READ List of Famous Bandleaders

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List of famous bandleaders, with photos, bios, and other information when available. Who are the top bandleaders in the world? This includes the most prominent bandleaders, living and dead, both in America and abroad. This list of notable bandleaders is ordered by their level of prominence, and can be sorted for various bits of information, such as where these historic bandleaders were born and what their nationality is. The people on this list are from different countries, but what they all have in common is that they're all renowned bandleaders.

These people, like James Brown and Ray Charles include images when available.

From reputable, prominent, and well known bandleaders to the lesser known bandleaders of today, these are some of the best professionals in the bandleader field. If you want to answer the questions, "Who are the most famous bandleaders ever?" and "What are the names of famous bandleaders?" then you're in the right place. (629 items)

James Brown is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
James Brown James Brown is a film score composer.

Emmylou Harris is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Emmylou Harris Emmylou Harris is an American singer and songwriter. She has released many popular albums and singles over the course of her career, and as of 2015 she has won 13 Grammys as well as numerous ...more

Paul Simon is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Paul Simon Paul Frederic Simon is an American musician, actor and singer-songwriter. Simon's fame, influence, and commercial success began as part of the duo Simon & Garfunkel, formed in 1964 with ...more

Count Basie is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Count Basie William James "Count" Basie was an American jazz pianist, organist, bandleader, and composer. His mother taught him to play the piano and he started performing in his teens. Dropping ...more

Duke Ellington is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Duke Ellington Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington was an American composer, pianist and bandleader of jazz orchestras. He led his orchestra from 1923 until his death, his career spanning over 50 years. ...more

Lawrence Welk is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Lawrence Welk Lawrence Welk was an American musician, accordionist, bandleader, and television impresario, who hosted The Lawrence Welk Show from 1951 to 1982. His style came to be known to his large number ...more

Chrissie Hynde is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Chrissie Hynde Christine Ellen "Chrissie" Hynde is an American singer, songwriter, and musician best known as the lead singer of the rock band The Pretenders. She has been the only constant member of ...more

Wynton Marsalis is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Wynton Marsalis Wynton Marsalis is a nominee of 2013 News & Documentary Emmy Award for Outstanding Feature Story in a Regularly Scheduled Newscast.

Lionel Hampton is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Lionel Hampton Lionel Leo Hampton was an American jazz vibraphonist, pianist, percussionist, bandleader and actor. Hampton worked with jazz musicians from Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, and Buddy Rich to ...more

Herbie Hancock is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Herbie Hancock Herbert Jeffrey "Herbie" Hancock is an American pianist, keyboardist, bandleader and composer. Starting his career with jazz legend Donald Byrd, he shortly thereafter joined the Miles ...more

Miles Davis is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Miles Davis Miles Dewey Davis III was an American jazz musician, trumpeter, bandleader, and composer. Widely considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, Miles Davis was, together ...more

Little Richard is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Little Richard Richard Wayne Penniman, known by his stage name Little Richard, is an American recording artist, songwriter, and musician. He has been an influential figure in popular music and culture for more ...more

Glenn Miller is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Glenn Miller Alton Glenn Miller was an American big band musician, arranger, composer, and bandleader in the swing era. He was the best-selling recording artist from 1939 to 1943, leading one of the best ...more

Jeff Tweedy is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Jeff Tweedy Jeffrey Scot "Jeff" Tweedy is an American songwriter, musician, record producer best known as the leader of the bands Wilco, Tweedy, Golden Smog, Loose Fur, and Uncle Tupelo.

Rick James is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Rick James Rick James was an American musician and composer. Influenced by singers such as Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson, James started singing in doo-wop and R&B groups as a teenager in his hometown ...more

Charles Mingus is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Charles Mingus Charles Mingus Jr. was a highly influential American jazz double bassist, composer and bandleader. Mingus's compositions retained the hot and soulful feel of hard bop and drew heavily from black ...more

John Coltrane is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
John Coltrane John William Coltrane, also known as "Trane", was an American jazz saxophonist and composer. Working in the bebop and hard bop idioms early in his career, Coltrane helped pioneer the ...more

George Clinton is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
George Clinton George Clinton is an American singer, songwriter, bandleader, and music producer. He was the principal architect of P-Funk, the mastermind of the bands Parliament and Funkadelic during the 1970s ...more

Paul Shaffer is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Paul Shaffer Paul Allen Wood Shaffer, CM is a Canadian-American musician, actor, voice actor, author, comedian, and composer who has been David Letterman's musical director, band leader and sidekick since

Bill Wyman is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Bill Wyman Bill Wyman is an English musician, record producer, songwriter and singer best known as the bassist for the English rock and roll band the Rolling Stones from 1962 until 1993. Since 1997, he has ...more

Benny Goodman is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Benny Goodman Benjamin David "Benny" Goodman was an American jazz and swing musician, clarinetist and bandleader, known as the "King of Swing". In the mid-1930s, Benny Goodman led one of ...more

Tommy Dorsey is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Tommy Dorsey Thomas Francis "Tommy" Dorsey, Jr. was an American jazz trombonist, trumpeter, composer, and bandleader of the Big Band era. He was known as "The Sentimental Gentleman of ...more

Ricky Skaggs is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Ricky Skaggs Ricky Lee Skaggs is an American country and bluegrass singer, musician, producer, and composer. He primarily plays mandolin; however, he also plays fiddle, guitar, mandocaster and banjo.

