Ten Influential Bands And Artists From Florida

We took some time to dive into music made by bands from Florida because there is much more to the Sunshine State than Key Lime pies, alligators, manatees, Disney, oranges and beaches. We couldn’t list everybody, but these are ten of the most influential bands and musicians from Florida. Unlike the notorious Florida Man meme, these Florida bands give the state a good name. With a long history of eccentric pockets, Florida has been a haven for both retirees and punk bands alike. It’s a fascinating place full of comical juxtapositions. Indeed, some of the artists from Florida might surprise you.

We skim the surface with more well-known acts in this list. You can take a deeper dive by looking at albums in the Database, such as this Floridian Funk album or this Floridian Punk compilation.

What other Floridian musicians do you think should be on this list? Let us know in the comments!

Ten Essential Florida Bands

  • bands from Florida Sam & Dave

    Sam & Dave

    Technically, Sam is from Miami, Florida, and Dave from Georgia, but the duo formed in Miami in 1961. Apparently their stage performance inspired Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi for The Blues Brothers. This video from a performance in Norway in 1967 is a great example of their energy!

  • bands from Florida KC and The Sunshine Band

    KC & The Sunshine Band

    Founded in Miami in 1973 by Harry Casey, who was working in a record store at the time, KC & The Sunshine band went on to sell over 100,000,000 records. They became the first act to score four #1 pop singles in one 12-month period after the Beatles did so in 1964. They are still performing, and their music has been sampled by Notorious B.I.G, Beyoncé, Slum Village, Jay-Z and Black Eyed Peas, to name a few.

  • bands from Florida Tom Petty

    Tom Petty

    Tom Petty has to be on this list as well, as the Gainesville, Florida born singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has played a big part in rock & roll history. Best known of course for Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers, he also formed  Traveling Wilburys with Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne. His songs have been recorded by Bonnie Raitt, Linda Rondstadt, Everclear, Johnny Cash, Grace Jones and many more.  He got into rock & roll music at the age of ten after meeting Elvis Presley, and decided he wanted to be in a band after seeing The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show. Tom Petty has sold over 80,000,000 records so far.

  • bands from Florida Cannonball Adderly

    Cannonball Adderly

    Julian Edwin “Cannonball” Adderley is a bonafide Florida jazz hero. He was born in Tampa, Florida in 1928. In the 1940’s, the saxophonist played with Ray Charles in Tallahassee and then served as the band director at the Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale. In 1955, Cannonball Adderley moved to New York City where he played with other well known musicians including Charles Lloyd, Bobby Timmons, Ray Brown, Roy McCurdy and many others. Throughout the 1960s and 70s, Adderley gained notoriety as an innovative musician who played both alto and soprano sax. Despite his success in New York and beyond, Adderley found his final resting place in Florida, buried in the Southside Cemetery in Tallahassee.

  • bands from Florida Gloria Estefan & The Miami Sound Machine

    Gloria Estefan & The Miami Sound Machine

    The Miami Sound Machine was formed in 1975 by Emilio Estefan Jr. and were named The Latin Boys. After Cuban born Gloria Fajardo and her cousin Merci Navarro joined a year later, their name changed to The Miami Sound Machine. They are one of the most successful Latin acts ever to cross over to the English-language market, paved the way for many Latin artists, and sold over 100,000,000 records in the process!

  • bands from Florida Jim Morrisson

    Jim Morrison

    One of the most iconic frontmen in history was born in Melbourne, Florida in 1943. His father was in the military so they travelled all over the United States, and The Doors was formed in LA in 1965. A poet, writer, singer and songwriter, Jim Morrison continues to inspire people, even 45 years after his passing.

  • bands from Florida Marilyn Manson

    Marilyn Manson

    The band Marilyn Manson originally formed as Marilyn Manson & The Spooky Kids in 1989 in Fort Lauderdale in Florida when singer Brian Hugh Warner was working as a music journalist. They shortened their name to Marilyn Manson in 1992. (The name was a combination of the first name of an iconic female sex symbol and the last name of an iconic serial killer, referring to the concept that everything exists of good and evil). Controversial due to their bizarre shows and outfits, the band was subject of multiple protests, court cases and cancellations. The band has sold over 50,000,000 albums and reached the album top 10 with 8 of their albums.

