Bands such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin rarely fall out of the public eye, and rightly so. But beneath the radar lies a number of groups from the classic rock era who don’t get their just due. Many of these artists gained huge fan followings, but were either dismissed by the critics of the day or have since been neglected. Below are 10 such groups, each of whom deserves another look.


Grand Funk

Grand Funk Railroad were on top of the world in the early ’70s, churning out albums filled with blue-collar hard rock and positioning themselves as a “people’s band.” On good-time hits such as “Footstompin’ Music,” “Some Kind of Wonderful” and “We’re an American Band,” guitarist Mark Farner’s playing fit the band’s garage-y approach like a hand-in-glove. Original bassist Mel Schacher and original drummer Don Brewer continue to comprise the group’s rhythm section.

Best Album : We’re an American Band

Where Are They Now ? The band, which now includes former .38 Special singer Max Carl and ex-KISS lead guitarist Bruce Kulick, continues to tour. Farner continues to record and tour under his own name.



As the first white hit-makers signed to Motown, Rare Earth had a slew of hits in the early ’70s, including “Hey, Big Brother,” “I Just Want to Celebrate” and a rousing cover of The Temptations’ “Get Ready.” By 1975, internal strife had scuttled their success; nonetheless, “Celebrate” has gone on to achieve iconic status. In 2007, Metallica covered the song during their acoustic performance at Neil Young’s Bridge School Benefit show.

Best Album : One World

Where Are They Now? A reconfigured version of the band, with original member Gil Bridges and early member Ray Monnette , continue to play the oldies circuit.



Chicago’s reputation today is that of a soft-rock band prone to saccharin ballads. As an upstart group in the ’70s, however, the group unfurled an innovative sound built on multiple horn players and guitar-based jazz rock. Guitarist Terry Kath, a force behind such classics as “Beginnings,” “25 or 6 to 4” and “Questions 67 and 68,” was one of Jimi Hendrix’s favorite players.

Best Album : Chicago Transit Authority

Where Are They Now? Four of the group’s six surviving founding members – including songwriters Robert Lamm and James Pankow – are still in place within the band.




During his 2005 tour, Bruce Springsteen regularly praised The Raspberries from the stage, calling the group’s late period hit, “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record),” a classic. Small wonder, The Raspberries were masters of power pop, delivering such memorable hits as “Go All the Way,” “I Wanna Be with You” and “Tonight.” A side note: Joan Jett’s iconic white Gibson Melody Maker is the very same guitar Eric Carmen used to record The Raspberries’ “Go All the Way.”

Best Album: Starting Over

Where Are They Now? The band, including Carmen, last played together in 2007, to promote their then-new concert album, Live on Sunset Strip.



Some people dismiss The Grass Roots as purveyors of disposable bubblegum pop, but the band deserves better. On such hits as “Temptation Eyes,” “Midnight Confessions” and even the punchy “Sooner or Later,” the group brilliantly captured the essence of AM radio, and evidenced terrific band chemistry. Indie giants The Replacements used the cover “Temptation Eyes” in their live shows.

Best Album : Let’s Live for Today

Where Are They Now? Early member Rob Grill carried the banner for the band until his death in 2011. The group—with members selected by Grill—continues to perform and indeed will be part of the “Happy Together Tour 2015” this year.



Guess Who

From 1968 to 1970, the songwriting team of Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings churned out a succession of hits that were as sophisticated as they were infectious. Bachman’s jazzy guitar lines in “Undun” brought something altogether new to AM radio; likewise, his playing on “No Time” constituted psychedelic guitar-pop at its very best. The band’s “American Woman” will forever be a rock classic, but in fact The Guess Who were much more than that.

Best Album: American Woman

Where Are They Now ? Longstanding members Jim Kale and Garry Peterson continue to tour under the Guess Who banner. Randy Bachman will release a new solo album on April 15.



Dismissed by some critics as a poor man’s version of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Black Oak Arkansas nonetheless garnered a well-deserved following in the first half of the ’70s. Frontman “Jim Dandy” Mangrum’s over-the-top showmanship established the template for David Lee Roth’s role in Van Halen. The group’s peers went on to greater glories, but today, Black Oak Arkansas’s deliberate primitivism sounds like skewed southern punk.

Best Album : Ain’t Life Grand

Where Are They Now? Jim Mangrum continues to perform on occasion with various Black Oak Arkansas lineups.



Three Dog Night

The recent death of keyboardist Jimmy Greenspoon generated renewed interest in this classic rock ensemble. During the period from 1969 to 1974, Three Dog Night scored more than 20 Top Ten hits. Perhaps because they rarely wrote their own material, however, the group never received the acclaim they deserved. No band was better at crafting hits out of other people’s songs.

Best Album: It Ain’t Easy

Where Are They Now? The band, which includes original members Cory Wells, Danny Hutton, and Michael Allsup, continues to perform upwards of 80 shows each year.



Few bands evidenced a more eclectic range of styles that Spirit did. Led by late guitar great Randy California (one of rock’s most under-appreciated players), and drummer Ed Cassidy, Spirit boasted a hybrid musical approach that mixed rock, jazz, blues and psychedelia. When Jimi Hendrix went to England to form The Experience, he tried (unsuccessfully) to persuade the then-15-year-old California to be part of the band.

Best Album : The Family that Plays Together

Where Are They Now? California died tragically in a drowning accident in 1997. Cassidy remained active as a drummer until his death in 2011, at 89.




Steppenwolf rocketed to fame when their classic rocker, “Born to be Wild,” was featured in the 1969 film, Easy Rider. The group’s hit-making ways hardly ended there, however. “Magic Carpet Ride,” “Rock Me” and the notorious “The Pusher” are all worthy of prime spots in the hard rock pantheon. Fittingly, the band will forever be known as the group that introduced the phrase “heavy metal” to the rock world.

Best Album : Steppenwolf

Where Are They Now? Original frontman John Kay continues to tour as “John Kay and Steppenwolf.”