From Garage to Arena: What Garage Bands Became Famous Rock Stars?

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Garage bands have been renowned for creating music in its rawest form since the early 1960’s. What started off as a staple within the school community evolved into fame and influence. Well, for some bands anyway. Kids and teens from around the world turned to their parent’s garages as a place to jam, with a shared mission to play loud and fiercely delivered rock n’ roll. The movement for garage rock began. And despite it sometimes being associated with wannabe rock stars and terribly played loud music, there are many who started off in a garage that went on to become great arena bands, solidifying their place in music immortality.

Garage Bands

The music created from these garages were simple melodies layered over distortion – lo-fi grooves that reverberated behind a thick wall of fuzz. Now, they’re some of the best rock, grunge and punk songs to seduce our ears. There’s no denying that the garage space is more than just a home for your car – it’s a starting point for future rock stars. Garage rock is one of pop culture’s most notable subjects and the appeal of the greatest garage bands is instant. Here are some of the bands that made it happen:

The Seeds

The Seeds are one of the original pioneers of garage rock, with Pushin’ Too Hard defining that simple, but super effective sound. Led by Sky Saxon, the band were short-lived but cultishly memorable for anticipating the punk movement and popularising psychedelic rock. Saxon’s vocal style was heavily influenced by Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger and the band yielded two classic albums that paved their sound in the history of music forever – The Seeds and A Web of Sound.

They were more experimental and rawer than most. They didn’t try to pioneer garage rock but instead stumbled upon it in an effort to invent their own sound. The Seeds didn’t want to be mainstream and had an edge to them that wasn’t found in most other garage bands. “Being 20 in the ‘60s was wanting to rebel against everything. It happened more organically than by design. We didn’t want that pop, smooth thing”, says drummer Don Boomer in a recent interview with Billboard.


Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit is a prime example of garage band greatness. The band – which was formed in 1987 by Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic – became the ultimate soundtrack to teen rebellion with their unconventional music style. Joined by Dave Grohl on drums in 1990, they cemented themselves in music history with more immediate and tangible impact on the cultural landscape than most other bands.

It wasn’t until their 1991 release when the Seattle trio hit mainstream radio. Nevermind transcended the genre of grunge and guaranteed Nirvana had a crossover appeal: attracting old and young, rock, punk and grunge fans alike. The album gave many other bands the confidence to give it a go, confirming you didn’t need a lot of money or the best equipment to succeed, much to the excitement of other garage bands and teens starting out. Nirvana went on to perfect an arena-rock variation of grunge with other ridiculously great albums including In Utero.

The Ramones

The Ramones exploded onto the scene in 1974 and built a reputation for making fast-paced and intense punk music. Although they didn’t share bloodlines they were the personification of family, changing their last names to Ramone and dressing the same in weathered jeans and leather jackets. The band were more than their matching outfits and bowl cuts, however. Their 1978 album Rocket to Russia was their biggest breakthrough, with Teenage Lobotomy, Rockaway Beach and We’re a Happy Family supercharging the hearts of rock n’ rollers everywhere. Blitzkrieg Bop (1976) and I Wanna Be Sedated (1977) have that garage rock appeal to them too.

The Kinks

Famous for their hit You Really Got Me, The Kinks are recognised as one of the most influential British groups of all time. Since forming in 1964 the band have inspired thousands of kids to pick up instruments and form bands in garages. Their early garage rock days are the most celebrated. Fuelled by the raw sound of the 60’s, distorted guitars and bad attitudes; the essential ingredients which created the bases of songs like Waterloo Sunset and Lola.

The Sonics

The Sonics are one of the original garage rock bands that are still kicking on today. Their debut album Here Are The Sonics set the pace for the golden age of garage rock and took listeners on a wilder rock n’ roll ride. The Sonic’s attitude oozed pure garage, with songs that were raw-boned and furiously snarling; backed by brutal riffs and incredible screams. By their second album, Boom, they had cemented themselves as the loudest of the garage bands.

The Velvet Underground

The first Velvet Underground album made a huge impression when it was first released in 1967. Famously clothed in the Andy Warhol designed banana sleeve, The Velvet Underground and Nico merged experimentation with dreamy, drug-fuelled ballads. It was the album that inspired art rock, fusing almost every alternative music genre together. Although the band only made four albums under their classic line up, Lou Reed’s attitude and lyrical talents changed music completely. His ability to shock with taboo subjects and indulge in experimentation drove the band to its success. The debut album was – and still is – ahead of everyone’s time.

Iggy Pop and The Stooges

Iggy Pop and The Stooges are recognised for inventing punk, but it was their first two albums that became classic examples of the garage rock abandon – The Stooges (1969) and Fun House (1970). Both have a wild, loose spirit about them and carved the band’s territory of loud, hard-hitting goodness. The iconic frontman led The Stooges into a new realm of musical possibilities, pushing the boundaries of garage rock for a visceral sound that was far from pretentious.

Some of the best music started off in the humble garage. These bands proved that a group of mates and their instruments was enough. And that a dedicated space, skills and a shared mission to make music were all the tools you needed. If you’re lucky enough to have a garage attached to your house, then you should do everything you can to get the most out of it! Even if it means relocating the car to the verge and decking it out with soundproofing to create your own garage band jam room. Priorities, right?

Pinnacle Garage Doors aren’t rock stars and certainly have no intention of starting a band, but they do know garages well. Whether you’re living vicariously through your kid’s band dreams or you’re on your own mission to deck the space out for yourself, a great jam space needs to be equipped with the essentials. And that means investing in a good garage door. Unless you want to entertain the whole street, of course.


Follow Jayde Walker (Ferguson):

Music Journalist + Senior Content Writer

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