I'm looking for famous Rock bands that had the greatest longevity with keeping all initial members.

Here are some restrictions:

  • Initial members would be the ones who recorded the first album.

  • Famous would be a band that reached the Billboard magazine charts at least once.


  • Short temporary replacements on live concerts and/or a few songs on studio albums.

  • Additional members for live or recording sessions, whether they stay in the band or not.

Saying that, the Rolling Stones, still active today, will only count 6 years as Brian Jones died in 1969. The Beatles will count as 7 years even if Ringo Starr had been briefly replaced on live concerts.

  • If you are going to include the Beatles, then you might consider Rush which has gone almost 40 years with Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart. The first album (Rush, 1974) had Rutsey on drums. Peart appears on Caress of Steel, 1975. Band ended in 2015 so they had that line up for 40 years, it would seem. Apr 1, 2017 at 5:39
  • @PhillipSiebold I didn't include the Beatles, it was just an example of a band that had a brief replacement, but still count as seven years.
    – Bebs
    Apr 1, 2017 at 6:45
  • I should think the Beatles are eligible for this question; fill-ins for live shows shouldn't take away from the fact that no other drummer (except possibly Paul) recorded on their studio albums. Apr 1, 2017 at 7:18
  • @JasonPSallinger, I was expecting bands that lasted more than seven years...
    – Bebs
    Apr 1, 2017 at 7:19
  • It's gonna be tough I think. Any band with longevity suffers at the hands of death or in-fighting. Apr 1, 2017 at 7:22

6 Answers 6


Since you qualify initial members as recording the first album, thus dismissing an earlier single, I believe the winner would be ZZ Top. 1970-present gives them 47 years with the same lineup that recorded the first album.


Led Zeppelin


For all intents and purposes, the band was disbanded in 1980. Since then, they have done reunions and re-recordings in the way of their Middle Eastern album and their O2 show in 2012. Since they have not endeavored to write any new music, (and they will never find another drummer to replace Bonzo), it should be considered that they have disbanded in 1980.

  • Nice answer, but I'm almost sure The Who had twelve years when Keith Moon died :-)
    – Bebs
    Apr 1, 2017 at 10:40
  • The Who continued to record new material with different musicians. Apr 1, 2017 at 11:11
  • 1
    I'm okay with that.
    – Bebs
    Apr 1, 2017 at 11:42

One band worth considering could well be:


All the six founding members stayed in the band together for 20 years — 1977 to 1997 until lead singer Michael Hutchence's death. They were still active for 15 years after that, but haven't been on the scenes again since 2012. In addition to the lead singer's replacement(s), this wiki reference does include the names of some additional touring members too, but that really shouldn't take away anything from the initial core group.

Notable mention:


I was initially also thinking that U2 have been intact since their inception. This may or may not be technically true, but can make up for a very strong and interesting argument. The summary is as follows:

  • Six guys from a high school got together to form a band called Feedback in 1976.
  • Wiki is more or less quiet about Ivan McCormick, whose name features in the past members, but doesn't indicate when or how he left the band (in the first year itself). However, a further search brings up this press article narrating the sorry tale of a young teenager who, for being too young, couldn't be a part of the group when they were to perform in a pub.
  • At some point in 1977 (not sure before or after Ivan's omission), Feedback rebranded themselves as The Hype.
  • Dik Evans, elder brother of David Evans — one of the "face" of the bands now, being a few years older than the rest of the "then young" guys was gradually phased out on good terms from The Hype. To quote wiki:

In April 1977, Feedback played their first gig for a paying audience at St. Fintan's High School. Shortly after, the band changed their name to The Hype. Dik Evans, who was older and by this time at college, was becoming the odd man out. The rest of the band was leaning towards the idea of a four-piece ensemble. In March 1978, the group changed their name to "U2".

Dik Evans was officially phased out of the band with a farewell concert at the Presbyterian Church Hall in Howth. During the show, which featured The Hype playing cover songs, Dik ceremonially walked offstage. The remaining four band members returned later in the concert to play original material as U2.

(Emphases added)

The above quotes from Wiki can make up for a case that, perhaps U2 had always been thought of as a four member group — comprising of Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen Jr. and Adam Clayton. Cherry on the cake: all of these four members, even though they first united in 1976, have still been in the band together ever since the formation of U2 in 1978!

Now, this accounts for.... not legitimately 41.... but still a jaw dropping 39 years of U2!

PS: Thanks to the question, got a chance to look at my old collection and revisit some memorable songs ;)

  • U2 is clearly the right answer under the rules of the question. You should rewrite this answer to make that the headline, and INXS as the honorable mention. Jan 30, 2020 at 16:51

As far as I can tell, the Four Tops were unchanged from 1953 to 1997, forty four years.

This beats ZZ Top, whose original line-up consisted of Billy Gibbons, Lanier Greig and Dan Mitchell, which lasted less than one year. Within the questioner's initial rules, this score the band zero.

  • In the question rules, the "initial members" are the ones that recorded the first album, but still a good find :) +1
    – Bebs
    Dec 10, 2018 at 8:15

Just to mention another great example, which is still capable of beating ZZ-Top's record. Aerosmith. The current 5 members started in 1971 (when they released their first album), and are still going, with the longest hiatus in 1980-1983 from Joe Perry. This makes it (2019-1971)-4+1 = 45 years.



How about Golden Earring, whose two founder members have been together since 1961?

  • Hi Barney, I see you joined recently participating in this community. It's great news to have a new member. I want to inform you that this answer has been detected as "Low Quality" for it's short content. Could you merge it with the other answer you made? As you can see with other members, it's perfectly okay to submit several propositions in one answer. I also suggest you flesh it a little with more content, links, dates etc...
    – Bebs
    Dec 11, 2018 at 8:37

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