Q: Which is biggest band of all time? A: And readers say...

Album sales, audience sizes and time spent in the charts combine to put the British foursome at the top

They were famed for their 20-minute opuses and grandiose stadium shows featuring flying pigs. Now Pink Floyd have received an accolade to match the enormity of their sound and performances - by being named the biggest band of all time, ahead of acts such as Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones.

They were famed for their 20-minute opuses and grandiose stadium shows featuring flying pigs. Now Pink Floyd have received an accolade to match the enormity of their sound and performances - by being named the biggest band of all time, ahead of acts such as Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones.

Writers for Q magazine have compiled a top 50 of what they reckon to be the music world's biggest groups, placing Pink Floyd - the band whose Dark Side of the Moon album is estimated to be owned by one in every 18 Americans - at the top of the chart.

The Beatles, on the other hand, manage just eighth place, despite their huge sales, behind arch rivals the Rolling Stones and even Dire Straits.

The magazine sized up each band's performance with a points system that measured sales of their biggest album, the scale of their biggest headlining show and the total number of weeks spent on the UK album chart. Difficulties in finding accurate and reliable figures mean it is virtually impossible to compare on total album sales alone.

Pink Floyd, the quartet that began life as a group of psychedelic space cadets playing in London's underground clubs before developing its defining, epic sound, triumphed with sales of 23.3 million for the 1979 album The Wall. That figure could be dwarfed by 1973'sDark Side of the Moon, but there are huge holes in sales records for that release which spent 14 years in the US Billboard chart. The largest live show - 125,000 at Knebworth Park in 1975 - and 911 weeks in the UK charts consolidated their position at the top.

Q editor Paul Rees said: "I must say I suspected it might have been Queen at number one, but then when you think of the huge sales of The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon it would have to be Pink Floyd. If you look at the top 10 you would expect those bands to be in there. It's slightly more surprising that the champagne corks are popping for bands such as Erasure (ranked 47) and Hootie & the Blowfish (40). I was genuinely stunned to see them in there."

Led Zeppelin, the masters of heavy blues, were runners-up thanks to their trump card of 22 million sales of their untitled fourth album. The Rolling Stones finished third, buoyed in the list by the half-million-strong crowd at their Hyde Park show in 1969.

Radio 2 presenter Bob Harris said Pink Floyd owed their success to the multimedia approach. "I'm lucky enough to have been there almost at the start in the days of the UFO club and Middle Earth. The interesting thing was this idea of pushing the boundaries," he said. "They made sure they came on stage with visuals and liquid light shows and took great care with their artwork. There was a conscious decision to expand and experiment. They were one of the first bands to do tracks that last more than two and a half minutes."

The full list of the top 50 bands will be published in the November edition of Q.

THE TOP 50

The top 50 bands of all time compiled by Q based on album sales, weeks in the UK album chart and the scale of the biggest headlining gigs.

1) Pink Floyd

2) Led Zeppelin

3) Rolling Stones

4) U2

5) Queen

6) Dire Straits

7) Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

8) The Beatles

9) Bob Marley and the Wailers

10) Fleetwood Mac

11) The Eagles

12) The Beach Boys

13) Oasis

14) Bon Jovi

15) Guns N' Roses

16) Nirvana

17) Genesis

18) Bee Gees

19) Metallica

20) Boston

21) R.E.M.

22) Backstreet Boys

23) Red Hot Chili Peppers

24) AC/DC

25) The Police

26) Steve Miller Band

27) ABBA

28) Santana

29) Simply Red

30) Supertramp

31) The Carpenters

32) Journey

33) Spice Girls

34) Def Leppard

35) Deep Purple

36) UB40

37) Aerosmith

38) Wham!

39) Pearl Jam

40) Hootie & the Blowfish

41) Status Quo

42) Simple Minds

43) Wet Wet Wet

44) 'N Sync

45) Eurythmics

46) Duran Duran

47) Erasure

48) The Shadows

49) Boyz II Men

50) Van Halen

Arts & Entertainment
TV

Arts & Entertainment
Customers browse through Vinyl Junkies record shop in Berwick Street, Soho, London
music

Arts & Entertainment
Who laughs lass: Jenny Collier on stage
ComedyCollier was once told there were "too many women" on bill
Arts & Entertainment
Ian Anderson, the leader of British rock band Jethro Tull, (right) and British guitar player Martin Barre (left) perform on stage
music

VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
Don (John Hamm) and Megan (Jessica Paré) Draper are going their separate ways in the final series of ‘Mad Men’
tvReview: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Arts & Entertainment
James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men on Broadway
theatre

Review: Of Mice and Men

Arts & Entertainment
art

By opportunistic local hoping to exhibit the work

Arts & Entertainment
Leonardo DiCaprio will star in an adaptation of Michael Punke's thriller 'The Revenant'
film

Fans will be hoping the role finally wins him an Oscar

Arts & Entertainment
Cody and Paul Walker pictured in 2003.
film

Arts & Entertainment
Down to earth: Fern Britton presents 'The Big Allotment Challenge'
TV

Arts & Entertainment
The London Mozart Players is the longest-running chamber orchestra in the UK
musicThreatened orchestra plays on, managed by its own members
Arts & Entertainment
Seeing red: James Dean with Sal Mineo in 'Rebel without a Cause'
film

Arts & Entertainment
TV
Arts & Entertainment
Heads up: Andy Scott's The Kelpies in Falkirk
art

What do gigantic horse heads tell us about Falkirk?

Arts & Entertainment
artGraffiti legend posts picture of work – but no one knows where it is
Arts & Entertainment
A close-up of Tom of Finland's new Finnish stamp
art

Finnish Postal Service praises the 'self irony and humour' of the drawings

Arts & Entertainment
Pierce Brosnan as James Bond in 2002's Die Another Day
film

The actor has confessed to his own insecurities

Life & Style
Green fingers: a plot in East London
TV

Allotments are the focus of a new reality show

Arts & Entertainment
Myleene Klass attends the Olivier awards 2014

Oliviers 2014Theatre stars arrive at Britain's most prestigious theatre awards
Arts & Entertainment
Stars of The Book of Mormon by Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park

Oliviers 2014Blockbuster picked up Best Musical and Best Actor in a Musical
Arts & Entertainment
Lesley Manville with her Olivier for Best Actress for her role in 'Ghosts'

Oliviers 2014Actress thanked director Richard Eyre for a stunning production
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

    Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
    Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

    British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

    The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
    Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

    Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

    Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
    Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
    Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

    Cannes Film Festival

    Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
    The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

    The concept album makes surprise top ten return

    Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
    Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

    Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

    Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
    10 best baking books

    10 best baking books

    Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
    Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

    Jury still out on Pellegrini

    Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

    As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
    Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

    Mad Men returns for a final fling

    The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

    Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit