Music

The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time  

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Originally by Ranker Community
225.7k votes 12.1k voters 73.1k views 237 items

The greatest rock songwriters of all time have a lot in common. Firstly, they are some of the biggest names in rock music history. These household names have written some of the most popular songs. Secondly, even if you aren't too familiar with these songwriters, you've definitely heard their songs at least once or twice. You may not be familiar with their names or faces, but you should know their music. For some bizarre reason, you may not have heard of John Lennon or Paul McCartney, but you definitely have heard of The Beatles and their music. The same goes for Freddie Mercury and Queen, who like The Beatles' songwriting duo, wrote some of the most popular songs in music history.

Bob Dylan is widely considered one of the first songwriters to incorporate poetry, imagery and a social consciousness to rock music. His influence ranges far and wide. Many of the songwriters on this list count Dylan as one of the most important songwriters in rock history. He may not have had the same impact as Dylan, but Kurt Cobain has proven to be one of the most important songwriters in recent history. His career may have been short, but his impact on music history cannot be understated.

It's not easy to determine which of these songwriters is the greatest of all time. It's up to you to determine who is the greatest rock songwriter of all time by voting for who you think deserves that title.
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26
Bernie Taupin is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Pop music, Rock music
Bernard John "Bernie" Taupin is an English lyricist, poet, and singer, best known for his long-term collaboration with Elton John, writing the lyrics for the majority of the star's ...more
27
Johnny Cash is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Outlaw country, Christian music, Americana
John R. "Johnny" Cash was a singer-songwriter, actor, and author, widely considered one of the most influential American musicians of the 20th century. Although primarily remembered as ...more
28
Kurt Cobain is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Grunge, Alternative rock, Punk rock
Kurt Donald Cobain was an American musician who was best known as the lead singer, guitarist, and primary songwriter of the grunge band Nirvana. Cobain formed Nirvana with Krist Novoselic in ...more
29
Gordon Lightfoot is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Pop music, Rock music, Folk music
Gordon Meredith Lightfoot, Jr. CC OOnt is a Canadian singer-songwriter who achieved international success in folk, folk-rock, and country music, and has been credited for helping define the ...more
30
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music
Thomas Alan "Tom" Waits is an American singer-songwriter, composer, and actor. With this trademark growl, his incorporation of pre-rock music styles such as blues, jazz, and ...more
31
John Fogerty is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Americana, Blues-rock, Swamp pop
John Cameron Fogerty is an American musician, songwriter, and guitarist, early in his career best known as the lead singer and lead guitarist for the band Creedence Clearwater Revival and later ...more
32
Ray Davies is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock
Raymond Douglas "Ray" Davies CBE is an English musician. He was the lead singer and songwriter for the Kinks, which he led with his younger brother, Dave. He has also acted, directed ...more
33
Jim Morrison is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Blues-rock, Rock music, Acid rock
James Douglas "Jim" Morrison was an American singer, poet and songwriter best remembered as the lead vocalist of the Doors. Due to his songwriting, baritone voice, wild personality and ...more
34
Robert Plant is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock
Robert Anthony Plant, CBE is an English musician, singer, and songwriter best known as the lead vocalist and lyricist of the rock band Led Zeppelin. Possessing a powerful and wide vocal range he ...more
35
Chuck Berry is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Rock music, Rhythm and blues, Rock and roll
Charles Edward Anderson "Chuck" Berry is an American guitarist, singer and songwriter, and one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. With songs such as "Maybellene", ...more
36
Buddy Holly is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Lubbock sound, Rock music, Rockabilly
Charles Hardin Holley, known as Buddy Holly, was an American musician and singer-songwriter, often considered one of the main figures of the rock and roll genre in the mid-1950s. Born in ...more
37
David Gilmour is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock
David Jon Gilmour, CBE, is an English musician, singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. He is best known for his work as the guitarist and co-lead vocalist of the progressive rock band ...more
38
Frank Zappa is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Rock music, Experimental rock, Heavy metal
Frank Vincent Zappa was an American musician, bandleader, songwriter, composer, recording engineer, record producer, and film director. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Zappa composed ...more
39
Alice Cooper is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Clay Glenny added Glam metal, Experimental rock, Shock rock
Alice Cooper is an American singer, songwriter, musician, and occasional actor whose career spans five decades. With a stage show that features guillotines, electric chairs, fake blood, boa ...more
40
Stevie Nicks is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Classic rock, Pop music, Rock music
Stephanie Lynn "Stevie" Nicks is an American singer-songwriter, best known for her work with Fleetwood Mac and an extensive solo career, which collectively have produced over forty Top ...more
41
Roy Orbison is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
versusmen added Country pop, Pop music, Rock music
Roy Kelton Orbison, also known by his nickname The Big O, was an American singer-songwriter, best known for his trademark sunglasses, distinctive, powerful voice, complex compositions, and dark ...more
42
Elvis Costello is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock
Elvis Costello is an English singer-songwriter. He began his career as part of London's pub rock scene in the early 1970s and later became associated with the first wave of the British punk and ...more
43
Bob Seger is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Blue-eyed soul, Heartland rock, Rock music
Robert Clark Seger (/ˈsiːɡər/, born May 6, 1945) is an American singer, songwriter and musician. As a locally successful Detroit-area artist, he performed and recorded as Bob Seger and the Last ...more
44
Marvin Gaye is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Doo-wop, Motown Sound, Rock music
Marvin Gaye was an American singer, songwriter and musician. Gaye helped to shape the sound of Motown Records, first as an in house session player in the 1960s and later as a solo artist with a ...more
45
Peter Gabriel is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
New Wave, Pop music, Rock music
Peter Brian Gabriel is an English singer-songwriter, musician and humanitarian activist who rose to fame as the lead vocalist and flautist of the progressive rock band Genesis. After leaving ...more
46
Don Henley is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Pop music, Rock music, Country rock
Donald Hugh Henley (born July 22, 1947) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, record producer and founding member of the Eagles. He was the drummer and co-lead vocalist for the Eagles ...more
47
David Byrne is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music
David Byrne is a Scottish musician and a founding member and principal songwriter of the American new wave band Talking Heads, active between 1975 and 1991. Since then, Byrne has released his ...more
48
Van Morrison is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music
George Ivan "Van" Morrison, OBE is a Northern Irish singer-songwriter and musician. His live performances at their best are described as mystical and transcendental, while some of his ...more
49
Jackson Browne is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock
Clyde Jackson Browne is an American singer-songwriter and musician who has sold over 18 million albums in the United States. Coming to prominence in the 1970s, Browne has written and recorded ...more
50
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music
James Vernon Taylor is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. A five-time Grammy Award winner, Taylor was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. Taylor achieved his ...more