Best Musicians of the 20th Century

These are individual artists, not bands, the people you add to the list may be a member of a band though.

The Top Ten

1 John Lennon John Winston Ono Lennon, MBE was an English singer and songwriter who rose to worldwide fame as a co-founder of the Beatles, the most commercially successful band in the history of popular music. He was assassinated by Mark David Chapman on December 8, 1980 at age 40.

It's obvious most of those voting are too young to remember how great the Beatles were.

What on earth is John Lennon doing so low down! Michael Jackson 1st... Bloody hell! Lennon is the best! And always will be!

Individual artists the best are elvis Presley john lennon paul McCartney chuck berry ray Charles Michael Jackson isn't even rock and roll music its disco crap Michael Jackson can't even play guitar

Always john. Always, always...john!

2 Freddie Mercury Freddie Mercury (born Farrokh Bulsara, 5th September 1946 - 24th November 1991) was a Zanzibari-born British singer of Indian descent, songwriter and record producer, known as the lead vocalist and songwriter of the British rock band Queen. He also became known for his flamboyant stage persona and four-octave ...read more.

Beautifully exquisite. The man was perhaps best known for his flamboyancy and weirdness as a man. As the singer of one of the most memorable bands in the world and a man who cared little of what people thought of him, it sure is ironic that his legacy isn't the one to have bitten the dust.

Greatest of all time, no question.

He was a great person and great musician.

Freddie was the GREATEST! It's even proven by science, he had a HUGE vocal range, he made THE MOST complex music and lyrics (My cousin has been playing the piano for YEARS and it's extremely hard for him to play Bohemian Rhapsody) And he also had a much more vibrato than any other singer alive or dead. Again, this is proven by science, so it's a fact, not an opinion!

3 Elvis Presley Elvis Presley was an 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.

Elvis changed the history of music... he was a phenom of music.
Fantastic performer also. Best musician ever with over 1billion sales worldwide.
1. Elvis Presley
2. John Lennon
3. Bob Dylan
4. Paul McCartney
5. Michael Jackson
6. Freddie Mercury

I can't believe he's not #1 or at least in the top 3. Its hard to rate musicians who were the kings of their genres. In my opinion it should be

1. Elvis Presley
2. Michael Jackson
3. Johnny Cash (how the hell wasn't he even in the top 10? )
4. John Lennon
5. Stevie Wonder (Don't know why he wasn't here either)

Then the rest are debatable.

People don't call him the king for nothing! He has been the highest grossing dead celebrity for years. Right now he's probably second to Michael, which is typical when a different icon passes away recently.

Elvis is the artist of the century in the 20th century this is a fact not by polls by facts you may not like him but that's your opinion let's give credit where credit is due Elvis is not only the king of rock and roll he also the king of music.

4 Michael Jackson Michael Joseph Jackson was an American singer, dancer, and songwriter born on August 29, 1958 in Gary, Indiana and passed away on June 25, 2009. He donated (at least) a remarkable 500,000,000 dollars to charity. Michael is also known as The King of Pop (a title given to him by Elizabeth Taylor) or under ...read more.

It's amazing how overrated Michael Jackson has become since his death. Based on how many people worship him, you'd think he was God himself. He's not God people; calm down. Top ten definitely, but definitely not number one.

MJ deserves the top spot. Its isn't just about the music (playing guiter, paino, but cultural influence and impact the MJ had over the entire globe. I am from Pakistan when MJ died I was just 15 years old by then. The impact this man has is amazing.. Never heard about beatles, John lenon, elvis presely etc. But certainly MJ is very well known here. No Doubt ultimate king of pop.

Music is about reaching the soul and damn MJ new how to do that. His voice and music touched my heart and soul in ways other musicians could never do. The depth of songs like Stranger In Moscow, Who Is it, and Morphine go beyond the lyrics; the mood, the feel, and especially what it makes me feel is magical.

His songs are so meaningful and they inspire and stimulate actions... and that's something no other artist achieved... He always have that presence, charisma that unites anyone and gets everyone moving..

5 Bob Dylan Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter, author, and artist who has been an influential figure in popular music and culture for more than five decades.

Bruce Springsteen said it best during Bob's induction in the rock & roll hall of fame when he said 'they way Elvis freed your body Bob Dylan freed your mind.' People don't understand that taking shots at the rich elite really wasn't a thing until Bob Dylan started doing it all the time in his writing. Watch the video 'Tangled Up in Blue: Deciphering a Bob Dylan Masterpiece' it shows how Bob plays with tenses in his music, yet still is able to tell a story we can all understand. He made it okay to sing in popular to sing in ways that people don't and he did it with a voice that stopped being pleasant in the mid seventies.

If not for bob Dylan we would All still be singing zippity do dah

I'm a beatlesfan, but I cannot deny Dylan has changed the surface os the music world even more than The Beatles, so I voted for mr. Dylan. Anyone who voted on James Hetfield is insane. Metallica never had 1 percent of the impact on the music as Dylan / The Beatles had.

Paul McCartney is famous for the Beatles. Freddie Mercury is famous for Queen, Bob Dylan is famous for Bob Dylan. He's done as much for music as those higher on the list, but did pretty much everything himself. That is why he is the greatest musician who ever lived.

6 Johnny Cash John R. "Johnny" Cash (1932-2003) was an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, actor, and author, who was widely considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century and one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 90 million records worldwide. He died of ...read more.

Wait... johnny cash is all the way down here?

My favorite anyway no matter what you think... Jake

Him Elvis bob Dylan frank sinatra and definitely bb king

7 George Harrison George Harrison (1943 - 2001) was an English guitarist, singer, songwriter, and music and film producer who achieved international fame as the lead guitarist of the Beatles.

One of the best guitarist that we had

Wonderful...He is best...😍

8 Roy Orbison Roy Kelton Orbison, professionally known as Roy Orbison, nicknamed Big O, was an American singer, songwriter, guitarist, and musician, mostly known for his complex voice and for hits such as, "Oh, Pretty Woman".

Absolutely the best and my all-time favorite.

9 Jimi Hendrix Jimi 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 celebrated ...read more.

Obviously the greatest guitarist to have ever existed. The people who claim he is overrated are stuck in their narrow minds. Yes some of his stuff is easy to play. But most of it is not. Little to no repetition but instead theme and variation using unique and diverse chord progressions. To memorize the notes and play them the same way he played them is an amazing feat. He was an insane songwriter who correlated love, psychedelics, mythology, and everyday life and struggles into his songs. He was a great singer for his sound in playing and songwriting. No one would have been fit to sing those songs other than Hendrix himself. He was a humble character to top it off with the perfect cherry. People have to keep in mind that in the 60s you had the Beatles, the Stones and a bunch of Motown and folk artists who played guitar that was either just focused on only melody or rhythm. Very uncommonly was it both. Jimi Hendrix just came out of the blue to England and his use of feedback, effects ...more

How the hell is he not higher! One of the greatest musicians of all time and THE ultimate guitar god.

How is he not higher than this. He started the whole acting insane on stage thing. Angus Young wouldn't even be half of what he is now without Jimi Hendrix as his inspiration.

Hendrix did it all in three years. 50 years later we are still searching for new unheard Jimi music. NO ONE changed pop music more than Jimi Hendrix. PERIOD

10 Steven Perry

Actually, his name is spelled Stephen.
Stephen Perry is an amazing singer. He was the lead singer for Journey from 1977 to 1996. He also had two solo albums, one in 1984 and one in 1994. Not only does he have a beautiful voice, but his range is breathtaking.

Hair, eyes, lips and butt and still looks sexy at 64

The Contenders

11 Ville Valo Ville Hermanni Valo is a Finnish singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, best known as the lead vocalist and main songwriter of the Finnish gothic rock band HIM.

What can I say! The most underrated, amazingly talented singer of all time. MOre people should pay attention to just how talented this man is!

Enchanting deep voice, great lyrics, perfect face. He always gives his fans everything he has in his heart

Ville Valo is definitely the best. He's every bit deserving of the 20th and the 21st till the end of time.

