Music
81.1k voters

The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

Updated July 11, 2020 16.8m votes 81.1k voters 609.1k views1.9k items

List RulesThe 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!

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  • 1
    16,790
    9,340

    Ludwig van Beethoven

    Opera, Classical music

    AlbumsSymphony Edition, Classical Anthology, Symphonies Nos. 1-9 (feat. piano: Cyprien Katsaris), Eternal Classics, The Perlman Edition (disc 15: Bach)

    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 transition between...  more

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  • 2
    16,848
    10,876

    Jimi Hendrix

    Blues-rock, Rock music

    AlbumsFirst Rays of the New Rising Sun, Band of Gypsys, Voodoo Child: The Jimi Hendrix Collection, Live at the Fillmore East, Live at Woodstock

    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

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  • 3
    15,947
    10,591

    David Bowie

    Rock music, Psychedelic pop

    AlbumsThe Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, Hunky Dory, Diamond Dogs, Aladdin Sane, "Heroes"

    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

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  • 4
    15,569
    8,804

    AlbumsSymphony Edition, Classical Anthology, Eternal Classics, Concertos for Flute, Harp and Orchestra (Orchestra: Saint Paul's Philharmonic Orchestra; Flute: Ubaldo Rosso; Harp: Ursula Mazurek; Conductor: Silvano Frontalini)

    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

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  • 5
    14,717
    9,780

    Bob Dylan

    Blues-rock, Rock music

    AlbumsHighway 61 Revisited, Blood on the Tracks, Blonde on Blonde, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, Bringing It All Back Home

    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

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  • 6
    13,259
    8,150

    Johann Sebastian Bach

    Classical music

    AlbumsDie kompletten Werke von Johann Sebastian Bach, The Organ Works, Bach Edition, Volume V: Cantatas, Volume II

    Johann Sebastian Bach (31 March [O.S. 21 March] 1685 – 28 July 1750) was a German composer and musician of the Baroque period. He is known for instrumental compositions such as the Art of Fugue, the...  more

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  • 7
    14,579
    9,450

    John Lennon

    Blues-rock, Pop music

    AlbumsImagine, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, Double Fantasy, Milk and Honey, Walls and Bridges

    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

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  • 8
    16,117
    10,964

    Elvis Presley

    Christian music, Pop music

    AlbumsJailhouse Rock, The Sun Sessions, From Nashville to Memphis: The Essential '60s Masters, Can’t Help Falling in Love / Rock-A-Hula Baby, Elvis Presley (Legacy Edition)

    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

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    The Best Elvis Presley Songs of All Time#131 of 162 1970s Christian Pop Artists

  • 9
    15,984
    10,948

    The Rolling Stones

    Blues-rock, Rock music

    AlbumsLet It Bleed, Exile on Main St., Sticky Fingers, Beggar's Banquet, Some Girls

    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

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  • 10
    14,209
    9,623

    Johnny Cash

    Outlaw country, Christian music

    AlbumsAmerican V: A Hundred Highways, American IV: The Man Comes Around, At Folsom Prison, American Recordings, American III: Solitary Man

    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

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  • 11
    14,127
    9,530

    Frank Sinatra

    Swing music, Traditional pop music

    AlbumsChristmas With the Rat Pack, In the Wee Small Hours, Christmas Songs by Sinatra, A Jolly Christmas From Frank Sinatra, Nothing but the Best

    Francis Albert Sinatra (; December 12, 1915 – May 14, 1998) was an American singer, actor and producer who was one of the most popular and influential musical artists of the 20th century. He is one...  more

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  • 12
    19,070
    13,243

    Led Zeppelin

    Blues-rock, Classic rock

    AlbumsLed Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin IV, Led Zeppelin II, Physical Graffiti, Houses of the Holy

    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

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  • 13
    15,229
    10,574

    Elton John

    Pop music, Rock music

    AlbumsGoodbye Yellow Brick Road, Disney's Sing-Along: The Lion King, Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, Madman Across the Water, Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player

    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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    All Of The Inaccuracies In 'Rocketman'#475 of 904 Celebrity Death Pool 2021

  • 14
    14,503
    9,864

    AlbumsSun Is Shining, One Love, Rainbow Country, Lively Up Yourself, Forever Gold

    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

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  • 15
    19,719
    13,699

    Michael Jackson

    Motown Sound, Rock music

    AlbumsThriller, Bad, Off the Wall, Dangerous, Michael

    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 cultural figures of...  more

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  • 16
    13,897
    9,539

    Stevie Wonder

    Motown Sound, Psychedelic soul

    AlbumsSongs in the Key of Life, Innervisions, Talking Book, Stevie Wonder's Original Musiquarium I, Music of My Mind

    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

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    The Best Stevie Wonder Songs of All Time#39 of 216 The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time

  • 17
    15,260
    9,537

    Paul McCartney

    Pop music, Rock music

    AlbumsFlaming Pie, Ram, McCartney, Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, Press to Play

    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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  • 18
    14,028
    9,745

    The Doors

    Blues-rock, Rock music

    AlbumsThe Doors, L.A. Woman, Strange Days, Morrison Hotel, Light My Fire

    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 name...  more

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    The Best Doors Albums of All Time#151 of 219 The Top Pop Artists of the 1960s

  • 19
    13,398
    9,327

    The Beach Boys

    Pop music, Rock music

    AlbumsPet Sounds, Surfin' USA, Ultimate Christmas, Endless Summer, Sounds of Summer: The Very Best of the Beach Boys

    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 cars....  more

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    The True Story Behind The Film 'Love And Mercy'#156 of 465 The Greatest Musical Artists of the '80s

  • 20
    21,413
    15,239

    The Beatles

    Pop music, Rock music

    AlbumsAbbey Road, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The White Album, Rubber Soul

    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 influential...  more

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  • 21
    14,860
    10,417

    Nirvana

    Rock music, Grunge

    AlbumsNevermind, In Utero, MTV Unplugged in New York, Bleach, Heart‐Shaped Box

    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, the...  more

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  • 22
    13,998
    9,809

    Creedence Clearwater Revival

    Blues-rock, Blue-eyed soul

    AlbumsGreen River, Cosmo's Factory, Willy and the Poor Boys, Bayou Country, Pendulum

    Creedence Clearwater Revival (often referred to as Creedence or CCR) was an American rock band active in the late 1960s and early 1970s which consisted of lead vocalist, lead guitarist, and primary...  more

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  • 23
    14,701
    10,449

    Prince

    Hip hop music, Synthpop

    AlbumsPurple Rain, Sign 'O' the Times, 1999, Love Symbol Album, Around the World in a Day

    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 known...  more

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    The Best Prince Songs of All Time#21 of 542 The Greatest Guitarists Of All Time

  • 24
    12,889
    8,849

    Chuck Berry

    Rock music, Rhythm and blues

    AlbumsThe Great Twenty-Eight, Maybellene, Two Great Guitars, Rock, Rock

    Charles Edward Anderson Berry (October 18, 1926 – March 18, 2017) was an American singer and songwriter, and one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. With songs such as "Maybellene" (1955), "Roll...  more

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    The Best Chuck Berry Albums of All Time#25 of 639 The Greatest Lead Guitarists Of All Time

  • 25
    22,125
    15,884

    Queen

    Pop music, Rock music

    AlbumsA Night at the Opera, Queen, Innuendo, Queen II, Crazy Little Thing Called Love

    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 John...  more

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