Top Ten Most Famous Music Artists and Bands of All Time (Excluding Classical Composers)

Martin_Canine
These guys are immediately what people think of when they hear the term "music". Their songs are always present no matter where you are and even little children who haven't explored much of the music world know their name. They are used synonymously with music, every household owns at least a best of compilation if not many of their records, and their hits are countless. Also did these fellas build up this reputation for many years and decades, and became more than musicians: cultural icons important to the history of the world.

The Top Ten

1 The Beatles The Beatles The 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.

It can be your opinion that they seem overrated, but they do deserve the top spot.

Overrated but makes great music

Yes these are the best but one direction also desrves number 1

The fact that I know exactly you expected this band to be number one on this list is more than enough justification to put them in the top spot.
But if you need more:
Every nuance of their output became iconic. Album covers, concepts, hairstyles, their break up (off-topic: get Yoko Ono's "Approximately Infinite Universe" album), the names of all four band members, background stories to their songs, their hype, interview quotes, in other words EVERY LITTLE THING. Oh, and all of their songs, of course. - Martin_Canine

2 Michael Jackson 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.

If there is one man who is the definitive music star of the post-hippie decades, it is this man, singer and dancer, later on also a gifted songwriter. When I first heard of him, he was still alive, and a former megastar who once released some of the most played music and most iconic albums that he is loved for, but was mostly ridiculed and frowned upon in then-recent times. I never understood why, and still don't (people didn't underdstand that Michael worked differently than adult men, his interests were that of an innocent child). Now, he's a tragedy, and his reputation recovered. Apart from having released the best selling album.of all time, Jackson also revolutionized music videos, dancing, the use of adlibs and clothing style. - Martin_Canine

The King Himself. Michael Jackson

The greatest entertainer I've ever seen.

3 Elvis Presley 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.

Iconic is a much too small word for the impact this dude had on pop culture. A side note: I hate the term "pop culture". It means "media culture", but it sounds as if this was "less" of a culture than e.g. politics or tradition. It's not. In fact, it's what our collective and individual thinking is largely influenced by and decides what we remember of the past. And Elvis, of course, was such an important figure in world history - much like the Beatles, his every move became the stuff of legends, literally - that it's quite possible the entire world would have developed differently without him, not to mention the music. - Martin_Canine

4 Frank Sinatra 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.

Frank Sinatra is used synonymously with singing skills and vocal talent, and out of his generation and genre, he's the biggest name to have ever entered the stage. Swing earns much of its huge status and popularity to him, and up to this day, he remains an iconic figure whose name and face immediately lets you hear his voice and style in your ear. - Martin_Canine

There was no one that could beat Frankie.

5 Queen Queen Queen are an English rock band 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 has always been the best Rock band throughout the decades! Brian May, Roger Taylor, Freddie Mercury & John Deacon are still known & loved today! Although Freddie left us in 1991 & John decided to retire not long after.. Brian & Roger are still touring today with a new singer/collaborator.. ADAM LAMBERT... and they are still wowing audiences World Wide to sell out crowds as QUEEN + Adam Lambert! This is the Best Rock Band of the 21st century.. a show not to be missed! They are Fantastic.. these guys can still Rock & Roll and with ADAM they have a new energy that is thrilling audiences! GREAT!

Everyone knows Queen. Everybody loves Queen. Everybody knows at least 10 songs solely from their media presence.
Queen are one of those bands whose musicianship is appreciated by everyone from mainstream pop listener to 40 year old rockers to sophisticated music critics who usually only listen to classical music. As of February 2018, I am yet to meet a person who confutes these statement. - Martin_Canine

6 The Rolling Stones The Rolling Stones The 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.
7 Luciano Pavarotti Luciano Pavarotti Luciano Pavarotti, Cavaliere di Gran Croce was an Italian operatic tenor who also crossed over into popular music, eventually becoming one of the most commercially successful tenors of all time.

May, or may not, fit the parameters of this list. Not a "classical composer", but a modern person who brought those classic compositions to life during the era with modern electronic recording devices available. Certainly the greatest singing voice that can be heard on recordings today. A shame that Enrico Caruso was only preserved on primitive equipment at the end of his career, and Jenny Lind was never recorded at all. Interestingly, Jenny Lind plays a key part in the current [Feb. 2018] movie "The Greatest Showman".

