Music
80.0k voters

The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

Updated July 11, 2020 16.8m votes 80.0k voters 600.6k 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!

Photo:
...more
  • Jimi Hendrix1
    17,051
    10,926

    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,...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Jimi Hendrix 

    Wild Stories From The Guitar-Shredding Life Of Jimi Hendrix#3 of 29 Members of The 27 Club

  • Ludwig van Beethoven2
    16,897
    9,532

    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...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Ludwig van Beethoven 

    18 Grim Facts About The Life Of Beethoven You Never Learned As A Kid#115 of 347 The Most Important Leaders In World History

  • David Bowie3
    16,160
    10,634

    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 (,...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More David Bowie 

    David Bowie and His Mysterious Connections to the Occult and Paganism#8 of 1,728 The Best Rock Bands of All Time

  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart4
    15,579
    8,999

    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...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 

    17 Bizarre, Mind-Blowing Facts and Stories About Mozart#8 of 16 16 Famous Bodies From History Found In Inconspicuous Places

  • Bob Dylan5
    14,834
    9,904

    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...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Bob Dylan 

    The Best Bob Dylan Songs#390 of 1,172 The Best Writers of All Time

  • Johnny Cash6
    14,320
    9,637

    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...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Johnny Cash 

    The Best Johnny Cash Songs of All Time#12 of 291 The Top Country Artists of All Time

  • John Lennon7
    14,596
    9,516

    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...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More John Lennon 

    28 Facts You Didn't Know About John Lennon#64 of 136 Famous Accordionists

  • Frank Sinatra8
    14,171
    9,543

    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...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Frank Sinatra 

    The Best Frank Sinatra Songs of All Time#85 of 355 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

  • Johann Sebastian Bach9
    13,198
    8,194

    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...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Johann Sebastian Bach 

    Crazy Facts About Johann Sebastian Bach#1 of 368 The Best Classical Composers

  • Elvis Presley10
    16,306
    11,241

    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...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Elvis Presley 

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

  • Elton John11
    15,358
    10,676

    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...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Elton John 

    All Of The Inaccuracies In 'Rocketman'#2 of 225 The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

  • Bob Marley12
    14,559
    9,898

    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....  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Bob Marley 

    18 Things Most People Don't Know About Bob Marley#70 of 603 The Best Rock Vocalists

  • The Rolling Stones13
    16,200
    11,309

    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...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More The Rolling Stones 

    What Happened When The Rolling Stones Hired The Hells Angels To Run Security#5 of 265 Rank the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame Inductees

  • Stevie Wonder14
    13,965
    9,609

    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...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Stevie Wonder 

    The Best Stevie Wonder Songs of All Time#190 of 294 The Best Pop Artists of the 1980s

  • Led Zeppelin15
    19,467
    13,696

    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...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Led Zeppelin 

    Infamous Stories From Led Zeppelin's Heyday Most Fans Don't Talk About#24 of 465 The Greatest Musical Artists of the '80s

  • Michael Jackson16
    20,085
    14,095

    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,...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Michael Jackson 

    The Best Michael Jackson Songs of All TimeThis May Have Been The Strangest Road Trip Ever – If It Indeed Happened Like They Say It Did

  • The Beach Boys17
    13,499
    9,459

    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...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More The Beach Boys 

    The Best Beach Boys Songs of All Time#1 of 17 The Most Infamous Rock and Roll Urban Legends

  • The Doors18
    14,154
    9,957

    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...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More The Doors 

    The Best Doors Albums of All Time#46 of 66 The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever

  • Paul McCartney19
    15,328
    9,637

    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,...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Paul McCartney 

    The Best Paul McCartney Songs#83 of 269 The Most Trustworthy Celebrities in the World

  • Creedence Clearwater Revival20
    14,084
    9,875

    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...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Creedence Clearwater Revival 

    The Best Creedence Clearwater Revival Albums of All Time#2 of 15 Bands Whose Whole Thing Is Hating Each Other

  • Chuck Berry21
    12,974
    8,881

    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...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Chuck Berry 

    The Best Chuck Berry Albums of All Time#51 of 583 The Greatest Entertainers of All Time

  • Nirvana22
    15,030
    10,589

    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...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Nirvana 

    Behind The Scenes Of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’#10 of 279 The Greatest American Rock Bands

  • Prince23
    14,840
    10,661

    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,...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Prince 

    Everything The World Should Know About Prince From His Band, The Revolution#5 of 298 The Best Frontmen in Rock

  • Ray Charles24
    12,289
    8,452

    Ray Charles

    Soul blues, Pop music

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

    Ray Charles Robinson (September 23, 1930 – June 10, 2004), professionally known as simply Ray...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Ray Charles 

    The Best Ray Charles Albums of All Time#1486 of 3,510 The Best Movie Characters Of All Time

  • Marvin Gaye25
    12,682
    8,919

    Marvin Gaye

    Doo-wop, Motown Sound

    AlbumsWhat's Going On, Here, My Dear, Let's Get It On, I Want You

    Marvin Gaye (born Marvin Pentz Gay Jr.; April 2, 1939 – April 1, 1984) was an American singer,...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Marvin Gaye 

    The Best Marvin Gaye Songs of All Time#170 of 271 The Sexiest Musical Artists of All Time