The Beatles - There are those who believe all music falls neatly into two categories: The Beatles and everyone else. John, Paul, George and Ringo changed and influenced the world in more ways than most people now remember and their shining achievement still stands well beyond all other groups. They were then and still remain the best group of the rock era and continue to make most others look like amateurs by comparison.
The Byrds - Roger, Gene, David, Chris and Mike invented folk/rock, provided an American answer to the Beatles at the height of the British Invasion, and made outstanding music in a variety of styles. Second only to the Beatles.
The Lovin' Spoonful - After the Beatles landed and the Byrds responded, The Lovin' Spoonful provided several years of "good time" music and a great time for everyone who knew John, Zally, Joe, Steve and their catchy, meticulously crafted tunes.
Creedence Clearwater Revival - At the height of the psychedelic music era, CCR came along and proved that anything was possible by placing nine great very UNpsychedelic songs in the Billboard top ten in only two years.
The Rolling Stones - Though shameless imitators of the Beatles, they provided the "bad boy" alternative to the Beatles "good guy" image better than anyone else. And they did it first. Also, having two great rock songwriters in Keith and Mick didn't hurt either.
The Who - Though their records never enjoyed the same chart success as their two obvious peers, the Who were still every bit as great. They matured more gracefully than most of their contemporaries from Merseybeat through psychedelia into hard rock.
The Castaways - A great little one hit wonder band who proved that four kids could put together a group, write a song, make a record and have a top ten hit, just like the big boys. A microcosm for every success story rock has ever known.
The Turtles - Starting out as folk/rockers and then bubblegummers, they had their biggest hits as straight popsters with "Happy Together" and "She'd Rather Be With Me" in 1967 (though many prefer the early stuff like "You Baby" and "It Ain't Me Babe").
The Beau Brummels - It gets forgotten now, but the Beau Brummels successfully provided what some have claimed was the first burst of folk/rock with gems like "Laugh, Laugh," "Just A Little," and "Don't Talk To Strangers" four months before the Byrds took flight in 1965. A great band (produced by the same Sly of "Family Stone" fame.)
The Bobby Fuller Four - Though most only know him for his 1966 top ten smash, "I Fought The Law," Bobby was an excellent singer/songwriter/guitarist and producer who had a great band and a brief moment in the sun which ended tragically when he died under very suspicious circumstances just before the dawn of the psychedelic era.
The Mamas and the Papas
- Arguably the finest vocal group of the 60s, with the possible exception of the Beach Boys, John, Cass, Denny and Michelle created pure magic from smashes like "Monday, Monday" and "California Dreamin'" to gems like "Twelve Thirty" and "I Saw Her Again Last Night." Though their moment, like most of the bands on this list, was far too brief, their contributions remain as timeless treasures.