Top 10 Fanatical Tribute Bands

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What’s the story with tribute bands anyways? Often the musicians playing in tribute bands are amazing musicians in their own right so why are they devoting their energy to copying someone else? Is it the ultimate compliment, a cash grab, or just a lack of original material? Playing in a tribute band takes more dedication than just being in a cover band; in fact, many tribute band members seem to have made the leap from fan over to fanatical.

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The really good tribute bands celebrate their love for a specific musical group together with their audiences. They are motivated by love, not just money. They also have that little extra something that sets them apart from the many other tribute acts out there. Here are my top ten tribute bands:

Guidelines I used:

  1. 100% tribute band (not too many other covers, no original songs)
  2. Active (if I didn’t see recent activity, I disqualified them)
  3. Tribute to a band, not a single performer
  4. Musicianship (must actually sing and play instruments)
  5. Can not contain any members of the original band

2012 UPDATE:

People are still commenting on this list 4 years later, I loved writing this list so I thought I’d give it a facelift. I replaced 2 videos that were not working any more (Westend Girls and Bjorn Again) and I built a Tribute Band YouTube playlist where I will continue to collect videos of the fantastic talent you share in the comments. – Tanya.

10. Fan Halen (Van Halen)


So that’s what David Lee Roth is doing now… Just kidding! He sure looks like David Lee Roth, if David Lee Roth had a time machine. I bet he is trying to find one so he can go back to the old days. Hopefully Axel Rose finds it first.

9. Lez Zeppelin (Led Zeppelin)


(“All Girls All Zeppelin” www.myspace.com/lezzeppelin) They made the list because they are working their butts off touring like crazy right now and because I listened to their stuff and it’s very good. But most importantly, their name is hee-har-hilarious!

8. Pink Fraud (Pink Floyd)

They focus on Pink Floyd circa 1968-1979. According to their website, the use “authentic period clothing and equipment, and [stay] true to the bands arrangements and touring line-ups” to “create the suspension of belief for fans who were there at the time, and offer the original experience to new fans.” They wouldn’t normally make my list just for looking and sounding exactly like Pink Floyd but I’m including them because they’ve been kicking it pink style for over twenty years and also their band name is both funny and painfully honest.

7. BC/DC (AC/DC)

This band hailing from British Columbia (B.C.) Canada insists they are not a tribute band but the real thing and that AC/DC is actually a tribute band of BC/DC’s. Those wacky kids! Also, going by the video above, the guitar player wears a cow costume on stage. Weird. (www.bcdc.ca)

6. Gabba (ABBA/The Ramones)


They play Abba songs in the style of the Ramones. Or is it the other way around? Hard to tell from their song names: “Surfing Queen,” “The Pinhead Takes it All,” “Hej Ho Disco.” (www.gabba.co.uk)

5. Mini Kiss (Kiss)


At first I wasn’t going to include this one because their Wikipedia article said they didn’t play their own instruments but after watching a few videos I’m pretty sure that they are playing them. There is also apparently a rivalry between this band and another Kiss tribute band featuring little people, which makes them even more interesting. (www.minikissonline.com)

4. The West End Girls (Pet Shop Boys)



Two Swedish women covering Pet Shop Boys songs. Very euro-pop, funny, yet catchy. Hmmmm, kind of like the band they are emulating? (www.westendgirls.se)

3. Beatallica (Beatles/Metallica)

Songs such as “Hey Dude” and “…And Justice for all my loving” how could these guys not be on the list? Just look at them! (www.beatallica.org)

2. The Bootleg Beatles (The Beatles)


In 1982 the Bootleg Beatles became “the first western rock group to ever tour the USSR” (www.bootlegbeatles.com). There are a lot of Beatles tribute bands out there that go to a lot of trouble to look and sound just like the originals; however this is the only one that also made rock’n’roll history! And, in true crazy tribute style, the Bootleg Beatles arrived for their US tour from London exactly 20 years after their favorite group – on Pan Am flight 01A on February 7, 1984. Coincidence? I doubt it.

1. Bjorn Again (Abba)

Began as a tribute band in 1988 and is now, from what I understand, somewhat of a franchise with several versions performing all over the world simultaneously. According to their website www.bjornagain.com, their band is “not labeled a “tribute” or a “copy” but seen as a band in it’s own right”. Well, I’m going to go ahead and still call them a tribute since they perform Abba songs, dress like Abba and have names based on the original Abba members (BjΓΆrn Volvo-us, Benny Anderwear, Frida Longstokin and Agnetha Falstart). They have earned the number one spot on this list for several reasons: their longevity (20 years and counting!), their arrival at Heathrow Airport dressed in full costume for their UK tour, one of their songs made the UK Charts, and the fact that band Nirvana had them added to the line up for the Reading Festival. Oh, and they have toured with the real versions of Cher and Shania Twain.

Honorable mentions (did not meet criteria)

Hayseed Dixie – AC/DC tribute to AC/DC songs with a country spin. They also have a lot of their own original material so not qualified.

Iron Maidens – All female tribute to Iron Maiden. Has not played a show since 2007 so disqualified.

Richard Cheese & Lounge Against the Machine – www.richardcheese.com He does a variety of rock covers (not just Rage Against the Machine) but all in a cheesy lounge style. Awesome.

