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Top 10 Rock Operas

Wikipedia classifies a rock opera as “a rock music album or stage production that intends to evoke the sense of music drama commonly associated with opera.” This is a list of the ten greatest rock operas; all are well worth a listen if you are not familiar with them.

10. Jesus Christ Superstar

Jesus Christ Superstar

Created By: Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim rice

Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Tim Rice introduced this rock opera in 1970. It follows the life of Christ (based on the canonical gospels) from his arrival in Jerusalem to his death by crucifixion. The opera focuses a lot of attention on Judas and his relationship with Christ. The Jesus Christ Superstar due to it being primarily based around Christ as a man and not God offended many fundamental Christian groups. Originally released as an album, the opera moved to film and Broadway where it has had great success.

9. Operation: Mindcrime


Created By: Queensryche

Operation: Mindcrime excellently treads on political themes, mainly attacking the Reagan era and shedding light on the corruption of many contemporary leaders. This is regularly thought of as Queensryche’s breakthrough album; they decided to cut loose from the mindless lyrics of their previous work and start making more meaningful songs. The story detailed in the album follows a man disheartened with current culture and in retort joins an organization planning to assassinate fraudulent leaders. To counterbalance the dark aspects, the band tossed in a common love story, which wasn’t well received by fans. The album also features a large orchestra to further embellish the story, led by Hollywood composer Michael Kamen.

8. Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From A Memory


Created By: Dream Theater

Often billed as the definitive Dream Theater album and as one of the greatest guitar albums of all time, Scenes From A Memory tells the story of a man name Nicholas and his discovery of his past life. The opera consists of nine scenes and a progressing storyline telling of Nicholas’ troubled existence. Some prominent themes are murder, love and trust. In response to the criticism of their previous album (Falling Into Infinity), Scenes From A Memory delves back to Dream Theater’s progressive past and features abnormal time signatures and extensive instrumental sections.

7. S.F. Sorrow


Created By: Pretty Things

One of the first concept albums, S.F. Sorrow was based on a story written by singer/guitarist Phil May. The album tells about the life of Sebastian F. Sorrow; his birth, his involvement in World War I and his disillusionment of old age. The music on the album is simply amazing, from the psychedelic intonations of “S.F. Sorrow Is Born”, to the piano driven emotion of “Trust”. The album is still considered hugely significant to this day and is acknowledged as the inspiration behind Pete Townshend’s writing of Tommy.

6. The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spider From Mars


Created By: David Bowie

This album is about a Martian, Ziggy Stardust, who comes to Earth to free all humans from their dullness and predictability. Ziggy is the idealistic rock star: wild and promiscuous, but still bearing the message of peace and love. His own irresponsibility, his excessive intake of drugs and his overindulgence of sex destroy him. In many previous albums, David Bowie had drawn to sci-fi themes, but it was in this one where he would go all-out, often dressing up as Ziggy during the tour.

5. Tommy

Created By: The Who


Released in 1969, all of the songs in Tommy were composed by Pete Townshend, with some contributions by John Entwistle. It follows Tommy Walker, blind, deaf and mute since a young age. He is discovered to have fantastic talent for pinball, and soon becomes an international icon. This lead to Tommy gaining a guru-like status and opening a cult, but soon, things turn for the worse as his follower’s revolt against him. A film based on the opera was released in 1975, receiving lukewarm reviews. Interestingly, Ann-Margret, who played Tommy’s mother, got an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.

4. Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)


Created By: The Kinks

Arthur followed a rough period for The Kinks, with the commercial letdown of the highly praised The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society (Top 10 Influential Albums That Bombed). The story is based on songwriter Ray Davies’ brother-in-law Arthur, who emigrated from England to Australia. Arthur is a carpet-layer and is concerned for the lack of opportunities in post-war England. The songs mainly encompass Arthur’s views on war, the England he once knew, and the emptiness of his shallow yet happy life in Australia. Arthur was somewhat a commercial success and is now considered as a turn-around from The Kinks’ failures before it.

