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    The 11 Best Indie Musicians of All Time

    Best Indie Musicians

    Have you ever tried to come up with a list of your favorite indie musicians? With so many great artists and bands, it can be difficult to sift through and create your perfect list.

    For instance, do you know which artists and bands played a significant role in ensuring that this genre infused with others has stayed relevant until today? If you want to know which musical prodigies make the list of the best indie musicians of all time, you should keep on reading.

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    1. The Smiths

    best indie artists

    This famous English rock band was formed in the early ’80s. Armed with immaculate songwriting and a fusion of post-punk and 60s rock, this band was signed to an independent label in no time. Their rise to fame was marked by reaching the top 20 of the European Albums Chart and the UK Singles Chart, simultaneously.

    They generated controversy when tabloids claimed that their popular “Handsome Devil” track was endorsing pedophilia. However, the band denied this, but this scandalous news didn’t stop them from gaining a dedicated fan base.

    2. The Cure


    You’d be surprised to find that the band’s lead guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter Robert Smith has been the only constant member. Since the band’s formation in 1978, there have been changes to the members. It all seemed too easy for this widely popular band when it had its debut album placing it in the most significant movements of that era.

    Their first album foresaw the band taking up center stage in the new wave and post-punk movements that had taken over the United Kingdom. Their second album adopted an unfamiliar yet dark style.

    Little did the band know that this would soon influence the emergence of a new genre, gothic rock. Moreover, it was the birth of the subculture that would later form around this genre.

    The band’s legacy is marked by its success in breaking into the mainstream before alternative rock was increasingly popular. The Cure became an international phenomenon and even earned a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the 2019 class induction.

    3. Radiohead

    alternative indie artists

    This is another English band that emerged from Oxfordshire in 1985. The main thing about Radiohead is that the band’s experimental style largely influenced the advancement of modern-day alternative rock. This band took a while to get signed by a record label.

    But when they were signed to EMI in 1991, international fame soon followed. Their second album soon gave way to more fame. Yet, the trove mark of the band’s legacy was when they released their third studio album.

    Not only was it acclaimed as one of the best albums of that year, but it was infused with complex themes as well as a dramatic change in their musical style. For instance, this band incorporated classical music, jazz, and electrical music to name a few.

    By 2011, Radiohead had sold approximately 30 million albums worldwide. In addition, Their influence and legacy were recognized by Rolling Stone when they were ranked in the list for The Greatest Artists of All Time.

    4. Pixies

    best indie pop artists

    This list wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t include The Pixies. This American band’s unique blend of musical style ensured that it became part of a larger influence. Most importantly, it earned its spot as one of the best indie musicians of all time.

    This band focused its style on bringing together the aggression from punk rock with soothing melodies from pop. Unbeknownst to the group, this sound would later become the pivotal moment that defined alternative rock in the 90s The group’s most revered album, Doolittle, was released in 1989.

    This album was their induction to legacy status. Moreover, it later influenced the legacy of other alternative rock bands.

    Yet, this didn’t stop the looming tensions that were forming within the band. By 991, the band had effectively disbanded. However, in 2004, they reunited for a highly anticipated tour that was also captured in a documentary film.

    5. Arctic Monkeys

    top indie artists

    If you’re looking for an indie/rock band that was formed in the 2000s, you should look no further than Arctic Monkeys. This quartet band was formed in Sheffield, England. Their rise to fame is that they came to public from internet popularity.

    Critics have lauded this band for changing the future of the formation and promotion of musical artists across all genres. In 2006, their debut album wasn’t the only fastest-selling album in UK chart history, but it was also hailed as one of the greatest albums to debut. Both their first and second albums won awards at the BRIT Awards in 2007 and 2008.

    However, it wasn’t until their 3rd studio album that they found international recognition. It topped several Billboard charts in America. Their follow-up album moved away from their conventionally recognized guitar-heavy work style.

    Instead, they incorporated a style that was more piano orientated. Currently, in 2021, this band has managed to sell more than 20 million records all over the world. And what’s amazing is that the band did all of this as the first independent label band in the UK.

    6. Gorillaz

    indie music artists

    If you’re never heard of a virtual band, then you’ve never heard of Gorillaz. Musician Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett are the masterminds that created this ritual band in 1998. But the band is known for their animated members who live in a fictional universe.

    In essence, there’s only one musical contributor in the group, Albarn. This is why the group has featured collaborations with an array of artists. The most interesting fact is that Albarn was a member of another widely famous band, Blur.

    After his departure, he started to explore various musical styles. These can be observed in the evolution and dynamic musical range of Gorillaz. The virtual band is influenced by hip hop, punk, electrical music, and many other styles.

