Music

The Greatest Rock Songwriters Of All Time

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.
Photo:
  • Bob Dylan
    1
    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 celebrated ...more
  • Paul McCartney
    2
    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
  • Neil Young
    3
    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
  • John Lennon
    4
    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 the ...more
  • Billy Joel
    5
    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 name, he has led ...more
  • Johnny Cash
    6
    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, having sold ...more
  • Elton John
    7
    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
  • Jim Morrison
    8
    James Douglas Morrison (December 8, 1943 – July 3, 1971) was an American singer, songwriter and poet, who served as the lead vocalist of the rock band the Doors. Due to his poetic lyrics, distinctive ...more
  • Roger Waters
    9
    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 as the ...more
  • Brian Wilson
    11
    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 or ...more
  • John Fogerty
    12
    John Cameron Fogerty (born May 28, 1945) is an American musician, singer, and songwriter. Together with Doug Clifford, Stu Cook, and his brother Tom Fogerty, he founded the band Creedence Clearwater ...more
  • Bruce Springsteen
    13
    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. Springsteen received ...more
  • Carole King
    14
    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 as a ...more
  • Pete Townshend
    15
    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 songwriter, ...more
  • David Bowie
    16
    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 and is ...more
  • Freddie Mercury
    17
    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
  • Eric Clapton
    18
    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 artist ...more
  • Bob Seger
    19
    Robert Clark Seger (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 Heard and Bob ...more
  • George Harrison
    20
    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 Beatles. ...more
  • Bob Marley
    21
    Robert Nesta Marley, (6 February 1945 – 11 May 1981) was a Jamaican singer and songwriter. Considered one of the pioneers of reggae, his musical career was marked by blending elements of reggae, ...more
  • Jimi Hendrix
    22
    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 only four years, ...more
  • Stevie Wonder
    23
    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, he is ...more
  • Marvin Gaye
    24
    Marvin Gaye (born Marvin Pentz Gay Jr.; April 2, 1939 – April 1, 1984) was an American singer, songwriter, and record producer. He helped to shape the sound of Motown in the 1960s, first as an ...more
  • Tom Petty
    25
    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 Heartbreakers, ...more