8 Bee Gees Bee Gees The Bee Gees were a pop music group formed in 1958. Their line-up consisted of brothers Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb.

Like ABBA, the Bee Gees are one of these groups that everybody knows and loves and whose cult following remains one of the biggest of all time. If T.V. documentaries about a group of the 70s still attract a massive amount of multi-generational viewers in the 2010s, you are truly iconic, and your music truly became immortal. - Martin_Canine

9 Phil Collins Phil Collins Philip David Charles "Phil" Collins is an English singer-songwriter and musician, who has also worked as a record producer and actor.

A voice so distinctive that even the youngest kids' ears immediately perk up when he starts singing, Phil Collins' fame doesn't seem to ever stop. Not only can you be sure to hear more than one of his (or his band Genesis') many hits every day when you're a frequent radio listener, he only needs to reissue old albums with bonus material or release a compilation, and immediately everyone talks about him again. - Martin_Canine

Random factoid: Phil Collins' 8th grade classroom was hired by the producers of the Beatles "Hard Days Night" movie to be the crowd of kids who are madly running after the Fab Four during that movie's opening sequence. The 13-year old Phil Collins can be seen briefly in several shots. Did this early "brush with greatness" help inspire him?

10 Johnny Cash 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.

The Contenders

11 Bing Crosby Bing Crosby Harry Lillis "Bing" Crosby, Jr. was an American singer and actor. Crosby's trademark warm bass-baritone voice made him the best-selling recording artist of the 20th century, having sold over one billion records, tapes, compact discs and digital downloads around the world.

Earlier than even Sinatra, Crosby was the world's biggest music star from the 1920's to the 1940's.

12 ABBA ABBA ABBA were a Swedish pop group formed in Stockholm in 1972 by members Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad.

Today my best friend and former intellectual named Justin told me he hated ABBA and I was surprised and laughed that he hated ABBA and other reasons before I knew which today was picture day 3/12/18- Kevinsidis

When a group releases a double disc compilation on which you know every single song and still miss a couple, then you know exactly this is a legendary band.
I don't think any other band or singer has had that many legendary songs that are still played everyday. Waterloo, Dancing Queen, Mamma Mia, The Winner Takes It All, Super Trouper, Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight), Take a Chance on Me, SOS, Money Money Money,... do I need to go on?
When this Swedish quartett entered the stage in the 70s, the entire world stood still and listened to them, and they gained one of the biggest cult followings in the world history. - Martin_Canine

13 Metallica Metallica Metallica is an American Thrash Metal band formed in 1981 . The original lineup was James Hetfield (Vocalist and Rhythm guitarist), Dave Mustaine (Lead Guitar), Lars Ulrich (Drums), Ron McGovney (Bassist). The group came into mainstream from their Self-Titled album and the hit single "Enter Sandman". ...read more.

They are probably the most popular metal band in existence. - cjWriter1997

14 Madonna Madonna Madonna Louise Ciccone 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 in 2012 "Madge" or MDNA . She has ...read more.

In the 90s, Madonna basically invented the modern pop star. Her mix of art and pop music, her daring creative input in the songwriting process and her controversial costumes, lyrics, music videos and performances made her a huge cultural phenomenon far beyond her musical output. Her most well known songs may be from the 80s, but it's the 90s that granted her immortality - from the graphic sexuality of "Erotica" to the artistry of "Ray of Light", you can see her impact on every big female artist now. And, of course, her name and face became icons on their own. - Martin_Canine

15 Pink Floyd Pink Floyd Pink Floyd were an English progressive rock band formed in 1965 in London, England. 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 Guitar), Nick Mason (Drums), Roger Waters ...read more.
16 Bob Dylan 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.
17 Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin Led 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.
18 Bob Marley Bob Marley Robert Nesta "Bob" Marley was a Jamaican reggae singer, songwriter, musician, and guitarist who achieved international fame and acclaim.
19 Louis Armstrong Louis Armstrong Louis Armstrong, nicknamed Satchmo or Pops, was an American trumpeter, composer and singer who was one of the most influential figures in jazz.
20 AC/DC AC/DC AC/DC are a Australian hard rock band, formed in November 1973 by brothers Malcolm and Angus Young, who continued as members until Malcolm's illness and departure in 2014 . They were fronted by Bon Scott until his untimely death due to alcohol poisoning in 1979, after which they hired Brian Johnson ...read more.
21 David Bowie David Bowie David Robert Jones, known professionally as David Bowie, was an English singer born in London on January 8, 1947, and was 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.
22 Nirvana Nirvana Nirvana 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.

