Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers Bands/Musicians

Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

By 10k votes 1.2k voters 52k views 60 items tags f p @

List Criteria: No obscure musicians.

Artists who have inspired the best covers include legendary musicians and bands like The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix, but this list also includes some lesser known singer-songwriters who's songs have become iconic -- all thanks to someone's brilliant cover of one of their tunes. A good example of this: Tom Waits, whose catalog is stunning, but who might be better known (to mainstream audiences) through cover songs (like Rod Stewart's "Downtown Train"). This list includes a lot of major artists who have inspired phenomenal covers by others in the industry. I've added several videos of these cover songs, where possible. This is a VoteRanked list, meaning the Ranker community sets the bar by voting for favorites. Be sure to cast your vote, and add any artists that you think inspired the best covers.

Occasionally, a cover song will eclipse the original version by a brilliant singer-songwriter in chart popularity. Examples of this include Bruce Springsteen's "Blinded By the Light" (covered by Manfred Mann), Neil Diamond's "Red Red Wine" (covered by UB40), David Bowie's "The Man Who Sold the World" (covered by Nirvana) and Prince's "Nothing Compares to U" (covered by Sinead O'Connor). This doesn't always mean the cover version is better - just that it's more well-known and associated with the cover artist, instead of the original writer.

Great cover songs pay tribute to the original artists who inspired the music, though covers don't always sound like the originals: The song's melody and/or arrangement might be vastly different, like the Lemonhead's punked-out version of Simon & Garfunkel's classic song "Mrs. Robinson" or Chris Cornell's remarkable version of Michael Jackson's iconic song "Billie Jean."

Enjoy this list of incredible artists who have inspired the best covers throughout music history, and be sure to a) vote and b) add anyone I've left off.
List Photo: user uploaded image
Collection Photo:  via wikimedia
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  1. 1
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    Bob Dylan is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

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  2. 2
    + 287
    - 148
    David Bowie is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Rock music, Psychedelic pop, Electronic music

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  3. 3
    + 343
    - 210

    Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

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  4. 4
    + 195
    - 116
    Leonard Cohen is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Synthpop, Pop music, Spoken word

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  5. 5
    + 207
    - 128
    Prince is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Hip hop music, Synthpop, New Wave

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  6. 6
    + 197
    - 120
    The Kinks is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Music hall, Pop music, Rock music

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  7. 7
    + 169
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    added by Clark Benson
    Noise rock, Blues-rock, Rock music

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  8. 8
    + 162
    - 99
    The Clash is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Hip hop music, Pop punk, New Wave

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  9. 9
    + 176
    - 124
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  10. 10
    + 188
    - 136
    Johnny Cash is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Outlaw country, Christian music, Americana

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  11. 11
    + 142
    - 99
    Ramones is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Pop punk, Rock music, Classic Punk

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  12. 12
    + 219
    - 180
    Jimi Hendrix is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

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  13. 13
    + 127
    - 91
    James Brown is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Hip hop music, Doo-wop, Pop music

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  14. 14
    + 117
    - 86
    Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

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  15. 15
    + 142
    - 114
    Simon and Garfunkel is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Pop music, Worldbeat, Rock music

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  16. 16
    + 192
    - 181
    Led Zeppelin is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Blues-rock, Classic rock, Rock music

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  17. 17
    + 110
    - 106
    Depeche Mode is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Synthpop, New Wave, Electronic music

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  18. 18
    + 149
    - 162
    The Rolling Stones is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk

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  19. 19
    + 124
    - 137
    The Who is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Popular music, Pop music, Rock music

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  20. 20
    + 133
    - 155
    Pink Floyd is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Rock music, Space rock, Experimental rock

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  21. 21
    + 130
    - 153
    Elvis Presley is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Christian music, Pop music, Rock music

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  22. 22
    + 118
    - 139

    Motown Sound, Psychedelic soul, Pop music

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  23. 23
    + 93
    - 108
    Robert Johnson is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Rock music, Blues, Country blues

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  24. 24
    + 89
    - 104
    Van Morrison is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

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  25. 25
    + 74
    - 86

    added by AllyStevensPike
    Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Disco pop music

    ;
  26. 26
    + 13
    - 3

    added by edward1111100
    Pop music, Rock music, Piano rock

    ;
  27. 27
    + 112
    - 148
    Michael Jackson is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Motown Sound, Rock music, Electronic music

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  28. 28
    + 61
    - 81

    added by Clark Benson
    Chicago blues, Electric blues, Blues

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  29. 29
    + 29
    - 35

    added by RobinGallego
    Doom metal, Blues-rock, Power metal

    ;
  30. 30
    + 68
    - 92
    Joni Mitchell is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

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  31. 31
    + 95
    - 134
    Neil Young is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

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  32. 32
    + 81
    - 114
    Bruce Springsteen is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

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  33. 33
    + 23
    - 29

    added by simkat399
    Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

    ;
  34. 34
    + 91
    - 130
    Nirvana is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Rock music, Grunge, Alternative rock

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  35. 35
    + 75
    - 108
    Kiss is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Glam metal, Rock music, Heavy metal

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  36. 36
    + 8
    - 12

    added by arthur-mann
    Blues-rock, Boogie rock, Rock music

    ;
  37. 37
    + 10
    - 16

    added by punksnotdead
    Punk blues, Garage rock, Protopunk

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  38. 38
    + 19
    - 30

    added by RobinGallego
    New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Heavy metal, Hard rock

    ;
  39. 39
    + 7
    - 12

    added by punksnotdead
    Psychobilly, Anarcho-punk, Skate punk

    ;
  40. 40
    + 10
    - 17

    added by punksnotdead
    Horror punk, Heavy metal, Classic Punk

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  41. 41
    + 54
    - 86
    Dolly Parton is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

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  42. 42
    + 7
    - 13

    added by punksnotdead
    Blues-rock, Gothic rock, Rock music

    ;
  43. 43
    + 7
    - 14

    added by punksnotdead
    Rock music, Anarcho-punk, Punk rock

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  44. 44
    + 6
    - 13

    added by alecorrado2
    Rock music, Experimental rock, Pop rock

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  45. 45
    + 6
    - 15
    Daft Punk is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    added by Pboy81
    Electronic music, House music, French house

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  46. 46
    + 43
    - 75

    added by Clark Benson
    Americana, Swamp pop, Tulsa Sound "After Midnight", "Cocaine", "They Call Me The Breeze", among others

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  47. 47
    + 5
    - 15

    added by punksnotdead
    Blues-rock, Punk blues, Rock music

    ;
  48. 48
    + 13
    - 29

    added by RobinGallego
    New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Thrash metal, Power metal

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  49. 49
    + 47
    - 86
    Neil Diamond is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

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  50. 50
    + 34
    - 68

    added by ConnieStarnes
    Synthpop, New Wave, Pop music

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61 +

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