Music

The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time  

Ranker Music
Originally by
13.4M votes 69.3k voters 512k views 2,169 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
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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
2
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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
3
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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
4
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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
5
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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
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
7
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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
8
Jimi Hendrix is listed (or ranked) 8 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
9
Elvis Presley is listed (or ranked) 9 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
10
Simon and Garfunkel is listed (or ranked) 10 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
11
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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
12
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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
13
Elton John is listed (or ranked) 13 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
14
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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
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
16
Prince is listed (or ranked) 16 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
17
The Doors is listed (or ranked) 17 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
18
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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
19
Ludwig van Beethoven is listed (or ranked) 19 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
20
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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
21
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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
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
23
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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
24
Black Sabbath is listed (or ranked) 24 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
25
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
Opera, Ballet, Art song
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791), baptised as Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, was a prolific and influential composer of the classical era. Born in ...more