I was very unsure if I should rather include Nirvana or Kurt Cobain on here, but I ultimately decided for Nirvana, and this is with whom Cobain made music with. Of course, the band's iconic status is partly due to Cobain's suicide, but it doesn't change that Nirvana shirts, patches, buttons, etc. are still one of the more popular clothing styles in the city, and that documentaries about either the band or their singer are still a common sight when browsing through the T.V. program.
And also: probably the most famous album cover artwork of all time belongs to their record. - Martin_Canine

23 Edith Piaf Edith Piaf Édith Piaf was a French cabaret singer, songwriter and actress who became widely regarded as France's national chanteuse, as well as being one of France's greatest international stars.
24 Jimi Hendrix 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.
25 Tina Turner Tina Turner Tina Turner, née Anna Mae Bullock, is a singer, dancer, actress and author, whose career has spanned more than half a century, earning her widespread recognition and numerous awards.
26 Elton John 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.
27 Guns N' Roses Guns N' Roses Guns N' Roses is an American hard rock band from Los Angeles formed in 1985. The classic lineup, as 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. Apart from hard rock they are also ...read more.
28 Black Sabbath Black Sabbath Black Sabbath were a Heavy Metal band formed in Birmingham, England in 1968 by guitarist and songwriter Tony Iommi, Singer Ozzy Osbourne, Bassist and Main Lyricist Geezer Butler and Drummer Bill Ward. The band got into mainstream after improving after their debut album got negative feedback. In 1978, ...read more.
29 The Doors 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 drummer John Densmore.
30 Eurythmics Eurythmics Eurythmics were a British music duo consisting of members Annie Lennox and David A. Stewart. Stewart and Lennox were both previously in the band The Tourists, who split up in 1980; Eurythmics were formed that year in London.
31 Donna Summer Donna Summer LaDonna Adrian Gaines, known by her stage name Donna Summer, was an American singer, songwriter, and painter.
32 Iron Maiden Iron Maiden Iron Maiden are an English heavy metal band formed in Leyton, East London, in 1975 by bassist and primary songwriter Steve Harris. The most critically acclaimed period for the band was from 1983-1989. With vocalist Bruce Dickinson, bassist Steve Harris, lead guitarist Dave Murray, rhythm guitarist Adrian ...read more.
33 Radiohead Radiohead Radiohead are an English rock band from Abingdon, Oxfordshire, formed in 1985. The band consists of Thom Yorke (lead vocals, guitar, piano, keyboards), Jonny Greenwood (lead guitar, keyboards, other instruments), Colin Greenwoood (bass guitar), Phil Selway (drums), and Ed O'Brien (guitar).
34 Diana Ross Diana Ross Diana Ernestine Earle Ross is an American singer, actress, and record producer. Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Ross rose to fame as the lead singer of the vocal group the Supremes.
35 KISS KISS Kiss is an American hard rock band formed in New York City in January 1973 by Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons and the band's original manager, Lew Linet.
36 Marilyn Monroe Marilyn Monroe Marilyn Monroe, born Norma Jeane Mortenson Baker (June 1, 1926 – August 5, 1962) was an American actress, singer and model. Decades after her unexpected death, she has remained one of Hollywood's greatest sex symbols with her eye-catching style, champagne blond hair, and breathless manner of speaking. ...read more.
37 Julio Iglesias Julio Iglesias
38 Boney M Boney M Boney M. is a vocal group created by German record producer Frank Farian. Originally based in Germany, the four original members of the group's official line-up were Jamaican-born singers Liz Mitchell and Marcia Barrett, Maizie Williams from Montserrat and Bobby Farrell from Aruba.
39 U2 U2 U2 are an Irish rock band from Dublin. Formed in 1976, the group consists of Bono, the Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen Jr. U2's early sound was rooted in post-punk but eventually grew to incorporate influences from many genres of popular music. Throughout the group's musical pursuits, they have ...read more.
40 Sex Pistols Sex Pistols The Sex Pistols were an English punk rock band formed in London in 1975. Although they initially lasted just two and a half years and produced only four singles and one studio album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, they are considered one of the most influential acts in the history ...read more.
41 Deep Purple Deep Purple Deep Purple are an English rock band formed in Hertford in 1968. They are considered to be among the pioneers of heavy metal and modern hard rock, although their musical approach changed over the years. Originally formed as a progressive rock band, the band shifted to a heavier sound in 1970. Deep Purple, ...read more.
42 Roxette Roxette Roxette is a Swedish pop rock duo, consisting of Marie Fredriksson (vocals) and Per Gessle (vocals and guitar). Roxette went on to achieve four US number-one hits with "The Look," "Listen to Your Heart," "It Must Have Been Love," and "Joyride", and nineteen UK Top 40 hits. Other hits include "Dangerous," ...read more.
43 Prince Prince Prince Rogers Nelson (June 7, 1958 - April 21st, 2016) was an American musician, best known for being one of the most popular and influential artists from the 80s, with songs such as "Purple Rain", "Little Red Corvette", "1999", and "When Doves Cry" .
44 Ray Charles Ray Charles Ray Charles Robinson, professionally known as Ray Charles, was an American singer, songwriter, musician, and composer.
45 Cher Cher Cher is an American singer and actress. Described as embodying female autonomy in a male-dominated industry, she is known for her distinctive contralto singing voice and for having worked in numerous areas of entertainment, as well as adopting a variety of styles and appearances during her five-decade-long ...read more.
46 Tom Delonge Tom Delonge Thomas Matthew "Tom" DeLonge, Jr., is an American musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, entrepreneur, and film producer. He was born in Poway, California on December 13, 1975. When he was in high school at age 15, he got expelled for drinking at a basketball game. He also used to play the trumpet, ...read more.
47 Imagine Dragons Imagine Dragons Imagine Dragons is an American pop rock band from Las Vegas, Nevada. Imagine Dragons' lineup consists of lead vocalist Dan Reynolds, guitarist Wayne Sermon, bassist Ben McKee, and drummer Daniel Platzman.
48 Eminem Eminem Eminem, born Marshall Bruce Mathers III, is an American rapper, actor and music producer born on October 17, 1972 in St. Joseph, Missouri. Eminem has sold over 300 million records making him the bestselling hip-hop artist of all time. In addition to his solo career, he is a member of D12 and (with Royce ...read more.
49 Linkin Park Linkin Park Linkin Park is an American rock band formed in Agoura Hills, California, in 1996. The members currently include Mike Shinoda (vocals, keyboards, rhythm guitar), Brad Delson (guitar), Dave "Phoenix" Farrell (bass), Joe Hahn (DJ) and Rob Bourdon (drums). Linkin Park are associated with a mixture of Alternative ...read more.
50 Disturbed Disturbed Disturbed is an American nu metal/ alternative rock/ alternative metal band from Chicago, Illinois. The band comprises vocalist David Draiman, bassist John Moyer, guitarist Dan Donegan, and drummer Mike Wengren. They are known for songs like "Down With the Sickness" and "Stricken" .
PSearch List

Related Lists

Top Ten Most Famous Songs of All Time (Excluding Classical or Traditional Music) Greatest Classical Composers Greatest Romantic Classical Composers Top Ten Musicians We Wish We Could Trade to Get Classical Composers Back Top 10 Baroque Period Classical Composers

List Stats

100 votes
60 listings
262 days old

Top Remixes

1. The Beatles
2. Elvis Presley
3. Michael Jackson
Martin_Canine
1. The Beatles
2. Elvis Presley
3. Frank Sinatra
Crwth
1. The Beatles
2. Michael Jackson
3. Queen
htoutlaws2012

WRemix

Error Reporting

See a factual error in these listings? Report it here.
P