Music

The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time 

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Originally by Ranker Community
253.2k votes 13.1k voters 78.4k views 224 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.
list ordered by
1
Bob Dylan is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music
Bob Dylan (born May 24, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter, author, poet, and visual artist who has been a major figure in popular culture for more than fifty years. Much of his most ...more

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#66 of 453 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Years #107 of 1,057 The Best Singers of All Timefeaturing The Best Bob Dylan Songs

2
Paul McCartney is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock
Sir James Paul McCartney (born 18 June 1942) is an English singer, songwriter, musician, composer, and record and film producer who gained worldwide fame as bass player for the Beatles. His ...more

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#1 of 299 The Greatest Living Rock Songwritersfeaturing The Best Paul McCartney Songslisted on Famous Left Handed People

3
John Lennon is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Blues-rock, Pop music, Rock music
John Winston Ono Lennon (born John Winston Lennon, 9 October 1940 – 8 December 1980) was an English singer, songwriter and peace activist who gained worldwide fame as the rhythm guitarist for ...more

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#91 of 453 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Yearsfeaturing 28 Facts You Didn't Know About John Lennonlisted on Famous Accordionists

4
David Bowie is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Rock music, Psychedelic pop, Electronic music
David Robert Jones (8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016), known professionally as David Bowie (, BOH-ee), was an English singer-songwriter and actor. He was a leading figure in the music industry ...more

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#545 of 1,149 The Best Actors in Film History #7 of 2,187 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Timefeaturing The Best David Bowie Songs of All Time

5
Paul Simon is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock
Paul Frederic Simon (born October 13, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter and actor. Simon's musical career has spanned seven decades with his fame and commercial success beginning as half of ...more

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#110 of 453 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Yearsfeaturing The Best Paul Simon Solo Songs of All Timelisted on Famous Left Handed People

6
George Harrison is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock
George Harrison (25 February 1943 – 29 November 2001) was an English musician, singer-songwriter, and music and film producer who achieved international fame as the lead guitarist of the ...more

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#98 of 453 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Yearsfeaturing The Best George Harrison Albums of All Timelisted on Rolling Stone's Top 100 Guitarists of All Time

7
Mick Jagger & Keith ... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
8
Freddie Mercury is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Pop music, Rock music, Rockabilly
Freddie Mercury (born Farrokh Bulsara; 5 September 1946 – 24 November 1991) was a British singer, songwriter, record producer, and lead vocalist of the rock band Queen. Regarded as one of the ...more

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#5 of 453 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Years #866 of 2,187 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Timefeaturing Everything We Know About Freddie Mercury’s Last Relationship

9
Neil Young is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge
Neil Percival Young (born November 12, 1945) is a Canadian singer-songwriter. After embarking on a music career in the 1960s, he moved to Los Angeles, where he formed Buffalo Springfield with ...more

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#140 of 1,057 The Best Singers of All Timefeaturing The Best Neil Young Albums of All Timelisted on Rolling Stone's Top 100 Guitarists of All Time

10
Warren Zevon is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Americana, Blues-rock, Rock music
Warren William Zevon (; January 24, 1947 – September 7, 2003) was an American rock singer-songwriter and musician. Zevon's most famous compositions include "Werewolves of London", ...more

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#516 of 1,057 The Best Singers of All Time #523 of 926 People We Wish Were Still Alivefeaturing The Best Warren Zevon Albums of All Time

11
Bruce Springsteen is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Americana, Blues-rock, Country
Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen (born September 23, 1949), nicknamed "The Boss", is an American singer-songwriter who is a solo artist and is the leader of the E Street Band. ...more

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#82 of 275 The Most Trustworthy Celebrities in the World #5 of 299 The Greatest Living Rock Songwritersfeaturing The Best Bruce Springsteen Songs of All Time

12
Elton John is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Pop music, Rock music, Piano rock
Sir Elton Hercules John (born 25 March 1947) is an English singer, songwriter, pianist, and composer. He has worked with lyricist Bernie Taupin since 1967; they have collaborated on more than 30 ...more

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#20 of 453 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Years #72 of 275 The Most Trustworthy Celebrities in the Worldfeaturing 14 Elton John Stories That Prove He's A Legend

13
Pete Townshend is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat
Peter Dennis Blandford Townshend (born 19 May 1945) is an English multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter best known as the guitarist, backing and secondary lead vocalist, principal ...more

