Metallica - Photo courtesy of BB Gun PR

List of the 10 Biggest Bands to Come Out of the Bay Area

in Photos by

San Francisco is mostly known for being one of the most attractive popular tourist destinations in the world. The sights and sounds from local icons like China Town, the Golden Gate Bridge and Coit Tower combine to create the perfect trip for many, but all too often tourists and locals fail to take advantage of the exciting music scene of the area.

Here’s a list of the top 10 biggest San Francisco bands that have contributed to the San Francisco music scene as well as the world of music as a whole.

1. The Grateful Dead

Most people have heard the term “Deadheads” at least once in their lifetime. Deadheads are the die-hard fans of the Grateful Dead. Ranked 57th by Rolling Stone magazine in its “Greatest Artists of all the Time” issue, the band was founded in the 1960s by Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Ron McKernan and Phil Lesh. The band hit it big at the same time that the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and the Rolling Stones were dominating the charts. Their music was mainly based on themes of loss, death, murder and chaos.

2. Jefferson Airplane/Starship

Formed in 1965, they are mostly known for the album, “Summer of Love.” The Rolling Stones article “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” includes one of this band’s songs, “Somebody to Love.”

3. Santana

Guitarist Carlos Santana created the American Latin rock band. Their albums include “Santana,” “Abraxus” and “Santana 3.” They’ve won eight Grammy awards and Three Latin Grammy awards. An interesting fact about Carlos Santana is that he’s married to the famed Jazz Drummer Cindy Blackman, who was also the long time drummer for Lenny Kravitz.

4. Sly & The Family Stone

Usually thought of as a band that relates to the feelings of “normal” or “everyday” people, Sly has been known to give soul to music. They are the basis of the funk and hip hop music that followed in that period of time.

5. Creedence Clearwater Revival

Popular amongst its fans as “CCR”, this band came from El Cerrito. Their singer John Fogerty made flannel popular amongst their fans way before Kurt Cobain made the trend fashionable again with Grunge fans.

6. Journey

Journey was originally called the “Golden Gate Rhythm Section.” They were most popular during the period of 1981-1983, with “Escape” being one of their most successful albums.

7. Metallica

Metallica is one of the “Big Four” bands of aggressive metal, others being Anthrax, Slayer and Megadeth. The release of 9 music albums, the band has won 8 Grammy Awards. Their collaboration with Bob Rock has been famous across the globe. It is without a doubt one of the most influential rock bands of all time.

8. Green Day

The list could not be complete without Green Day, a band comprising three young punks who were raised in East Bay. They’re still popular to this day playing their unique infectious form of punk rock music. The band is originally from Berkeley having gotten their start at the famed Gilman club that’s unfortunately now closed its doors.

9. The Doobie Brothers

This band has sold more than 40 million albums across the globe and are also known as “The Doobies.” The band has been active in five decades, with their biggest success occurring in the 1970s. The group was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004.

10. Faith No More

Faith No More was previously known as Sharp Young Men and then Faith No Man. Fans of this band were left heartbroken after the band broke up in mid 1998. However, they recently reunited and released their latest studio album entitled “Sol Invictus.”

With a discography that includes albums on Digital Nations (a Steve Vai imprint), music critic Louis Raphael has always kept a pulse on the San Francisco music scene. After years as the San Francisco Music Examiner for and, he decided to start Music in SF® as a way to showcase what the San Francisco music scene really has to offer.

Latest from Photos

Spotify - Today's Top Hits

Go to Top