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.

The leader of the biggest-selling and most successful musical act in history.
The only other act with sales anything close to The Beatles is Elvis Presley, and he is in fact the biggest-selling solo artist of all time.
Michael Jackson's total sales are only about 1/3 of The Beatles and Elvis' totals, although MJ does have the biggest-selling single record, which is Thriller.

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

Lennon writes, plays, produces and sings his work. He is unique due to the in the variety of songs and music that he has wrote. Few in the list are singers only and not musicians.

Seeing Michael Jackson on top makes me sad. He's a good musician, but is he as good as the brainchild behind the world's most influential music group? I don't think so.

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.

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!

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.

Truly unique singer, songwriter and performer, gone too soon. He packed so much experience into a relatively short life and left an impressive legacy of hits with Queen - Seven Seas of Rhye, Bohemian Rhapsody, Killer Queen. Freddie won two Ivor Novello Awards, dueted with opera singer Montserrat Caballe and stole the show at Live Aid - he was a talented, versatile and original star.

The best vocalist, and frontman of all time, everybody knows it. But he was a great song writer and a great piano player, too, and he had a great personality, he was a man with big heart. He never hated anybody, never told a wrong word about others.

3 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.

MJ has brought the real revolution in music. Those of you who say he didn't brought much revolution first go and understand what is revolution. MJ did wrote best songs of all time. He also received artist of the century award. That's were it is all clear okay. Don't tell he is overrated. He perfectly deserves this position. And if you think that elvis brought revolution than you are totally wrong. he never made that music, he never wrote any music he only sang and played guitar. Other artist who wrote or composed songs for Elvis made the rock n roll not Elvis. But MJ did it his dominance in music is unattainable

The beatles were also great they too bought revolution but they were Band not solo artist but MJ was. LONG LIVE GOD OF MUSIC MJ.

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.

Became more popular Posthumous than when he was alive. So, saying that he is the best musician of the 20th century is a very overrated statement. He didn't start any main revolution in music or changed music. Talented? Sure. But the best? No way.

4 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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

I am only fifteen, but I enjoy the music of all different times. While I do like the Beatles, I believe that Bob Dylan sang his thoughts. He put more meaning in his lyrics, and represented the thoughts of the common person at the time.
It also saddens me that Mr. Jackson in even on this list...

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.

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.

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.

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

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

Him Elvis bob Dylan frank sinatra and definitely bb king

7 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.

8 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...😍

9 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.
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 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.

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

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

12 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.

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

he made metallica what it was

13 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.

14 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!

15 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.

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

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

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

He invented rock & roll. enough said.

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

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

An American original.

18 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%.

Dominated the airwaves for decades. So many memorable songs.

He had more class than anyone else on this list. He was a genius.

19 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

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

Paul should be in the top 5. He was a Beatle for crying out loud! He wrote the songs Yesterday; Hey Jude; Live and Let Die; Maybe I'm amazed; and Band On The Run by himself. He wrote A Day In The Life; Let It Be; Come Together; Here Comes the Sun; Eleanor Rigby; Help! ; Twist and Shout; While My Guitar Gently Weeps; I Want To Hold Your Hand; All You Need is Love; Helter Skelter; and Revolution with his fellow Beatles. He should be top 5 hands down.

20 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!

21 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

By far the most influential musicians of all time.
Even his song writing any style was amazingly different to what anyone else was doing. Number one definitely of the 20th century. Gods gift.

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

22 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?

Why is she even on this list...

23 Elton John Sir Elton Hercules John CBE is an English singer, pianist, and composer. He has worked with lyricist Bernie Taupin as his songwriting partner since 1967; they have collaborated on more than 30 albums to date.

Wow. I can't believe I had to ADD Elton John to this list. How insulting! In terms of music artists of the 20th century, there's The Beatles, Elvis Presley, and then there Elton John. Come on people get real!

Plays an instrument (extremely well), sings, writes lyrics, composes and arranges music, produces music. TOP FIVE ALL AROUND greatest musician of the 20th Century.

Composer, hitmaker, singer, consummate live performer... Sir Elton John is absolutely THE BEST musician of the 20th century.

EJ at 98? Put's entire list in question. Muddy Waters not on list puts list in trash bin... PERIOD...

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

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'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 is the reference for others

Bob is the message we need

25 Eddie Van Halen Edward Lodewijk "Eddie" Van Halen is a Dutch-American musician, songwriter and producer. He is best known as the lead guitarist, occasional keyboardist and co-founder of the hard rock band Van Halen.

Eddie van halen is below britney spears...

8Load More
PSearch List