Music

The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time  

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Originally by Ranker Community
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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 Robert Allen Zimmerman; 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. ...more
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
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
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
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
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
7
Freddie Mercury is listed (or ranked) 7 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
8
Mick Jagger & Keith Richards is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time
9
Warren Zevon is listed (or ranked) 9 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
10
Neil Young is listed (or ranked) 10 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
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
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 Reginald Kenneth Dwight; 25 March 1947) is an English singer, songwriter, pianist, and composer. He has worked with lyricist Bernie Taupin since 1967; they have ...more
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
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
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
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
17
Tom Petty is listed (or ranked) 17 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
18
Jimmy Page is listed (or ranked) 18 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
19
Jimi Hendrix is listed (or ranked) 19 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
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 (né Judkins; born May 13, 1950), better known by his stage name Stevie Wonder, is an American singer, songwriter, musician and record producer. A prominent figure ...more
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
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
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 (born J. R. Cash; February 26, 1932 – September 12, 2003) was an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, actor, and author. He is one of the best-selling music ...more
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
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