Top 100 Greatest Music Artists of All-Time (Ranked)

by kungasagar | created - 09 Apr 2017 | updated - 14 Dec 2017 | Public

This is my take on a definitive ranking of the greatest artists ever.

1. The Beatles

Soundtrack | The Beatles Anthology

The Beatles were an English rock band that became arguably the most successful act of the 20th century. They contributed to music, film, literature, art, and fashion, made a continuous impact on popular culture and the lifestyle of several generations. Their songs and images carrying powerful ideas...

2. Michael Jackson

Soundtrack | Michael Jackson: Thriller

Michael Joseph Jackson was born on August 29, 1958 in Gary, Indiana, and entertained audiences nearly his entire life. His father, Joe Jackson (no relation to Joe Jackson, also a musician), had been a guitarist, but was forced to give up his musical ambitions following his marriage to Michael's ...

3. Stevie Wonder

Soundtrack | The Woman in Red

Born Stevland Hardaway Judkins in Saginaw, Michigan, United States, to Calvin Judkins and Lula Mae Hardaway. Due to being born six weeks premature, Stevie Wonder was born with a condition called retinopathy of prematurity, which made him blind. Stevie Wonder, even with this disability, made his ...

4. The Rolling Stones

Soundtrack | The Boat That Rocked

The Rolling Stones are the legendary British rock band known for many popular hits, such as Paint it Black, Lady Jane, Ruby Tuesday, and (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction. Almost everyone who attended their shows is quick to comment on their ability to start you up and shake your hips. Their song "...

5. James Brown

Soundtrack | Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown

James Brown was born on May 3, 1933 in Barnwell, South Carolina, USA as James Joseph Brown. He was married to Tomirae Brown, Adrienne Rodriguez, Deidre Jenkins and Velma Warren. He died on December 25, 2006 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

6. Led Zeppelin

Soundtrack | The Song Remains the Same

Led Zeppelin are a popular British band best known for their iconic "Stairway to Heaven" as well as for co-creating the music genre of heavy metal. Since their nine albums were recorded between 1968 and 1979, Led Zeppelin has been one of the most popular bands of all time, having sold more than 300...

7. Bob Dylan

Soundtrack | Renaldo and Clara

Robert Allen Zimmerman was born 24 May 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota; his father Abe worked for the Standard Oil Co. Six years later the family moved to Hibbing, often the coldest place in the US, where he taught himself piano and guitar and formed several high school rock bands. In 1959 he entered the...

8. Jimi Hendrix

Soundtrack | Woodstock

Jimi Hendrix was born on November 27, 1942 in Seattle, Washington, to African-American parents Lucille (Jeter) and James Allen Hendrix. His mother named him John Allen Hendrix and raised him alone while his father, Al Hendrix, was off fighting in World War II. When his mother became sick from ...

9. Prince

Soundtrack | Under the Cherry Moon

Prince Rogers Nelson was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Mattie Shaw, a jazz singer and social worker, and John L. Nelson, a lyricist and pianist. His father's stage name was "Prince Rogers". His parents were both from African-American families from Louisiana. They separated during his youth, ...

10. Bob Marley

Soundtrack | Strange Days

Bob Marley was born on February 6, 1945, in Nine Miles, Saint Ann, Jamaica, to Norval Marley and Cedella Booker. His father was a Jamaican of English descent. His mother was a black teenager. The couple planned to get married but Norval left Kingston before this could happen. Norval died in 1955, ...

11. Elvis Presley

Soundtrack | Girls! Girls! Girls!

Elvis Aaron Presley was born on January 8, 1935 in East Tupelo, Mississippi, to Gladys Presley (née Gladys Love Smith) and Vernon Presley (Vernon Elvis Presley). He had a twin brother who was stillborn. In 1948, Elvis and his parents moved to Memphis, Tennessee where he attended Humes High School. ...

12. David Bowie

Soundtrack | Labyrinth

David Bowie was one of the most influential and prolific writers and performers of popular music, but he was much more than that; he was also an accomplished actor, a mime and an intellectual, as well as an art lover whose appreciation and knowledge of it had led to him amassing one of the biggest ...

13. Marvin Gaye

Soundtrack | R.I.P.D.

Marvin Gaye was born on April 2, 1939 in Washington, District of Columbia, USA as Marvin Pentz Gay Jr. He was married to Jan Gaye and Anna Gordy Gaye. He died on April 1, 1984 in Los Angeles, California, USA.

14. Madonna

Actress | Evita

The remarkable, hyper-ambitious Material Girl who never stops reinventing herself, Madonna is a seven-time Grammy Award-winner who has sold over three hundred million records and CDs to adoring fans worldwide. Her film career, however, is another story. Her performances have consistently drawn ...

15. Pink Floyd

Soundtrack | Doctor Strange

Syd Barrett: vocals, guitar (born: Roger Keith Barrett; 6 January, 1946; Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England, UK). In 1968, Syd Barrett left the band. Syd died in July, 2006 at aged 60 from pancreatic cancer.