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#4 of 299 The Greatest Living Rock Songwritersfeaturing Crazy Stories About Pete Townshend, One Of The Most Influential Figures In Rocklisted on Famous Accordionists

14
Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Pop music, Rock music, Outsider music
Brian Douglas Wilson (born June 20, 1942) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, and record producer who co-founded the Beach Boys. After signing with Capitol Records in 1962, Wilson wrote ...more

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#7 of 299 The Greatest Living Rock Songwritersfeaturing The True Story Behind The Film 'Love And Mercy'listed on Notable Deaf People and People with Hearing Loss

15
Prince is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Hip hop music, Synthpop, New Wave
Prince Rogers Nelson (June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016) was an American singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, dancer, actor, and filmmaker. With a career spanning four decades, Prince was ...more

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#20 of 1,057 The Best Singers of All Time #18 of 2,187 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Timefeaturing The Best Prince Songs of All Time

16
Roger Waters is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Folk rock, Progressive rock, Art rock
George Roger Waters (born 6 September 1943) is an English songwriter, singer, bassist, and composer. In 1965, he co-founded the progressive rock band Pink Floyd. Waters initially served solely ...more

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#195 of 1,057 The Best Singers of All Time #1,416 of 2,187 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Timefeaturing Roger Waters Loves and Hookups

17
Jimmy Page is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Blues-rock, Folk rock, Heavy metal
James Patrick Page (born 9 January 1944) is an English musician, songwriter, and record producer who achieved international success as the guitarist and founder of the rock band Led Zeppelin. ...more

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#288 of 2,187 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #2 of 655 The Greatest Guitarists Of All Timelisted on Rolling Stone's Top 100 Guitarists of All Time

18
Jimi Hendrix is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock
James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendrix; November 27, 1942 – September 18, 1970) was an American rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter. His mainstream career lasted ...more

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#88 of 1,057 The Best Singers of All Timefeaturing The Best Jimi Hendrix Songs of All Timelisted on Rolling Stone's Top 100 Guitarists of All Time

19
Tom Petty is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Blues-rock, Heartland rock, Rock music
Thomas Earl Petty (October 20, 1950 – October 2, 2017) was an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, and actor. He was the lead singer of Tom Petty and the ...more

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20
Stevie Wonder is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Motown Sound, Psychedelic soul, Pop music
Stevland Hardaway Morris (born May 13, 1950), better known by his stage name Stevie Wonder, is an American singer, songwriter, musician and record producer. A prominent figure in popular music, ...more

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#115 of 275 The Most Trustworthy Celebrities in the World #8 of 1,057 The Best Singers of All Timefeaturing The Best Stevie Wonder Songs of All Time

21
Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae
Eric Patrick Clapton, (born 30 March 1945) is an English rock and blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter. He is the only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: once as a solo ...more

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#14 of 299 The Greatest Living Rock Songwritersfeaturing All the Drugs, Murder, Adultery, and Disaster Around Eric Clapton's Laylalisted on Musical Guests of the Jay Leno Show

22
Billy Joel is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music
William Martin Joel (born May 9, 1949) is an American singer-songwriter, composer, and pianist. Commonly nicknamed the "Piano Man" after his first hit and signature song of the same ...more

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#31 of 1,057 The Best Singers of All Timefeaturing The Best Billy Joel Songs of All Timelisted on Famous Accordionists

23
Johnny Cash is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Outlaw country, Christian music, Americana
John R. "Johnny" Cash (February 26, 1932 – September 12, 2003) was an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, actor, and author. He is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, ...more

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#24 of 1,057 The Best Singers of All Time #30 of 2,187 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Timefeaturing The Best Johnny Cash Songs of All Time

24
Carole King is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music
Carole King (born Carol Joan Klein, February 9, 1942) is an American singer-songwriter who has been active since 1958, initially as one of the staff songwriters at the Brill Building and later ...more

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#135 of 453 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Years #9 of 299 The Greatest Living Rock Songwritersfeaturing The Best Carole King Albums of All Time

25
Kurt Cobain is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
Grunge, Alternative rock, Punk rock
Kurt Donald Cobain (February 20, 1967 – April 5, 1994) was an American singer, songwriter, and musician, best known as the guitarist and frontman of the rock band Nirvana. He is remembered as ...more

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#77 of 1,057 The Best Singers of All Timefeaturing 15 Crazy But True Stories About Nirvanalisted on Rolling Stone's Top 100 Guitarists of All Time