My vote would be Led Zeppelin. In some ways, they killed rock. Nobody could really do it bigger than they did, so the genre got weak and finally made way for — and got absorbed in — other more creative forms. Jack Hamilton in Slate has a fun retrospective on the band, on the release of new versions of their first three albums. He has some misses (how do you not count “Your Time Is Gonna Come” as a great song on their first album?) but offers an admiring take:
These are, and always have been, three of the most perfect sounding rock albums ever made. The rough mixes of II and III, though, are a revelation, casting light on Jimmy Page’s immense talents as a producer and giving us the opportunity to rediscover this band as they were, four absurdly gifted young people making music together, as opposed to the rock deities they’d forever after be imagined as. You can hear Page’s pick scraping string on a demo-ish “Whole Lotta Love,” Robert Plant feeling his way through an early pass at “Ramble On,” Bonzo counting the band back in on a skeletal version of “Moby Dick,” the careful interplay of Page’s acoustic and John Paul Jones’ mandolin on a rough cut of “Gallows Pole.” Listening to the ragged life behind these recordings reminds us, on the one hand, that four guys made these records. It also reminds us, on the other, that four guys made these records. Sometimes being made human only heightens your immortality.
Makes me want to go out and destroy a hotel room.