60s and 70s Rock
In my humble opinion, the 60's and 70's were the formative years of modern rock music. Sure, it can be argued that Eddy Van Halen and Mark Knophler raised the bar, but the greatest transition seemed to be in the 60's and 70's. Many would point to the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Animals, Creme, Turtles, Strawberry Alarm Clock, Beach Boys, Procol Harum, Zombies, Hollies, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Mama's and Papa's, Bob Dylan, Crosby Stills and Nash, Buffaloe Springfield, The Moody Blues, The Bee Gee's, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Pink Floyd, Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top, Santana, The Who, The Guess Who, Rush, and the list could go on and on. Pick any modern song and I could go back to this time and find that tone and sound.
So much is lost to time from this innovative period. But it is still there somewhere in the annuls of time. And those innovations still were inspired from the greater transition from Blues to the mainstream in the 50's, with Elvis Presley likely as the most popular, if not the most influential. Then with Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, BB King, Johnny "guitar Watson, among so many others. Both Rock and Country was spun off from Blues and likely a part Celtic. Many bands in the 70's experimented with a fusion of middle eastern origins.
This time just seems to me to be one of the most transcendental periods in the history of American music. How anyone could choose just one band or artist that has been inspired from so much history seems really ludicrous.