The 21 most successful and influential groups in country music history (2024)

Throughout its history, country music has produced some truly stunning musical collaborations. Whether in duos, trios, or larger groups, the essential bands of country music traverse a wide range of musical influences, styles, and sounds.

Flip through the gallery below for a look at 21 of the genre's most successful — and influential — groups, ranging from record-shattering duo Brooks & Dunn to more classic collaborators like The Carter Family and The Highwaymen.

1 of 21

Brooks & Dunn

The 21 most successful and influential groups in country music history (1)

Daniel Boczarski/Redferns

This powerhouse duo of Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn formed after both struggled to find footing as solo artists, resulting in one of the most prolific — and commercially successful — duos in country music history. Make your way through their catalog with hits like "Brand New Man," "Neon Moon," and line dancing classic "Boot Scootin' Boogie."

2 of 21

Alabama

The 21 most successful and influential groups in country music history (2)

Lester Cohen/Getty Images

Formed in its namesake state in 1969 and comprised of Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry, and Jeff Cook, Alabama is the definition of an iconic country group. Scoring 27 #1 hits and selling upwards of 75 million albums throughout its multi-decade career, including "Mountain Music" and "If You're Gonna Play in Texas," Alabama is widely regarded as the genre's most successful band.

3 of 21

The Carter Family

The 21 most successful and influential groups in country music history (3)

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Starting in 1927, The Carter Family's influence on country music cannot be understated. From the pioneering guitar playing of "Mother" Maybelle Carter to the dulcet vocals of June Carter, the band were among the genre's earliest stars, with hits like "Keep On The Sunny Side" and "Wabash Cannonball."

4 of 21

The Chicks

The 21 most successful and influential groups in country music history (4)

Frank Micelotta/Getty Images

This Texas-born trio of Natalie Maines, Martie Maguire, and Emily Strayer stormed onto the scene in 1997 with their wildly successful debut album "Wide Open Spaces." After years of success and acclaim, the trio basically fell off the map in 2003, after Maines made controversial comments about then-President George W. Bush and the Iraq War. In 2020, the Chicks made a comeback — with a brand new name (they dropped the "Dixie") and a hard-driving new album called "Gaslighter."

5 of 21

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

The 21 most successful and influential groups in country music history (5)

Chris Walter/WireImage

A little bit rock and a whole lot country, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band got its start in the mid-'60s in Long Beach, California. From there, the band had extreme success covering tunes like "Mr. Bojangles," and released the iconic "Fishin' In The Dark," a #1 hit for the band on the country charts in 1987.

6 of 21

The Highwaymen

The 21 most successful and influential groups in country music history (6)

Larry Hulst/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The original country supergroup, comprised of Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, and Waylon Jennings, The Highwaymen influenced the world of country music in countless ways in just three albums. From "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys" to the album's manifesto of a title track, the songs written and performed by these classic country titans should not be missed.

7 of 21

Rascal Flatts

The 21 most successful and influential groups in country music history (7)

Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Wonderwall

It's almost impossible to have a conversation about iconic country music groups without talking about Rascal Flatts. However you feel about their music, this band is one of the most successful in country music history, selling tens of millions of records and winning the hearts of even more fans. In 2020, the band announced plans to disband, but not before a farewell tour could send Rascal Flatts off properly.

8 of 21

The Charlie Daniels Band

The 21 most successful and influential groups in country music history (8)

Scott Legato/Getty Images

Even folks who aren't fans of country have most likely heard the Charlie Daniels Band's most famous song "The Devil Went Down to Georgia." A seriously catchy tune in the long tradition of country story songs, it's just one of the band's great recordings. Try "Long Haired Country Boy"or "Mississippi" for a broader taste of the Charlie Daniels Band's sound.

9 of 21

Oak Ridge Boys

The 21 most successful and influential groups in country music history (9)

Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Blending country and gospel, the Oak Ridge Boys boast some of the finest vocalists in country music. The rich, deep timbre of bass Richard Sterban, known for that iconic riff on "Elvira," pairs perfectly with frontman Duane Allen, tenor Joe Bonsall, and baritone William Golden's voices.

10 of 21

Lonestar

The 21 most successful and influential groups in country music history (10)

M. Caulfield/WireImage

In the '90s, Lonestar brought country music one its most iconic love songs in "Amazed," a massive crossover success that's found a decades-long life at weddings and anniversary celebrations everywhere. But look deeper into the band's catalog for hits like "I'm Already There" and "No News."

11 of 21

Pistol Annies

The 21 most successful and influential groups in country music history (11)

John Shearer/Getty Images for CMT

A modern supergroup boasting three country music powerhouses — Angaleena Presley, Ashley Monroe, and Miranda Lambert — the Pistol Annies don't pull any punches on songs like "Hell on Heels" and "Trailer For Rent." The band released its most recent album in 2018, and fans are still hoping that these three country queens will come together and record again someday.

12 of 21

The Highwomen

The 21 most successful and influential groups in country music history (12)

John Shearer/Getty Images for CMT

Inspired by legendary outlaw supergroup The Highwaymen, Amanda Shires, Natalie Hemby, Maren Morris, and Brandi Carlile formed The Highwomen in 2016. The band's first album debuted in 2019 to great critical acclaim, thanks to tracks like "Crowded Table" and "Redesigning Women."

13 of 21

The Gatlin Brothers Band

The 21 most successful and influential groups in country music history (13)

Cooper Neil/ACM2015/Getty Images for dcp

In the late '70s and early '80s, the Gatlin Brothers ruled the country music airwaves with tracks like "All The Gold in California," and "Take Me To Your Lovin' Place." For fans of that classic countrypolitan sound, there's few better bands to listen to.

14 of 21

The Everly Brothers

The 21 most successful and influential groups in country music history (14)

Keystone/Getty Images

Blending rock and roll with plenty of country influence, the Everly Brothers got their start in Kentucky before heading to Tennessee to make it in the music business. After meeting lengedary producer Chet Atkins, the duo released hit after hit in the '50s and '60s, including "Bye Bye Love"and "Wake Up Little Susie."

15 of 21

Nickel Creek

The 21 most successful and influential groups in country music history (15)

Jack Vartoogian/Getty Images

This bluegrass band was founded in 1989, but flew under the radar until their 2000 breakout album, produced by Alison Krauss. Comprised of Chris Thile, Sara Watkins, and Sean Watkins, the band earned a place in the country-folk world thanks to hits like the Grammy-nominated "Ode to a Butterfly."

16 of 21

The Old 97s

The 21 most successful and influential groups in country music history (16)

Rick Kern/Getty Images

This alt-country four-piece that hails from Dallas, Texas helped define the alt-country sound in the '90s, thanks to acclaimed albums like "Wreck Your Life" and the excellent tune "Murder (Or A Heart Attack)." The band has continued to release music throughout the decades, including 2020's "Twelfth."

17 of 21

Uncle Tupelo

The 21 most successful and influential groups in country music history (17)

Jim Steinfeldt/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The story of Uncle Tupelo, comprised of Wilco's Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar, plus Son Volt's Mike Heidorn, is decidedly complicated. But the band's influence on the world of alt-country cannot be understated. Looking for a place to start? The band's 1990 debut "No Depression," which inspired the alt-country publication of the same name, is a great intro to Uncle Tupelo's distinct sound.

18 of 21

Drive-By Truckers

The 21 most successful and influential groups in country music history (18)

M. Tran/FilmMagic

This band's line-up has changed multiple times, but vocalist Mike Cooley and guitar/vocals virtuoso Patterson Hood have been around since its formation in Georgia in 1996. Drive-By Truckers rose to prominence with the addition of Jason Isbell, who's now an Americana star. Cooley and Hood are still making music today, including 2016's acclaimed "American Band," which thumbs its nose at Southern stereotypes.

19 of 21

Zac Brown Band

The 21 most successful and influential groups in country music history (19)

Mike Coppola/Getty Images for CMT

Known for catchy tunes that pair nicely with an ice cold beer, the Zac Brown Band has been scoring hits since 2008, when the smash single "Chicken Fried" hit the airwaves. Since then, the band's been decidedly more experimental in its sound, exploring more rock influences.

20 of 21

Asleep at the Wheel

The 21 most successful and influential groups in country music history (20)

David McNew/Newsmakers

Born in West Virginia and Based in Texas, Asleep at the Wheel is keeping the tradition of Western swing alive and well. Frontman Ray Benson and his band of merry musicians put on one hell of a live show, with songs like "Miles and Miles of Texas" and the 2009 duet with Willie Nelson, "Hesitation Blues."

21 of 21

Lady A

The 21 most successful and influential groups in country music history (21)

Rick Diamond/Getty Images

Formerly known as Lady Antebellum, the group now known simply as Lady A is one of the genre's most successful. This trio of Hillary Scott, Dave Haywood, and Charles Kelley has sold more than 10 million albums, scoring armfuls of awards for songs like "Need You Now" and "I Run To You."

The 21 most successful and influential groups in country music history (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Tish Haag

Last Updated:

Views: 5879

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (47 voted)

Reviews: 86% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Tish Haag

Birthday: 1999-11-18

Address: 30256 Tara Expressway, Kutchburgh, VT 92892-0078

Phone: +4215847628708

Job: Internal Consulting Engineer

Hobby: Roller skating, Roller skating, Kayaking, Flying, Graffiti, Ghost hunting, scrapbook

Introduction: My name is Tish Haag, I am a excited, delightful, curious, beautiful, agreeable, enchanting, fancy person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.