Great music can be found all across the United States, and every state has a famous band that calls it home.
To determine the most famous band from every state, Insider looked at reputation, record sales, and awards. Each band was considered within its own era, so just because a band is popular now doesn’t mean it’s nudged out the biggest band from another decade.
We stuck to bands only — no solo artists here — but used the term “band” loosely, including any musical act consisting of more than one person. We focused mostly on the state where each band originally formed, but we also considered where their music was popularized, as well as artists’ hometowns.
Check out which band is making your state proud.
One of the most successful bands of all time, Alabama has sold over 73 million records and has scored 43 No. 1 hits. It also has seven multi-platinum albums and two Grammys. The band, which formed in Fort Payne, Alabama, sold more records during the ’80s than any other band. Not only is their success impressive by any measure, but they also did a lot to make country music popular in the mainstream.
ALASKA: Portugal. The Man
Alaska was far away from the rock ‘n roll scene that defined the late 1960s and continued into the ’70s in the continental United States, and rarely any bands have found success beyond the state’s borders. That is, until Portugal. The Man exploded into the alt/indie rock scene.
Since releasing its debut album “Waiter: You Vultures!” in 2006, the band from Wasilla, Alaska, has become an indie-rock phenom, hitting major stops on the festival circuit and collaborating with artists including “Weird Al” Yankovic, Tom Morello, and Danger Mouse.
The band’s biggest claim to fame is its 2017 hit single “Feel It Still,” which dominated the airwaves and earned the group its first and only Grammy Award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.
ARIZONA: Alice Cooper
The first of the many shock-rock bands of the ’70s, Alice Cooper kept fans entranced with their gender-bending outfits and dark onstage theatrics — concert-goers could expect performances to include stunts like Cooper’s faux-beheading via guillotine. But it’s the music that kept fans coming back for more, and their riff-heavy brand of hard rock produced a string of hits including “School’s Out” and “Be My Lover.” Alice Cooper was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.
Despite the goth-metal style that now defines Evanescence, they got their start as a Christian rock band after forming in Little Rock, Arkansas. In fact, their 2003 debut album, “Fallen,” which produced hits “Bring Me to Life” and “My Immortal” and won the band two Grammys, was released during their religious days, reaching No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Contemporary Christian chart.
However, following a profanity-laden article in Entertainment Weekly in which band founders Amy Lee and Ben Moody renounced their affiliation with Christian music, polarizing many Christian fans, Evanescence turned toward a more secular fan base.
CALIFORNIA: The Grateful Dead
During the ’60s and ’70s, the Laurel Canyon scene in Los Angeles was home to some of the rock world’s biggest hits including Joni Mitchell, Frank Zappa, The Eagles, and The Byrds. Then you had the Bay Area which was the epicenter of the countercultural movement, spawning the careers of Janis Joplin and Jefferson Starship.
But no one was quite as popular as the Grateful Dead.
In addition to some of the best songwriting in rock history, the band’s free-flowing jams, Jerry Garcia’s epic guitar solos, and the cosmic drum duets from Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart earned the Dead one of the most devout fanbases of all time: the Deadheads. Unlike other bands on this list, The Dead didn’t win stacks of awards or sell a record-breaking number of albums. For Jerry and the band it was all about the live experience; there was just this spiritual energy of seeing the Dead live that hasn’t been accomplished by another band since.
In 2015, OneRepublic’s third album, “Native,” reached a million records sold, following the example of their 2007 debut, “Dreaming Out Loud,” which also hit the 1 million mark. In 2021, they released their fifth album, “Human.”
The band, which formed in Colorado Springs, is best recognized for singles “Stop and Stare,” “Good Life,” and “Counting Stars,” all of which became Top 40 hits.
CONNECTICUT: The Carpenters
Brother and sister team Richard and Karen Carpenter, who were born in New Haven, endeared themselves to the world throughout the 1970s with classic hits like “Top of the World” and “Rainy Days and Mondays.” The pair went on to win three Grammys and host their own variety show on NBC for a short period. Though Karen died in 1983, her legacy lives on through a previously unreleased solo album, which came out in 1996.
DELAWARE: George Thorogood and the Destroyers
Though often looked down on by blues purists, George Thorogood and the Destroyers’ catchy blues-pop sound earned them widespread popularity and five gold albums throughout the ’80s, including 1982’s “Bad to the Bone.” And they can thank their home state for launching their career — the band’s first gig together was a show at the University of Delaware in 1973.
FLORIDA: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ career spanned almost 40 years and includes classic hits like “American Girl,” “Refugee,” and “Don’t Do Me Like That.” Their third album, “Damn the Torpedoes,” went platinum and cemented the Gainesville band as bona-fide rock stars.
Petty himself was also known for taking a stand against the music industry, most notably by declaring bankruptcy to get out of a contract in 1979 and later threatening to withhold his new album until the label lowered the price of it.
Hailing from Athens, Georgia, R.E.M. was founded in 1980 after drummer Bill Berry, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills, and lead vocalist Michael Stipe, all met as students at the University of Georgia.
Between 1982 and 2012 when the band amicably broke up, R.E.M. released 15 albums, six of which went platinum; many others reached gold. The band has won three Grammys off 13 nominations and released countless songs that broke into the Billboard Top 10 and Top 40 lists, including “Losing My Religion” and “The One I Love.”
Thanks to Buck’s iconic 12-string arpeggios, Stipe’s cerebral lyrics, and efficient yet catchy rhythms from Berry and Mills, R.E.M. is celebrated as a pioneering alternative rock band that paved the way for ’90s grunge and post-punk icons including Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and The Smashing Pumpkins.
Pepper might be from Hawaii, but don’t expect any classic island tunes from the alt-rock trio. The band combines elements of pop, reggae, and punk for a raw yet lively sound. Pepper released its first full-length album, “Give’n It,” in 2000, but found mainstream success with 2002’s “Kona Town” and its breakout hit “Give It Up.”
IDAHO: Built to Spill
Built to Spill formed in Boise in 1992 and first gained critical attention with 1994’s “There’s Nothing Wrong with Love.” After signing with Warner Brothers in 1995, they released “Perfect from Now On,” which diverged from the band’s signature short, poppy sound. But the band continued to plug away, and, despite a rotating cast of members and a short hiatus, they’re still making music. In 2015, they released their eighth album, “Untethered Moon.”
ILLINOIS: Earth, Wind & Fire
Earth, Wind & Fire is one of the most popular and critically acclaimed bands of the ’70s. The band’s breakthrough album, “That’s the Way of the World,” released in 1975, introduced the hit single “Shining Star” and was followed by a stream of five consecutive multiplatinum albums. Earth, Wind & Fire has also taken home six Grammys out of an impressive 17 nominations.
INDIANA: Jackson 5
Composed of five brothers — Jackie, Jermaine, Marlon, Tito, and Michael — the Jackson 5, from Gary, Indiana, made music history in 1970 as the first recording artist whose first four Motown singles all became No. 1 hits. The brothers immediately fell into stardom, and were selling out 20,000-seat venues within the year, performing hits like “ABC,” “I Want You Back,” and “I’ll Be There.”
One of the most prominent nu-metal bands of the ’90s, Slipknot was known as much for its image as its music. The band, which is from Des Moines, performed in matching black jumpsuits and horror-themed Halloween masks and used numbers as stage names. Their self-titled debut album went platinum in 2000, making them the first band on their label, Roadrunner Records, to do so. The band’s annual festival, Knotfest, has turned into the world’s most popular hard rock and metal festival.
Best known for hits “Carry on Wayward Son” and “Dust in the Wind,” Kansas formed in Topeka in 1973. Throughout their 40-year career, the rock legends have sold over 30 million albums worldwide and produced eight gold albums, three sextuple-platinum albums, and two gold singles that sold over a million copies. A fun fact: “Dust in the Wind” has been played on the radio more than 3 million times.
KENTUCKY: My Morning Jacket
My Morning Jacket formed in Louisville in 1998 and released their alt-country debut album, “The Tennessee Fire,” the following year. Their 2005 album “Z” marked a major turning point in the band’s history: “Z” laid the foundation for the dreamy jams off “Evil Urges” and the two “Waterfall” albums and paved the way for My Morning Jacket to become one of the most successful contemporary rock bands. The Jacket is also known for its legendary live performances and made history in 2008 after delivering a nearly four-hour show at Bonnaroo.
LOUISIANA: The Neville Brothers
The Neville Brothers are an R&B group famously known for embracing their hometown of New Orleans. They won a Grammy in 1989 for best pop instrumental performance and have closed out the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival for years. Though their last record together was released in 2004, the brothers reunited for a farewell show in NOLA in 2015. Charles Neville died in 2018, and Art Neville died the following year.
MAINE: Rustic Overtones
All Portland natives, the Rustic Overtones formed over 20 years ago and released their third full-length — but first commercially successful — album, “Rooms by the Hour,” in 1998. Its 2007 album “Light At The End” was the fastest-selling local album in the state of Maine’s history. Perhaps Rustic Overtones’ biggest claim to fame is being the first band ever broadcast live on XM Satellite Radio.
