The 10 Best Funk Music Bands of All Time

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Looking for some good funk music to get down to? Check out our list of the 10 best funk bands of all time! From classic acts like James Brown to modern masters like Bruno Mars, these bands will have you grooving all night long.

The Meters

The Meters were an American funk band, active from 1965 to 1977. The band recorded for various labels, including Warner Bros. and Reprise, and their best known songs include “Cissy Strut” and “Look-Ka Py Py”. The Meters are widely regarded as one of the best funk bands of all time, and were an influential force in the development of both funk and New Orleans R&B.


Formed in the late 1960s by George Clinton, Parliament-Funkadelic was a collective of over 30 musicians who created what is commonly known as the P-funk sound. Heavily influenced by James Brown, Clinton’s vision was to create a new form of black music that would be more than just soul or R&B. His band helped pioneer the use of electronic instruments in funk and are credited with being one of the first bands to use computer-generated sounds. With their mix of psychedelic rock, soul, and funk, Parliament-Funkadelic were one of the most innovative and influential bands of the 1970s.

Bootsy’s Rubber Band

Funk is a music genre that originated in African American communities in the mid-1960s. It has been described as “a rhythmic, danceable form of R&B”. Funk’s earliest precursors were often based on Cuban music, such as Afro-Cuban jazz. Early funk bands such as James Brown and Parliament-Funkadelic were often distinguished by their use of the funk bass, a rhythmic style with complex syncopated patterns.

Bootsy’s Rubber Band is an American funk band formed in 1976 by bassist and singer Bootsy Collins. The band includes several musicians who have been associated with Collins over the years, including guitarist Ski Williamson and drummer Frankie Kash Waddy. The band is best known for their work with Collins during his time with Parliament-Funkadelic, including their appearances on the albums One Nation Under a Groove (1978) and Gloryhallastoopid (1979).

The James Brown Band

When it comes to funk music, there is no band more iconic than the James Brown Band. James Brown is often referred to as the “Godfather of Soul,” and with good reason. His music has been influential in genres ranging from R&B to hip hop. The James Brown Band was known for its tight arrangements and electrifying live performances. hits like “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine,” “Super Bad,” and “The Payback” are just a few of the reasons why the James Brown Band is one of the best funk bands of all time.

Sly and the Family Stone

Sly and the Family Stone was an American band from San Francisco. Active from 1966 to 1983, the band was pivotal in the development of soul, funk, rock, and psychedelic music. Headed by singer-songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Sly Stone, and containing several other family members and alumni, the band was known for its diverse make-up and recordings that incorporated elements of hundreds of styles of music.

The band’s top-selling album was their 1969 live record Stand!, which hit #1 on both the US pop and R&B charts. By the early 1970s, Sly and the Family Stone had become “one of the most critically acclaimed bands of their era”. They were ranked at number ninety-two on Rolling Stone’s list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”. The band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.

The Gap Band

The Gap Band was an American funk band which rose to fame during the 1970s and 1980s. The band consisted of three brothers: Charlie, Ronnie, and Robert Wilson. The band is best known for their hit songs “Outstanding”, “You Dropped a Bomb on Me”, and ” Early in the Morning”.

The Gap Band was formed in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1967. The brothers were all members of the Church of God in Christ and began playing music together in their youth. They first played together as a band at a church function and quickly began to develop a following. After high school, the brothers decided to pursue music full-time and they made their first album, Magician’s Holiday, in 1974.

The Gap Band’s popularity began to rise in the late 1970s with the release of their second album, The Gap Band II. The album spawned the hit single ” Outstanding”, which reached #1 on the Billboard R&B charts and #7 on the Billboard Hot 100. The success of “Outstanding” helped propel The Gap Band II to platinum status.

The Gap Band continued to find success in the 1980s with the release of several more albums, including Gap Band IV (1982) and V (1983). These albums produced several more hit singles, including “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” and “Early in the Morning”. The Gap Band remained active until the early 1990s when they disbanded due to creative differences.

While The Gap Band is no longer active, their legacy continues to live on through their music. They are widely considered to be one of the best funk bands of all time and have influenced many other artists within the genre.

Earth, Wind, and Fire

Earth, Wind, and Fire is an American band that has spanned the musical genres of R&B, soul, funk, jazz, disco, pop, rock, Latin, and African. They are one of the most successful bands of all time with two Grammy Awardsand multiple American Music Awards.

The band was founded in Chicago in 1969 by Maurice White. The band’s name was inspired by White’s astrological sign, Sagittarius. Earth, Wind & Fire’s first album was titled “The Milky Way” and featured the hit single “Reasons”.

The band has gone on to release a string of successful albums including “That’s the Way of the World” (1975), “All ‘n All” (1977), and “I Am” (1979). Earth, Wind & Fire has sold over 90 million albums worldwide and they were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.

Kool and the Gang

Kool & the Gang is an American band formed in 1964 by brothers Robert “Kool” Bell and Ronald Bell, with Dennis Thomas, Ricky Westfield Jr., George Brown, and Charles Smith. The band shifted from jazz to funk and disco in the mid-1970s with hits such as “Hollywood Swinging”, “Ladies’ Night”, “Rhinestone Cowboy,” and “Get Down on It”. The group was one of the first black bands to be embraced by white audiences and is credited with helping to bridge the gap between black and white music.

Maceo and All the Kings Men

Maceo and All the Kings Men was an American funk band, founded in 1963 by Maceo Parker. The band is best known for its role as James Brown’s backing band during the 1960s.

The group’s first recordings were for the King Records label, including the seminal hit single “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag”. The band also released a number of successful albums during this period, including Doing Their Own Thing (1968) and Soul Power (1970).

In addition to their work with James Brown, Maceo and All the Kings Men also collaborated with other notable artists such as George Clinton, Sly Stone, and Parliament-Funkadelic. They also toured extensively throughout the United States and Europe.

The band eventually dissolved in the early 1970s, but reunion concerts have been held sporadically since then. Maceo Parker remains active as a solo artist and continues to tour worldwide.

The Commodores

The Commodores are an American soul and R&B band, which was at its peak in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The members of the group met as students at Tuskegee University in Alabama, and they began performing together as The Commodores in 1968. They signed with Motown Records in 1971, and their first album, Machine Gun, was released in 1974.

The Commodores had a string of hit singles in the 1970s and 1980s, including “Machine Gun”, “Brick House”, “Easy”, “Just to Be Close to You”, and “Nightshift”. The band also had four number-one albums on the Billboard 200 chart: Commonsense (1977), Natural High (1978), Midnight Magic (1979), and In the Pocket (1981).

The Commodores were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2005.

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