Music

The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time  

Ranker Music
Originally by
13.4M votes 70.8k voters 520.8k views 2,187 items

List Rules The best artists of any genre

When VH1 polled fellow artists to name the greatest artists of all time, it seemed like a good idea---but in reality, the list was truly flawed. According to them, Coldplay is better than Pearl Jam, Mariah Carey is only greater than six artists, etc! Not to mention other impactful artists were left off of the list. So I thought that maybe we try the countdown one more time, only this time with the perspective of true music fans...YOU..

This list will begin in no particular order, you will see some names that didn't appear in VH1's version, no artist appears on the countdown twice, and the order is not my personal opinion (I personally think Bob Marley is the greatest artist of all time). If you don't like how the list looks, you have the power to change it. This list includes some of the greatest female vocalists of the past 10 years, great current bands, and many of the best rock bands and artists of all time. Many of them are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame - and some will be, eventually.

So many questions will be answered with the voting results on this list. Nirvana or Pearl Jam? 2Pac or Biggie? The Beatles or the Rolling Stones? Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston? Is Michael Jackson still the King or is Elvis the true immortal? Is Madonna still the undisputed Queen of Pop? Does anyone rock harder than Hendrix? Are Jay-Z and Beyonce the most powerful couple in music history? It's up to you to decide!

list ordered by
1
Ranker Video
First L added Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock
The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. With a line-up comprising John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, they are regarded as the most ...more

More The Beatles

#2 of 353 The Greatest Classic Rock Bandsfeaturing The Worst Beatles Songslisted on The Best English Boy Bands

2
Ranker Video
First L added Pop music, Rock music, Progressive rock
Queen are a British rock band formed in London in 1970. Their classic line-up was Freddie Mercury (lead vocals and piano), Brian May (lead guitar and vocals), Roger Taylor (drums and vocals) and ...more

More Queen

#69 of 465 The Best Current Pop Groups/Singersfeaturing Behind The Scenes Of The Movie 'Bohemian Rhapsody' The Best Queen Songs of All Time

3
Ranker Video
First L added Rock music, Space rock, Experimental rock
Pink Floyd were an English rock band formed in London in 1965. They emerged from London's underground music scene during the late 1960s, and became one of the most commercially successful and ...more

More Pink Floyd

#175 of 711 The Best Rock Vocalistsfeaturing Behind The Scenes Details From Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’ Movie Behind The Scenes Of Pink Floyd's 'The Wall'

4
Ranker Video
First L added Blues-rock, Classic rock, Rock music
Led Zeppelin were an English rock band formed in London in 1968. The group consisted of vocalist Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page, bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones and drummer John Bonham. ...more

More Led Zeppelin

#1 of 353 The Greatest Classic Rock Bandsfeaturing The Best Led Zeppelin Songs 12 Fascinating Facts You Didn't Know About Robert Plant

5
Ranker Video
First L added Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk
The Rolling Stones are an English rock band formed in London in 1962. The first settled line-up consisted of Brian Jones, Ian Stewart, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, and Charlie Watts. ...more

More The Rolling Stones

#134 of 465 The Best Current Pop Groups/Singersfeaturing The Best Rolling Stones Albums of All Time This Hard-Partying Rock N' Roll Goddess Was The Rolling Stones' Muse

6
Michael Jackson is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
First L added Motown Sound, Rock music, Electronic music
Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009) was an American singer, songwriter, and dancer. Dubbed the "King of Pop", he is regarded as one of the most significant ...more

More Michael Jackson

#9 of 455 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Yearsfeaturing The Best Michael Jackson Songs of All Time The Craziest Conspiracies That Surround The Death Of Michael Jackson

7
Ranker Video
First L added 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

More David Bowie

#19 of 455 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Yearsfeaturing The Best David Bowie Songs of All Time David Bowie and His Mysterious Connections to the Occult and Paganism

8
Elvis Presley is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
First L added Christian music, Pop music, Rock music
Elvis Aaron Presley (January 8, 1935 – August 16, 1977), also known mononymously as Elvis, was an American singer and actor. Regarded as one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th ...more

More Elvis Presley

#4 of 711 The Best Rock Vocalistsfeaturing The Best Elvis Presley Songs of All Timelisted on Musicians You May Not Know Are Republican

9
Jimi Hendrix is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
First L added 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

More Jimi Hendrix

#39 of 711 The Best Rock Vocalistsfeaturing The Best Jimi Hendrix Songs of All Timelisted on Famous Left Handed People

10
Elton John is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
First L added 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

More Elton John

#72 of 276 The Most Trustworthy Celebrities in the World #15 of 298 The Greatest Living Rock Songwritersfeaturing 14 Elton John Stories That Prove He's A Legend

11
Simon and Garfunkel is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
Pop music, Worldbeat, Rock music
Simon & Garfunkel were an American folk rock duo consisting of singer-songwriter Paul Simon and singer Art Garfunkel. They are best known for achieving commercial and critical success in the ...more

More Simon and Garfunkel

#53 of 353 The Greatest Classic Rock Bandsfeaturing The Best Simon And Garfunkel Songs The Best Simon And Garfunkel Albums of All Time

12
Ranker Video
First L added Blues-rock, Boogie rock, Rock music
AC/DC are an Australian hard rock band, formed in November 1973 by brothers Malcolm and Angus Young, who continued as members until Malcolm's illness and departure in 2014. Commonly referred to ...more