Sun Ra is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Sun Ra Sun Ra was an American jazz composer, bandleader, piano and synthesizer player, poet and philosopher known for his "cosmic philosophy," prolific musical output, and performances. He ...more

Ben Folds is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Ben Folds Benjamin Scott "Ben" Folds is an American singer-songwriter and record producer. From 1995 to 2000, Folds was the frontman and pianist of the alternative rock band Ben Folds Five. ...more

Carlos Santana is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Carlos Santana Carlos Santana audio is a Mexican and American musician who first became famous in the late 1960s and early 1970s with his band, Santana, which pioneered a fusion of rock and Latin American ...more

Artie Shaw is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Artie Shaw Artie Shaw was an American clarinetist, composer, and bandleader. Also an author, Shaw wrote both fiction and non-fiction. Widely regarded as "one of jazz's finest clarinetists," Shaw ...more

John Philip Sousa is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
John Philip Sousa John Philip Sousa was an American composer and conductor of the late Romantic era, known primarily for American military and patriotic marches. Because of his mastery of march composition, he is ...more

Buck Owens is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Buck Owens Alvis Edgar Owens, Jr., known professionally as Buck Owens, was an American musician, singer, songwriter and band leader who had 21 No. 1 hits on the Billboard country music charts with his band ...more

Ike Turner is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Ike Turner Ike Wister Turner was an American musician, bandleader, songwriter, arranger, talent scout, and record producer. An early pioneer of fifties rock and roll, he is most popularly known for his ...more

Dizzy Gillespie is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Dizzy Gillespie John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie was an American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, composer and occasional singer. AllMusic's Scott Yanow wrote, "Dizzy Gillespie's contributions to jazz ...more

Cecil Taylor is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Cecil Taylor Cecil Percival Taylor is an American pianist and poet. Classically trained, Taylor is generally acknowledged as one of the pioneers of free jazz. His music is characterized by an extremely ...more

Walt Levinsky is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Walt Levinsky Walt Levinsky was an American big band and orchestral player, composer, arranger and band leader. While many of his big band assignments were as lead alto sax player, his favorite instrument was ...more

Cab Calloway is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Cab Calloway Cabell "Cab" Calloway III was a jazz singer and bandleader. He was strongly associated with the Cotton Club in Harlem, New York City, where he was a regular performer. Calloway was a ...more

Alison Krauss is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Alison Krauss Alison Maria Krauss is an American bluegrass-country singer-songwriter and musician. She entered the music industry at an early age, winning local contests by the age of ten and recording for ...more

Chick Corea is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Chick Corea Armando Anthony "Chick" Corea is an American jazz and fusion pianist, keyboardist, and composer. Many of his compositions are considered jazz standards. As a member of Miles Davis' ...more

Buddy Rich is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Buddy Rich Bernard "Buddy" Rich was an American jazz drummer and bandleader. Rich was billed as "the world's greatest drummer" and was known for his virtuoso technique, power, groove,

Chris Morris is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Chris Morris Christopher Morris is a musician, singer/song-writer, guitarist and composer born in New York in 1946. He is also well known as an author and defense policy expert. Christopher Morris created ...more

Esperanza Spalding is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Esperanza Spalding Esperanza Spalding is an American jazz bassist, cellist and singer, who draws upon many genres in her own compositions. She has won four Grammy Awards, including the Grammy Award for Best New ...more

John Barry is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
John Barry John Barry Prendergast, OBE was an English composer and conductor of film music. He composed the soundtracks for 11 of the James Bond films between 1963 and 1987, and also arranged and performed ...more

Eric Dolphy is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Eric Dolphy Eric Allan Dolphy, Jr. was an American jazz alto saxophonist, flautist, and bass clarinetist. On a few occasions, he also played the clarinet, and piccolo. Dolphy was one of several ...more

Jerry Gray is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Jerry Gray Jerry Gray was an American violinist, arranger, composer, and leader of swing dance orchestras bearing his name. He is widely known for his work with popular music during the Swing era. His name ...more

Xavier Cugat is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Xavier Cugat Xavier Cugat was a Spanish-American bandleader who spent his formative years in Havana, Cuba. A trained violinist and arranger, he was a personality in the spread of Latin music in United States ...more

Billy Preston is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Billy Preston William Everett "Billy" Preston was an American musician whose work included R&B, rock, soul, funk and gospel. A virtuoso keyboardist, particularly on Hammond organ, Preston was ...more

Hoagy Carmichael is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Hoagy Carmichael Howard Hoagland "Hoagy" Carmichael was an American composer, pianist, singer, actor, and bandleader. He is best known for composing the music for "Stardust", "Georgia on ...more

Chico Marx is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Chico Marx Leonard "Chico" Marx was an American comedian, bandleader, actor and film star as part of the Marx Brothers. His persona in the act was that of a charming, dim-witted albeit crafty con ...more

Brian Jones is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Brian Jones Lewis Brian Hopkin Jones was the founder and original bandleader of the Rolling Stones. Jones was a multi-instrumentalist, with his main instruments being the guitar, harmonica and keyboards. ...more

Chick Webb is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Chick Webb William Henry Webb, usually known as Chick Webb was an American jazz and swing music drummer as well as a band leader.

Albert Ayler is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Albert Ayler Albert Ayler was an American avant-garde jazz saxophonist, singer and composer. Ayler began recording music during the free jazz era of the 1960s, but some critics claim that, although his style ...more

Dave Brubeck is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list List of Famous Bandleaders
Dave Brubeck David Warren "Dave" Brubeck was an American jazz pianist and composer, considered to be one of the foremost exponents of cool jazz. He wrote a number of jazz standards, including ...more