The 10 Greatest Musicians of All Time
The world has been blessed with some incredibly talented musicians throughout the years. Choosing the top 10 among them can be challenging!
Of course, this is not a definitive list. It would be impossible to objectively come up with a list of the greatest musicians without having some sort of bias. So, don’t be upset if your favorite artist didn’t make the list!
1. The Beatles
This one is not surprising at all. The Beatles influenced countless music genres as their music styles changed over time. The band members also led successful solo careers. With their signature hairstyles and collarless jackets, The Beatles also influenced fashion, especially in the sixties.
During the first week of April 1964, The Beatles occupied the top five slots on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. They also occupied the top two positions on both the albums chart and the British albums chart, along with the top spot on the British singles chart and the British EP chart.
In total, The Beatles have now sold more than one billion records globally, earning the title of the biggest selling band of all time.
2. Led Zeppelin
The legendary rock and roll band Led Zeppelin is considered one of the greatest bands of all time. However, there is still a lot even the most dedicated fans do not know about the undisputed gods of ’70s rock.
Even though they have reunited only a handful of times, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham have stuck to their legacy and will always be remembered for their unforgettable music.
Robert Plant as the lead vocalist, Jimmy Page on guitar, John Paul Jones on bass guitar/keyboard, and John Henry Bonham on drums were masters in their instruments even before Led Zeppelin existed. Music helped them channel their emotions.
An interesting trait of Led Zeppelin which makes them stand out is that they would improvise a lot during live performances, making each song’s performance unique. Their version of “Communication Breakdown,” performed in LA in April 1970, is one such improvisation still loved by hundreds of thousands of fans worldwide.
3. Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley was the king of rock ‘n’ roll music and turned it into something much greater. He fused different music types and created the leading rock ‘n’ roll sound we know today—rockabilly. This music genre became widely popular and turned Elvis Presley from a nobody to a national sensation.
His music and stage presence are what made Presley so special. If you’ve seen his performances, you’ve probably already fallen in love with Presley’s dance moves. A large part of his songs are inspired by the Black artists he grew up listening to, and most of them are a mixture of Black gospel, blues, and country.
He also had 18 number 1 singles in the US, and to date, over a billion Elvis Presley records have been sold worldwide.
4. Bob Dylan
If there is one musician who inspired everyone—from teenagers to the most influential bands of all time—it’s Bob Dylan.
Bob Dylan is more than just a singer. He is a songwriter, author, and also an artist. Also, let’s not forget that it was Bob Dylan who freed The Beatles from the conventions of pop songs, making them transcend multiple genres and reinvent the way music is made.
To date, he has received numerous awards. Among the most significant achievements of Bob Dylan include receiving the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature for his poetic use of song lyrics.
5. Michael Jackson
The late Micheal Jackson, also known as the King of Pop, had the largest impact on American popular music in the 20th century. His creativity led him to revolutionize the way music is produced and promoted.
Despite the fact he is called the “King of Pop,” we believe that Michael Jackson cannot be tied to a single music genre. He was a musical genius who experimented with every genre—from pop to rock, soul, funk, gospel, hip hop, and even rap. Because of this, people from different backgrounds, cultures, races, and ages love and admire him to the core.
Michael Jackson won countless awards, including 13 Grammys. In addition, he was the first celebrity to have two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for the same category.
Although it’s been decades since Queen performed in their original line-up, they are still regarded as one of the greatest bands in the history of music. Their songs are anthemic, euphoric, and dramatic all at the same time, which is why even Gen Z can’t get enough of them.
With time, Queen’s music evolved, and through its evolution offered something new to everybody. Most people around the world only know Freddie Mercury as he was the lead vocalist and his elaborate performing techniques made the audience fall in love with him.
Completing the classic line-up, Roger Taylor was the drummer, Brian May—the guitarist, and John Deacon was the bass player.
Queen’s diversity of sound can be attributed to the fact that every member wrote the songs.
The band is enlisted into both the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Their names are also attached to a number of other honors and awards, and they have a star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame as well.
While Freddie may be gone, his bandmates Brian May and Roger Taylor have kept Queen going by performing with vocalists such as Paul Rodgers and, more recently, Adam Lambert.
7. The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones started as a blues cover band, but their talent, marketing, and sheer ambition led them to become one of the most inspiring rock bands of all time.
Aside from their unique physical appearance, they became known for blending rock and blues to create their signature sound. They were never afraid to be bold when it came to lyrics.
The popularity of their rebellious lyrics among college students quickly soared with their punk outlook. They did not limit themselves to just rock and blues but also explored a variety of genres, such as country, dance, and folk.
What’s even more interesting is that they are still very much a functioning rock ‘n’ roll unit that goes on tours and does concerts. So, if you haven’t had a chance to see them perform live before, it’s not too late!
8. Chuck Berry
Chuck Berry, also known as the founder of rock ‘n’ roll, is one of the very few musicians who notice their audience’s reaction and perform accordingly.
He wrote and sang his own songs while playing his signature electric guitar during the recordings. All his recordings have a satisfying consistency since he did not rely on outside sources for songs.
You might know Chuck Berry for his on-stage performances, but hundreds of thousands of people around the globe like him better as a lyricist. His ground-breaking lyrics are recorded by some of the top bands and singers in history, including The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.
In addition to being enlisted in the Rock ‘n’ Rock Hall of Fame, Chuck Berry also holds a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
9. Jimi Hendrix
In the history of electric guitars, only two periods are known—before Hendrix and after Hendrix.
As one of the most innovative electric guitarists in rock history, Jimi Hendrix displayed many astonishing guitar playing techniques.
He also built his own studio with the latest equipment available and used to spend most of his time there perfecting his songs. Sadly, Jimi Hendrix only got the chance to record only a few albums before his death, and the world never got to know how his music would have evolved.
10. Bob Marley
Last but not least on our list is Bob Marley, who resonated with the masses by providing them with what they wanted to hear.
He often used his musical influence to shed light on the sufferings of the world. Some of such songs are “So Much Trouble in the World” and “Burnin’ and Lootin.”
He also globalized reggae, which grew out of the ska and rocksteady genres. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, making him the first artist to emerge from a third-world country.
This wraps up our guide for the 10 greatest musicians of all times.
If you wish to share another name you believe should be included on the list, please leave a comment below!
The Beatles – Image (Also on below-middle of featured image) by: United Press International (UPI Telephoto)Cropping and retouching: User:Indopug and User:Misterweiss, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Led Zeppelin – Image (Also on top-middle of featured image) by: Montage by SabrebdThis file also contains one or more files hosted on Wikimedia Commons. The licensing of these files are the following: File:Jimmy Page with Robert Plant 2 – Led Zeppelin – 1977.jpg: Jim Summaria (CC BY-SA 3.0) File:John Bonham 1975.jpg: Dina Regine (CC BY-SA 2.0) File:JohnPaulJones1980-2.jpg: Klaus Hiltscher (CC BY-SA 2.0), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Elvis Presley – Image (Also on left of featured image) by: PresleyPromo1954.jpg: Photographer unknown (commercial work-for-hire)derivative work: Dockino, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Queen – Image by: Images by Eddie, Thomas Steffan, Compadre Edua’h and Carl Lender. Compilation by KPFC based on the idea of Fronteira., CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Jimi Hendrix – Image by: Original photographer unknown, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons