Tie back your hair and crack out the vinyl. We score the greatest dad rockers of all time.

It was intended as a derogatory term for bands that blokes with hairlines fading as quickly as their denim listened to. Many of these “Dad Rock” groups came out of the classic movement of the 1970s, while ’80s soft rock gave birth to the rest. Some wore the term as a badge of honour, for others it was harshly attributed. One thing is for certain though, Dad Rock is way of life for us tragically unfashionable men.

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So here is the Age of Dad guide to the groups – from the brilliant to the dubious – that epitomise Dad Rock, with a helpful Top Trumps-style rating system to rate the greatest dad rockers ever.

Genesis/Phil Collins

greatest dad rockers

A band that typified the evolution of Dad Rock out of the classic/prog-rock movement, Genesis hit their Dad Rock heyday after Phil Collins commandeered the mic. This period is summed up best by Patrick Bateman in American Psycho: “Do you like Phil Collins? I’ve been a big Genesis fan ever since the release of their 1980 album, Duke. Before that, I really didn’t understand any of their work. Too artsy, too intellectual. It was on Duke where Phil Collins’ presence became more apparent.” We all know what follows.

Sound – 6/10

Their early albums were much more musically challenging and interesting. Once Collins gets his claws in it all descends firmly into the Dad Rock oeuvre.

Look – 4/10

Never has it been said that Genesis were style icons. Move on.

Legacy – 7 /10

A seriously questionable group but no doubt about their wide-reaching impact on music.

Fans – 8/10

Spot a bloke in a Genesis T-shirt and I give you the archetypal Dad Rocker. Under no circumstances engage in conversation.

Wrinkly Rocker Rating – 3 /10

Time has not been kind to Genesis. Even claiming you prefer their earlier work doesn’t cut it any more. Leave it in the past. 

Total Dad Rock Score – 28/50

Status Quo

greatest dad rockers

Amazingly, The Quo have had more UK hits than any other rock group – something we should be ashamed of as a nation, because they are a prime example of what happens when a pub band get their hands on a single riff and milk it for all its worth. Songwriting duo Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt had a short-lived psychedelic period resulting in their best track Pictures of Matchstick Men. But, with faded jeans and white T-shirts replacing the Carnaby Street fashions, their boogie-rock period was ready to be unleashed.

Sound – 4/10  

They learnt three chords and stuck with them. If it ain’t broke…

Look – 5/10  

It wasn’t stylish (Rossi had a ponytail) but they did reflect their demographic.

Legacy – 5/10  

They gave hope to pub bands all over the country.

Fans – 9/10 

Stuck with them from local boozers to stadiums and back again… and then back again. Double-denim all the way.

Wrinkly Rocker Rating – 5/10  

Quo have basically never changed, so for that you must give them some credit.

Total Dad Rock Score – 28/50

Dire Straits

Greatest dad rockers

If you are in your mid-thirties, you are certain to have grown up around someone who listened to far too much Dire Straits. For me it was our neighbour, who would blast out this affront to music every time we had a family barbecue. His car was keyed several times. Straits are what Dad Rock is meant to be. Albums such as Brothers in Arms (the first to sell a million copies on CD) cemented them as one of the biggest bands of the ’80s. They even headlined Nelson Mandela’s 70th birthday gig at Wembley. He loved a bit of Twisting by the Pool.

Sound – 7/10  

Defined an era. It was so ’80s soft-rock it hurt.

Look – 6/10

Big baggy shirts and headbands, later followed by jackets with rolled-up sleeves.

Legacy 7/10

As one of the biggest-selling groups you cannot disagree with their impact. I was still regularly selling copies of their albums in my teens when working in record shops.

Fans – 4/10  

Not your atypical serious music fans, everyone liked Straits. They were mainstream for the masses, hence their success.

Wrinkly Rocker Rating – 8/10 

Unbelievably, I meet young people today who rate Dire Straits. They have somehow remained popular. 

Total Dad Rock Score – 32/50

Steely Dan

greatest dad rockers

Not many bands can claim to have taken their name from a fictional dildo, but Steely Dan can. Walter Beckett and Donald Fagen’s fusion of different musical styles and cryptic lyrics packed with cultural references oozes coolness. Thanks to songs such as Reeling in the Years and Rikki Don’t Lose that Number. They are the ultimate Dad Rock band – without the accompanying irony – and widely regarded as musical antiheroes. Dad rock royalty.

Sound – 9/10  

Silky smooth. Their songs about the underbelly of society go deeper than your usual Dad Rock staples.

Look – 7/10  

Classic awkward antiheroes who benefited from splitting up before ’80s fashions took hold. Original geek chic.

Legacy – 8/10  

Considered one of the most influential groups of the 20th century, their tracks have been sampled and covered numerous times.

Fans – 7/10  

A cult following throughout their career, gaining new admirers in recent years.

Wrinkly Rocker Rating – 9/10  

Steely Dan’s music has a timeless quality to it and they are as popular as ever.

