The 10 best progressive rock bands of all time

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Progressive rock is a genre of rock music that emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It is characterized by its complex and experimental arrangements, often incorporating elements of classical music, jazz, and world music. Progressive rock bands frequently have a strong focus on virtuosity and technical musicianship.

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I’m a fan of multiple genres of music, but progressive rock has always been my staple and mainstay. The combination of musical disciplines and the song structures are pleasing to my ear. Pink Floyd is by far my top band when it comes to progressive rock, but there are many others that are equally fantastic.

The 10 best progressive rock bands of all time 2

Here is a list of the ten best progressive rock bands of all time, in no particular order:

The Ten Best Progressive Rock Bands

Pink Floyd

Formed in the mid ’60s by Syd Barrett, Roger Waters, Nick Mason, and Richard Wright, Pink Floyd transformed from just another psychedelic ’60s rock band to a progressive rock powerhouse. Barrett’s drug use led him to dark places, and the band were forced to replace him with David Gilmour. While sad, we would not have had the Pink Floyd of today had it not been for these events. The collaboration between Waters, Gilmour, and Wright produced some of the best music from the ’70s.

Neal Morse Band

Neal Morse is an American singer, musician, and composer based in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1992, he formed the progressive rock band Spock’s Beard with his brother Alan and has had other projects, including his Neal Morse Band.


Yes are an English band formed in London in 1968 by lead singer Jon Anderson, bassist Chris Squire, guitarist Peter Banks, keyboardist Tony Kaye, and drummer Bill Bruford. The band has undergone numerous lineup changes throughout their history, during which 20 musicians have been full-time members.


Kansas is an American band that formed in 1973 in Topeka, Kansas and became popular during the ’70s with hits such as “Carry On My Wayward Son” and “The Wall.” Kerry Livgren was one of the members of this band who went on to form the band AD.

Emerson Lake & Palmer

Emerson, Lake & Palmer were an English supergroup formed in London in 1970. The band consisted of Keith Emerson of the Nice, Greg Lake of King Crimson and Carl Palmer of Atomic Rooster. They were one of the most popular groups in the’70s.

Jethro Tull

Jethro Tull are an English rock band formed in Luton, Bedfordshire, in 1967. Initially playing blues rock and jazz fusion, the band soon incorporated elements of English folk, hard rock and classical music, forging a signature sound with Ian Anderson’s signature flute.

The Moody Blues

The Moody Blues were an English rock band formed in Birmingham in May 1964 and have been a staple of this genre ever since. Songs like “Tuesday Afternoon” and “Nights in White Satin” are considered classics.


Genesis, are an English rock band formed at Charterhouse School, Godalming, Surrey, in 1967. The band’s longest-existing and most commercially successful line-up consisted of keyboardist Tony Banks, bassist/guitarist Mike Rutherford and drummer/singer Phil Collins. Their popularity resurged in the ’80s, so some might confuse them for being a ’80s band.

The Alan Parsons Project

The Alan Parsons Project were a British rock band active between 1975 and 1990, whose core membership consisted of producer, audio engineer, musician, and composer Alan Parsons and singer, songwriter and pianist Eric Woolfson. The Chicago Bulls most notably used the bands hit “Sirius” as its introduction music, many people connect this song with the Bulls and Michael Jordan.

Porcupine Tree

Porcupine Tree are an English rock band formed by musician Steven Wilson in 1987. During an initial career spanning more than twenty years, they earned critical acclaim from critics and fellow musicians, developed a cult following, and became an influence for new artists.

These bands are all considered to be pioneers of the progressive rock genre, and their music has had a lasting influence on countless other artists. They have all released classic albums that are considered to be essential listening for fans of progressive rock.

Honorable Mentions

In addition to the bands listed above, there are many other great progressive rock bands that could have made this list. Some other notable bands include:

  • Van Der Graaf Generator
  • Sweet Comfort Band
  • Gentle Giant
  • King Crimson
  • Kerry Livgren AD
  • Rush
  • Marillion
  • Steven Wilson
  • Coheed and Cambria
  • The Mars Volta

Progressive rock is a diverse and ever-evolving genre, and there are many great bands that could be considered for this list. However, the bands listed above are all considered to be essential listening for fans of the genre. Their music is complex, challenging, and rewarding, and it continues to inspire and influence new generations of musicians.

Progressive rock is not as popular as it once was, but there is still a dedicated fan base for the genre. There are also a number of new progressive rock bands that are emerging, and they are helping to keep the genre alive.

If you are a fan of progressive rock, there are several great bands that you should check out. Some of the newer bands that are worth checking out include:

  • The Dear Hunter
  • Spock’s Beard
  • Mastodon
  • The Cyberiam
  • The Pineapple Thief

These bands are all making great progressive rock music, and they are helping to keep the genre alive. So if you are looking for something new to listen to, be sure to check them out.

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Portions of this article were written using AI, feature image generated using AI.

Last Updated on March 13, 2024.


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