Most Influential Music Artists Ever

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The Top TenXW

1BeatlesThe Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. The members consisted of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. They were soon known as the foremost and most influential act of rock era. Rooted in skiffle, beat, and 1950s rock and roll, the Beatles later experimented ...read more.

Since the 1960's every artist has copied The Beatles, Michael Jackson liked them so much he bought their catalogue and covered their music. No one has been more imitated by top artists than The Beatles. Even the typical rock band format was established by them - most previous stars just sang and had back-up musicians, these guys ran the whole show, even deciding which songs to release and record their own songs when the record label wanted them to do covers.

Revolutionary sound in the music industry generating worldwide attention and appeal in an era when there was no internet. No other artists pushed musical boundaries while at the same time maintaining MASS appeal like the Beatles did. The fact that 50 years later, much of their music has withstood the test of time and continues to capture the imagination of young and old is a sound testament to their genius and deserved status of most influential musical artists of all time.

They are the beginning for a lot of things. The beginning of my love of music. The beginning of a new wave of rock 'n roll. The beginning of the British invasion that brought so many great artist into my country. The Beatles have influenced not only regular fans but so many other artist that fall into the category of being influential. Not only do their songs just have meaning, they have social/political/economical meaning. They spoke out for what they believed and that my friends is something that should be praised!

The beatles were definitely the most influential, not to mention the greatest band the world has ever known. Everything about those fab lads was influential, from the music to their hairs, their suits and boots, everything. The beatles certainly contributed so much to the music industry and to the lives of those who knew them and their music. (I'm 21 years old by the way and I'm one of their biggest fans)

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2Michael JacksonMichael Joseph Jackson was born on August 29, 1958 in Gary, Indiana and passed away on June 25, 2009. Michael Jackson was a singer, songwriter, producer, choreographer, entertainer and humanitarian. He donated (at least) a remarkable 300,000,000 dollars to charity. Michael is also known as The King ...read more.

The greatest artist, the greatest entertainer, a superb composer, a brilliant person in terms of business and making music and most importantly a great humanitarian and a good person though a bit odd sometimes but it is what made him magical, cosmic and unique... he broke a lot of records having 31 Guinness world records including best entertainer of all time, an artist who donated most to charities donating not less than $350 million, best selling album of all time, highest paid artist of all time and many more. He is the most popular and the most famous.. Though a lot of elvis and Beatles fans won't agree.. however wherever site you go, still Michael Jackson remains at the top.. moreover some may not say so especially if you're a westerner but the fact is that he is the most famous in the whole world, ask anyone, may it be illiterate, someone from the alps or someone who knows no civilization, if you mention the name "Michael JACKSON" then they'd all smile and say "hey I know that ...more - graciadolinobv

Elvis Presley opened the doors worldwide for white people to listen to black music ( in the fifties they were separated at radios for Airplay ). B.B. King, James Brown, Little Richard etc... all said it. Elvis made black music popular. I'm not here to give critics at the talent of Michael Jackson but without Elvis, Michael would never made it in popularity ( not because of his talent but because of racial issues ) and therefore never be able to be influential. I think Elvis should be number one, The Beatles number two and Michael Jackson number three. Since we're not talking about talent or taste on this list but about influence I believe that my statement has some truth when it comes to popular cultural facts in the history of music. Don't get me wrong, I love Michael Jackson ( especcially his late seventies records and early eighties records ) but Elvis Presley deserves to be above him on this list.

He is the most influential incredible artist ever. Not only was he an amazing dancer, large charity donor, phenomenal song writer, but he revolutionised music forever. He changed the meaning of the word performer. He brought something no one had ever seen before, no one can touch him. Not then and not ever. He will forever be the king, the most influential icon this world has ever seen. RIP Michael

He is amazing man.

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3Elvis PresleyElvis Presley was a American musician and actor. Known as "The King" He was mostly known for his number 1 singles including "Heartbreak Hotel" "Hound Dog" "Jailhouse Rock" "Love me Tender" Elvis debuted in the movie "Love me Tender" and focused less on his music and continued that way. ...read more.

Obviously the most influential of all time. All of the artist that are above and below would tell you that. That voice, charisma, those hips & lips. The remarkable ability he had to connect with an audience. One billion people watched aloha from Hawaii - on average half a million people from around the world visit Graceland ( the most visited residence, 2nd only to the whit House) He mixed multiple genres to create a sound, even thoug, it was just instinct. Humble, fun loving and loved all over the world to this Day. Hard to believe that he has that much influence globally, both then and today. He's the most imitated, impersonated man there is. Yep, he's the king. I'm only 40 so don't presume I'm a baby boomer.

I hate most of the music from his generation but I can't help but love the king(:

He continues to touch millions world-wide despite the fact that he has been dead for 35 years and that he had never traveled outside the U.S. and Canada. - bobinator3010

John Lennon was inspired by Elvis's dance moves and music, so without elvis there might have never been The Beatles

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4QueenQueen are a British rock group formed in 1970. Members were Freddie Mercury (Vocals and Piano), Brian May (Guitar, Vocals), Roger Taylor (Drums, Vocals), and John Deacon (Bass Guitar, Vocals). Before forming into Queen, Brian May and Roger Taylor had played together in a band named Smile. Freddie Mercury ...read more.

QUEEN FOREVER NUMBER ONE. He inspired countless musicians and even till this day, he is acknowledged for his greatness. Despite Michael being slightly more popular than Queen, Queen has had much more influence to today's artists than you think. Maybe the mainstream hail Michael but the mainsteam sucks, if you actually look at the ones who don't suck like the Killers, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and blah blah blah... They don't suck and their inspiration's Queen. Sorry, Michael, you were great, but Queen's better.

I hear artist talk about Freddie's voice and ability to hold stadiums in the palm of his hand. Great musicians, song writers and composers.

You guys are the real Deal! I put only Elvis ahead go queen.

Even Michael Jackson just adored Freddie and of course Elvis.

As John Lennon said "before Elvis there was nothing

Queen Rocks

Queen should be number one on this list. How can you get better than Freddie Mercury's vocals, Brian May's guitar wails, john Deacon's killer bass, Roger Taylor's pounding drums. Just a sheer heart attack.

Elvis presley has the best singing voice ever nobody can compare with him

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5Led ZeppelinLed Zeppelin were an English rock band formed in London in 1968. The group consisted of Robert Plant (Vocal), Jimmy Page (Guitar), John Paul Jones (Bass, Keyboard) and John Bonham (Drums). The band's heavy, guitar-driven sound, rooted in blues and psychedelia on their early albums, has earned them recognition ...read more.

Classic musicians in their own right. Their music is still popular, and can be heard around the world, on the radio throughout the day. Their timeless style, influencing and drawing in young and old fans alike.

Defined metal and heavy metal for generations to come. Their reworking of the blues has set them apart from every artist of their time.

Michael Jackson? Really? Eminem? 2PAC? This list is terrible

Michael jackson is classic and blows led zeppelin away

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6Jimi HendrixJimi Hendrix (born November 27, 1942 – September 18, 1970) was an American rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter . Although his mainstream career spanned only four years, he is widely regarded as one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music, and one of the most ...read more.

Jimi Hendrix played from the heart, his soul was channeled through his music. He revolutionized the guitar sound and techniques. Inspired many of latter-day's great guitarists and musicians in general and continues to be an inspiration. Even 45 years after his death, he is the greatest guitarist that has ever lived. I unfortunately wasn't born yet to witness his powerful, beautiful and genuine performances, but I'm appreciative to be able to hear and watch him jam in videos. What a blessing to the whole world! Rest in peace, Jimi.

He was the first left handed guitarist and one of the first African American people or man to be so influential that when he died people were so sad they had many people go on a riot

Do you ever wonder if the musical landscape would be different if Hendrix would have lived another 50 years?

Hendrix should be #1 on this list. This list is a JOKE.

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7David BowieDavid Robert Jones was born in London on January 8, 1947, the son of a fundraiser and a waitress. He died in New York on January 10, 2016 at the age of 69, a hero to millions. ...read more.

Bowie changed musical direction at an amazing speed( especially in the 70's and early 80's), influencing entire musical movements in the process but still managing to stay ahead of the curve. Bowie is up there with The Beatles for me, compared to Michael Jackson, Bowie was a lot more inventive and groundbreaking, Jackson did not constantly change musical direction while still influencing the main stream industry.Jackson was a better dancer that's it...but this is about music not dancing moves..

He spanned decades, genres, mediums. He's the artist's artist. Almost everything you see is a variation of something he created. Long after the current hits fade from the charts, there will still be David Bowie.

David Bowie has been around for decades, continuously changing and adapting his music style, experimenting with new things nobody would have otherwise touched. His lyrics are beautiful, and he has inspired many on his way. RIP

Inspired many others on the list, his name should be a lot higher on here.

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8Bob Dylan

If you have listened to any music after the 1960s you are listening to music that was affected by Bob Dylan. Go look up on youtube the beatles comments on bob dylan and you can see the effect that he had on the greatest band in the history of music. Behind the beatles, he is the most covered artist of all time. He blended the depth of folk music with rock. He Sung blowing in the wind at the march on washington right before MLK jr gave his I have a dream speech. He didn't just change music He changed the world.

Bob Dylan makes the case for the most influential of all time. His popularity is surpassed by more famous acts such as the Beatles and Elvis but it can be easily argued Bob Dylan has been more influential. If there were a pedigree of musicians allowing influences and styles to be traced to the beginning of modern music, Bob Dylan would be at the very beginning.

