6 Non-Yank Bands Who Wrote American Anthems
Motorhead at Warehouse Live, September 2009
Photo by Groovehouse
Some of the most definitive "all-American" rock anthems were written by bands who not originally from the United States. Think about it... what are some rock and roll staples that remind you of our beloved country, which gave us the freedom to rock?
"The Boys Are Back In Town" "We Are The Champions," "Back In Black" and "Another Brick In the Wall Pt. 2" could be easy additions to any American rocker's hit list. They're played to sell American products, at cookouts, and will probably be in a rotation at more than a few Fourth of July parties.
While it is ironic, it's important to remember who paved the way for rock and rollers from all over the world. Before it was even classified as such, early American artists began developing what would later be known as the institution of rock through a culmination of rhythm and blues and gospel, with artists like Chuck Berry setting the rules of rock early on.
Soon after the genre had been defined, the Brits caught on and the British Invasion of the 1960s brought countless acts to the States, all with a Euro twist. One or two bands would try something innovative, perhaps incorporating some American-grown aspects of blues and rock, and the rest follow suit.
We don't have enough time to list every band from across the world who experienced major success in America. We've gathered a few, as usual, just to get the gears grinding.
The Rolling Stones (England)
We'll leave out a few other bands that rose to American superstardom during the British Invasion, particularly The Beatles. When the Stones came along, they appeared to be a bit edgier than the artistically uniform Beatles.
We won't get into the horrible argument which is Stones vs Beatles; all we will say is that their attitude matched up closer with Americans than Brits. They remained loyal to their American rhythm and blues influences, even naming their band after a Muddy Waters song. Whether or not the band was ever sneering at The Beatles' psychedelia and artiness is up to the audience, but it's safe to say that the Rolling Stones have become an American tradition by now, right?
Fleetwood Mac (England/America)
This may count as a technical qualifier because the Mac originated in the UK and transitioned into an English-American band with the addition of Buckingham Nicks (aka Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham). The band had a substantial career -- and different lineup-- before releasing their Grammy-winning 1977 album Rumours. In fact, Mac had already released ten albums prior to Rumours. Guess it took a few breakups, creative differences, and more vocal features from the Bella Donna.
After a quick look at lead singer Lemmy, we always just assumed that Motorhead was the most American heavy-metal band out there. It's loud and arrogant, and was also extremely influential and groundbreaking during the 1970s and '80s. And they never stopped playing!
They're still going hard in 2012. Whether the group likes it or not, they've had a strong influence on American metal. They haven't experimented outside of their comfort zone, although they've changed the lineup quite a few times.
U2's Edge at Reliant Stadium, October 2009
Photo by Groovehouse
Everyone knows that U2 originated in Ireland, but Americans have kind of adopted them as one of their own. Perhaps it's the extreme social and political activism that started in the '80s when epidemics like AIDs and poverty were hot topics. Maybe they scratched America's hot spot with their many (oft-critical) songs about our country, including an homage to Martin Luther King on the album The Unforgettable Fire.
Their next record, The Joshua Tree does rank as one of the biggest-selling records in the States. It's not just America, either. U2 is one of the most successful bands in the world. Almost every other country in the world probably claims the members (and the music) of U2 as their own.
Thin Lizzy (Ireland)
Thin Lizzy: the second most popular band from Dublin, even though they came a few years before U2. They were still rockin' in their own right, though.
Although the band probably could have experienced much more fame in America, a few of their most successful singles were enough to make them a household name. Plus, was Phil Lynott a babe or what?
A rare and perfect combination of Irish and Guyanese, Lynott was highly influenced by the literature of Ireland, evident in his songwriting. After touring the U.S. for the first time with Bob Seger and Bachman Turner Overdrive, they released "The Boys Are Back In Town" and the accompanying album Jailbreak.
Both gave Thin Lizzy their first taste of commercial success in America. Subsequent tours were set up, but later cancelled due to Lynott's long list of health problems. Their popularity declined by 1980 and the band broke up; Lynott died in 1986 and is still missed by many members of the Rocks Off family.
While this hard-rock band is considered to be one of the pioneers for their genre, we admittedly never really got into them. We might also be the one person in the universe who can't listen to Dylan, so maybe we don't deserve to be alive.
At any rate, AC/DC's rap sheet in America is beyond commendable... it's intimidating. The band has sold more than 71 million records in the U.S alone, making them the most successful Australian rock and roll group ever. Back In Black was certified 22 times platinum.
Young brothers Malcolm, Angus, and George Young were actually born in Scotland (Glasgow) and moved with their family to Sydney in 1963.
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