David Gilmour: vocals, guitar (born: David John Gilmour; 6 March, 1946; Cambridge, ...

16. Queen

Soundtrack | Flash Gordon

Queen were one of the longest-lasting and most commercially successful bands to emerge from the British heavy rock scene of the early 1970s, but unlike their contemporaries such as Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath, they soon became just as popular with pop fans as fans of hard rock and ...

17. Tupac Shakur

Soundtrack | Poetic Justice

Born in New York City, Tupac grew up primarily in Harlem. In 1984, his family moved to Baltimore, Maryland where he became good friends with Jada Pinkett Smith. His family moved again in 1988 to Oakland, California. His first breakthrough in music came in 1991 as a member of the group Digital ...

18. The Who

Soundtrack | The Kids Are Alright

Roger Daltrey formed the Detours in 1962, with several member changes and role swaps abound, John Entwistle joined. Sometime later, on John's recommendation, Pete Townshend was added to the line up. In the meantime, The Detours had become a four-piece band; the drummer was changed with Keith Moon ...

19. Whitney Houston

Soundtrack | The Bodyguard

Whitney Elizabeth Houston was born into a musical family on 9 August 1963, in Newark, New Jersey, the daughter of gospel star Cissy Houston, cousin of singing star Dionne Warwick and goddaughter of soul legend Aretha Franklin.

She began singing in the choir at her church, The New Hope Baptist ...

20. The Beach Boys

Soundtrack | The Boat That Rocked

The Beach Boys is an American rock band formed in Hawthorne, California, in 1961. The group's original lineup consisted of brothers Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wilson; their cousin Mike Love; and their friend Al Jardine. The Beach Boys are one of the most critically acclaimed, commercially successful, ...

21. The Notorious B.I.G.

Soundtrack | Bad Boys

Christopher Wallace, a.k.a. Biggie Smalls, was born on May 21, 1972 in Brooklyn, New York. He was the son of Jamaican parents, Voletta Wallace, a pre-school teacher, and George Latore, a welder and small-time politician. He was raised in the poor Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant. ...

22. Nirvana

Soundtrack | Shoot 'Em Up

Nirvana was an American rock band formed by lead singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic in Aberdeen, Washington, in 1987. Nirvana went through a succession of drummers, the longest-lasting and best-known being Dave Grohl, who joined in 1990. Despite releasing only three ...

23. AC/DC

Soundtrack | Iron Man

AC/DC is a legendary rock band from Australia, formed in Sydney in 1973 by brothers Malcolm and Angus Young. AC/DC have sold more than 200 million records worldwide, including 71.5 million albums in the United States, adding them to the list of highest-certified music artists in the United States ...

24. Nas

Soundtrack | Belly

Nas, born Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones on September 14, 1973, is the son of Olu Dara, an unconventional jazz musician. At age nine he was a member of the Devastatin' Seven in the mid-1980s, the fruits of which can be heard on his 1994 debut, "Illmatic," which was released on Columbia/SME later that ...

25. Chuck Berry

Soundtrack | Men in Black

Chuck Berry was born on October 18, 1926 in St. Louis, Missouri, USA as Charles Edward Anderson Berry. He was married to Themetta "Toddy" Suggs. He died on March 18, 2017 in Wentzville, St. Charles County, Missouri.

26. Aretha Franklin

Actress | The Blues Brothers

Grammy-winning Queen of Soul and the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Aretha Louise Franklin was born in Memphis, Tennessee, to Barbara Vernice (Siggers) and C. L. Franklin, a Baptist minister, who preached at the New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit for over thirty ...

27. Jay Z

Self | MADtv

Shawn Corey Carter was born on December 4, 1969 in Brooklyn, New York, USA. Raised in Brooklyn, Carter was a school friend of The Notorious B.I.G.. He first started releasing records in the late 1980s. In 1990, he appeared on records by his close friend, Jaz ("The Originators") and Original Flavor ...

29. Tina Turner

Soundtrack | Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

After almost fifty years in the music business, Tina Turner has become one of the most commercially-successful international female rock stars to date. Her sultry, powerful voice, her incredible legs, her time-tested beauty and her unforgettable story all contribute to her legendary status.

Tina ...

29. Johnny Cash

Soundtrack | The Johnny Cash Show

Johnny Cash was born February 26, 1932, in Kingsland, Arkansas, to Carrie Cash (Rivers) and Raymond Cash. He made his first single, "Hey Porter", for Sun Records in 1955. In 1958 he moved to Columbia Records. He had long periods of drug abuse during the 1960s, but later that decade he successfully ...

29. Kanye West

Soundtrack | Safe House

Kanye Omari West (born June 8, 1977) is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, entrepreneur and fashion designer. His musical career has been marked by dramatic changes in styles, incorporating an eclectic range of influences including soul, baroque pop, electro, indie rock, ...

31. Elton John

Soundtrack | Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Sir Elton John is one of pop music's great survivors. Born 25 March, 1947, as Reginald Kenneth Dwight, he started to play the piano at the early age of four. At the age of 11, he won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music. His first band was called Bluesology. He later auditioned (...

32. The Clash

Soundtrack | RoboCop

The Clash were an English rock band formed in London in 1976 as a key player in the original wave of British punk rock. The Clash achieved commercial success in the United Kingdom with the release of their self-titled debut album, The Clash, in 1977. Their third album, London Calling, released in ...

32. The Velvet Underground

Soundtrack | Men in Black 3

The Velvet Underground had its origins, oddly enough, in the world of manufactured pop music, around 1965. Long Island native songwriter/singer/guitarist Lou Reed had gone from college at Syracuse University to a day job as a staff composer and musician for Pickwick Records, whose specialities (...

34. John Lennon

Actor | A Hard Day's Night

John Winston (later Ono) Lennon was born on October 9, 1940, in Liverpool, England, to Julia Lennon (née Stanley) and Alfred Lennon, a merchant seaman. He was raised by his mother's older sister Mimi Smith. In the mid-1950s, he formed his first band, The Quarrymen (after Quarry Bank High School, ...

35. U2

Soundtrack | Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

U2 has been perhaps the biggest music act in the world since the late 1980s to the current day. They take prominent stands on human rights issues, expressed through their lyrics and other public statements and actions. The band's lead singer, Bono, has become quite prominent in charity movements ...

36. Diana Ross

Actress | Lady Sings the Blues

Best known as the the lead singer of the popular 1960s singing group The Supremes, Diana Ernestine Earle Ross was born on March 26, 1944, in Detroit, Michigan, the second of six children of African-American parents Ernestine Lillian (Moten), a schoolteacher, and Fred Earl Ross, who served in the ...

37. Guns N' Roses

Soundtrack | Body of Lies

Guns N' Roses is an American hard rock band from Los Angeles, California, formed in 1985. The lineup, when first signed to Geffen Records in 1986, consisted of vocalist Axl Rose, lead guitarist Slash, rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin, bassist Duff McKagan, and drummer Steven Adler. Guns N' Roses has ...

38. Bruce Springsteen

Soundtrack | The Wrestler

Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen was born September 23, 1949 in Long Branch, New Jersey, USA. His father, Douglas Frederick Springsteen, worked as a bus driver, and was of Irish and Dutch ancestry. His mother, Adele Ann (Zerilli), worked as a legal secretary, and was of Italian descent. He has an...

39. Paul McCartney

Actor | A Hard Day's Night

Sir Paul McCartney is a key figure in contemporary culture as a singer, composer, poet, writer, artist, humanitarian, entrepreneur, and holder of more than 3 thousand copyrights. He is in the "Guinness Book of World Records" for most records sold, most #1s (shared), most covered song, "Yesterday," ...

40. The Doors

Soundtrack | The Doors

The Doors were an American rock band formed in 1965 in Los Angeles, with vocalist Jim Morrison, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger, and John Densmore on drums. The band got its name, at Morrison's suggestion from the title of Aldous Huxley's book The Doors of Perception. They were ...

41. Eminem

Soundtrack | 8 Mile

Eminem was born Marshall Bruce Mathers III in St. Joseph, Missouri, to Deborah R. (Nelson) and Marshall Bruce Mathers, Jr., who were in a band together, Daddy Warbucks. He is of English, as well as some German, Scottish, and Swiss-German, ancestry. Marshall spent his early childhood being shoved ...

42. Ray Charles

Soundtrack | Ray

A tragic fate may have given this visionary a heightened sensitivity, perception, awareness, even expansion to his obvious musical gifts that he may have never touched upon had he not suffered from his physical affliction. Whatever it was, Ray Charles revolutionized American music and was ...

44. Little Richard

Soundtrack | Predator

Richard Wayne Penniman, better known as Little Richard, the self-proclaimed "Architect of Rock 'n' Roll", traveled in his early days with the legendary vaudeville star Spencer "Snake" Anthony. One of Richard's early bands had the young, then unknown singer James Brown (the Godfather of Soul), a ...

45. Eagles

Soundtrack | The Big Lebowski

Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2001.

45. Public Enemy

Soundtrack | Do the Right Thing

In 1987 when the band played at Baltimore's Palladium club, their supporting act was fledgling rapper Queen Latifah who was introduced by a 16-year-old Jada Pinkett Smith.

47. Joni Mitchell

Soundtrack | Two Weeks Notice

Joni Mitchell is one of the most highly regarded and influential songwriters of the 20th century. Her melodious tunes support her poetic and often very personal lyrics to make her one of the most authentic artists of her time. As a performer she is widely hailed for her unique style of playing ...

48. Beyoncé

Soundtrack | Dreamgirls

Beyoncé was born & raised in Houston, Texas. Her father, Mathew Knowles, manages Destiny's Child. Her mother, Tina Lawson designs their glittering costumes. Solange, her sister (they're 4 years apart), has released her debut album. She dances with her big sister during DC-3 concerts. Beyoncé is of ...

49. Funkadelic Parliament

Actor | Funk Wars

Funkadelic Parliament is an actor, known for Funk Wars (2007).



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