3. The Lamb Dies Down On Broadway


Created By: Genesis

The last Genesis album to feature their extraordinary flute-playing frontman Peter Gabriel, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway is an astonishing album utilizing abstract storytelling and recurring themes of Greek folklore. The album weaves a surreal storyline involving a juvenile delinquent being swept underground to face strange creatures and frightening dangers in a quest to rescue his brother John. Lamb showcases Genesis’ peak; the lyrics and music are extremely intricate and beautiful. It is their most notable and best-selling release to date and yet the sound does not bear any similarities to any other Genesis albums.

2. The Wall


Created By: Pink Floyd

Nothing need be said about The Wall, it is one of the best-selling albums of all time and is psychotically brilliant, both lyrically and musically. Even though it is billed to Pink Floyd, this is basically a psychological journey through Roger Waters’ mind, telling of the trials and tribulations of being a beloved musical icon. Centered on the main character Pink, The Wall is a dark, intricate haze of pain, misery, and obsession. This epic spawned a cinematic equivalent that is easily as captivating and amazing as the album. The Wall helped end the 70’s era of rock and was a crucial part of the progressive rock movement. Its elaborate guitar work, melancholy lyrics, and depressing ambiance has been a great influence on hundreds following artists.

1. Quadrophenia


Created By: The Who

While many people would choose Tommy as The Who’s greatest work, Quadrophenia is a more realized and beautiful album. Recorded at the height of Pete Townshend’s songwriting, Quadrophenia features intricate and obscure music, which is much more, developed than any other The Who album. By the time they released this double album in 1973, Townshend was already a well-known rock opera god. While Tommy was an ambitious vision of fantasy, Quadrophenia set out to examine the band’s mod roots and British adolescent society of their early years. An unquestionable classic featuring a plethora of utterly amazing songs, Quadrophenia is a must-hear for any The Who fan, or any music fan in general.

Contributor: dazednconfused

  • Megatron

    What??? Where is ‘Kilroy Was Here’???? Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto!

  • Hobolad

    Thumbs up! Haven’t heard 7-10 though.

  • Morgaine

    Great list! I’ve already listened to a few of these, but I’ll note the rest down :P
    I would suggest “Avantasia: The Metal Opera”
    They are two of my favourite albums, the songs.. the composition… it also gathers some of the best singers and musicians of the genre.

  • Hobolad: you haven’t heard Jesus Christ Superstar? Not even in passing? It contains some very great songs.

    Megatron: I didn’t compile this list – but frankly I don’t object to the omission of Kilroy was Here – I am not a fan of Styx. If anyone hasn’t heard it, here is Mr Roboto live:

  • Morgaine: that is very interesting – I just had a quick listen and it sounds good – I will have to listen to more of it.

  • Hobolad

    Probably in passing- heard a lot about it- just never thought to actually give it a listen. Will do though!

  • Ill admit I have not heard JCS either.

  • Awesome list! I am a big Dream Theater fan and I love Metropolis Pt 2 :)

  • seymour

    For Jesus Christ Superstar, many Christians were offended at the lack of the Resurrection, the basis for all Christianity. It’d be like “The Wizard of Oz” (movie version) without Dorothy returning to Kansas.

  • mix2323

    only one i have heard about is The Wall

  • Mrs.Z

    What a great list. Two of my all-time favorite albums – Tommy & Quadrophenia. In my opinion, there is no better writer than Townshend.

  • DiscHuker

    What classifies an album as “rock opera”?

  • DiscHuker

    dammit. when the page finished reloading after i submitted my comment i see that the first line of the intro says “wikipedia classifies a rock opera as…”

    i screwed up the assignment in 4th grade where the test the teacher handed out says in the instructions “fold the paper in half and do not answer any questions and you get a 100”. i filled out the whole test and thought i was pretty smart.

  • Mrs Z: Tommy is one of my most treasured DVDs – I love it too.

    DiscHuker: haha

  • dazednconfused

    I must say, this was a very fun list to compile. I love rock operas/concept albums and the journey they take you through. It’s quite an experience listening to any of these albums in one sitting.

    And I thought about putting Kilroy Was Here on the list, as it was very influential and well-received, but I felt the album was very bland compared to the others on the list.

  • PT

    dazednconfused – would Alice Coopers From The Inside or Goes to Hell qualify? or how about Rick Wakemans Six Wives of Henry the Eight, journey To The Centre Of The Earth or King Arthur? Just a thought. Still liked the list though.

