The future of music

30 Best Country Bands of All Time (Most Popular)

December 6, 2023
country bands

In this article, I’ve carefully selected the best country bands that have truly shaped the landscape of country music.

These groups represent the heart and soul of the genre, offering a rich tapestry of sounds that resonate with fans across generations.

Top country bands of all time

  • Alabama
  • The Chicks
  • Brooks & Dunn
  • The Carter Family
  • Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
  • Lady A
  • Asleep At The Wheel
  • Zac Brown Band
  • Drive-By Truckers
  • Uncle Tupelo

1. Alabama

Alabama is a legendary country music band formed in Fort Payne, Alabama, in 1969.

The band was initially made up of cousins Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry, and Jeff Cook.

Their music is a blend of traditional country, rock, and pop, and their harmonies and catchy hooks have earned them a massive following.

Alabama’s career has spanned over four decades, during which they released over 20 albums and sold more than 75 million records worldwide.

They have had 43 number-one singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, making them the most successful band in country music history.

Some of Alabama’s most iconic hits include “Mountain Music,” “Song of the South,” and “Dixieland Delight.”

See also: Best Alabama Songs

2. The Chicks

The Chicks (formerly known as Dixie Chicks) was formed in 1989 in Dallas, Texas.

The Chicks gained immense popularity in the late 1990s and early 2000s with their unique blend of traditional country music and contemporary pop influences.

Their breakthrough album, Wide Open Spaces, released in 1998, has sold over 12 million copies in the United States and is one of the best-selling country albums ever.

The Chicks have won 13 Grammy Awards, six Country Music Association Awards, and four Academy of Country Music Awards.

Their music and influence have paved the way for many female artists in country music, and they remain one of the most popular and acclaimed country bands of all time.

3. Brooks & Dunn

Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn founded Brooks & Dunn, an American country music duo, in 1990.

The duo’s music blends traditional country with rock and roll elements, creating a unique sound that has earned them a massive following.

Over their career, Brooks & Dunn have released 12 studio albums and sold over 30 million records worldwide.

They have had 20 number-one hits on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, making them the most successful country music band of all time.

Some of their most iconic hits include “Boot Scootin’ Boogie,” “My Maria,” and “Red Dirt Road.”

See also: Best Brooks & Dunn Songs

4. The Carter Family

The Carter Family’s music blended traditional Appalachian folk songs, gospel, and blues.

The band consisted of A.P. Carter, his wife Sara, and her cousin Maybelle.

They were one of the first commercially successful country music bands, and their influence on the genre cannot be overstated.

They often sang about the struggles of rural life and the importance of family and faith.

Their simple, acoustic sound and heartfelt lyrics resonated with listeners nationwide.

The group recorded hundreds of songs over their career, including classics like “Wildwood Flower,” “Can the Circle Be Unbroken,” and “Keep On the Sunny Side.”

5. Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band was formed in Long Beach, California, in 1966.

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band is known for its eclectic sound, which combines elements of country, rock, folk, and bluegrass.

They had a string of hits in the 1970s, including “Mr. Bojangles,” “Dance Little Jean,” and “Fishin’ in the Dark.”

Their 1972 album, Will the Circle Be Unbroken, a collaboration with several legendary country and bluegrass musicians, is considered a classic and helped to introduce traditional country music to a new audience.

They have won three Grammy Awards, including Best Country Instrumental Performance in 1989 for “The Valley Road” with Bruce Hornsby.

6. Lady A

Lady A was formed in Nashville, Tennessee, in 2006.

The band consists of Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley, and Dave Haywood.

They were initially known as Lady Antebellum, but in June 2020, they announced that they were changing their name to Lady A.

The change was in response to the Black Lives Matter movement and the controversy surrounding the use of the word “antebellum,” which refers to the period before the Civil War when slavery was legal in the United States.

Lady A has released several hit songs, including “Need You Now,” “Just a Kiss,” “Downtown,” “Bartender,” and “What If I Never Get Over You.”

They have won numerous awards, including seven Grammy Awards, and have sold over 10 million albums worldwide.

7. Asleep At The Wheel

Asleep At The Wheel is led by founder Ray Benson, the only original member still with the band.

Asleep At The Wheel has released over 20 albums and has had numerous hit songs, including “The Letter That Johnny Walker Read,” “Choo Choo Ch’Boogie,” and “Route 66.”

They are known for their blend of Western swing, jazz, and traditional country music.

8. Zac Brown Band

Zac Brown Band was formed in 2002 in Atlanta, Georgia.

The band consists of lead vocalist and guitarist Zac Brown, guitarist Coy Bowles, bassist Matt Mangano, drummer Chris Fryar, keyboardist, and guitarist Clay Cook, fiddler Jimmy De Martini, and multi-instrumentalist John Driskell Hopkins.