Bob Dylan is more than a musician, more than a poet, more than "influential." He is one of the greatest story tellers in American history. His talent is unprecedented. He ushered in the hippie movement of the 60s, then quickly abandoned it. Didn't matter. He reimagined himself, and created some of the best music of any time: "Blood on the Tracks."
His poetry, his tale spinning, his musical prowess, is a treasure, and he has touched the imagination of countless artists in his wake.

If it weren't for Bob Dylan, The Beatles wouldn't exist as we know them. For that reason alone he should be number 1.

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9K.S. ChithraKrishnan Nair Shantakumari Chithra, often credited as K. S. Chithra or simply Chithra, is an Indian playback singer from Kerala. Chithra also sings Indian classical, devotional, and popular music.

She influenced other singers. They willing to sing like her. This is her success

She is not just so influential, She mean it

If you hear chithra voice you easly influenced by her

The best female voice ever

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10The Rolling StonesThe Rolling Stones are an English rock band formed in London in 1962. The first settled line-up consisted of Brian Jones (guitar, harmonica), Ian Stewart (piano), Mick Jagger (lead vocals, harmonica), Keith Richards (guitar), Bill Wyman (bass) and Charlie Watts (drums). ...read more.

A band that has been performing for over 50 years.
They weren't the originators of blues rock but they made it their own and influenced many others in the process.
Keith Richards is not the most technical guitarist in the world and he knows that, he leaves it to people like Clapton and page. But no on compares to him and his rhythm. His variations in tuning means that when he plays it's the perfect tone for what he wants to achieve. Tom morello said himself that even though he's persisted for many years he still can't achieve the same sound Keith does with his riffs. Bear in mind Keith also did this without all the effects and distortion tricks of many other guitarists.
Mick jagger again another huge influence on music everywhere and has one of the most iconic although jittery dance styles ever(hence moves like jagger by maroon 5)
What other band can you just see a logo and automatically know who it is?

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The Newcomers

?Benny Goodman

This guy paved the way for rock, pop and of course, jazz music. If it wasnt for his Carnegie Hall concert, There would be no rock music. No he was not a rocker or a popstar but with his swing music he paved the way for more popular music genres to come. Thank this guy for everything - AlbertAngrySami

The Contenders

11MadonnaMadonna Louise Ciccone is an American singer, songwriter, actress, and businesswoman. She is best known for songs such as Express Yourself, Vogue, Frozen, Girl Gone Wild and her books such as The English Roses.

Most influential in the way that if you want it bad enough, you can effectively market yourself and dominate the pop world by being overtly sexual, controversial and self-promoting.

What about Bob Dylan, Paul Mccartney, Mick Jagger and Elton John?

Madge is on the same level with Beatles, Elvis or Frank Sinatra.
She makes the music history - Alexandr

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12Pink FloydPink Floyd were an English rock band formed in London. They achieved international acclaim with their progressive and psychedelic music. The band consisted of 5 members - David Gilmour (Vocals and Guitar), Syd Barrett (Vocals and Guitarist), Nick Mason (Drums), Roger Waters (Vocals and Bass), and Richard ...read more.

I love Pink Floyd ( especially their psychedelic period ) but to say like one of the comments that they should be higher than Elvis Presley is ridiculous. The start of modern music begins with Elvis Presley in the fifties ( " Before Elvis there was nothing " said John Lennon once ) and when raw rock started to fade away in the sixties came the British invasion. The Beatles and many other groups came with a new sound based on raw rock ( Them, The Animals, The Kinks, The Yardbirds etc... ). Even Pink Floyd ( just listen to their Demos from 1966 ) were influenced by that. Later on Pink Floyd developed their own sound. But you can't in historical chronology put Pink Floyd before Elvis Presley in matter of influence because that doesn't make sense.

Pink Floyd, the greatest rock band of all time on number 16? While Elvis Presley has been ranked higher than them! Pink Floyd deserve to be on #1 or #2

I would have voted for the Beatles, but Pink Floyd needed to be higher on this list. - Doom

I love pink Floyd but they aren't the 12th most influential musician of all time

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13Bob MarleyRobert Nesta "Bob" Marley was a Jamaican reggae singer, songwriter, musician, and guitarist who achieved international fame and acclaim.

He was one of the greatest people to ever be famous

Not just an influential musician, but an inspiration to mankind.

Bob the greatest that ever lived.

Three little birds

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142pacTupac Amaru Shakur, also known as 2Pac, was an American rapper and actor born on June 16, 1971 in East Harlem, New York. Tupac sold over 75 million records worldwide and has been referred to in multiple major publications such as Rolling Stone as one of the greatest music artists of all time. 2Pac was ...read more.