Total Dad Rock Score –40/50

Bruce Springsteen

greatest dad rockers

The Boss needs no introduction. There are so many strings to his songwriting bow but his big-band approach to rock and R&B on his Born in the USA and Born to Run albums appeal because of their poetic depictions of American life. The Boss dancing with a fresh-faced, pre-Friends Courteney Cox in the video for Dancing in the Dark will be among our fondest memories but, after his three-hour performance at Glastonbury in 2009, a whole new audience got to appreciate a master at work – and immediately raided their own dad’s vinyl when they got home.

Sound – 8/10  

From big-band stadium performances to low-key Americana, Springsteen knows how to put a tune together.

Look – 9/10  

The correct way to rock denim and a trucker hat.

Legacy – 9/10  

Few artists have had such an impact. His will last long in the consciousness of society.

Fans – 6/10  

As varied as his music but a little too much American patriotism for the British market.

Wrinkly Rocker Rating – 10/10  

The guy can still rock a stage better than anyone. 

Total Dad Rock Score – 42/50


greatest dad rockers

Traversed the boundary of classic and Dad Rock with aplomb. It was with the release of their 1977 album News of the World that they become Dad Rock sensations. Stadium anthems such as We Will Rock You and We are the Champions took them global and the ’80s saw their sound became much more in keeping with what we associate with Dad Rock. As songwriters and performers, Queen are up there with the best, and their ability to create anthemic masterpieces is undeniable.

Sound – 8/10

Freddie’s vocals are tremendous. The band do a top job of keeping up.

Look – 7/10

Mercury would be a solid 9½ but the rest drag him down, especially May’s poodle coiffure.

Legacy – 8/10  

Queen have long-inspired musicians but their songs have been subject of some questionable covers.

Fans – 8/10  

Lifelong devotees. I will probably get stick for not giving them 10 in every rating.

Wrinkly Rocker Rating – 7/10  

The hits may be anthemic but too many dalliances with badgers and modern pop stars has harmed their reputation.

Total Dad Rock Score – 38/50

Eric Clapton

greatest dad rockers

As a member of Cream, The Yardbirds and Blind Faith, Eric Clapton cemented himself as one of the greatest blues guitarists of all time. This was eclipsed when we went solo and placed himself firmly in the Dad Rock genre. He kicked off this era with an absolute belter, Layla, inspired by his love for George Harrison’s wife. Clapton continued to write more proper Dad Rock anthems, with his superb guitar work giving them a degree of legitimacy. His 1989 album Journeyman is arguably one of the best Dad Rock/blues albums ever.

Sound – 8/10  

Lyrically and musically, his sound is instantly recognisable. The ’80s took hold for a while but he escaped unscathed.

Look – 6/10

All fairly safe, he rocked some great corduroy for a while.

Legacy – 10/10  

One of the greatest guitarists, end of.

Fans – 7/10 

Mixed bag of those who loved him with Cream, etc, and those from the ’80s.

Wrinkly Rocker Rating – 10/10  

His polished performances are still some of the best to this day. 

Total Dad Rock Score – 41/50


greatest dad rockers

Treading dangerous ground here but U2 are well and truly Dad Rock and nothing more. Those that love them are blind to the fact that they just are not as good as they think. They had some decent tracks when they first started but pretty much everything since 1991’s Achtung Baby has been garbage. Plus, the bands themselves are “Embarrassing Dad” personified (take off the sunglasses Bono, you utter bellend). South Park got it spot on in their characterisation of Bono – the world’s greatest shit – and The Edge is just a shit name. I stand by it. U2 are shit Dad Rock.

Sound – 4/10  

They were OK, once. Bill Bailey’s rendition of a technical fault at a U2 gig is spot on.

Look – 3/10  

Middle-aged men in cowboy/beanie hats and tight-fitting “muscle” tops. Nope.

Legacy – 6/10  

Their music will live long, provided you delete everything post-1993.

Fans – 10/10

People love them, for that I can only score highly based on their devotion for the cause.

Wrinkly Rocker Rating – 2/10 

Dear, oh dear. Sorry boys, you have become an embarrassment.

Total Dad Rock Score – 25/50

Meat Loaf

Greatest Dad Rockers

The larger-than-life Loaf is possibly one of the most unlikely rock stars of all time. That is until you hear the man sing. His Bat Out of Hell albums cemented his place in rock history – the original Bat Out of Hell has never left the Top 200 in the UK album charts, in fact. He recorded many others but few reached the same levels of success. Most will know him for the frankly ridiculous I Would Do Anything for Love, which seemed to remain in the UK singles charts for an eternity. But as Dad Rock goes, this is some of the most theatrical around.

Sound – 8/10  

Big, bold and beautiful, just like them man himself.

Look – 10/10  

So OTT you just have to love it.

Legacy – 6/10  

He probably won’t be remembered as one of the greats but can certainly hold his own.

Fans – 9/10  

Probably took a lot of stick in their youth when people found out they were Meat Loaf fans. Deserve recognition for sticking by him.

Wrinkly Rocker Rating – 7/10  

Everyone loves Meat Loaf the man, less so his music but the Bat Out of Hell stage show is worth seeing though.

Total Dad Rock Score – 40/50

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