12 Eric Clapton Eric Patrick Clapton is an English rock and blues guitarist, singer and songwriter. He is the only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: once as a solo artist and separately as a member of the Yardbirds and Cream. He has also been a member of Derek and the Dominos.

Great guitarist, music writer for guitar, beautiful emotional melodic playing, great style.

if you add up all of his accomplishments there is no comparison

Why must everyone vote for Michael jackson? He was terrible and he was not the king of pop. Eric Clapton has always been brilliant and is the king of blues rock.

A incredible good guitarist of our timr

13 James Hetfield James Alan Hetfield was born on August 3, 1963. He is an American musician, singer and songwriter known for being the co-founder, lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist and main songwriter for the American heavy metal band Metallica.

he made metallica what it was

if I were a girl and 25 years older id marry him

Michael Jackson is so overrated, I bet ya, best looking woman, he would come first, people James is the writer rhythm guitarist and singer

14 Ritchie Blackmore Richard Hugh "Ritchie" Blackmore is an English guitarist and songwriter, best known for his work in the hard rock/metal bands Deep Purple and Rainbow. He was ranked number 16 on Guitar World's "100 Greatest Metal Guitarists of All Time" in 2004, and number 50 in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the ...read more.
15 Neil Peart Neil Ellwood Peart, (September 12, 1952 - January 7, 2020) was a Canadian musician and writer best known as the drummer and primary lyricist of the rock band Rush. Peart received numerous awards for his musical performances, including an induction into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 1983, making ...read more.

What a terrible list of musicians to pick from. Where's Bruce hornsby? Ask Clapton!? Neil Peart best on the list though!

Greatest drummer ever changed the whole drumming, In music.
Geddy Lee and Alex lifeson. Are some of the best power trios ever.
Vote Beatles UP by the way

16 K.S. Chithra Krishnan 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 is the all time best female singer of India. Period.

She is the great musician of India

Fabulous songs and I loved it

She is the Goddess of Music - Sangeetha Saraswathi.

17 Kurt Cobain Kurt Cobain was born February 20, 1967, in Aberdeen, Washington. In 1987, he started the grunge band Nirvana, which became one of the most successful bands ever. He was a talented yet troubled grunge performer. Kurt Cobain became a rock legend in the 1990s with his band. He committed suicide at his ...read more.

He is best singer I know in that era he made very great he gave as decade defining song smells like teen spirit. Kurt you are best

For a man who had a troubled life, he sure was capable of making amazing music. He will be remembered along with the rest of these men and women whether people would like it or not.

Probably one of the best songwriters of all time. Capable of making incredible music, and should forever be remembered as a legend.

Nevermind was the ever album

18 Aretha Franklin Aretha Louise Franklin (March 25, 1942 - August 16, 2018) was an American singer, songwriter and pianist. She began her career as a child singing gospel at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan, where her father, C. L. Franklin, was minister.

Same for Aretha!

19 Chuck Berry Charles Edward Anderson "Chuck" Berry was an American guitarist, singer and songwriter, and one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. He died on 18 March 2017.

Also a good guitarist and Rockabilly musician.He alwys had fun on the stage

As Bruce Springsteen said "Chuck Berry was Rock's greatest practitioner, guitarist and the greatest pure rock n roll songwriter that ever lived"

I can't stop listing to chuck berry's johnny b goode

Chuck Berry was the original. There is no elvis, there is no clapton there is no rock and roll without Chuck Berry yall

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

Bob's music is medicine to our minds, soul and body. His songs are spiritual and uplifting and speaks truth. It brings a message to all people. Bob was one of the great spiritual messengers of our time. His music is always fresh and new. That reggae beat throbs with the heart and soothes the whole being.

Bob Marley and the Wailers used music to not only communicate about the troubles of the world, but to give hope and an optimistic view that humanity can unite to solve our problems - played with positive vibrations. They are one of the greatest musicians of all time, and their music is definitely medicine for the soul without negative side effects and impossible to overdose.