2pac has got to be at least in the top 3, he was way more than just a rapper! He fight's for what he believes in and doesn't back down. Fought for women's rights and black rights against the goverment and police. He had a thug side to him because he was raised in the ghetto and at the same time a intelligent side when he tried to get his message across though his songs. His thug side was brought out even more when he was shot in 1994 and went to jail in 1995 for a crime he didn't commit. The system was always out to get him. Live by the gun, die by the gun.R.I. P

Though Pac is a great rapper, your missing two who should be way ahead of him, first james brown, the godfather of soul, without him he there would be no MJ or Pac. Your also forgetting the greatest lyricist of them all Biggie- he really grew up in the streets selling drugs and who not, as opposed to 2pac who came from a family of African American extremists, and actually live a middle class live and studied ballet and Shakespeare at a wealthy high school before he realized there was more money in rapping. I'm not trying to take anything away from him, I think he has just be slightly overstated on his influence in the music scene...slightly

Hip hop is very popular in todays society and 2pac is a big reason it is so popular. Rap and hip hop artists today always mention his words or name in there songs

Every rapper today owes something to 2pac... He is the real father of gangster rap... You don't hear biggies name and lyrics being quoted as often as Pac

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15The WhoThe Who is English hard rock band formed in London, England in 1964. The members are Roger Daltrey (lead singer), Pete Townshend (guitarist), John Entwistle (bassist), and Keith Moon (drums). The genres they were associated with happened to be rock, soft rock, hard rock, and soul rock. They are best ...read more.

Basically any on stage pyrotechnics were thanks to these guys. They were the kings of wrecking instruments. Yes, it is true that it doesn't take much skill to destroy an instrument, but the Who were just so good at putting that into shows. Plus, Pete Townsend introduced the Windmill arm for guitarists - VaticanCameos

16The Velvet UndergroundThe Velvet Underground was an American rock band, active between 1964 and 1973, formed in New York City.

Um, you can thank these guys for punk music, and any band that got influenced from this genre.

There influence is so great and far-reaching that it's comparable to the Beatles.

So overrated for their so-called influence for punk. There were in America in the mid-sixties thousands of garage-punk bands who sounded more punk than the V.U. Their albums are ok but nothing special to say that this changed the world. Too overrated.

Very underrated... They influenced more than you think

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17PrincePrince Rogers Nelson was born on June 7, 1958, and died on April 21st, 2016. he was a music legend from the 80s up until his death, best known for songs such as "Purple Rain", "Little Red Corvette", "1999", and "When Doves Cry".

Rip to an icon who's shows were the stuff of legends. The soundtrack to my youth. He rocked therefore he was! The very best up there with the greats

With today's male artists copying his style, it's safe to say that he is the most influential, probably top 5. Plus, couldn't Prince play like 59 (? ) instruments?

How can this guy be after ANYONE? Almost everybody who plays music today is influenced by Prince to a degree...

Prince was definitely then most interesting male musician that ever existed

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18Chuck BerryCharles Edward Anderson "Chuck" Berry is an American guitarist, singer and songwriter, and one of the pioneers of rock and roll music.

Set the stage for a whole new generation of rock and he was black. In his time this was unheard of! He really is the king, Elvis is #2. - fireinside96

Chuck berry, buddy holly, bill haley. All great singers that people seem to have forgotten, sadly

Should be top 5... And the Beatles are overrated because they wouldn't exist without guys like this

The single most influential rock musician that has ever lived

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19James Brown

Without The Godfather of Soul, there would be no King of Pop.

Without question, this guy HAS to be in the Top 10

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20NirvanaNirvana was an American grunge band that was formed in Aberdeen, Washington in 1987. Nirvana disbanded after Kurt Cobain committed suicide in 1994. The drummer of the band, David Grohl, went on to start the Foo-Fighters, an alternative rock band. ...read more.

Nirvana brought grunge into the mainstream. Their story is interesting. They were the soundtrack to teens lives in the nineties. Iggy Pop said, and I quote,"Kurt Cobain was truly a nobody from nowhere who reached out and touched the world. And he may have touched it right in its wound"

Why Nirvana is so low on the list? They are the kings of their genre. They changed the face of music in 90's. Cobain is one of the most influential musicians of all time. Common people!

Nirvana changed music forever and when kurt died rock died with him. his lyrics tell us that it is okay for us to be different and that we should be ourselves no matter what, he influences still so many people and was one of the greatest artists of all time. period.

I like nirvana but if they are so influential then why doesn't any mainstream music today sound anything like nirvana

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List StatsUpdated 27 Sep 2016

2,000 votes
337 listings
7 years, 120 days old

Top Remixes (14)

1. Elvis Presley
2. Beatles
3. Michael Jackson
bobinator3010
1. Beatles
2. Elvis Presley
3. The Velvet Underground
heckler212
1. Buddy Holly
2. Chuck Berry
3. Elvis Presley
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