The same respect is applied to The Beatles as without their success in the early sixties and subsequent appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in February of 1964, groups like The Rolling Stones and many others may have never crossed the Atlantic. The Beatles were the pavers of the road to America inhabited by The British Invasion.
Since I omit Elvis and The Beatles because of their iconic stature, I would name as my favorite act The Electric Light Orchestra. It's a tough choice as it means that I have to pass on some classy acts like Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Cream, The Who, and Queen among many others. "But", as one of my professors once told me, "We have to draw the line somewhere."
With the symphonic rock sound generated by ELO, they provided something totally different for its time. Jeff Lynne was the leader of this basically faceless group but played great lead guitar backed by rich surrounding strings, synthesizers, keyboards, and horns. The melding of symphonic sound and rock was a neat mix and a unique sound that captured me throughout the 1970's and into the present. Somebody must have agreed with me as ELO had a great run from 1972 to 1981 with five platinum albums. This was in addition to being a top touring band.
Occasionally I will fire up my turntable (yes, I still have one!), pull out my old ELO 33 1/3's, and have a ball listening to that classic stuff. For those of you who say, "What about Styx, REO, and The Yardbirds?" Well, they were all great in their own way but they were not in the same league with The Electric Light Orchestra!