No Way Sis (Oasis) – Hit UK charts with cover of “I’d like to teach the world to sing” in Oasis style. Signed a 5 album deal with EMI but could not find evidence they still exist.

Apocalyptica and Dread Zeppelin

Sources: Wikipedia and websites included in list, as well as: www.tribute-band.com, www.canadiantributebands.com

Check out our growing collection of tribute bands at our TopTenz YouTube Channel:

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108 Comments

  1. Hi there,

    We are a French tribute band to the DOORS.
    Our band’s name is VENICE. It comes from Venice beach California , the beach where it all started.
    Don’t hesitate to contact us for a live psychedelic show !

  2. Jorgen Ingmar on

    Hello everyone,

    We are L.A.vation – The World’s Greatest Tribute to U2.
    L.A.vation travels worldwide to bring the music of U2 to your next club, corporate event, concert in the park, fundraiser, private party, you name it, we do it!
    Check us out at http://www.u2lavation.com

    Thank you!

  3. Hey if you want to see and hear a tribute band that sounds just like Motley Crue you have to check out Decade of Decadence! The vocals are the absolute closest you will hear to Vince Neil without Vince himself singing! YOU HAVE TO CHECK THIS BAND OUT YOU WONT BE DISAPPOINTED!!
    \m/ \m/

  4. I did see a tribute band called “The Musical Box” and we’re a tribute band to GENESIS when they had Peter Gabriel as the lead frontman. They performed the entire album “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway” and a few other tunes like “The Knife” and “Watcher’s Of The Sky”. It was very convincing and a wonderful concert to watch

  5. I would also like to add about a tribute band from England who does a Queen tribute. Go on to YOU TUBE and type in Gary Mullin. He is considered to be the greatest impersonator of Freddie Mercury in the world. I have seen him on YOU TUBE and everything is dead accurate. The Clothing, the Voice, the Stage Antics, even his face with the mustache and of course the flair for the dramatics. Its quite amazing

  6. The Roadhouse Doors
    I`ve seen this Irish Doors tribute band several times and of all The Doors tributes I`ve seen from around the world these guys are by far the best.
    The whole band doesn`t resemble the Doors but obviously the Jim Morrison is a bit of a doopleganger but they actually play the Doors songs spot on as the real Doors write the tunes and use similar if not the same equipment.its a total tribute which really does Jim Morrison and co proud,by far the most exciting Doors tribute I`ve seen`.I would even go as far to say maybe even better than The Doors of the last fourty odd years without their singer…. makes the Doors legacy live on.Friends of mine bought the Doors cds after seeing them live

    • Thanks for sharing Kevin – I found them on YouTube and added them to our playlist of tribute bands. I also found a Zee Zee Pop from Australia (also added).

  7. This band does Crosby Stills Nash & Young – I have been to see the real thing live many times & this band Woodstock Mud keeps sounding like CSN did in the friggin 60’s. Today, CSN lags seriously, but I’ve been listening to the Woodstock Mud band for a few years now & they still sound clean & miraculous harmonies sound effortless. Love love love.

  8. Back in the 1990’s, I was living in the New England area and just down the road from me was a nightclub that would have live entertainment. There was an advertisement for a tribute rock band called Destroyer (a KISS tribute band). It was as close to a live KISS performance as one could get. (I have seen KISS on 5 different occasions). I had the chance to chat with them and it finally ended up with me backstage having a couple of drinks with them and them giving me the “tour” of their backstage preparations, right down to the fire breathing and stage blood antics of Gene Simmons and lets not forget the pyrotechnics that they used. They were really good guys to me and their show was a complete and pleasant surprise.

  9. Hi there. Thought you should know about Mojo Child: A Tribute to The Doors. We recreate the studio sound of The Doors in a live concert recreation, and perform with a psychedelic 60’s style lightshow Circa Fillmore West 1969. Mojo Child is a 5 piece band using a bass player as the Doors did “in the studio” for most of the post first album………Thanks!

  10. I like The Folsom Prison Gang (www.TheFolsomPrisonGang.com). They don’t claim to be an impersonation act but they do a pretty good tribtue to the Man in Black.

  11. We are an up and coming Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks Tribute band, White Winged Dove…really enjoyed your post and list, and everyone’s comments and band suggestions! Cool!

  12. I would not say we are fanatical, but…close to that. πŸ™‚ Creating a good Tribute is a really hard work and great lesson. One should of course try to create their own original repertoire, but Tribute is a good way to get skills and inspiration. Salutes to all AC/DC Tributes!!! πŸ™‚

  13. Florida used to have maybe 3 tribute bands based there in 2005 but since then over 40 have emerged led by Highway to Hell the amazing AC/DC Tribute show. They are the only AC/DC Tribute to share the stage with real members and were listed on the real AC/DC site last year.

    Check out the growing list of tributes in the south east at maximumbands.com/tribute

  14. Re: Van Halen tributes, this is not even close. UNCHAINED ” The mighty Van Halen tribute” Is by far the best. compare any other V.H. tribute to UNCHAINED & IT’s a race for 2 nd Place. Ricky M’coy. ” the singer, has some it all in this buissness. see for yourself, www, unchainedvhtribute.com