Howard Stern is a man who is not afraid to voice his opinion, and he’ll likely throw in a slew of expletives while he’s at it. Throughout the shock jock’s career, he has stirred the pot of radio like a nuclear-powered whisk. Importantly, however, when it comes to musical chat, he is a comic who embodies the notion that all comedians want to be musicians, and as such, he is well versed in the sonic realm.
Over the years, he has chewed the fat with many music industry giants, from Paul McCartney to the Ramones and more. In the process, he has boldly baited guests into joining him in daring declarations, such as getting Paul McCartney to admit that The Beatles were better than The Stones and probing at Joey Ramone’s tempestuous relationship with Johnny.
This made it all the more noteworthy when he received a call from a listener back in 2020 who requested to know the three greatest rock bands of all time, and Stern was more than happy to boldly oblige. For the callers part, he declared Led Zeppelin, Queen and Rush, the three greatest bands. A statement for which the unflinching host mercilessly mocked him.
“If you’re talking overall singular artists, then I can talk to you about James Brown, and I can talk to you about a lot of other people who were important,” Stern caveats. Before proclaiming: “And f–k all the bullshit with Buddy Holly and the Crickets all that crap, none of it matter until The Beatles, f—k Elvis, f—k Crickets, all that shit… I tell you, The Beatles are the number one band of all time.” In the past, Stern has made his love of the Fab Four very clear, by even referring to Paul McCartney as a “modern-day Beethoven.”
With regards to the two following slots, Stern forcefully offers up the following deluge of impassioned opinion: “The second group, without a doubt, no argument, The Rolling Stones! Because The Rolling Stones did something so unique, they built off a blues foundation, and they created masterpieces.”
Taking up the third slot on the podium of Stern’s favourite rock bands is another blues-based British band, Led Zeppelin. “When they came about,” Stern begins his eulogy, “these riffs that Jimmy Page came up with, John ‘Bonzo’ Bonham on drums and Robert Plant’s vocal were insane.” Before his faithful co-host, Robin Quivers, quickly adds: “You have to think of what happened to music after this. Music changed!”
And there we have it, Sterns holy trinity of rock – The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin. It is hardly a daring reach, and credit has to be given that he avoided any contrarian pitfalls. The impact of the trio in all areas is undoubted, and while he may have begun the conversation by asserting that his list was very genre-specific, it is a measure of all three acts that their impact transcended rock alone.
You can check out the full interaction in the video below.