The band’s music blends elements of country, rock, folk, and bluegrass, and they have released several hit albums and singles, including “Chicken Fried,” “Toes,” “Highway 20 Ride,” “Colder Weather,” and “Homegrown.”

They have won several awards, including three Grammy Awards, and have been nominated for many others.

9. Drive-By Truckers

Drive-By Truckers’ music draws from various influences, including Southern rock, country, punk, and soul, and they are known for their politically charged lyrics and storytelling.

Singer and guitarist Patterson Hood, singer and guitarist Mike Cooley, and bassist and songwriter Rob Malone founded the band.

Drive-By Truckers have released over a dozen albums, including Decoration Day, The Dirty South, Brighter Than Creation’s Dark, and American Band.

Their songs often address themes of social justice, inequality, and the complexities of life in the American South.

10. Uncle Tupelo

Uncle Tupelo was an American alternative country band formed in Belleville, Illinois, in 1987.

The band consisted of Jay Farrar on guitar and vocals, Jeff Tweedy on bass and vocals, and Mike Heidorn on drums.

Uncle Tupelo’s music blended elements of traditional country and folk music with punk rock and alternative rock, and they are considered pioneers of the alt-country genre.

The band’s lyrics often dealt with themes of working-class life, loneliness, and the struggle to find one’s place in the world.

Uncle Tupelo released four studio albums: No Depression, Still Feel Gone, March 16-20, 1992, and Anodyne.

11. The Highwaymen

The Highwaymen were a band formed in 1985 with four iconic country music performers: Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, and Willie Nelson.

The band’s name was inspired by the outlaws who roamed the American highways during the 19th century.

The Highwaymen released three albums between 1985 and 1995, with their self-titled debut album being the most successful.

Some of the most famous songs by The Highwaymen include “Highwayman,” “Desperados Waiting for a Train,” “Silver Stallion,” and “The Road Goes on Forever.”

12. Rascal Flatts

Rascal Flatts is known for its unique vocal harmonies and catchy pop-infused country music.

They have released 12 studio albums, including their self-titled debut album in 2000, which was certified 2x platinum in the United States.

The band has had numerous hit singles over the years, including “Bless the Broken Road,” “What Hurts the Most,” “Life is a Highway,” and “I Like the Sound of That.”

They have won several awards throughout their career, including multiple Grammy Awards, Country Music Association Awards, and Academy of Country Music Awards.

See also: Best Rascall Flatts Songs

13. The Charlie Daniels Band

The Charlie Daniels Band was a Southern rock band formed by Charlie Daniels in 1970.

The band combined traditional country music with rock and roll, blues, and bluegrass elements.

The band’s most famous song is “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” released in 1979 and became a massive hit.

The song won a Grammy Award and was featured in the movie “Urban Cowboy.”

Other notable songs by the Charlie Daniels Band include “Long Haired Country Boy,” “Uneasy Rider,” and “The Legend of Wooley Swamp.”

14. Oak Ridge Boys

The Oak Ridge Boys are an American country and gospel vocal quartet.

The band was founded in the 1940s as the Oak Ridge Quartet and initially focused on gospel music.

Over time, they expanded their repertoire to include country music and other styles.

The band has had numerous hits over the years, including “Elvira,” “Bobbie Sue,” and “American Made.”

They have won multiple Grammy and Country Music Association Awards and are known for their tight harmonies and energetic performances.

The Oak Ridge Boys continue to tour and record music to this day, and they are considered one of the most successful vocal groups in country music history.

15. Lonestar

Lonestar was formed in 1992 in Texas.

The original lineup consisted of Richie McDonald (lead vocals, acoustic guitar), John Rich (bass guitar, vocals), Michael Britt (lead guitar, backing vocals), Keech Rainwater (drums), and Dean Sams (keyboards).

The band’s debut album, Lonestar, was released in 1995 and produced several hit singles, including “Tequila Talkin'” and “No News.”

Their second album, Crazy Nights, was released in 1997 and included the hit single “Come Cryin’ to Me.”

In 1999, Lonestar released their third album, Lonely Grill, which featured the hit songs “Amazed” and “Smile.”

“Amazed” became Lonestar’s biggest hit, reaching No. 1 on the country charts and crossing over to the pop charts, reaching No. 24.

The song also earned the band a Grammy nomination for Best Country Song.

16. Pistol Annies

Pistol Annies is an American country music superband consisting of Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe, and Angaleena Presley.

The trio formed in 2011 and released their debut album, Hell on Heels, the same year.

The album succeeded commercially, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart and spawning the hit singles “Hell on Heels” and “Takin’ Pills.”

The Pistol Annies sound blends traditional country and modern pop influences, focusing on strong vocal harmonies and relatable storytelling.

The band’s second album, Annie Up, was released in 2013 and featured the hit single “Hush Hush.”

Since then, the members of Pistol Annies have continued to pursue their solo careers, although they have reunited periodically for live performances and collaborations.

17. The Highwomen

The Highwomen comprises four female artists: Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby, Maren Morris, and Amanda Shires.

The band was formed in 2019 as a response to the lack of representation of women in country music, particularly in the male-dominated genre of outlaw country.

The group takes its name and inspiration from the legendary country supergroup The Highwaymen.

The Highwomen released their self-titled debut album in September 2019, which features songs that address a range of social and political issues, including the struggles of working-class women, immigration, and the need for gun control.

The album received critical acclaim and was nominated for several awards, including a Grammy Award for Best Country Album.

18. The Gatlin Brothers Band

The Gatlin Brothers Band is a country music band comprising three brothers: Larry, Steve, and Rudy Gatlin.

The band was formed in 1955 in Abilene, Texas, and they began performing together in the 1960s.

The band’s music is characterized by tight harmonies, country-pop arrangements, and lyrics that often reflect their Christian faith.

The Gatlin Brothers Band achieved significant commercial success in the 1970s and 1980s, with hit songs such as “Broken Lady,” “All the Gold in California,” and “Houston (Means I’m One Day Closer to You).”

The Gatlin Brothers Band won several awards, including a Grammy Award for Best Country Song for “Broken Lady” in 1977.

They have also been inducted into the Grand Ole Opry and the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame.

19. The Everly Brothers

The Everly Brothers were a country-influenced rock and roll duo composed of brothers Don and Phil Everly.

They were born in Kentucky, USA, in the 1930s and began performing together as teenagers in the early 1950s.

Tight harmonies, catchy melodies, and a blend of country and rock and roll influences characterized their music.

The Everly Brothers achieved tremendous success in the late 1950s and early 1960s with a string of hit songs, including “Wake Up Little Susie,” “All I Have to Do Is Dream,” and “Cathy’s Clown.”

The duo’s influence on popular music was significant, inspiring numerous other artists with their harmonies and songwriting.

The Beatles, particularly, cited the Everly Brothers as a significant influence on their music.

20. Nickel Creek

Nickel Creek is known for their unique sound, which combines traditional bluegrass instrumentation with folk, rock, and classical music elements.

They are also known for their intricate, virtuosic instrumental playing and tight vocal harmonies.

The band released their self-titled debut album in 2000, followed by several critically acclaimed albums, including This Side (2002) and Why Should the Fire Die? (2005).

They also won several Grammy Awards, including Best Contemporary Folk Album for This Side in 2003 and Best Country Instrumental Performance for “Scotch & Chocolate” in 2007.

21. The Old 97’s

The Old 97’s was formed in 1993 and consisted of lead vocalist and guitarist Rhett Miller, bassist Murry Hammond, guitarist Ken Bethea, and drummer Philip Peeples.

The band’s name refers to the train wreck of the Southern Railway’s Southern Mail Express No. 97 in 1903, which inspired the famous ballad “The Wreck of the Old 97.”

The Old 97’s are known for their energetic live performances and a blend of country and punk rock influences.

Some of the band’s most popular songs include “Victoria,” “Doreen,” “Big Brown Eyes,” “Timebomb,” “Murder (Or a Heart Attack),” and “Won’t Be Home.”

22. Old Dominion

Old Dominion’s music blends contemporary country with rock and pop influences.

The band consists of five members: Matthew Ramsey (lead vocals), Trevor Rosen (guitar, keyboards), Whit Sellers (drums), Geoff Sprung (bass), and Brad Tursi (guitar).

The band has released several albums and has had numerous hit singles, including “Break Up with Him,” “Snapback,” “Song for Another Time,” and “Hotel Key.”

They have won several awards, including two Academy of Country Music Awards and a Country Music Association Award.

23. Sugarland

Sugarland is a country music duo consisting of Jennifer Nettles (lead vocals, guitar) and Kristian Bush (vocals, guitar, mandolin).

The duo was formed in 2002 in Atlanta, Georgia, and released their debut album, Twice the Speed of Life, in 2004.

Sugarland’s music is known for its catchy hooks, powerful vocals, and country-pop sound.

They have released several successful albums, including Love on the Inside and The Incredible Machine, and have had numerous hit singles, including “Stay,” “All I Want to Do,” and “Stuck Like Glue.”

In 2012, Sugarland went on hiatus to pursue individual projects but reunited in 2017 to release a new album and embark on a tour.

24. Big & Rich

Big & Rich is a music duo comprised of Big Kenny and John Rich.