Bob is the reference for others

Bob is the message we need

21 Frank Sinatra Francis Albert "Frank" Sinatra was an American singer, actor, and producer who was one of the most popular and influential musical artists of the 20th century. He is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 150 million records worldwide.

Bing Crosby was the first to popular musician to utilize the microphone. Frank Sinatra was the first to master it. He would change his position from the mic to suit the mood. He made it seem like the radio (or record player) disappeared and it was just the you and him in the room. We can also thank him for the invention of the 'concept album' when he made 'In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning.'

Frank Sinatra, in my humble opinion, was the best singer of the 20th century. His voice was pure gold, and I'm not talking about that 98.93745937201113456 pure gold type of brick. I'm talking 100%.

Love Frank Sinatra beautiful beautiful voice so relaxing clean clear and sharp and most of all its classic and will always be

He is the first, talking professional and personal.

22 Paul McCartney Sir James Paul McCartney is an English singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and composer . With John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, he gained worldwide fame with the rock band the Beatles, one of the most popular and influential groups in the history of pop and rock music .

22?This guy is the reason why we have the white album ,abbey road ,let it be ,sgt pepper and revolver.He made some of the best and most iconic songs ever .Definitely top 3 if not number 1

Paul McCartney's melodies are beautiful and heartwarming. I find that many songs of his I just like to hear them played. His best are the ones that tell a story, where you can see characters, or feel an emotion that a circumstance has caused. As I listen to that sort of a McCartney song, I learn the words, then I sing it along. And then for the rest of my life I have a song that corresponds to a certain circumstance of life. You know, like Waterfalls, or Put It There, or One Of These Days, or Somebody Who Cares, or Baby's Request, or Little Willow, or Follow Me. McCartney is also very good at pop songs, entertaining songs, either heavier rock or dance songs, rock and roll for fun. And of course there are the songs with very personal lyrics, messages in them. Very touching those. And he has written many anthem-like songs, peace songs. like Pipes Of Peace, Tug Of War, there is so many. And the most Fantastic thing about McCartney is, his melodies are all so different! He is really good. ...more

I came to this list and expected to find Paul McCartney at #1 or #2 behind John Lennon. The fact that he is not even in the top 5 is a crime. If he were just a singer that would be one thing, but he wrote so many songs that were influential to me and other baby boomers. I don't agree with this list at all.

Paul McCartney is without a doubt in my mind the most important musician of the 20th century. The fact he is ranked much lower than fellow Beatles John and George on this list is to me a crime. It was McCartney's Musical sensibilities that alongside and often in contention with Lennon drove the vast majority of the early Beatle's hits as well as the most experimental and successful moments of the band's entire 23 album career. I would argue that being the key song writer of arguably the most popular/successful band in history as well as making music in such a way for nearly 6 decades that simultaneously acknowledges and makes the most of the past that came before him, shaping the zeitgeist of not just musical but all pop culture both in his own youth and beyond, and irrevocably shaping the future of all of music in his wake, releasing his 17th solo album this year staying as relevant as ever, and being among the greatest influences on the vast majority of popular musicians in the ...more

23 Tom Waits Thomas Alan "Tom" Waits, born December 7, 1949 is an American singer-songwriter, composer, and actor. ...read more.

An American original.

He is brilliant. Listen to TOm Traubert's BLues, or Downtown Train

24 David Gilmour David Jon Gilmour is an English singer, songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist, and record producer. He joined the progressive rock band Pink Floyd as guitarist and co-lead vocalist in 1968.

What a musician!

25 Madonna Madonna Louise Ciccone, known professionally as Madonna, is an American singer, songwriter, actress, and businesswoman. She influenced a lot of singers such as: Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, Beyonce Knowles and Britney Spears. She is known as Queen of Pop and at modern pop culture specifically ...read more.

Greatest female pop star of all time, second only to the Beatles (a group) and Michael Jackson.

The most iconic female singer of the 20th Century! So many iconic hits!

She rules more than 30 years in music and only 18?

Well...it's Madonna. Case closed.

8Load More
PSearch List