It lingers and plays out in the mind of every music fan: the idea of the ultimate band. This drummer, that singer, paired with a particular guitarist—we're all guilty of dreaming up the world's greatest group based off what we know about our favorite acts. Once in blue moon, though, it does happen. A sweeping catalyst for what you thought could never be possible, the supergroup in and of itself is all that is great with music. The sharing, the differences, and the love have collectively have given us some of the most remarkable recordings of all time.
Read on to check out some of our favorite and most influential supergroups of all time!
Jack Bruce (Manfred Mann), Ginger Baker (Graham Bond Organisation), Eric Clapton (Yardbirds)
The first and original supergroup is arguably one of the greatest bands of all time. Ginger Baker’s insane fusion of drums with the proficiency of Bruce and Clapton solidified a band that would change both music and sound for generations. The influence of Baker and Clapton can resonate to this day, and it's almost hard to believe that this band toured and was a full-blown project, given the huge shadow of its members. The drums, strings, and vocals on the opening number of Wheels of Fire make "White Room” a historic anthem, and stands as a testament to what Cream was capable of. “Sunshine of your love” and “Strange Brew”, from their second album, Disraeli Gears, are __now classics, revered and covered by many fans alike.
Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson
Once dubbed “The Mount Rushmore of Country Music,” The Highwaymen consisted of the genre's A-Team. Born out of the outlaw country scene, nothing could be more American, raw, and badass than these four men on stage together. The Highwaymen showed that a new chapter of versatility was ahead for these already decorated musicians. What resonates among The Highwaymen is a humble display of affection, respect, and compassion that came together to make up three phenomenal albums—an ode not just to country music, but to each other. The band, like Cream, was able to put aside their household name status for the collective expression that was born. Unique to this band on this list, the four-piece also starred in the Hollywood production, Stagecoach. Four unique, American voices all in perfect synch make this collective something truly special and timeless.
George Harrison (The Beatles), Bob Dylan, Tom Petty (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers), Jeff Lynne (The Electric Light Orchestra), Roy Orbison
Aristotle once said “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts." If that's true than the Traveling Wilburys are worth their price in gold. Unique to its core, the Traveling Wilburys were an odd mix of musical savants. Born out of B-side session for George Harrison at Dylan’s studio, this five-some was born out of sheer luck and coincidence. Little needs to be prefaced of a band led by giants such as Harrison, Dylan and Orbison, and through their union two magical successful albums were born. A bit more eclectic, but just as power-driven as Cream and The Highwaymen, The Wilburys are one of the seemingly impossible pairings that actually came to fruition. There is no dream here, just the semblance of the surreal.
Chris Cornell (Soundgarden), Stone Gossard (Mother Love Bone), Jeff Ament (Mother Love Bone), Matt Cameron (Soundgarden), Eddie Vedder (*eventually Pearl Jam), Mike McCready (*Pearl Jam)
Created out of a shared love to honor the late Andrew Wood after his passing, Temple of Dog is an ode to Seattle and the music scene of the time. In his passing, Wood—who unfortunately marked the beginning of a streak of tragedy for grunge frontmen—brought together a musical unit that, though short lived, would foment the scene in new ways and avenues through their respective solo projects. A fusion of Soundgarden and the recently halted Mother Love Bone, Temple of Dog captivated the early '90s scene with a cohort of Seattle’s best. Though a flash in the pan, ToD shines bright in all of its aspects and context; the music, the feelings, and its offspring. Can you imagine if Temple of Dog never introduced former Mother Love Bone members to Eddie Vedder, and thus grunge history?