  • bands from Florida The 2 Live Crew

    The 2 Live Crew

    When it comes to Florida hip hop, 2 Live Crew tops the list! But, did you know that the group actually got their start in California? Nevertheless, the Crew gained momentum after relocating to Miami where they were joined by notorious frontman and producer, Luther Campbell in 1987. Two years later, the group released Nasty As They Wanna Be, featuring the hit, Me So Horny. While the release was a wild success on the charts, not everyone was a fan. Local lawmakers and the Broward County Sheriff pursued a ruling of obscenity from the local court which lead to shop owners in Florida being arrested for selling the release to minors. After the band fought back the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit overturned the obscenity ruling in 1992.

  • bands from Florida Lynyrd Skynyrd

    Lynyrd Skynyrd

    Formed in Jacksonville, Florida in 1964, the band was first named My Backyard, later changed their name to The Noble Five, and after that to Lynyrd Skynyrd. They toured with The Who and became popular worldwide in the 1970s with their tracks “Free Bird” the iconic “Sweet Home Alabama”. After lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, backup singer Cassie Gaines and road manager Dean Kilpatrick died in an airplane crash in 1977, the surviving band members took a 10 year break but reformed in 1987.

  • bands from Florida Pitbull

    Pitbull

    Pitbull was born in Miami Florida in 1981, and signed his first record deal in 2001. He has said he has been inspired by Celia Cruz and Willy Chirino. In 2004, he toured with 50 Cent and Eminem, and co-founded label Bad Boy Latino with Sean Combs in 2005 – focusing on Latin Soul, Latin Rap and Tropical music. He has worked with Gloria Estefan, Shakira, Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Lopez, Jason Derulo, Flo Rida and many more. In 2012, at the BMI awards in Latin music, he received the BMI President’s Award in recognition of his influence on the entertainment industry. In 2013, his single “Timber” with Kesha reached number 1 in the charts in 18 countries.

  • bands from Florida Deborah Harry

    Deborah Harry

    OK, I know this is the 11th artist on the list. And although she was born in Miami, Florida, she only spent the first three months of her life there. However, seeing she is one of the most influential women in music, I don’t think you’ll mind me adding Debbie Harry, famed lead singer of Blondie, to this list!

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6 Comments
  • Feb 3,2019 at 3:00 pm

    Hot Water Music from Gainesville had a massive impact on punk/indie/alt-rock that is still felt today. And an even lesser known band also from Gainesville called Radon (very worth checking out btw), influenced HWM and many other bands.

  • Feb 2,2019 at 1:25 am

    I Could have Done without 1/2 of these Artist…Fact is You “MISSED” Several Key Bands 1) The Outlaws. BEST Guitar/Southern Rock Band to Come outta Florida Besides The ALLMANS and Skynyrd. 2) Creed was a Half Decent band until their lead singer tripped out ! 3) Matchbox 20. 4) .38 Special. 5) Blackfoot. 6) Molly Hatchet 7) Rita Coolidge (How You miss this 1 ?)8) Gary “U.S.” Bonds 9) Derek Trucks !!! 10) Sister Hazel

  • Jan 31,2019 at 3:10 am

    my favorite Florida band is The Royal Guardsmen.
    Then, there are The Nightcrawlers.

  • Jan 30,2019 at 9:52 am

    Debbie Harry is pure New York, and Jim Morrison is 100% LA. They’re very influential or whatever, but there’s nothing linking them to Florida musically, it’s just their place of birth – a piece of trivia when it all comes down to it.

    I have a special place in my record collection for Florida Funk as can be seen here: https://www.discogs.com/lists/Miami-Funk-Soul/376395 – but I get that it’s a very musical state, linked to all kinds of genres.

    It’d be much more interesting to list influential artists who actually made music in Florida, whether or not they were born there – that way you might discover that James Brown, for example, had set up his own label International Brothers along with Henry Stone for Florida projects. He had a huge influence on Florida funk, as can be heard from the early Saadia records, but that influence cut both ways it seems.

  • Apr 15,2016 at 4:06 pm

    You could also write one just about all the Death Metal bands to come out of Florida.

  • Apr 13,2016 at 6:02 am

    Cannonball Adderley played alto saxophone in Miles Davis’ Kind of blue!

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