Music

The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time 

Ranker Music
Originally by
Updated June 23, 2020 13.5M votes 75.5k voters 564.6k views 2,042 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!

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Albums: A Night at the Opera, Queen, Innuendo, Queen II, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, + more

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

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Albums: Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin IV, Led Zeppelin II, Physical Graffiti, Houses of the Holy, + more

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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Albums: Abbey Road, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The White Album, Rubber Soul, + more

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

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Ludwig van Beethoven is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
Genre: Opera and Classical music; Nationality: Austrian Empire

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

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

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Jimi Hendrix is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
First L added Genre: Blues-rock, Rock music & Experimental rock; Nationality: United States of America

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

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

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart ... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
Genre: Opera, Ballet & Art song; Nationality: Holy Roman Empire

Albums: Symphony 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), + more

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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Paul McCartney is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
Genre: Pop music, Rock music & Experimental rock; Nationality: England

Albums: Flaming Pie, Ram, McCartney, Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, Press to Play, + more

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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Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
Genre: Blues-rock, Rock music & Reggae; Nationality: England

Albums: 461 Ocean Boulevard, Crossroads, Pilgrim, Journeyman, Tears in Heaven, + more

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

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Johann Sebastian Bach is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
Genre: Classical music; Nationality: Germany

Albums: Die kompletten Werke von Johann Sebastian Bach, The Organ Works, Bach Edition, Volume V: Cantatas, Volume II, + more

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, ...more

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Paul Simon is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
Genre: Rock music, Folk music & Folk rock; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Graceland, Still Crazy After All These Years, So Beautiful or So What, Paul Simon, The Rhythm of the Saints, + more

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

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Stevie Wonder is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
First L added Genre: Motown Sound, Psychedelic soul & Pop music; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Songs in the Key of Life, Innervisions, Talking Book, Stevie Wonder's Original Musiquarium I, Music of My Mind, + more

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, ...more

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Chuck Berry is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
First L added Genre: Rock music, Rhythm and blues & Rock and roll; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: The Great Twenty-Eight, Maybellene, Two Great Guitars, Rock, Rock, + more

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" ...more

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Michael Jackson is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
First L added Genre: Motown Sound, Rock music & Electronic music; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Thriller, Bad, Off the Wall, Dangerous, Michael, + more

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

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Ray Charles is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
First L added Genre: Soul blues, Pop music & Rock music; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: The Birth of Soul, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, The Spirit of Christmas, Ray Charles at Newport, Genius Loves Company, + more

Ray Charles Robinson (September 23, 1930 – June 10, 2004), professionally known as simply Ray Charles, was an American singer, songwriter, musician, and composer. Among friends and fellow ...more

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Marvin Gaye is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
First L added Genre: Doo-wop, Motown Sound & Rock music; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: What's Going On, Here, My Dear, Let's Get It On, I Want You, + more

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

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Louis Armstrong is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
Genre: Swing music, Traditional pop music & Jazz; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Hot Fives and Hot Sevens, American Freedom, C'est si bon, Louis Armstrong and King Oliver, Porgy & Bess, + more

Louis Daniel Armstrong (August 4, 1901 – July 6, 1971), nicknamed Satchmo, Satch, and Pops, was an American trumpeter, composer, vocalist and occasional actor who was one of the most influential ...more

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George Harrison is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
cfletcher4956 added Genre: Pop music, Rock music & Experimental rock; Nationality: United Kingdom

Albums: All Things Must Pass, Cloud Nine, Living in the Material World, Thirty Three & 1/3, George Harrison, + more

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

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First L added Genre: Hip hop; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: The Marshall Mathers LP, The Slim Shady LP, The Eminem Show, Infinite, Recovery, + more

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

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Albums: The Last DJ, Damn the Torpedoes, Into the Great Wide Open, Southern Accents, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, + more

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (alternately Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers) were an American rock band from Gainesville, Florida. Formed in 1976, the band originally comprised Tom Petty ...more

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Bob Marley is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
First L added Genre: Reggae; Nationality: Jamaica

Albums: Sun Is Shining, One Love, Rainbow Country, Lively Up Yourself, Forever Gold, + more

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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Antonio Vivaldi is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
Genre: Classical music and Baroque music; Nationality: Italy

Albums: Classical Anthology, Vivaldi 5 Concerti Per Oboe; Concerto Per Oboe & Fagotto RV 545; Heinz Holliger, Klaus Thunemann, Great Violin Concertos, Classic Gala, + more

Antonio Lucio Vivaldi (UK: , US: , Italian: [anˈtɔːnjo ˈluːtʃo viˈvaldi] (listen); 4 March 1678 – 28 July 1741) was an Italian Baroque musical composer, virtuoso violinist, teacher, and priest. ...more

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#17 of 362 The Best Classical Composers #302 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive #91 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time

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First L added Genre: Outlaw country, Christian music & Americana; Nationality: United States of America

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

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, ...more

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Genre: Romantic music, Art song & Classical music; Nationality: Poland

Albums: Complete Edition, Classical Anthology, Chopin: Complete Works, The Mazurkas, Spectacular Classics, + more

Frédéric François Chopin (, also UK: , US: , French: [ʃɔpɛ̃], Polish: [ˈʂɔpɛn]; 1 March 1810 – 17 October 1849) was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist of the Romantic ...more

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Aerosmith is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
First L added

Albums: Toys in the Attic, Pump, Permanent Vacation, Aerosmith, Get a Grip, + more

Aerosmith is an American rock band formed in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1970. The group consists of Steven Tyler (vocals, keyboards), Joe Perry (guitar), Tom Hamilton (bass), Joey Kramer (drums), ...more

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Neil Diamond is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
Genre: Pop music, Rock music & Folk music; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: The Christmas Album Volume II, Hot August Night, The Christmas Album, The Jazz Singer, Home Before Dark, + more

Neil Leslie Diamond (born January 24, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter, musician and actor. With 38 songs in the Top 10 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary charts, Diamond has sold more ...more

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