  • berto

    Great list! You did leave out my favorite band however, which is Coheed and Cambria. If you are not familiar, this band has released four albums that are all one huge interwoven science fiction epic. The lead singer, Claudio Sanchez, even has a comic book series that goes along with the albums. If you like rock operas and concept albums, you should definitely check them out.

  • Ooh, gotta listen to/ watch more of these! I’m familiar with several of them, but not well versed enough to comment on anything other than, Yeah, Tommy!! I have been so very very close on getting my hands on The Wall movie for almost two years now…someday, I will see it. And I know a girl who always raves about Quardophenia but I never knew that’s what it was! I so respect her taste, and seeing at as number one on this list definately makes me want to see it now. Not a fan of Coheed and Cambria though? Lots of work went into theirs, and lots of work on the listener’s end to try and figure out what is going on too, I think. I haven’t heard the albums, but I’ve heard that it’s a rather amazing drama.

  • JazzMan

    Whoo! I love Dream Theater, and this is one of my favorite albums!

  • I agree with the contributors comment in #1… Tommy should be in the top spot followed by the Wall in second (which it is :) ) But all in all this is a wonderful musical collection. We have Tommy and many different copies of The Wall. My fiance is a HUGE Pink Floyd fan.

  • Dewni

    2112 by Rush

  • dazednconfused

    Dewni- 2112 isn’t a rock opera. Many fans think of it as such since the album go its name from the 2112 Suite, which tells of a dystopian future society. Technically it is not, as the songs on the second side of the album are completely unrelated to the plot of the suite.

  • How about… A night at the Opera.

  • Dewni

    so can it not be argued that as far as the 2112 suite goes, it could be considered a rock opera?

  • Fe

    I’ve only ever heard of Jesus Christ Superstar, but that’s because I’m an Andrew Lloyd Webber fan (yes, I know). I’m afraid rock tends to leave me cold, and I prefer stuff like Man of La Mancha and Gilbert and Sullivan. *yes, I apparently live in a time warp*

  • You know what I just noticed and am now ashamed of myself for taking this long to see it (or in this case not see)….


  • Sean the pyro

    More Dream Theater baby. Another good one from them, “Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence”.

  • trebek

    I’d take The Wall as #1, but including Dream Theater makes up for it.

  • Molly

    Tommy is amazing. one of my all time favorite movies.

  • EAL

    tommy should definitely be #1

  • Ravyn: ermm…. number 11 :)

  • Borg

    Jesus Christ Superstar was one of my favorite movies growing up. I’ve pretty much memorized the entire movie. Sadly, I can say that about Grease as well. And even more sadly, Grease 2.
    It might be interesting to see a list of top musical films. I would probably put JCS, Grease, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Blues Brothers, Tommy, and West Side Story.

  • Stryker80

    This is my first post and I have to say I love this website, great time waster at work. Anways, this was a great list but I would like to recommend a band and album to check out, The Early November produced a 3 disk album each disk with its on name and a part of a story, Albums are ‘The Mother’, ‘The Mechanic’ and ‘The Path’

  • Stryker80: Welcome to the site! That sounds really interesting, I will see if I can find a copy to listen to. Thanks :)

    Borg: Hedwig is so weird!

  • jfrater: Yeah should be #2…right after Tommy ;) I will just keep it in my mind as it is on the list. That ought do well enough. lol anywho…

  • Ravyn: hehe you will just have to :)

  • I am going to Rocky Horror this Sat. and Nov. 3rd…. WOOT! I am ready.

  • Ravyn: did you already have tickets or were you inspired by this list?

  • Borg

    Jfrater: Weird? I never really thought about it like that. But is it really much weirder than Rocky Horror?

  • Sandra

    Wow, I’ve never even heard of these except for The Wall, and that’s only because it was my high school’s marching band program in sophomore year. (yes, before you ask, I was a band nerd) Now I feel culturally backwards again. You always give me reason to go look stuff up and make myself feel smarter JFrater.

  • Borg: no – not weirder than Rocky Horror – I just found it an odd film :)

    Sandra: I am very pleased that you are inspired to further research from these lists – that is my aim in writing them!

  • gabrielAmerican

    Southern Rock Opera by The Drive-By Truckers would be a fine addition to the list. It’s about the rise and tragic fall of the band Lynard Skynard.

  • jfrater:One is a small town one and I have a friend who is in the show so no ticket needed. It has been planned since early last month :) . The other is a bit bigger but is still no Chicago show. Still don’t need a ticket. That one was planned last night lol. Double dating with my friend who is in the first one. hehehe

  • Bjesomar

    Ravyn: I know about three reasons why do you have to plan concert events 2 months in advance :)

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  • Bjesomar: It was a definate planned early last month (almost 2 months ago since it is the end of this month). We have been talking about it since this past April as a possiblility.

  • Nici

    I have heard and love most of the albums on this list and I even have “The Wall” memorized, but I feel like you missed a very crucial album of recent years: “American Idiot” by Green Day. Yes, it is true “American Idiot” was an overwhelming commercial success (as the majority of these albums mostly weren’t), but the album does have a storyline. Maybe even more important than the opinion of an unknown music nerd (myself), Rolling Stone called it a rock opera. It is a subversive and, at times, overwhelmingly beautiful album. For a punk band, they turn out some very beautiful songs.
    However, most heartbreaking is that you missed my favorite rock opera of all time- “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd. Though less well known, I think it is even lovelier and more emotionally charged than “The Wall.” And what better way to chronicle the loss of a bandmate than through music. It’s a very touching tribute, I think. I always tear up when I hear the title song “Wish You Were Here.”

  • Nici: thanks for mentioning those albums – I happen to be listening to American Idiot at this very moment :)

  • greendayfan

    Why didn’t they post Greenday’s American Idiot Album – its a unique punk-rock/rock opera

  • greendayfan: jeez – I don’t know – you just can’t trust the help these days!

  • Xavier

    Sadly, I’ve only heard of Jesus Christ Superstar, and I loved it.

    Say Anything’s “…Is a Real Boy” is a great rock opera concept album about a man, not able to verbally express his feelings, suddenly given the gift to do so by song. They came out with the follow-up album this week, “In Defense of the Genre,” and both albums are true works of art, in my honest opinion.

  • dazednconfused

    Borg- Top 10 Musical Films, huh? That’d be fun to do, though my bias would compel me to put The Song Remains The Same as #1, just because it’s Led Zeppelin (hence my username)

    Nici, greendayfan- I hate Green Day…

  • Nici

    dazednconfused: I fiugured someone would say that sooner or later. *shrugs* Can’t please everyone. I really like the political bent they’re music has taken recently though. I think it’s great, but I’ve always been a huge fan of punk music- popular, obsure, political, apolitical. It’s such a colorful genre.

  • Tony

    I never could get into Queensryche. The “hit” off the mindcrime album was a blatant Pink Floyd rip off.

  • Mightbegiant

    One that I think is amazing is Blind Guardian's "Night Fall at Middle Earth" which follows JRR Tolkein's "The Similarian". Some of the greatest melodic metal I have ever heard and "Nightfall" got me into Blind Guardian because of how powerful it is.

    Also, does anyone agree with me that someone should remake "Phantom of the Opera" with prominent metal performers and make it a true rock opera? That would be utterly amazing.

    • Persephone

      I also recommend Ayreon – The Human Equation. Ayreon is a music project by a Dutch composer named Arjen Anthony Lucassen and all of his albums consist of a story told through mostly heavy metal using artists from several different bands or projects. I think The Human Equation has the best story and combination of artists out of all the Ayreon albums. While other albums dabble mostly in outer space or the supernatural, The Human Equation is about a man in a coma, caused by a car crash, confronting emotions and memories inside his mind while his wife and best friend plea for him to wake up. Dream Theater fans (like me! ???) will also appreciate this as the main character is played by James LaBrie.

    • Rick

      No. We don’t agree.

  • Deryck

    WHOA, WHOA, WHOA, wheres bohemian rhapsody?

  • Deryck: Bohemian Rhapsody is a song – not a rock opera.

  • Neadayan Drakhon

    Everyone is forgetting the most importand and best rock opera of them all


    and yes, it is a rock opera, Andrew Lloyd Webber has referred to it as one, and in my opinion is not only his best work, but the best rock opera of all time

    it should definetely be on this list

  • Luuuuuke

    Dude, I think you’re missing a really big one: Hair.

