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 and Entertainment

Film Leonardo DiCaprio hunts Tom Hardy

Arts and Entertainment
And now for something completely different: the ‘Sin City’ episode of ‘Casualty’
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
    The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

    The haunting of Shirley Jackson

    Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
    Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

    Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

    These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
    Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

    Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
    HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
    Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

    'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

    Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
    Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

    The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

    Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen