The 20 Most Famous British Singers of All Time

There is no question that British singers have made a significant impact on the music industry over the years. From classic rock to contemporary pop, British singers have consistently produced some of the most memorable and popular music in history.

Adele, Ozzy Osbourne, and David Bowie are all examples of world-renowned British singers who have achieved massive success. Each has a unique musical style and has left a lasting impression on the music world.

Here are 20 of the most famous British singers of all time.

1. Adele

There’s no denying that Adele is one of the most successful singers in the world – she has an absolutely incredible voice and lyrics that just cut through the heart. Born in London, Adele shot to fame in 2008 with her debut album “19”, and has since won numerous Grammy Awards and sold millions of records worldwide.

If you’ve heard her song “Rolling In The Deep,” then you know just how powerful Adele’s voice can be. She raised the standard for what a pop singer could be and she continues to inspire other singers with her raw talent.

2. Rod Stewart

Also from London, Rod Stewart is a legendary rock singer who got his start in the 60s. He was a member of the Faces before embarking on a highly successful solo career, and he’s released hits like “Maggie May” and the very popular disco track “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” which took the world by storm in 1978.

Stewart’s raspy voice and distinct style have made him one of the most recognizable singers in the world. He is popularly known as “Rod the Mod” and has been inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with the UK Music Hall of Fame.

3. John Lennon

Known as a member of the Beatles, John Lennon was one of the most influential singer-songwriters of all time. Hailing from Liverpool, he helped change the face of popular music with the Beatles and went on to have an extremely successful solo career. His song “Imagine” is one of the most iconic and well-loved songs in history.

As an advocate for peace, Lennon used his platform to speak out against violence. He was tragically murdered in 1980 and died at the young age of 40, but his music and message continue to live on.

4. Eric Clapton

He wouldn’t rank second on Rolling Stone’s 100 greatest guitarists of all time list for nothing – Eric Clapton is a legend. The British rock singer and guitarist got his start with the Yardbirds before going on to have a very successful solo career. He’s released hits like “Wonderful Tonight” and “Layla,” and has won numerous Grammy Awards.

This UK singer has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three times – as a solo artist and as a member of both the Yardbirds and Cream. Clapton is truly one of the greats, and there is no arguing with that.

5. David Bowie

A true icon, David Bowie was a pop singer, songwriter, and actor who was born in London. He found success in the early 70s as Ziggy Stardust, and went on to release hits like “Fame,” “Let’s Dance,” and “Under Pressure.” He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 and was given a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.

Bowie was known for his unique fashion sense and his willingness to experiment with different musical styles. He passed away in 2016 after a battle with cancer, but his legacy will live on forever.

6. Kate Bush

“Running Up That Hill” is making a buzz again because of its recent inclusion in the fourth season of Stranger Things. But this song, along with many others, has been a Kate Bush favorite for decades.

Bush is an English singer-songwriter from the UK who first came onto the scene in 1978 with her debut album “The Kick Inside”. Not only has her music earned high praise, but her dancing skills have also been described as influential and timeless. What makes her so special is that she doesn’t seem to age, and her voice is just as strong now as it was when she first started making music.

7. Amy Winehouse

With hit songs like “Rehab” and “Back to Black,” Amy Winehouse was one of the most popular singers of the early 2000s. She was known for her deep, soulful voice and her unique style of singing jazz and R&B.

Winehouse’s personal life was plagued by drug and alcohol addiction, and she died at the tragic age of 27. Despite her fame being cut short, this London-born singer left a lasting impact on the music industry and is remembered as one of the greatest vocalists of her generation.

8. Ellie Goulding

At one point, it seemed like Ellie Goulding’s song “Lights” was playing on the radio every other day. It was inescapable, and for good reason – it’s a catchy tune. Goulding is a British singer and songwriter who got her start in 2010 with her debut album “Lights”. Since then, she’s released other chart-topping hits like “Love Me Like You Do” and “Burn”.

If you’ve ever seen Goulding live, you know that she’s an incredible performer with a ton of energy. She often combines elements of pop, electronic, and indie in her music, which has helped her appeal to a wide range of listeners. She is also an advocate for mental health awareness, and you might have seen her in one of Pantene’s “Strong is Beautiful” commercials.

9. Paul McCartney

Another member of The Beatles, Paul McCartney is a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and composer from Liverpool. He is considered one of the most successful musicians of all time, with over 100 million records sold worldwide.

He has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records twice – once for “most honored composer and performer in music” and again for “most successful songwriter.” 32 of the songs McCartney has written or co-authored have reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100. He definitely is a legend and icon in the music industry.

10. Ed Sheeran

Born in Halifax, West Yorkshire, Ed Sheeran is a singer-songwriter who is undeniably making his mark on the music industry. Aside from tugging at our heartstrings with songs like “Thinking Out Loud” and “Perfect,” this redheaded cutie is also the owner of his own record label, Gingerbread Man Records.

Since releasing his first album in 2011, Sheeran has won 4 Grammy Awards and sold over 150 million records worldwide. He’s also broken several streaming records – most notably, his song “Shape of You” became the first song to reach 3 billion streams on Spotify.

11. Elton John

You can’t talk about the best British singers without mentioning Elton John. This singer, songwriter, and composer has been making music for over 50 years and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.

Born and raised in Pinner, John has composed some of the most popular and well-known songs of all time, such as “Rocket Man,” “Bennie and the Jets,” and “Candle in the Wind.” He has won prestigious awards and was even knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. With over 300 million records sold worldwide, John is one of the best-selling music artists of all time.

12. Seal

Have you heard Seal’s iconic song “Kiss from a Rose”? It was originally written for the soundtrack of Batman Forever and won Grammy Awards for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.

Seal is an English singer and songwriter who has also been invited as a judge on America’s Got Talent and The Voice Australia. As a child, he was diagnosed with discoid lupus erythematosus, which resulted in scars on his face – something that has become one of his most recognizable features.

13. Sting

Sting is an English singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and actor from Wallsend. He was the lead singer and bassist of The Police – one of the most popular bands of the 1970s and 1980s before embarking on a successful solo career.

Some of his most notable solo hits include “Desert Rose,” “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You,” and “Every Breath You Take.” He has won 17 Grammy Awards, 3 Brit Awards, and a Golden Globe Award. In 2002, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002, and he was awarded the CBE by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to music.

14. Freddie Mercury

Of course, we wouldn’t miss out on Freddie Mercury – the legendary lead singer of Queen. He was born in Zanzibar but raised and lived most of his life in London. From a very young age, he showed an interest and talent for music, and he went on to study art at Ealing Art College.

Mercury was known for his powerful vocal range, flamboyant stage presence, and heart-wrenching lyrics. He was an incredible singer, songwriter, and composer, and he wrote some of Queen’s most popular songs, such as “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Are the Champions,” and “Somebody to Love.” Mercury passed away in 1991 at the age of 45 and left behind continues to live on even to this day.

15. Leona Lewis

Leona Lewis is a British singer, songwriter, and actress who rose to fame after winning the third season of The X Factor in 2006. Her debut album, “Spirit”, was released in 2007 and went on to become one of the best-selling albums in the 2000s.

Her hit song “Bleeding Love” topped the charts in more than 30 countries, and she has sold over 35 million records worldwide. She is still active in the music industry and has released five studio albums to date.

16. Ozzy Osbourne

From one legend to another, we have Ozzy Osbourne – the Prince of Darkness himself. He is an English singer, songwriter, and actor who rose to fame as the lead vocalist of Black Sabbath – one of the most influential heavy metal bands of all time.

He has also had a successful solo career, with hits like “Crazy Train” and “Miracle Man.” Osbourne has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Black Sabbath and the UK Music Hall of Fame as a solo artist. He has also received the Lifetime Achievement from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers, and Authors.

17. Sam Smith

Hailing from London, Sam Smith is a British singer and songwriter who rose to fame after being featured on Disclosure’s hit single “Latch” in 2012. His debut studio album “In the Lonely Hour” was released in 2014, and it went on to become one of the best-selling albums of that year.

The album included the singles “Money on My Mind,” “Stay with Me,” and “I’m Not the Only One.” We know for a fact that Sam’s career is far from over, and we can’t wait to see what he’ll do next!

18. Boy George

Boy George is an English singer, songwriter, DJ, fashion designer, and photographer who rose to fame in the 1980s as the lead singer of Culture Club. He was known for his androgynous style and soulful voice.

Some of Culture Club’s most popular songs include “Karma Chameleon” and “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?,” He pursued a solo career after the group disbanded in 1986, and he still carried on making music well into the 2000s. He is not just a music icon but also a fashion icon, and he has been credited for helping to bring extravagant fashion into the music mainstream.

19. George Michael

Coming from London, George Michael was an English singer, songwriter, and record producer who rose to fame as a member of the duo Wham! in the 1980s. The group was known for their catchy pop tunes and good looks, and they had hits like “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” and “Last Christmas.”

Michael also had a very successful solo career, with hits like “Careless Whisper” and “Faith.” He sold over 100 million records worldwide and even got to share the stage with Elton John at Live Aid in 1985. With his powerful voice and soulful lyrics, George Michael was truly one of the greatest British singers of all time.

20. Phil Collins

Ending this list is another legend, Phil Collins. He is an English drummer, singer, songwriter, and actor who rose to fame as the drummer and lead singer of the rock band Genesis in the 1970s. Eight studio albums in Collins’ repertoire have sold 33.5 million certified copies in the US and an estimated 150 million records globally.

Additionally, he was honored by music journals by being inducted into the Classic Drummer Hall of Fame in 2013 and the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 2012. Some of his most popular solo songs include “In the Air Tonight” and “Against All Odds.” His works have truly stood the test of time, and he is undoubtedly a legend in the music industry.

Final Thoughts

These are just a few of the famous British singers that have made a huge impact on the music industry. They have inspired other musicians and have left a lasting legacy that will be remembered for years to come. It’s safe to say that the United Kingdom has definitely given the world some amazing talent!

Adele Featured Image (Top-Left) by: Condé Nast (through Vogue Taiwan), CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Paul McCartney Featured Image (Top-Right) by: Raphael Pour-Hashemi, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Elton John Featured Image (Bottom-Left) by: David Shankbone, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Leona Lewis Featured Image (Bottom-Right) by: File:Leona Lewis – Mercy For Animals 20414.jpg: Mercy For Animals MFA from Los Angeles, USAderivative work: Lucas Secret, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Brian Clark

Brian Clark

I’ve been a writer with Musician Wave for six years, turning my 17-year journey as a multi-instrumentalist and music producer into insightful news, tutorials, reviews, and features.

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