FT5: Trios

I’ve always been impressed by musical groups who encompass only three artists and continue to rock as hard as the next. It blows me away that a three-piece can create such a forceful sound that some bands can’t find within five or six members. I know this list doesn’t do justice recognizing some of the greatest trios of all time; however, these are five of my favorite.


5. Muse

I know some of the ATH crew doesn’t approve of Muse in this top 5, but this three-piece will always blow my mind. This English alt-rock trio began in ’92 with Matthew Bellamy, Dominic Howard and Chris Wolstenholme who are known for their dynamic live sets. They exude classical harmony-fueled sound along with insanely powerful lead vocals. Despite their latest album “Resistance” that some say mimic Queen, you gotta admit they are talented.


4. Run D.M.C.

This hip hop group from New York City includes Joseph “Run” Simmons, Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels and Jason “Jam-Master Jay” Mizell. These guys are known for trading lines and creating a ‘vocal tug of war’ that sets them apart from other hip hop groups of the 80s. They have been awarded by MTV and VH1 as the Greatest Hip Hop Group of All Time. Even though many of their tracks are self promoting, you can’t help but love “It’s Like That.” They even have their own sneakers. I want them.


3. Beastie Boys

This group created a new genre of white guys that can actually rap. In ’79 Beastie Boys were a hardcore punk band comprised of Michael “Mike D” Diamond, Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz and Adam “MCA” Yauch. In ’98 they added Michael “Mix Master Mike” Schwartz who was featured for the first time in “Three MCs and One DJ.” The combination of their obscure matching outfits and vulgar lyrics make them a favorite in my book. I saw them last summer and they still rocked super hard. Despite their button-up dad shirts and khaki’s, the boys still jumped around on stage and killed “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” along with the rest of their hits.


2. ZZ Top

Born and raised in Texas, I’ve grown up on ZZ Top and always had a profound appreciation for their bluesy-rock and rustic style. Billy Gibbons, Joseph Dusty Hill and Frank Beard formed in ’69 and are one of the longest running rock bands to hang on to the same lineup throughout their career. Releasing 14 studio albums with five of them turning platinum, these guys have been dishing out classic sound non-stop. These three bearded men are the only ones in my book that are allowed to wear sunglasses at night.


1. The Police

I have never heard a sour word spoken about Sting and his crew. This London based trio originated in ’77 when Sting, Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers got together. Their combinations of jazz, reggae and punk gained instant popularity which was strong until their break up in ’84. These guys sold more than 50 million albums, won six Grammy awards, and have probably made it on every one of our mixed-tapes (well the kids use CDs these days). Copeland even wrote a book titled “Strange Things Happen” that recounts the rock memoirs of The Police. Total bad asses.



  • I know this is purely opinion, but Muse in the top 5 three-piece bands of all time? That is a shocker. My initial thought is what about Cream? But there are more. Nirvana! And, as a Texan, how do you not put SRV and Double Trouble in the list? The Jimmi Hendrix Experience is clearly better than Muse. Honestly, I can get behind 4 out your 5 even though they might not all make my top 5, but Muse has no business in there. Alas, to each their own and so on.

  • Ayayayayay! Mair-Bear…I <3 ya but your ommission of Hanson has got to be one of the biggest snubs in trio history.
    PS: For real (in no particular order)…Cream, Jimi Hendrix Experience, Nirvana, RUSH, & The Police

  • Do the kids even use CDs these days? I thought it was playlists…
    I dig the hip-hop shout out, though. ATH, can I get some love for the urban culture?!?!

  • Can I get some Wilson Phillips love in the house?

  • Marcus – we need more brown people working for us….

  • I DID say my favorites, and made it clear that many were left out. And nope, I’m not the biggest fan of Cream. That’s your list Kev! Muse is my generation fav, and of course I had to include so hip hop! That doesn’t get thrown around on ATH too much! 🙂

  • Not bad, but I agree with everyone else.

  • Muse peaked with Origin of Symmetry and Absolution. They haven’t written a song as pummeling and cathartic as “Stockholm Syndrome” or as stark and haunting as “Ruled By Secrecy” on their last two mediocre albums. Their new songs feel devoid of real emotion and instead are pseudo-political cartoony anthems meant to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

  • Rush get the nod, but Primus is close behind for me.

    JBT is my more modern choice.

    No love for Everclear or Blink? Best. Trios. Ever.

  • I think the appeal of Muse as a trio for this list is just the amount of SOUND generated by those 3 guys.

    minimal cultural significance, lowest common denominator, massive popular appeal… either way, they add up to more than the sum of their parts. Biggest “sound” of any of the bands on the list or in the comments. but then again, i’m a sucker for overproduction.

    Rush is a wall of sound, but kind of goofy.

  • Brett – I think your description of Rush describes Muse for me. A wall of sound but damnit I can’t take them seriously…

    And WTF!?!?!? No TLC!?!

  • if it was 1995, the correct answer would have been Nirvana, Green Day, Silverchair, Presidents Of The United States Of America, and 213. 213 baby! White folks still don’t know!

    I’m going to give Muse my full support here. No basis, just unconditional support. However, I still can’t believe Destiny’s Child didn’t make this list….

  • king tut- No 1995 love for Sublime?

  • I think I’d through Yo La Tengo in there.

  • Err, “throw” not “through.”

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