  • Neadayan Drakhon – it is a musical – not a rock opera :) If Andrew Lloyd Webber called it a ballet he would be wrong – it is definitely a musical which is a different genre that will eventually be discussed here in another list :)

    Luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuke: Hair is a musical also – not a rock opera. In addition it contains a LOT of spoken dialog – which would make it more of a rock operetta if anything – opera has no spoken dialog.

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  • Mightbegiant: Wow – I had no idea that there was a rock opera based on the Silmarillion – I loved that book so much! As far as your second choice – I don’t know if I could cope with that.

  • Lou G.

    Good list, if your looking for a contemporary band that would fit into this category I would suggest Fair to Midland: Fables for a Mayfly, or Coheed and Cambria.

  • ian twolan

    Yeah, right ! Dumbass “music”.

  • Katie

    Umm, no Alice Cooper? Welcome to my nightmare was the first full rock opera…..

  • Rob

    Dude, what about Green Day’s American Idiot? The best new punk opera–if not the first. It’s awesome!

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  • Bjesomar

    Ravyn: Actually i thought about “other” three reasons: small, medium and big. :) Small is just hillariously-silly, medium is always bitching&complaining, and big is too full of herself (1st grade school) :)

  • Iter_Impius

    Whoever made this list has obviously never heard of Ayreon.

  • First off, I have to say how thrilled I am to see Jesus Christ Superstar on this list. I adore it and even went to go see it live, it rocks!

    Secondly, where is We Will Rock You? It’s a musical with little spoken dialogue and is set almost entirely to rock music, with about 2(?) songs that aren’t rock!

  • Keith

    If only the definition of Rock Opera was different…otherwise I’m sure Coheed and Cambria’s albums would’ve been on there.

  • Old Davy

    I enjoy “Snow” by Spock’s Beard. Terrific rock opera.

  • lunajo


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  • josepluma

    “Rent” is a musical.

    I like the idea of calling songs such as “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “A Quick One (While He’s Away)” rock operettas. They have an entire story in a single song with changes in melody, rhythm and character. Since it is a Queen song, BH was a satire of the rock opera genre, while the Who song was more of proto rock opera experiment.

    That said, where is “Thick as a Brick?”

  • Where’s Ayreon’s albums ?

  • opschief

    Nine Inch Nails’ The Downward Spiral; definitively recognized by critics as a “rock opera;” tells of the protagonist’s descent into suicidal depression…even talks about blowing his head off: “bang…so much blood for such a little hole…” One word: creepy. Amazing musical arrangements and repetitive themes. Brilliant.

  • aura2

    I agree with Iter_Impius (66) and Enrike Brujo (72): at least one of the incredible Ayreon-albums should be on this list…especially because of the fantastic approach of each album, but also because of the meaning of the different stories alltogether – the Ayreon (Arjan Lucassen) space-imperium.

  • MerMer

    I don’t know if this would actually count for the rock opera category…but if there is ever a sequel list or something, take a look at Beethoven’s Last Night, by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra….

    Another good one, if anyone is interested, is a religious one call !Hero.

  • ICan’tThinkOfANameSoIWroteThisOne

    I love Jesus Christ Superstar! I have almost every line memorized!

  • Thespianette

    Um…if RENT is a musical, then JCS most certainly is. And I have to say that if musicals are being included on this list, Hair or RENT should definitely be on it, as they are (musically and thematically) great. And @Drakhon: Phantom of the Opera should not be anywhere near this list. It’s entertaining, but that’s about it. The music is not very interesting and the characters are shallow, and although ALW called it a rock opera, it’s more of an operetta at best.

  • Thespianette

    P.S.: I agree whole-heartedly with the placements of Quadrophenia and The Wall.

  • I agree with Thespianette–if Jesus Christ Superstar is on this list, RENT most certainly qualifies as well. I would argue that it fits the definition beautifully, especially since in the stage version hardly a word is spoken and if you’ve seen it, it’s quite difficult to deny the drama. Jesus Christ Superstar is a musical as well and if you exclude RENT for being a musical then by the same logic JCS should not be on here.

