Top 5 most notable artists with Arizona roots

Cities like Los Angeles, Nashville and New York City are credited with the synthesis of a good part of the music industry today, but the likes of Tempe, Phoenix and Tucson have also produced their fair share of music heavyweights. Here is a look into some of the artists who have given Grand Canyon state residents a reason to brag.

Jimmy Eat World, which originates from Mesa, makes desert dwellers proud with its impressive record sales from the past two decades. (Photo courtesy of Interscope Records)


1. Jimmy Eat World

Keeping the post-grunge era alive and relevant are Mesa expats Jimmy Eat World. With seven studio albums under its belt, the band cemented itself into the collective psyche of the music industry of the last two decades. When the group formed in 1993, its guitar-laden style fit right into an era of loud-mouthed musicians and angry punk artists, but it dealt impressively well with the changing landscape, managing to avoid slipping into obscurity. Perhaps most known for ubiquitous singles like “The Middle” off of its 2001 album “Bleed American,” and “Big Casino” off of 2007’s “Chase This Light,” Jimmy Eat World is punk at its best: imperfect and unwavering.


With its songs "Some Nights" and "We are Young" being international hits, fun. has proved that a lot of musical inspiration can come from the desert. (Photo courtesy of Fueled By Ramen Records)

2. The Format/fun.  It might be considered cheating to lump The Format and fun. into one slot, and worse yet, fun. wasn’t actually formed in Arizona, but it’s safe to say that college students across the valley have adopted fun. as their own. Acknowledging this, these two groups are certainly some of the most spirited to come out of this state. Nate Ruess first formed The Format but moved on to fun. after its 2008 breakup. Ruess has a distinctive voice that’s perfect for spearheading two of the most prolific pop-rock bands to come out of the alternative surge of the last decade. The Format and fun. behave like two eras of the same band, and there’s evident growth for Ruess from one to the next. Having now earned mainstream success with the two lead singles off of its sophomore album, “We Are Young” and “Some Nights,” fun. is certainly poised to be around for a while.


3. Dierks Bentley. It’s not often that a city gets to claim one of country music’s big names as one of its own as Phoenix does with Dierks Bentley. With 10 No. 1 singles on country singles charts and a host of awards, Bentley is a certified heavyweight in the industry, something that earned him an invitation to be a member of the Grand Old Opry at just 30 years old. As his career has progressed, he’s tried his hand at classic country and bluegrass, while also dabbling in more modern sounds. Still, he's stayed true to the genre across the board.


Rolling Stone named Stevie Nicks the "Reigning Queen of Rock 'n' Roll," making Phoenix citizens proud to say she was born and raised in their neck of the woods. (Photo courtesy of Reprise Records)

4. Stevie Nicks. It is hard to say much about Stevie Nicks that hasn’t already been said. Named Rolling Stone’s “Reigning Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” Nicks has been tied to some of the most well known musicians of the last five decades. The first band she performed in, Fritz, opened for both Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, and her career only mushroomed from there. Without disregarding her seven solo albums, perhaps the most discussed part of her career was her time in the rock group Fleetwood Mac, with which she released 13 studio albums and live recordings.


5. Andrew Jackson Jihad. Andrew Jackson Jihad is no-frills homegrown folk at its core. With an elastic line-up centered around duo Sean Bonnette and Ben Gallaty, the band has earned itself a devoted following in the Valley, despite being heavily criticized at times for its controversial lyrics. The group rides the line between instigating debate and being inflammatory just for the sake of being inflammatory, leaning towards the former solely on the basis of Bonnette’s genuine vocals. By no means is this band mainstream, but that seems to be exactly the point.

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