Some of the greatest power trios in the history of rock & roll never needed traditional band assignments.

The quartet dynamic might’ve worked for the Who, Led Zeppelin, and the Beatles. However, the three-man formula has produced its fair share of legends.

Whether it was a trailblazing group like Cream or some of the most influential bands of the alternative rock scene during the 1990s, power trios have populated all corners of the rock universe for decades.

Many of them have simplified rock music in a way that some of their contemporaries couldn’t. Most featured just an electric guitarist, a bass guitarist, and a drummer/percussionist. The dynamic allows for one (or in Cream’s case two) singer(s) to take control.

  • 20. ZZ Top

    Original Band Members: Billy Gibbons, Frank Beard, Dusty Hill

    Top Hits: Gimme’ All Your Lovin’, La Grange, Sharp Dressed Man

  • 19. Grand Funk Railroad

    Original Band Members: Mark Farner, Don Brewer, and Mel Schacher

    Top Hits: I’m Your Captain, Are You Ready, We’re an American Band

  • 18. Highly Suspect

    Original Band Members: Johnny Stevens, Ryan Meyer, Rich Meyer

    Top Hits: Lydia, My Name Is Human, Natural Born Killer

  • 17. Everclear

    Original Band Members: Art Alexakis, Craig Montoya, Greg Eklund

    Top Hits: Wonderful, Santa Monica, Father of Mine

  • 16. Semisonic

    Original Band Members: Dan Wilson, John Munson, Jacob Slichter

    Top Hits: Closing Time, Never You Sleep, Singing In My Sleep

  • 15. James Gang

    Original Band Members: Joe Walsh, Tom Kriss, Jim Fox

    Top Hits: Standing in the Rain, Walk Away, Funk 48/49

  • 14. The Outfield

    Original Band Members: John Spinks, Tony Lewis, Alan Jackman

    Top Hits: Your Love, All the Love in the World, Voices of Babylon

  • 13. Alkaline Trio

    Original Band Members: Matt Skiba, Rob Doran, Glenn Porter

    Top Hits: Radio, We’ve Had Enough, Private Eye

  • 12. Emerson, Lake, and Palmer

    Original Band Members: Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, Carl Palmer

    Top Hits: Lucky Man, From the Beginning, The Barbarian

  • 11. Primus

    Original Band Members: Les Claypool, Todd Huth, Jay Lane

    Top Hits: Jerry Was a Racecar Driver, My Name Is Mud, John the Fisherman

  • 10. Violent Femmes

    Original Band Members: Brian Ritchie, Blaise Garza, John Sparrow

    Top Hits: Blister in the Sun, Gone Daddy Gone, Please Do Not Go

  • 9. Sublime

    Original Band Members: Bradley Nowell, Eric Wilson, Bud Gaugh

    Top Hits: Santeria, Wrong Way, What I Got

  • 8. Motörhead

    Trio Band Members: Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister, Larry Wallis, Lucas Fox

    Top Hits: Ace of Spades, Overkill, Killed by Death

  • 7. The Police

    Original Band Members: Gordon “Sting” Sumner, Stewart Copeland, Andy Summers

    Top Hits: Every Breath You Take, Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, Roxanne

  • 6. Rush

    Original Band Members: Alex Lifeson, Geddy Lee, John Rutsey

    Top Hits: Limelight, Tom Sawyer, Caravan

  • 5. Green Day

    Trio Band Members: Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt, Tré Cool Bearne

    Top Hits: American Idiot, Good Riddance, Basket Case

  • 4. The Jimi Hendrix Experience

    Original Band Members: Jimi Hendrix, Noel Redding, Mitch Mitchell

    Top Hits: Purple Haze, Voo Doo Child, All Along the Watchtower

  • 3. blink-182

    Trio Band Members: Travis Barker, Mark Hoppus, Tom DeLonge

    Top Hits: All the Small Things, She’s Out of Her Mind, Adam’s Song

  • 2. Nirvana

    Original Band Members: Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, Dave Grohl

    Top Hits: Smells Like Teen Spirit, Come As You Are, Lithium

  • 1. Cream

    Original Band Members: Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Ginger Parker

    Top Hits: White Room, Sunshine Of Your Love, Crossroads

Sign me up for the MMR VIP email newsletter!

Get the good stuff sent straight to your inbox, and be the first to know: concert presales, exclusive contests, and behind the scenes photos and video.

By clicking "Subscribe" I agree to the website's terms of Service and Privacy Policy. I understand I can unsubscribe at any time.