  • Dawn Bearer

    I would put Beethoven’s Last Night by Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

  • Mark

    The Wall should have been number 1 :(

  • GuitarGuy

    dazedandconfused, First I’d like to compliment your taste in music, this is list amazing. I’ve downloaded all of the albums and am currently in the process of listening to them. But I have a few arguments. I don’t feel that Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)can be construed as a rock opera.

    I do not know what the media or the band claimed it to be, because I haven’t done too much research on the album itself. But I can’t see any logical story to the album. Even in your explanation of it, you say its essentially just a gathering of songs that explain Arthur’s views on the war.

    I by no means am saying it’s a bad album (I’m a pretty big Kinks fan) but I think it’s more of a concept album than a rock opera.

  • Alice H


  • GuitarGuy

    Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a musical. Musicals (such as Rent and Hedwig) are different from rock operas. Musicals are essentially plays where people sing from time to time. However rock operas (much like regular operas) are completely music. They are stories told through music and lyrics.

    Jesus Christ Superstar was a rock opera that was later transformed into a stage production (much like Tommy). Please stop confusing the two, and do a little research before you shout out a musical you like.

  • sethnuva

    while searching on google for the top ten rock operas i found this site which had most of the albums i thought to be here and then i found igns top 14list. while it is in a different order i found that the wall and quadrophenia and others were simply copied and pasted. now im not sure if this is the original or if the ign one is, but either way the writter on ign takes full credi. just thought i’d let you know

  • MiSaNtHrOpE

    I’m glad I’m not the only fan of Ayreon here!

    C’mon. The Human Equation? 01011001 (“The Binary Album” lol)?

    Actually all of Ayreon’s albums span across a single story arc with the exception of The Human Equation and Into the Electric Castle.

    The Binary Album is sort of a broad stroke tying his other albums together, from The Final Experiment to Universal Migrator/Dream Sequencer. Some nods are also made to The Human Equation and Into the Electric Castle, which are separate from his main story (though the last 30 seconds of Day Twenty: Confrontation are a joke).

  • theleafs

    listen to City Boy’s “The Day the Earth Caught Fire” produced by “Mr.Shania Twain” Mutt Lange….incredible vocals and amazing guitar from Mike Slamer

  • Toesocks

    Mightbegiant- Ever heard the Nightwish version of Phantom of the Opera?

  • liljohn

    I like 75 and 80’s suggestion of Beethoven’s last night by TSO but, I wonder if they are familiar with the roots of TSO.

    Check the band Savatage for several albums that are rock operas. The two best in my opinion are Streets (full of pain, loss, redemption, and seriously hard hitting rock and roll) and Dead Winter Dead (about the war in the former Yugoslavia and containing the original release of TSO’s Christmas Eve).

  • Ash

    Phantom Of The Paradise should be herreee!

  • Helen

    Rent? Phantom of the Opera? Phantom of the Paradise? The Rocky Horror Show?

  • great list i have heard 10, 5, and 2. must go and find them on line to listen to them.

  • MamaBug

    RENT is completely a rock opera. just for the fact that it is almost completely sung, esp. with the definition of opera being a drama set to music and made up of vocal pieces with orchestral accompaniment and orchestral overtures and interludes (via webster’s). so :p

  • scottie 2112

    Thanks for mentioning Metropolis Pt. 2….Dream Theater kicks ass !!
    …also, thanks for including “Lamb Lies Down…” from Genesis…a truely fascinating work with a graet story and playing from everybody involved (check out the live version in it’s entiriety on the “Live 68′-75′” boxset where Peter recites some of the storylines before certain songs.

    I’ll just mention a few “honorable mentions” here:

    -Thick as a Brick (Jethro Tull)
    I’ve got an original copy of the LP with a fold-out newspaper…Tull in their hey-day…

    -Tales from Topographic Oceans (YES)
    This album pissed-off a lot of people….but I find it fascinating. Four songs, each clocking in at 18-20 min. each

    -Misplaced Childhood (Marillion)
    One of the last albums with Fish on vocals…(Clutching at Straws was sort of a followup)

  • Noah

    You should’ve put up Frank Zappa’s Joe’s Garage. It’s one of the most unique, well-written, masterpieces of it’s generation.

