Guitar Hero was launched in 2005 and finally gave music fans the chance to be rock stars without having to go through the aggravating pains of learning an instrument. Originally developed by Harmonix, development of the series was transferred to Neversoft in 2007. Harmonix then moved on to Rock Band, who developed the Guitar Hero premise by adding the rest of the band on lead guitar. (Unfortunately, Guitar Hero is still attached to the Activision name, a company that has faced multiple accusations of abuse from current and former employees. Hopefully that actually changes in the near future.)
But both series were fun and allowed instrumentalists and non-instrumentalists alike to celebrate their love of music. Everyone from Megadeth and Iron Maiden to Franz Ferdinand and Interpol have been available to play at one time or another, but who are some musical acts notably absent from the show?
ten Post-Oasis Noel and Liam
Oasis were arguably the biggest band in the world in the mid-1990s, and they’re featured in the Guitar Hero World Tour base game with Some Might Say, off of their (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? LP. Additional songs were added via DLC.
So it’s odd that neither Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, nor Beady Eye, or Liam Gallagher’s solo material appear in the Guitar Hero or Rock Band video games. The White Stripes and Jack White are both featured, and Blur and Gorillaz (both directed by Damon Albarn) make appearances, so it’s not like the games are averse to featuring the same people in different guises.
9 King Gizzard and the Lizard Sorcerer
This Aussie rock band might be a bit too specialized for a game that features more traditional bands, which might explain why they’re not in any of the games, but they’re an amazing band that the rock genre needs today today. It could also be that when they released their first album in 2012, they were just a little too new. Rock Band’s last main entry was released in 2015, after all.
The thing is, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are so prolific that when the latest Rock Band game launched, the outfit was about to release its seventh album. For those keeping track, that’s seven albums in just three years. It’s not like rhythm games lack hardware.
The self-proclaimed “21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic” love rock and roll, and nowhere is that clearer than on their album of the same name, which they released in 2013. Songs like San Francisco, On Blue Mountain, and No Destruction have great potential for any rhythm game, and the duo have a classic rock sound that appeals to gamers of the series.
Alas, this gem of modern rock has never appeared on either Guitar Hero or Rock Band. They got one more chance to appear in a main game with their 2014 release…And Star Power, but that never materialized.
7 The moody blues
While Guitar Hero and Rock Band feature their fair share of more modern rock acts such as Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park, the games also strongly flatter those into classic rock. The Beatles have their own Rock Band game, and the likes of King Crimson, Scorpions, and Fleetwood Mac are easily found throughout the series.
Not so with the Moody Blues, perhaps best remembered for Nights In White Satin. And maybe it’s a song that’s not exciting enough for a rhythm game, but it’s not like they just do ballads. Ride My See Saw and I’m Just A Singer (In A Rock And Roll Band) are two upbeat, game-friendly Moody tracks.
Surprisingly, the second best-selling artist of the 1980s is not featured in any of the main games in the Guitar Hero or Rock Band series. There seems to be something about the 80s, however, that is puzzling. Phil Collins, the third best-selling artist of the decade, is in no game either. U2, at number four, was not added to the series until Rock Band 4, the last entry in the series mainline.
Whatever the reason, there’s a weird blockage about 1980s bestsellers. As for Madonna, sadly, it doesn’t look like you’ll be “touched for the very first time” anytime soon.
5 Electric Light Orchestra
According to John Lennon, if the Beatles had stayed in the 1970s, they might have sounded like Jeff Lynne and his Electric Light Orchestra. And yes, there is a lot of “beatism” in their music, especially in songs like 10538 Overture.
But Lennon wasn’t the only Beatle in love with what Lynne was doing. George Harrison convinced him to join him on stage and in the recording studio with the Traveling Wilburys, and Lynne even produced the Beatles’ reunion songs in the mid-90s. There’s a whole Rock Band game for the Beatles . How about an ELO song?
4 The Supremes
As much of a headache as Madonna and any of the aforementioned 80s snubs, the Supremes were massive in the 1960s, falling between the Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones when it came to record sales.
Why is it? It’s hard to say, but maybe the classic Motown sound isn’t Guitar Hero-y or Rock Band-y enough for the developers’ tastes. That would make sense, if it weren’t for Motown star Marvin Gaye featured in the Band Hero spin-off game. And while Band Hero isn’t in the main line of games, it still shows that Motown has a viable sound for these rhythm titles.
That’s right, there are no ABBA songs in the Guitar Hero and Rock Band games. However, you can find ABBA in the game ABBA: You Can Dance, which was released for the Nintendo Wii in 2011. This game may control all of ABBA’s video game rights.
If you’d rather not be a dancing queen but still looking to get your ABBA video game fix, you can check out SingStar ABBA, a karaoke game for Playstation 2 and 3, released in 2008.
2 pink floyd
“Wait…Pink Floyd isn’t in Guitar Hero or Rock Band? But I just played…no. Really?” Yes! Really. Any memory you have of playing Pink Floyd in Guitar Hero or Rock Band is fake unless you downloaded or created custom tracks.
The British band behind some of the greatest albums of the 1970s is nowhere to be found. Decades of internal fighting could be a factor here. Roger Waters and David Gilmour, the two oldest members of Pink Floyd, can’t agree on anything. It could be that internal feuds kept the band from appearing in either rhythm game (perhaps they’re not “artistic” enough for one?) , because the developers undoubtedly tried to integrate them. Whatever the reason, it’s a missing entry to make you say “how I wish you were here”.
1 Led Zeppelin
If there’s one indomitable white whale in guitar-based rhythm games, it’s Led Zeppelin. The developers of the Guitar Hero and Rock Band games have reportedly tried for years to get Jimmy Page and company to acquiesce to their inclusion wishes, but it seems Page is specifically opposed to such frivolous nonsense.
In fact, Led Zeppelin has a long history of keeping their music separate from other media. It took years before they started licensing their music for movies and TV shows, and they resisted putting their music on iTunes until 2007. For fans of rock music and rhythm games , Led Zeppelin’s absence may be the biggest heartbreaker of them all.
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