    This uniqueness has ensured the band’s success. According to critics, the band’s style is a true reflection of postmodernism. Their impact to continually reinvent music has earned this band’s legacy status.

    7. Florence and the Machine

    female indie artists

    This indie rock band was formed in 2007. The name is influenced by the band’s lead vocalist Florence Welch. This band had constantly received braised from various media platforms.

    The BBC has ensured to maintain its support of the group. After all, BBC has played a significant role in promoting this band on a global scale.

    The band’s production style is renowned as dramatic and eccentric. And Welch’s powerful vocals have continued to take the band’s legacy further. It’s no surprise that the band’s first album managed to stay on the UK Albums Chart for five weeks.

    It was only after 28 weeks on the chat that the album took the number one spot. As a result, it ended up being the best-selling album in 2009 and 2010.

    What had drawn fans to this incredible band is that the sound is a balanced combination of different genres. For instance, the band’s musical style has been described as romantic yet dark. There’s a lot of themes that are covered.

    For example, you uncover death, pain, and love in the same song. This band is still climbing charts and breaking new barriers of its legacy status.

    8. Blur

    most famous indie band

    If you want to find out about the bands that belong in the hall of fame, you should take a closer look at Blur. Not only did this famous English rock band give rise to one of the most creative musical prodigies of your time, Damon Albarn, but it also gave way to an influential musical style that changed the scene for many guitar rock bands.

    As a result, this band is known for popularizing a new genre of music, Britpop. This genre has taken over the UK till to date. Moreover, this band also focused on incorporating influences from American rock indie groups.

    They’ve experimented with different and unconventional styles such as fusing gospel with electrical music. Albarn’s growing interest in other genres such as hip hop can be seen in the group’s later works. However, like many other famous groups, the band eventually disbanded only to reunite for one last European tour in 2009.

    9. The Black Keys

    best indie rock band

    This American indie rock band was formed in Ohio as a duo that started out as an independent act. What started out in a garage, soon became one of the most famous bands of all time. The thing about this duo is that it had a very raw blues rock sound.

    This was heavily influenced by various blues artists such as Robert Johnson. You can’t think of garage rock without thinking of the Black Keys. The most interesting thing about this sensational duo is that they were childhood friends who even dropped out of college together.

    Their underground fan base helped to push their touring around various towns. They ended up having multiple music festival appearances and licensing their songs. By 2004, they had released their third studio album that led to a major boost in their profile.

    It wasn’t until 2010 when this duo made their international debut. They won three Grammy Awards which marked a whole new season in their musical journey. What followed was more Grammy Award nods and topping Billboard Charts.

    10. R.E.M

    top alternative indie artists

    This American rock band from Georgia gave audiences a combination of guitar style, drumming, unique stage presence, and an obscure take on lyrics. You’d be amazed to find that well-known bands such as Nirvana thought of R.E.M as the pioneers of alternative rock. The band had a very successful run in the industry.

    This is owing to its signing with Warner Bros. Records in 1988. What made R.E.M different from any other indie/rock band of its time is that it used its influence to tackle a myriad of environmental and social concerns. There was major success even after the lead drummer’s departure in 1997.

    Even though critics weren’t too sure what to make of this, since the drumming gave the band its distinctive style. However, the band still had a lot of commercial success and was received well globally. After a number of years in the industry, R.E.M was eventually inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.

    The great thing is that former lead drummer, Bill Berry, showed up to also accept this incredible achievement. It wasn’t until 2011 when the band decided to split amicably.

    11. Joy Division

    best indie bands all time

    The 70s were a time to witness for indie rock artists and bands. Joy Division was one of those bands that were formed after witnessing an amazing concert. In this case, this band was formed after a Sex Pistols concert.

    This is why their early work was heavily influenced by punk rock. But over some time, the band decided to shift to a sparse sound and style that would later make them one of the pioneers of the post-punk movement in England. Their unique style and charisma on stage made way for their success when they were signed by an independent record label only after their first album.

    Their debut album in 1979 gave them the recognition that they needed. However, while the group’s success became imminent, the lead vocalist was battling health and personal problems. These unfortunate situations marred the band’s legacy as the lead vocalist started having seizures on stage.

    This made it difficult for him to perform in many instances. Unfortunately, he ended up passing away before the band went on its frost international tour in America/Canada.

    Yet, the band carried on even after such unfortunate events. Two months after this happened, the band released its second and last album which topped charts after its release.

    But this wasn’t the last you’d hear of the band’s talented members. When Joy Division came to an end, the remaining members formed a new group and called themselves New Order.

    Their natural talent and unique blend of electrical and post-punk was now blended with dance music. This new group remained a huge success and influence for many modern-day bands.


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