The band has a unique style of indie rock pulling from blends of soul music, punk, and jazz. Rustic Overtones has worked with an array of artists over the years, including Imogen Heap and Funkmaster Flex.
Aerosmith might be known as the “bad boys from Boston,” but considering that they actually got their start in New Hampshire, arena-rock band Boston stands as the most famous band formed in Massachusetts.
The group released their eponymous debut album in 1976, which sold more than half a million copies in just a week, jumping straight to the top of the charts and spawning several hits, including “More Than a Feeling” and “Peace of Mind.” The album was so successful that Boston became the first band in history to play its debut concert at Madison Square Garden in New York.
MICHIGAN: The Temptations
One of the most successful Black vocal groups of all time, the Temptations, originally known as the Elgins, formed in Detroit in 1961 when two groups merged — Otis Williams and the Distants and the Primes. Now considered a classic example of Motown’s signature sound, the group rose to prominence with hits like “My Girl” and “Since I Lost My Baby,” produced under the inimitable Smokey Robinson. Taking a nod from Sly and the Family Stone, the group released the 1968 psychedelic soul hit single “Cloud 9,” which won the group and Motown their first Grammy Award.
During its heyday with Motown in the 1960s and ’70s, The Temptations produced 37 Top 40 hits, 15 Top 10 hits, and four No. 1 hits. And that was only on the pop charts; the group dominated the R&B charts with 15 No. 1 singles and 17 No. 1 albums.
MINNESOTA: Prince and the Revolution
Though Prince and the Revolution achieved veritable success beforehand, it was the 1984 film release of “Purple Rain” — and Prince’s coinciding soundtrack — that launched the group into superstardom. The “Purple Rain” album sold over 13 million copies, spent 24 weeks at the top of the charts, and produced hits “When Doves Cry,” “Purple Rain,” and “Take Me with U.”
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Aerosmith
Aerosmith is one of the most recognizable ’70s rock bands and one of the biggest comeback stories in rock history. Aerosmith was flying high and on its way to rock royalty after the release of “Toys in the Attic” and “Rocks” in 1975 and 1976, respectively.
But the band’s struggle with drug and alcohol abuse took its toll, leading guitarists Joe Perry and Brad Whitford to temporarily leave the band. Aerosmith seemed to be on the brink of no return until Run-D.M.C. released a cover of “Walk This Way” and catapulted the band back to the mainstream.
Though they’re billed as the “bad boys from Boston,” many people don’t know that Aerosmith formed in New Hampshire before making it big. Lead singer Steven Tyler and Perry spent summers together as children and the band played at small venues and high school proms throughout the state before making a name for themselves nationally.
NEW YORK: The Ramones
There are plenty of famous bands from New York — The Beastie Boys, The Velvet Underground, and KISS, to name a few — but few have the influence and reputation of The Ramones, who have innumerable hits, including “Blitzkrieg Bop,” “I Wanna Be Sedated,” and “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker.” There’s even a street in Manhattan named Joey Ramone Place, after the lead singer who died of cancer in 2001.
NORTH DAKOTA: Bobby Vee & The Strangers
Bobby Vee and The Strangers, originally called The Shadows, first performed publicly on “The Day the Music Died” — the group filled in for Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper at a gig in Moorhead, Minnesota, after the three famous musicians were killed in a plane crash in 1959.
The then-15-year-old Vee would go on to earn two gold albums, 38 songs in the Billboard Top 100, six gold singles, and 14 Top 40 hits.
OKLAHOMA: The Flaming Lips
The Flaming Lips, formed in Norman, Oklahoma, in 1983, have only had one hit single in the US —”She Don’t Use Jelly,” released in 1993. However, they have earned three Grammy Awards, multiple hit singles in the UK and Europe, and a large indie following. The band is known for its energetic live performances that feature mesmerizing light shows and wacky stage props like giant robots and laser hands.
OREGON: The Decemberists
No band embodies the woodsy vibe of Portland, Oregon, better than The Decemberists. Since forming in 2001, the band has earned itself a Grammy nomination and performed at Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign stop in Portland. The Decemberists’ sonic architecture — founded on strong lyric writing and a diverse range of folk textures — and whimsical live performances, which usually feature a historical reenactment of sorts, have helped the band become darlings of folk-pop music.
