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10 Rock Trio's That Sound Like a Full Band

Updated on February 4, 2012

Every once in a long while a power trio comes along that takes the music scene by storm. It is amazing the level of sound that can eminate from three people that are matched properly. Whether it be found through skill, originality, versatility, sheer volume or a combination of any of these, a great Rock Trio is a rare but incredible thing.

Alex Lifeson, Neil Peart and Geddy Lee - Rush
Alex Lifeson, Neil Peart and Geddy Lee - Rush | Source


Let's just get the easy one out of the way first. You can't have a list of trio's without mentioning Rush. There would be mass protest. Many performers, including Cliff Burton and Les Claypool, have listed Rush as an early influence. With Geddy Lee on Bass, keyboards and lead vocals; Alex Lifeson on guitar and backing vocals; and Neil Peart on drums, percussion and lyrics; the members of Rush are all pushing the envelope of their skills and abilities. Geddy proves this prowess during live shows when playing the keyboards with his feet, bass with his hands and singing lead on such powerful songs as Tom Sawyer.

Live TV Performance in 1987

The Screaming Blue Messiahs

If you ever took a ride in my tank green '79 Ford Pinto in the late 80's you are well aware of who the Screaming Blue Messiahs are. If you grew up on MTV when MTV was still about music videos you may remember their most popular song, I wanna be a Flinstone, from the 1987 Album Bikini Red. Through sheer guitar volume, driving bass, hard hitting drums, wailing vocals and an almost evangelical obsession with all things Americana; UK's Bill Carter, Chris Thompson and Kenny Harris created a impenetrable wall of sound.

Traffic - John Barleycorn Must Die
Traffic - John Barleycorn Must Die | Source


Although Traffic disbanded in 1968, Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood reunited in 1970 sans Dave Mason to record their most successful release to date John Barleycorn Must Die. With Steve Winwood on Organ, Piano, Electric Piano, Percussion, Vocals, Bass and Acoustic guitar; Jim Capaldi on Drums, Percussion, Vocals and Tambourine; and Chris Wood on Sax, Electric Sax, Flute, Percussion and Organ; Traffic did in the studio what it took twice that many to perform live. John Barleycorn Must Die is available even today on vinyl in the back of any Goodwill across the country.

An insolent performance on The Top of the Pops in 1991


Newer alternative trio's such as Green Day and Blink 182 would have had a much tougher time getting off the ground if it weren't for the trail that Nirvana forged for them many years before. The sometimes loud and haunted, sometimes quiet and chilling voice of Kurt Cobain paired with his simple yet genius guitar work; backed by a larger than life Krist Noveselic on bass; and the energetic Dave Grohl on drums gave Nirvana a raw energy that was hard to ignore. The fact that Cobain had a natural pop sensibility pushed Nirvana over the top and eventually pushed him over the edge.

Them Crooked Vultures
Them Crooked Vultures | Source

Them Crooked Vultures

Formed in 2009, Them Crooked Vultures covers two areas of rock oddity as a power trio and Supergroup. The group consists of Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal, Kyuss) on lead vocals and guitar; John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) on bass and keyboards; and Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age) on drums. You can't deny that the line up is larger than life. Them Crooked Vultures are currently working on a second album purported to be "more powerful than the first one." which will be a hard feat to top.


UK rockers Muse, featuring Matthew Bellamy on Lead Vocals, Guitar, Piano and Keys; Christopher Wolstenholme on Bass, Guitar, Vocals, Keys and Harmonica; and Dominic Howard on Drums, Percussion, Synth and Sampling, offer a larger than life, cosmic sound in the studio and in earlier live performances. In 2006 they added Morgan Nicholls on keys and percussion to help fill out their sound for the stage show.

Genesis - abacab
Genesis - abacab | Source


After Founder Anthony Phillips, Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett respectively left the band, remaining members, Phil Collins on Drums and Vocals; Tony Banks on Keyboards; and Mike Rutherford on Bass and Guitar, decided to carry on. Genesis' first album as a trio, 1978's ...And Then There Were Three..., was the first Genesis album to reach Platinum status in the US. Throughout the 80's the band saw a string of successful albums; each with a string of hits. Phil Collins left the band in the mid-90's to pursue a solo career.

Official Video

Official Video - Ball of Confusion

Love & Rockets

After Bauhaus disbanded in 1983 and Peter Murphy had already embarked on a solo career, the remaining Goth Rock pioneers decided to continue as a trio. Love and Rockets formed in 1985 with Daniel Ash on Vocals, Guitar and Saxophone; David J on Vocals and Bass; and Kevin Haskins on Drums and Synthesizer. In 1989 the alternative / goth rock trio found a surprise hit in So Alive off of the self entitled album Love and Rockets.

Danforth Music Hall - November 24th, 1981
Danforth Music Hall - November 24th, 1981 | Source


Canadian Prog rockers John Woloschuk, Dee Long and Terry Draper formed Klaatu in 1973. Although they saw a string of hits in Canada the band only reached #62 on the charts in the US. Klaatu's sound is often compared to other bands such as Pink Floyd and the Beatles. In fact, it was heavily rumored that Klaatu was actually the Beatles recording under a psuedonym. Capitol "capitalized" on these rumors and Klaatu record sales went through the roof. Although the band always publicly denied the rumors, they were perpetuated by the fact that there were never any band pictures, names or writing credits on any of their albums.


With singer songwriter and bass player Tony Scalzo; singer songwriter and guitar player Miles Zuniga; and Drummer Joey Shuffield, Fastball has a wide range of sound. Based in Austin, Texas, Fastball saw a string of critically acclaimed hits in the late 90's, including The Way, Out Of My Head, Fire Escape and You're an Ocean. Having just released there fifth album in 2009, Fastbal has yet to achieve the level of commercial success that they found at the turn of the century.


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