They first gained prominence in the early 2000s with their debut album, Horse of a Different Color, which included the hit singles “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)” and “Holy Water.”

Since then, they have released several more albums and continued to have success on the country music charts with songs like “Lost in This Moment,” “Look at You,” and “California.”

They are known for their high-energy live shows and unique blend of country, rock, and pop music.

25. The Statler Brothers

The Statler Brothers were formed in 1955.

The original members were Harold Reid, Don Reid, Phil Balsley, and Lew DeWitt.

The band released numerous albums and singles throughout their career and won multiple awards, including several Grammy Awards.

Some of their most popular songs include “Flowers on the Wall,” “Do You Remember These,” and “Bed of Rose’s.”

The band was known for its close vocal harmonies and traditional country sound.

They also often incorporated humor into their music, which endeared them to fans.

26. The Mavericks

The Mavericks‘ sound is a mix of country, rock, Tex-Mex, and Latin styles, and they are known for their energetic live performances.

They released their self-titled debut album in 1991, followed by a string of successful albums throughout the 1990s, including What a Crying Shame and Trampoline.

The Mavericks went on hiatus in 2004 but reunited in 2011 and have been active ever since.

They have continued to release new music and tour extensively, and their most recent album, En Español, was released in 2020 and features Spanish-language versions of some of their biggest hits.

Some of the Mavericks’ most popular songs include “Dance the Night Away,” “Here Comes the Rain,” “All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down,” and “Come Unto Me.”

27. The Band Perry

The Band Perry gained national recognition with their hit single “If I Die Young” in 2010, included in their self-titled debut album released later that year.

The song became a massive commercial success, reaching number one on the Billboard Country chart and earning the band several awards and nominations, including a Grammy nomination for Best Country Song.

The Band Perry has released four studio albums, with their most recent album, Coordinates, released in 2018.

In addition to “If I Die Young,” some of their other popular songs include “Better Dig Two,” “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely,” and “You Lie.”

The band has been nominated for numerous awards, including multiple Grammy Awards, Country Music Association Awards, and Academy of Country Music Awards.

They have also won several awards, including a CMT Music Award for Group Video of the Year and an American Country Award for New Artist of the Year.

28. The Judds

The Judds were an American country music duo consisting of a mother, Naomi Judd, and daughter Wynonna Judd.

The duo was formed in 1983 in Nashville, Tennessee, and quickly rose to fame with their unique blend of country, folk, and pop music.

The Judds released their debut album, Wynonna & Naomi, in 1984, which spawned several hit singles, including “Mama He’s Crazy” and “Why Not Me.”

The Judds released six studio albums and charted over 20 hit singles on the Billboard Country charts, including 14 number-one hits.

They were known for their tight harmonies and Naomi’s songwriting, often drawing from personal experiences and struggles.

The Judds disbanded in 1991 when Naomi was diagnosed with hepatitis C, but they reunited for a farewell tour in 2010.

29. Little Big Town

Little Big Town is a country music group formed in 1998 in Nashville, Tennessee.

The band comprises four members: Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Jimi Westbrook, and Phillip Sweet.

The group’s music is characterized by their four-part vocal harmonies, which have become a signature sound for the band.

They have released multiple albums, including The Reason Why, Tornado, and Pain Killer.

Some of Little Big Town’s most popular songs include “Boondocks,” “Pontoon,” “Girl Crush,” “Better Man,” and “Day Drinking.”

30. The Flying Burrito Brothers

The Flying Burrito Brothers’ music was a fusion of country, rock, and folk, influenced by traditional country music and the emerging rock scene of the late 1960s.

The band was founded by Gram Parsons, who had previously been a member of The Byrds and The International Submarine Band, and Chris Hillman, who had also been a member of The Byrds.

Their debut album, The Gilded Palace of Sin, is considered a classic of the country rock genre and features such songs as “Sin City” and “Hot Burrito #1.”

Gram Parsons left the band in 1970 to pursue a solo career, and the group continued to perform and record with various personnel until disbanding in 1972.

Despite their relatively short career, the Flying Burrito Brothers left an indelible mark on the country rock genre and have influenced countless artists decades since their formation.

Best Country Bands of All Time – Final Thoughts

The music world has been enriched with some of the most talented country bands of all time.

From the genre’s pioneers to the modern-day chart-toppers, these bands have left an indelible mark on the music industry and continue to inspire new generations of artists.

The 30 top country bands of all time have created a diverse repertoire of music that has captured the hearts of fans across the globe.

Whether you’re a die-hard fan or a casual listener, the influence of these legendary country bands is undeniable, and their legacy will continue to shape the future of music for years to come.

You may also like: Best Country Songs of All Time

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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