Frontman Colin Meloy and co. scored their biggest success to date with the 2011 studio album “The King Is Dead,” which reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
PENNSYLVANIA: Hall & Oates
Duo Daryl Hall and John Oates formed Hall & Oates in the early ’70s and released their debut album, “Abandoned Luncheonette,” in 1973. Hailing from Philadelphia, the pair went on to garner national attention throughout the ’70s and ’80s with hits such as “Maneater” and “Sara Smile.” The band won three American Music Awards in the early ’80s, and more recently, both members have released solo albums.
RHODE ISLAND: Talking Heads
Best known for their hits “Psycho Killer,” “Life During Wartime,” and “Once in a Lifetime,” Talking Heads were successful with audiences and professional critics alike.
Though they rose to fame in New York, the three founding members David Byrne, Chris Frantz, and Tina Weymouth began practicing together at the Rhode Island School of Design before becoming Talking Heads. The band added their fourth member, guitarist Jerry Harrison, shortly before releasing their first single, “Love Goes to Building on Fire”https://www.insider.com/”New Feeling,” in 1976.
SOUTH CAROLINA: Hootie and the Blowfish
Darius Rucker, Mark Bryan, Dean Felber, and Jim Sonefeld formed Hootie & The Blowfish after meeting in the late 1980s at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. Over the next 10 years, they attracted a following throughout the East Coast before releasing their 1994 debut album, “Cracked Rear View,” which sold over 16 million copies in the US.
TENNESSEE: Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Three
The Tennessee Three began as the Tennessee Two, with Luther Perkins and Marshall Grant backing Johnny Cash, and expanded to the Tennessee Three with the addition of drummer W.S. Holland in 1958. During the 1980s, the band’s lineup changed and expanded and they were called The Great Eighties Eight. Though Johnny Cash participated in various group and solo ventures throughout his long career, with the Tennessee Three he achieved mega-hits such as “I Walk the Line” and “Folsom Prison Blues.”
The band played with Cash through 1999. After the singer’s death, the group reformed and released the tribute album “The Sound Must Go On.” They’ve toured the globe playing to Cash fans and in 2012, released the album “All Over Again.” Cash won a myriad of awards for his music, most of which features the Tennessee Three as the backing band.
TEXAS: ZZ Top
Hailing from Houston, ZZ Top was one of the biggest rock acts of the ’80s, with huge hits such as “Legs,” “Sharp Dressed Man,” and “Gimme All Your Lovin’.” In 2004, the bearded, sunglasses-wearing duo, Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill, and their drummer, Frank Beard, were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Jam band Phish has a cult following that rivals that of the Grateful Dead. The original members — Jon Fishman, Trey Anastasio, and Jeff Holdsworth (who left the band in 1986) — met at the University of Vermont and were later joined by bassist Mike Gordon and keyboardist Page McConnell. The band was officially formed in 1983.
In 1997, the band hosted The Great Went, a music festival in Limestone, Maine, which drew a crowd of 62,000 and was the top-grossing concert of that summer.
WASHINGTON, DC: Minor Threat
Minor Threat’s song “Straight Edge” pioneered (and named) the drug- and alcohol-free lifestyle — one that goes against the wasted-punk-rocker stereotype. The band formed among a wave of punk bands in Washington, DC, and though Minor Threat’s career lasted only three years, its influence can still be found in punk music to this day.
After the band’s dissolution, frontman Ian MacKaye played with numerous groups before forming Fugazi in 1987.
WEST VIRGINIA: Asleep at the Wheel
Asleep at the Wheel got their start in Paw Paw, West Virginia, in 1970, when they opened for Alice Cooper and Hot Tuna. Since then they have continued to dominate American country and Western music, winning eight Grammy Awards and a Lifetime Achievement in Performance, not to mention a few chart-topping songs along the way.
WISCONSIN: Violent Femmes
When the Violent Femmes released its critically acclaimed eponymous debut album in 1983, the band was nothing more than an underground sensation — in fact, it took eight years for the album to go platinum. But over the years, the band has evolved into one of the most important and popular post-punk groups, proven if not by its music than by the fact that the Femmes‘ acoustic style inspired the MTV show “Unplugged.”
WYOMING: Teenage Bottlerocket
Teenage Bottlerocket released their debut album, “Another Way,” in 2002 on Laramie’s communal label, One Legged Pup. The twin Carlisle brothers behind the group, Ray on bass and vocals and Brandon on drums, cycled through various guitarists before finding Kody Templeman. The band has become a pop-punk mainstay through the years, hitting major events like Warped Tour, and is known for its iconic skull and rockets logo.