Les Claypool (Primus), Trey Anastasio (Phish), Steward Copeland (The Police)
Born out of a one-time collaboration, Oysterhead's founder Les Claypool originally wanted Tom Morello to join him and Steward Copeland, but due to constraints Morello declined. The replacement for a man of Claypools and Copeland's measure was none other than Phish frontman extraordinaire, Trey Anastasio. What ensued from one performance (which was later mastered and recorded in Anastasion’s Vermont barn), became The Great Pecking Order, one of the seminal albums of the 2000s. Attempting to summarize TGPO as an album would be futile and almost downright impossible. Nonetheless, from 2000 to 2001, Claypool, Anastasio, and Copeland toured together as one of the most unique acts of all time. While the project only lasted one year, this rarity was seen once more, reuniting in an influential two-hour festival set at the 2006 Bonnaroo Arts & Music festival. Though extremely underrated (and least mainstream of the list), this three-piece has an avid love from the fans of its respective members, and still to this day pleas for Oysterhead ring on Phish threads everywhere.
Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes), Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes), M. Ward (She & Him)
With only one release (that took up to six years to record and master), Monsters Of Folk is a bright shining example of the indie supergroup. Emerging from a scene of endless touring and collaborations, Monster of Folk showcased how a passion for collaboration can bring great minds together to channel a unique feeling and aesthetic. The parings of James and Oberst bring forth such melodies and tunes that each song itself is a new trail along the indie folk pathways of their members. Filled with experience, glee, and new methods, the Monsters delivered a love album to their respective fans. Released in 2009, now half a decade removed, the clamor for MOF continues.
Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters), John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin), Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal)
Them Crooked Vultures, one of the most unique bridges to the past and present, brings forth influential pillars in Grohl, Jones, and Homme. If you were told that the drummer from Nirvana would actually make a band with the bassist from Led Zeppelin, and the guitarist from Queens of the Stone Age, you would probably die from laughing in disbelief. Given the weight of such names, there was no doubts that this band would be formidable. Formidable was an understatement. Its heaviness, combined with their musical expertise, never sacrificed quality for sound as they navigate both seamlessly. Even more so, its Jones' musical ability that flies of the wall, which is held up by two seemingly equal players in Homme and Grohl. Their debut album was met with critical acclaim with its release in 2009, and Grohl has since been very outspoken about the fact that TCV is not done, but rather on a hiatus due to time constraints.
Ab-Soul, Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q
Though some may not consider a rap collective as a supergroup, these four solo artists singlehandedly were reviving west coast rap through their label, Top Dawg Ent. Together they were the iconic Black Hippy, which came to the scene brief like a shooting star. Due to their solo projects, the foursome has not been active, however their short amount of work together is nothing short of legendary. With only 13 songs and one single, Black Hippy coasts off the shoulders of its four heavyweights. Making this list for its sheer potential, the influence of this group cannot be denied. It's with quiet anticipation (and a little hope) that fans will once again be blessed with the illusive Black Hippy.
Killer Mike, El-P (Company Flow)
Adult Swim Creative Director, Jason Demarco is to thank for one of the best duos hip-hop has seen in a long time, if not ever. Named after a line by LL Cool J, Run the Jewels brings forth the exquisite beats of EL-P, a New York City pioneer, and Killer Mike, an Atlanta MC who was best known for his work alongside OutKast. The result? A North by South connection that couldn't be more strange or more perfect. Now evident best friends, EL-P and Killer Mike have a ferocious poignant connection that leaves no prisoners. With three volumes under their belt (including an all cat remix in philanthropy for cat shelters), Run the Jewels have solidified their signature logo of zombie hands gripping chains in the halls of hip-hop glory.
Nicolas Jaar, Dave Harrington
Rarity is not just what makes the now-defunct DARKSIDE special, it's their intense musical prowess. The only electronic group on the list, DARKSIDE boasts the musical genius of guitarist, Dave Harrington and Chilean producer, Nicolas Jaar. Born from these musical savants, DARKSIDE shows what two great minds can achieve if they throw caution to the wind in meticulous manner. Their album Psychic was lauded to critical acclaim, and provides some of the best 45 minutes a music recording could pack in. From in-depth multi instrumental layering, samples, and loops, the album is a gripping study in aura and vibes. Nico shines bright over Harrington’s fluid ability to create deep haunting sounds, building a symbiotic relationship that bleeds throughout the album. Here is to hoping that DARKSIDE make another triumphant return, though both artist maintain focused on their various solo projects.