  • Brian Moo

    I agree with the guy above. Take off Dream Theater’s album and put on Zappa’s.

  • Neddy

    Shouldn’t Queen be up there?:O
    I thought that they were rock-opera material!:P

  • Ven

    Out of curiosity, who here has seen Repo! The Genetic Opera?

  • bud75

    wow, having two albums on this list. townshend as a writer/composer is obviously a musical genius.

  • oouchan

    Glad The Wall is on here along with Tommy and Jesus Christ Superstar. Although I would have had Tommy a little higher than it was. I will now have to find that soundtrack since I have the song “See Me, Feel Me” running through my head.

  • peter

    I am pleased with the inclusion of the Lamb Lies down.. but Mabey The Minstral in the Gallery or Thick as a Brick by Jethro Tull could have been considered

  • thepennymachine

    I love all of pink floyd’s concept albums. I felt that wish you were here would have been good. It’s a little less of a narrative but it’s most of all about poor syd barret and the stresses and business of touring that drove him mad. Plus animals, the final cut, and who can forget the dark side of the moon are all great concept albums…. but not to such an obvious degree.

  • Aaron

    Ribbons of War, by The Extraordinaires.

    It’s my favorite, maybe even better than The Wall (though that’s a tough one). The story is about a doomed romance between a sea captain and an airplane pilot.

    It manages to be silly, heart wrenching, and ridiculously catchy all at the same time. I really have never heard anything like it, and I’d encourage anyone to check it out. (They go all out on their album art too.)

  • dopetype

    rock opera or musical, whatever! that movie is absolute brillance!

  • jenna.b

    im a junior in hs and we recently did tommy… and it was fucking amazing! i will be stage manager for the next show we do and this means i have a say in what we do. =] what are the best rock operas with scripts?

  • Blaksley

    A couple of more recent concept albums/”rock operas” that I rather like:

    1) Protest the Hero “Kezia”
    -Tells the tale of a girl (Kezia) who’s imprisoned and sentenced to death for her various crimes. It’s an album in 3 parts, talking about the subject from the point of views of the prison’s priest, one of the members of the firing squad in charge of putting her to death, and finally her own tale.

    2) Boys Night Out “Trainwreck”
    -Suffering from terrible nightmares, a man kills his wife in his sleep, and track by track he continually loses his mind as the music gets heavier, doing such things as cutting off his hands, and poisoning his family to try to resurrect his wife. Amazing, while I like Kezia better musically, the story and the concept of Trainwreck makes it my favorite “rock opera” of all time.

  • bobby

    Hello… No rent here? that is one of the best rock operas ever!!!

  • katie

    Yay dream theater!! And The Wall, and Tommy :)

  • Dennis

    Ayreon – The Human Equation!

  • Looser

    im so glad Quadrophenia is number 1. i listen to that album at least 2x every month. much better in terms of themes, storyline, and musical ability than tommy. I love rock operas too. the only ones i hadnt heard of were Operation: Mindcrime and SF Sorrow

  • leon_arlott

    Ven: I have seen Repo: The Genetic Opera!

    Seemingly noone else in the world besides us and my flatmate who I forced to watch it have actually seen it…

  • kdawg

    i think american idiot by green day is better than half of these

  • Maxx the Slash

    kdawg, there’s a difference between a rock opera and a single song.

  • JC

    Great to see Metropolis on the list- especially their magnum opus album.

  • Gina

    Ven: I LOVE Repo!

  • I don’t care about the rest of the list, I FUCKING LOVE YOU FOR PUTTING QUADROPHENIA AT #1!!!

    Finally someone realizes the complete awesomeness of that album and that it’s miles ahead of Tommy.

  • Will Trame

    There is a very fine line between rock opera and concept album, as many of those listed and mentioned in the succeeding comments could fall into both categories. The Who were phenomenal with their “Tommy” and “Quadrophenia” works. It does indeed seem that Pete Townshend’s writing did reach its zenith with the latter, as subsequent Who albums…even though I liked many of such…were not as impressive artistically and aesthetically. It’s a travesty that Townshend’s “Lifehouse” never reached fruition, as I think it would have been an interesting and intriguing experience.

    An honorable mention: Marillion’s “Misplaced Childhood”.

  • rtl

    Yep, a lot of the above mentioned seemed more like concept albums (Alan Parson’s Project – I Robot, for example). To be an opera, wouldn’t you need to revisit common musical themes, not just the beginning and end, but thru out the album?

    BTW, Didn’t realize Operation Mindcrime was anti-Reagan. I always thought it was the opposite as it was 1984ish and anti totalitarian. Of course, much like the punk frauds going by the name of Greenday, their worldview might be so utterly warped that they can’t tell the obvious difference.

  • Risa

    I agree 100% with 1st and 2nd.

  • Brandon

    Great list. When I first saw the title I figured "Oh, well 'The Wall' is going to be #1 for sure", so I'm thrilled to see Quadrophenia at the top. The Wall is an amazing ablum, as is Tommy, and many other ablums on the list, but Quadrophenia is in a class all its own. Townshend is brilliant.

  • Tommy at #5? Come on!
    Nice call on #10. :)

  • Mr. PersonGuy

    Thank you so much for putting Quadrophenia at number 1. It's like The Catcher in the Rye of rock albums.

    • AmbiguousG

      As for me, I prefer the abandoned “Lifehouse” concept of Pete Townshend’s. But Quadrophenia is brilliant.

  • kokopelli1000

    Ah, Tommy. Great show. But where's RENT and Hair? If JCS counts as a rock opera, those two certainly do, too.

  • mikey

    They left out rocky horror picture show.

    • Michaela

      rocky horror picture show is a musical with rock n roll songs. a rock opera is a story told just threw music(extremely little to no dialogue between characters) I'm not bashing on the AMAZING Rocky Horror, i see every saturday night =] im just letting you know.

  • jeremy

    sorry but i would have to put the wall as number1 with Quadrophenia at number2

  • Rebooted

    I just wanted to slip a personal favourite of mine in here, "Ziltoid the omniscient" by Devin Townsend. Very silly, but also very excellently performed.

  • Repo! The Genetic Opera!

  • George

    Bro, I love you forever for putting the Lamb Lies Down On Broadway on there for once! Stupid ppl dont even mention the album. there was a 100 best album list and the freaking thing wasn't even on there! Then I look for Best Rock operas and the freaking thing is still not on there which is sad, i only saw one site put it up. This is the second. I am very pleased :). I also looooove Quadrophenia, that thing should of had more recognition but I guess after Tommy, that Tommy was so good that they didn't wanna listen to Quadrophenia, so Quadrophenia was quiet and quietly passed them behind their backs. That was an AMAZING album. I love those two both. You have some good taste

  • sara

    where’s American Idiot or 21st Century Breakdown by Green Day? i know some people dont like green day’s new stuff, but they just tried something different.

  • I’m probably a bit younger than most of you, but one that is not on this list is “American Idiot” by Green Day, and that Album defined a decade, which none of these did…

  • Jonas
  • No No, Its “The Lamb LIES Down On Broadway” !!!

  • Bex

    #6 & #2…HELL YES!!!! thank you thank you THANK YOU for recognizing two of the MOST amazing & influential artists/groups of ALL DAMN TIME! you rock Listverse :p

  • Mack

    BAT OUT OF HELL!!!!!!!!!!

  • Marierierieee
  • dd

    Not including Queens A night at the OPERA makes this list irrelavant.

  • Dante Ellis

    Operation: Mindcrime definitely deserves the top spot. Without a doubt.

  • DatKatPat

    no queen “night at the opera” makes the rest of the list suspect… the whole cocept is soldified by the finale ‘bohemian rhapsody’ which elevates the concept and encapsulates it in a 6 minute morsel.

    of all those albums I only have the wall. other than the who, your queen-less picks make me hesitate to check out the rest…

  • John

    The Coolies’ “Doug” isn’t on this list. Had the person who created this list listened to that album, he would be embarrassed to have the Who on there twice.

  • jUSTIN


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  • Bad girls go everywhere!

    Wait a second, where is Meat Loafs Bat out of Hell! He is the king of rock opera

  • Vicki

    But there is one you DIDN’T mention…and it’s considered a rock opera.
    Jonathan Larson’s RENT.

  • Name

    What about RENT?

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