedelic rock band ever, with Hendrix‘s iconic guitar stylings backed by bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell. Groovy.

5. Muse

They started as a unsuspecting teenage band in the deep English countryside, but became one of the most bombastic live acts ever. Everything from hard rock to opera and classical pour into their music, but if one thing is for sure, this rock trio know how to make a huge racket.

4. Nirvana

Nirvana might have missed out on a spot in the top 3, but Nirvana are easily the most famous rock trio of all time. It’s no surprise; their breed of dynamic grunge shook the entire music industry and inspired majors to invest in quality underground music through the 1990s.

3. ZZ Top

Since 1969, ZZ Top have been pushing the boundaries of every genre they’ve put the touch of their long white beards to, whether it’s blues rock, punk rock or synth-heavy dance.

2. Motorhead

Lemmy is the only long-standing member of Motorhead, but his big warty face is like an icon for the band so that’s fine. Their punk energy helped bring underground British rock back to the fore in the mid-70s, kicking and screaming like Motorhead fans in a mosh pit.

1. Rush

Canada’s best export is this renown rock trio from Toronto. Fueled by a diet of science fiction, philosophy and an eclectic music taste, Rush have produced some of the most widely-accepted progressive rock of all time. Apart from a relatively brief hiatus between 1997 and 2001, Rush have been going since 1968 and are still going strong after their long-overdue induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year.

Congratulations Rush, you’re the best rock trio of all time!

That’s the end of our roundup of the world’s best rock trios, thanks to votes by UG readers.

How would you tweak the results? Who would you personally rank in your top three? Let us know in the comments.


3 responses to “Top 10 Best Rock Trios”

  1. rpsgtr1

    WOW,comparing Rush to the Jimi Hendrix Experience,Cream,ELP,The Police and ZZ Top is laughable on its face.Here’s the list as it should be.
    9.Grand Funk Railroad
    8.Emerson,Lake and Palmer
    6.The James Gang
    5.ZZ Top
    4.The Police
    3.Beck,Bogart and Appice
    1.The Jimi Hendrix Experience

    1. rpsgtr1

      I forgot Mountain had a keyboard player

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