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The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

Updated July 11, 2020 16.8m votes 78.1k voters 587.0k 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
    Jimi Hendrix is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
    17,356
    10,826

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 2
    David Bowie is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
    16,463
    10,587

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 3
    Ludwig van Beethoven is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
    16,925
    9,834

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 4
    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
    15,554
    9,256

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 5
    Johnny Cash is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
    14,495
    9,686

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 6
    Bob Dylan is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
    15,083
    10,266

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 7
    Frank Sinatra is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
    14,278
    9,649

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 8
    John Lennon is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
    14,630
    9,698

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 9
    Johann Sebastian Bach is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
    13,201
    8,381

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 10
    Bob Marley is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
    14,675
    10,035

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 11
    Elvis Presley is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
    16,709
    11,737

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 12
    Stevie Wonder is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
    14,037
    9,661

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 13
    Elton John is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
    15,600
    11,015

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 14
    The Rolling Stones is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
    16,678
    11,867

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 15
    Creedence Clearwater Revival is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
    14,310
    10,035

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 16
    Led Zeppelin is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
    20,182
    14,414

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 17
    Paul McCartney is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
    15,426
    9,816

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 18
    Chuck Berry is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
    13,057
    8,961

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 19
    Marvin Gaye is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
    12,689
    8,927

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 20
    Michael Jackson is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
    20,680
    14,832

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 21
    The Beach Boys is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
    13,683
    9,772

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 22
    The Doors is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
    14,445
    10,344

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 23
    Ray Charles is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
    12,309
    8,497

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 24
    Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
    13,729
    9,798

    Eric Clapton

    Blues-rock, Rock music

    Albums461 Ocean Boulevard, Crossroads, Pilgrim, Journeyman, Tears in Heaven

    Eric Patrick Clapton, (born 30 March 1945) is an English rock and blues guitarist, singer,... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 25
    Nirvana is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time
    15,330
    11,021

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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