More AC/DC

#11 of 353 The Greatest Classic Rock Bandsfeaturing The Best AC/DC Songs of All Timelisted on List of Famous Bands from Australia

13
Ranker Video
First L added 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

More Bob Dylan

#2 of 298 The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters #64 of 455 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Yearsfeaturing The Best Bob Dylan Songs

14
Ranker Video
First L added Popular music, Pop music, Rock music
The Who are an English rock band formed in London in 1964. Their classic line-up consisted of lead singer Roger Daltrey, guitarist and singer Pete Townshend, bass guitarist John Entwistle and ...more

More The Who

#6 of 353 The Greatest Classic Rock Bandsfeaturing Fascinating Facts You Didn't Know About The Who's 'Who Are You' The Best Who Albums of All Time

15
Aretha Franklin is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
First L added Pop music, Rock music, Rhythm and blues
Aretha Louise Franklin (March 25, 1942 – August 16, 2018) was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, and civil rights activist. Franklin began her career as a child singing gospel at New ...more

More Aretha Franklin

#12 of 455 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Yearsfeaturing The Best Aretha Franklin Albums of All Time You Will R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Aretha Franklin Even More When You Hear About Her Remarkable Life

16
Ludwig van Beethoven is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
Opera, Classical music
Ludwig van Beethoven ( (listen); German: [ˈluːtvɪç fan ˈbeːthoːfn̩] (listen); baptised 17 December 1770 – 26 March 1827) was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the ...more

More Ludwig van Beethoven

#3 of 374 The Best Classical Composersfeaturing 18 Grim Facts About The Life Of Beethoven You Never Learned As A Kidlisted on Notable Deaf People and People with Hearing Loss

17
Ranker Video
First L added Rock music, Grunge, Alternative rock
Nirvana was an American grunge band that was formed by singer/guitarist Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic in Aberdeen, Washington in 1987. Nirvana went through a succession of drummers, ...more

More Nirvana

#127 of 465 The Best Current Pop Groups/Singersfeaturing The Best Nirvana Songs 15 Crazy But True Stories About Nirvana

18
Prince is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
First L added 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

More Prince

#16 of 455 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Yearsfeaturing The Best Prince Songs of All Time Inspiring Prince Songs and Lyrics That Inform How You Live

19
The Doors is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
First L added Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk
The Doors were an American rock band formed in 1965 in Los Angeles, with vocalist Jim Morrison, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, drummer John Densmore and guitarist Robby Krieger. The band took its ...more

More The Doors

#193 of 283 Musicians Who Belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Famefeaturing The Best Doors Albums of All Time The Best Songs on The Doors' Self-Titled Debut Album

20
Ranker Video
First L added Hip hop
Marshall Bruce Mathers III (born October 17, 1972), known professionally as Eminem (; often stylized as EMINƎM), is an American rapper, songwriter, record producer, record executive, film ...more

More Eminem

#140 of 455 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Years #228 of 282 The Best (Male) Actors Working Todayfeaturing The Best Eminem Songs of All Time

21
Ranker Video
First L added Rock, Punk
U2 are an Irish rock band from Dublin, formed in 1976. The group consists of Bono (lead vocals and rhythm guitar), the Edge (lead guitar, keyboards, and backing vocals), Adam Clayton (bass ...more

More U2

#13 of 2,219 The Best Rock Bands of All Timefeaturing The Best U2 Songs of All Time The Best U2 Albums of All Time

22
Bee Gees is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
First L added Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Disco
The Bee Gees were a pop music group formed in 1958. Their lineup consisted of brothers Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb. The trio were especially successful as a popular music act in the late ...more

More Bee Gees

#72 of 353 The Greatest Classic Rock Bandsfeaturing The Best Bee Gees Albums of All Timelisted on List of Famous Bands from Australia

23
Black Sabbath is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
First L added Doom metal, Blues-rock, Power metal
Black Sabbath were an English rock band, formed in Birmingham in 1968, by guitarist and main songwriter Tony Iommi, drummer Bill Ward, bassist and main lyricist Geezer Butler and singer Ozzy ...more

More Black Sabbath

#230 of 283 Musicians Who Belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Famefeaturing The Best Black Sabbath Albums List, Ranked Discography Drug-Fueled, Sordid Tales From Black Sabbath's Heyday That Prove Just How Unhinged They Really Were

24
Ranker Video
First L added Blues-rock, Pop music, Rock music
Fleetwood Mac are a British-American rock band formed in July 1967, in London. The band have sold more than 100 million records worldwide, making them one of the best-selling bands of all time. ...more

More Fleetwood Mac

#16 of 353 The Greatest Classic Rock Bandsfeaturing The Best Fleetwood Mac Songs of All Time Inside Secrets Of Fleetwood Mac’s Tumultuous Lineup History

25
The Beach Boys is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
First L added Pop music, Rock music, Psychedelic pop
The Beach Boys are an American rock and roll band. Formed in 1961, they gained popularity for their close vocal harmonies and lyrics reflecting a California youth culture of surfing, girls, and ...more

More The Beach Boys

#151 of 465 The Best Current Pop Groups/Singersfeaturing The Best Beach Boys Songs of All Time 14 Beach Boys Songs You Never Realized Are Super Dark And Depressing