Which band IS really America's Greatest (rock & roll band)?

When I consider my priorities for this category, I cannot come up with any other than CCR.

Their output as a band was short compared to others, yes..

When I say America's greatest rock & roll band, this = the output or even the basis on which a band formed, had in their DNA, America's roots! It doesn't even matter that we now know CCR formed in California, their DNA as a band transformed their birthplace but it more importantly brought forth the (soul) of get down and dirty) Rock & Roll in it's raw form!

CCR is a great choice but....although CCR definitely had that pure American soul it's hard for me to get past how they acted as a "band"  as Fogerty's bandmates sold their right to vote on business decisions to the head of the record company. Fogerty was so much of who CCR was and the band didn't care about him.  At some point humanity enters my equation.  Don't get me wrong, love CCR music.

So with that disclaimer I think I may have to cast a vote for Bruce and the E Street Band.  What isn't wholly American, blue collar, story-telling, jam live like your life depends on it, always show immense gratitude to the fans...all while acting like a family while being a band?  I think they check all the boxes.  Funny enough they aren't who I want to listen to a whole lot, and actually I think Nebraska was his best album, but I think they deserve this title ;-)

The only "American" band (North American, that is) I would consider isn't from the US, but from Canada, and that would be Rush. No BS, pure music and intellect, those guys gave everything to their fans for 40+ years. They would go on but physical demands exceed the needs of the bodies. And expecially to Neil Peart, who lost his only child and wife within one year, eventually found a way to get back into it. That's true strength. Their last album, Clockwork Angels, is one of the finest rock albums ever.
Yes, CCR is a great choice. I'm also thinking Beach Boys and Eagles.
Gotta say The Eagles. Their concerts are like a camp fire sing along. Oh yeah The Eagles can rock with the best of them, Joe Walsh is so underrated and everyone  else can bring it all night long too.
Since The Band were 4/5’s Canadian, and Rockpile English/Welsh (and played American Rock & Roll at least as well as any band of which I am aware), I’d say NRBQ. But then I don’t consider The Eagles a Rock & Roll Band. Rush can be called many things, but a Rock & Roll band is not one of them. Am I being too literal? The Beach Boys output was great, but that’s because of Brian Wilson’s songwriting and vocal arrangements, not because they were a good band. As a band they were pretty weak. Yet when they toured with The Dead they mopped the floor with them. The Dead also weren’t a Rock & Roll band.
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Agree with the above, but add the Stones, Blondie, the Four Seasons and Fleetwood Mac.  The Rumors LP is iconic.
I think The Band would qualify as "American". Rush too. And if Rush isn't rock and roll I don't know what they are. Yes, prog rock, but that's a pretty big, impressive and influential genre of rock. But no, not American roots rock.

Of course Grand Funk is an "American Band". ;-)

But when I think of "American" band and think of Americana or roots rock being part of the qualification....that still puts The Band right up there. CCR too.

Don't forget Lynrd Skynrd. 

Allman Brothers.

I think the Eagles are in there too. Its easy to split hairs.

Neil Young. Not a band.

The Stones are American?! The Four Seasons were a Rock & Roll band?! Ay carumba!

I would say Los Lobos are in the running, and The Blasters, though they are on the border where Rock & Roll and Blues overlap.

Los Lobos is a good choice. Great live band, too.
This topic came up 10 years or so ago and I specified Rush. Always regretted not picking Allman Brothers Band which I'm doing now.
Honorable mention: Bob Seeger band, Ted Nugent band.

If you want to go way back and talk about all-time best:

- The Tympani Five (Louis Jordan’s band). Jordan is considered the father of Rock ’n’ Roll, though that credit could also go to Big Joe Turner.

- Little Richard’s recording band. Unbelievably great, including the best drummer in the entire history of Rock ’n’ Roll, Earl Palmer.

- Chuck Berry’s band---Johnnie Johnson on piano, Willie Dixon on upright bass, and various drummers.

- Scotty, Bill, and D.J. Fontana, Elvis’ original band (Sun Records, early RCA).

- The Crickets (Buddy Holly’s band). Listen to his and their recording of "Down The Line" for some blistering hot R & R.

- The Rock ’n’ Roll Trio (Johnny and Dorsey Burnett plus Paul Burlinson---Jeff Beck’s idol---on Telecaster). Their "Train Kept A-Rollin’" is just too cool to believe.

- The band that recorded with The Everly Brothers, which included guitarist Hank Garland and drummer Buddy Harman, two of the best musicians I’ve ever heard.

Now THAT is what I consider Rock & Roll.

Longevity aside, MC5 is an interesting contender. 
There are individuals being mentioned. I think the OP specified a band. Sometimes a fine line. If individuals are included it would be hard to top Elvis and Dylan.

Another band worth mentioning was Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. I'd put them right up there with Skynrd. I think those two and the Eagles would be hard to beat. All uniquely American sounding with largely American subject matter and all three enormously successful with the Eagles having one of the top selling albums of all time.

@n80, if your comment was made in regard to the names I mentioned (it may not have been), I named the band, then gave details about it’s members. Bands have members, right? ;-)

If The Band is eligible, what makes them SO unique is that they are a self-contained "unit" (writing their songs, singing them, and playing the instruments) that is at least as good as any band hired by solo artists for accompaniment. If you are "just" a backing band that provides accompaniment for a solo artist, you have to be a REALLY good band. Rock 'n' Roll bands are known for their songs, sound, and/or style, not necessarily for their excellence as a performing band, in the old sense of the term. For instance, The Heartbreakers made excellent music, but provided poor accompaniment for Bob Dylan. Not as bad as The Dead, of course ;-). On the other hand, The Band were an excellent band in the sense I am speaking of, as good as any group of studio musicians, many of them the best in the world. 

The Velvet Underground
The Byrds
These posts are always fun to respond to because no matter how true your response is, someone will always want to minimize your response by giving a history lesson that only reveals that they just want to seem smart. Don’t bother looking, you know who you are!
bdp24, not targeting you at all. Several people included individuals including me. It’s just a different discussion if we’re talking about individual singer/songwriters verses cohesive band units. Agree with you completely in regard to The Band.

tonykay said:

" These posts are always fun to respond to because no matter how true your response is, someone will always want to minimize your response by giving a history lesson that only reveals that they just want to seem smart. Don’t bother looking, you know who you are!"

And you’d now include yourself in the group right? ;-)

I enjoy hearing reading the "history lessons" even if the intent was to show off. But even as a rock history buff I’m not sure knowing rock history makes anyone "smart".
Tom Petty &the Heartbreakers or and The Doors.
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Beach Boys and Ramones
Grateful Dead.  Throughout their career they have put their take on American music - Buddy Holly, Merle Haggard, Woody Guthrie, Howling Wolf, Dixie Cups, Marty Robbins, and the list goes on.  Blues, country, rock, and folk.  They have recorded more truly American music than any other American band.  Their roots are truly across the entire spectrum of 20th century American (non-classical) music.
Good ones not mentioned...

Aerosmith, Metallica, Talking Heads, Television, The Cars, The Remains.

While we're talking names how about the "Boss" from Asbury Park. My opinion is I have none, there are too many to name one above all.
tubegroover, you're right of course. And it isn't a competition. If it was, and sales was the issue, then it would be Michael Jackson....The Eagles are second and fifth place goes to.....Meat Loaf!  If it was purely influence it would probably be Elvis. If it was pure Americana or pure talent it would probably be the Band.

For me, the value of threads like this, where people make a case for a certain band or musician is that it gives me ideas of music to try out. Either stuff I've forgotten about, stuff I've never heard or stuff I was sure I didn't like but about which someone had made a good case.

I'm not much of an Eagles fan but when it comes to sales, popularity, prolificness, talent and durability I think they rank pretty high.

Most of the better bands from before the British Invasion have been mentioned. The point here seems to be (I think) great performances, rather than great records....rock n roll energy. On that basis...

The Feelies, The Bongos, Television, Talking Heads and The Replacements (drunken performances notwithstanding) all deserve mention among US bands that emerged later.  All could rock like mad.  Their songs could be overwrought for my taste sometimes, but The E Street band was great and deserves consideration here

CCR had a great two year run of unmatched records, but they weren’t a great live band.

That said, the right answer IMO is Chuck Berry and co.
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, The Byrds, The Allman Brothers, CCR and The Travelling Willburies in no particular order. I’ve got a particular weakness for Rickenbacker electric 12 string guitars.  
Boston, U2, Tull off the top of my head
I just thought of R.E.M. Hugely successful, unique, totally, completely and inescapably American.

They're one of my favorite bands. I can't speak for their concerts after they got big but I saw them right after they released Life's Rich Pageant. Best live show I ever saw.
Steve, the topic is American bands. U2 appropriated an American feel....but Tull could hardly be more British.
Oingo Boingo!  The Fighters of Foo. STP.  great live bands. 
I suppose it depends on the definition of "rock 'n roll" but assuming it includes psychedlic rock, I think the 13th Floor Elevators (from Texas, no less!) almost created the genre. Certainly though, ZZ Top and CCR are/were great American straight-ahead rock music. If you expand the definition to folk and folk-rock, Bob Dylan certainly set the standard.
The Doobie Brothers were/are as great live as in the studio, with hit songs inseparable from American pop culture.  
This really made me think. Been to 15 concerts since Jan 1 this year, been going to shows, buying music, since I was 15 (now 63) and also doing the audio thing. So as many of us are, I am truly immersed in this hobby/lifestyle. Impossible for me to pick - and I know I am forgetting a great American rock and roll band (r&r too general a term to me) - but Los Lobos, CCR, Allman Brothers, QOTSA, MC5, Doobies, Heartbreakers, Silver Bullet Band....- heck, they are all great, as is all kinds of music! Kick out the Jams.....(you know the rest!) - lol
Ooops, forgot ZZ Top, seems the band should be rooted in the blues...
Shout out for Country Joe and the Fish! Gimme an F....
Nice list -Guys
Another +vote for Aerosmith.
Oy, many of your are sadly misinformed.  U2 is from Ireland. Bruce Springsteen considers himself a solo performer who shares the stage with the E Street Band (they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame separately).

It's true that most of the greatest bands are from the British Isles; they have way out performed the US, especially by virtue of their much smaller population. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Smiths and on and on.  That's what makes this question interesting.

When friends and I have pondered this one, we usually come up with CCR, The Doors, REM and The Grateful Dead.  Then there are outliers, like The Velvet Underground, Patti Smith and Television.  There's no clear winner, since the list depends greatly on whether record sales, longevity, influence on other bands or live performance is weighted most heavily.  Overall, I usually opt for The Doors, but CCR's popularity rivaled The Beatles back in the day.
per djones51, i'll go with ccr, byrds and velvet underground, mainly because they influenced most of the other great bands listed (tom petty, rem, television, etc.). that said, my favorites were the more alt-leaning 80s guitar bands like husker du, replacements, feelies, meat puppets, etc.
Thanks for reminding me about REM. We saw them live about five times and I was shocked when they called it quits. I have most of their albums, and listen to them a lot. For me, they are a lot like Rush, very original and unique. I don’t love everything they have done but the songs I like, I really like.

Is REM the quintessential American rock and roll band? Maybe not, but they’re in my top ten.
Some good ones-
Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble, BTO Bachman Turner Overdrive, Red Hot Chile Peppers, Weather Report, Marshall Tucker Band, Charlie Daniels Band, Canned Heat
Steppenwolf, Grand Funk, Aerosmith,The Boss
I meant Traffic, not Weather Report
Based on the above, I’d probably say NRBQ as well. I don’t think of bands like Grand Funk or The Eagles as ’rock and roll’ in the narrow sense of it-and much as I enjoyed The Band, Traffic and some of the others mentioned, I don’t think they are American (though The Band did a great job at the homespun Americana sound before it was re-booted as a genre).
If we aren’t confining ourselves to American bands, listen to The Beatles early on-- that concert at the Washington Coliseum is almost all pure old ’50s style rock and roll, great harmonies and playing under circumstances that would excuse most bands from a bad performance, and that was anything but.
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It seems like everyone (me included) is just naming good bands. The OT was about the 'greatest' American band. Most of the bands named are really good but few of them rate anywhere near 'greatest'. No one will agree on one greatest, obviously......but that list should be fairly short, I would think.
Atta boy Bill ;-). When NRBQ appeared on David Sanborn's TV show, he introduced them as one of the great R & R bands in the world. Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe, and Elvis Costello also held that opinion. Rock 'n' Roll obviously means different things to different people. I should qualify my nomination of NRBQ as being only when Al Anderson was in the band.