Most Influential Songwriters of All Time

The musicians who, by the force of their writing, have changed the way we view music and, quite often, life.

The Top Ten

1 John Lennon 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.

His most influential song is certainly Imagine. Others include In My Life and Strawberry Fields Forever. - PetSounds

Johns lyrics are the most poignant, unflinchingly self reflective, other worldly and cutting edge. He is my favorite of all time. closely rivaled by Paul Simon who also writes other worldly songs as well My two choices..."Across the Universe" and "Only Living Boy in New York".

2 Bob Dylan Bob Dylan Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter, artist and writer . he won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2016 .

The second most covered artist of all time he inspired and influenced so many people such as Jimi Hendrix and John Lennon his ability to reinvent himself has caused him to produce number one albums in six decades. - liamh1381

Actually, after getting past his voice, I am now a big fan of his music. Should have put him higher. - PetSounds

His voice puts off many but often the expression and emotion fit the world weary, battle-scarred nature of his songs. Anyway, glad you saw past that to appreciate his art. Unfortunately it's not accessible for everyone - Billyv

Also very underrated as a singer, 2 great love songs in Lay Lady Lay and Love minus Zero - No limit

The top 3 is great in my opinion

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3 Paul McCartney 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 .

In terms of success how could you not choose Paul? Also you have to remember he has written some of the most recorded songs in history including the number 1 recorded song in history with Yesterday. Also his appeal rivals Dylan although Dylan was and is a great songwriter and should be in the top 10 you can surely argue that Paul deserves the number 1 spot.

Lennon or McCartney, The Beatles are the most influential ever!

It was a toss-up between Lennon and McCartney for the top spot. But Paul holds the first two slots on the TheTopTens Best Beatles Songs list with Hey Jude and Let It Be. Not to mention the most covered song of all time in Yesterday. - PetSounds

No Debate, He just simply make my days of life, and maybe your days...

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4 David Bowie David Bowie David Robert Jones was an English singer 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. more.

I'm more a queen fan in fact, but in songwriting I think bowie would beat them anyway...

What isn't he awesome in I wonder =D

5 Paul Simon Paul Simon Paul Frederic Simon is an American musician, singer-songwriter and actor. Simon's fame, influence, and commercial success began as part of the duo Simon & Garfunkel, formed in 1964 with musical partner Art Garfunkel.

As a duo with Art Garfunkel, he crafted materpieces such as The Sound of Silence and Bridge Over Troubled Water. After they split, Simon had a successful solo career. - PetSounds

Beyond brilliant. a true cutting edge pioneer. The most beautiful lyric and music of all time!

Insecure, neurotic genius. Hardly a crap song in his repertiore

6 Brian Wilson Brian Wilson Brian Douglas Wilson is an American musician, singer, songwriter, and record producer best known for being the multi-tasking leader and co-founder of the Beach Boys.

The album Pet Sounds is Brian's greatest contribution to popular music. It includes the beautiful God Only Knows. But his most famous and influential song is, without a doubt, Good Vibrations, slated for release on the cancelled SMiLE project. - PetSounds

The one songwriter who Lennon and McCartney thought they had to try extra hard to keep up with.

7 Freddie Mercury 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 more.

Better, than anyone else in this list.

Two words: Bohemian Rhapsody. - PetSounds

8 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 more.

Can't say I'm a fan, but there's no denying his influence. - PetSounds

He has definitely changed peoples' lives! - funnyuser

9 Joni Mitchell Joni Mitchell

Totally underrated... Should be top 5!

10 Buddy Holly Buddy Holly Buddy Holly, born Charles Hardin Holley (September 7, 1936 – February 3, 1959) was an American musician and singer-songwriter who was a central figure of mid-1950s rock and roll. He was a rising star when a tragic plane crash struck him down at age 22. more.

The Beatles are one of the many groups he influenced, and The Crickets were one of the first true bands in rock 'n' roll. He was with us far too short of a time. - PetSounds

The Contenders

11 John Denver John Denver Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr., known professionally as John Denver, was an American singer-songwriter, actor, activist and humanitarian, whose greatest commercial success was as a solo singer, starting in the 1970s.

His songs never fail to lift the spirit. Put him on when you're down. He'll raise you up. - PetSounds

Highly underrated. His songs are so poetic and inspirational. - DieGedankenSindFrei

12 Pete Townshend Pete Townshend Peter Dennis Blandford "Pete" Townshend is an English musician, singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, best known as the lead guitarist and songwriter for the rock band The Who .

Nobody captured teenage angst like Pete Townshend. And he could communicate it succinctly as in a song like "The Kids Are Alright" or "I Can't Explain", or delve deeply into the teenage psyche as he did in the double album Who masterpiece, "Quadrophenia" A lyrical and musical genius. Ask anybody!

No problems with this list

13 Chuck Berry 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.

With songs such as Johnny B. Goode, Sweet Little Sixteen, and Rock and Roll Music, he paved the way for rock 'n' roll to grow even bigger. - PetSounds

14 Kurt Cobain Kurt Cobain Kurt Cobain was born February 20, 1967, in Aberdeen, Washington. In 1987, he started the grunge band Nirvana. 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 Seattle home in 1994.

He hits me he hits you he hits most of the world

15 Neil Young Neil Young Neil Percival Young is a Canadian singer-songwriter and musician, producer, director and screenwriter.

He's Canadian gotta go with my countryman! - Curti2594

16 Elton John Elton John

He didn't write any of his songs

17 Cat Stevens Cat Stevens Yusuf Islam, commonly known by his former stage name Cat Stevens, is a British singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, humanitarian, and education philanthropist.

Clearly number one!

18 Roger Waters Roger Waters George Roger Waters, is an English singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and composer. He was mostly known for the secondary lead vocals and bassist of Pink Floyd .

There isn't absolutely no way that the lyrics he wrote from Medley to The Final cut will ever be topped by another lyricist in the history of popular music. Especially the lyrics from Dark side of the Moon, which are in great part responsible for the album still selling five thousand copies every week in the US alone.

Listen to the entire the wall and try to tell me this man isn't the best songwriter of all time

Main songwriter for Pink Floyd. He wrote all of the songs for Wish You Were here, Dark Side of The Moon, and The Wall, the latter being a concept album and a DOUBLE album, meaning that it was on 2 CDs.

19 John Lydon John Lydon John Joseph Lydon, also known by his former stage name Johnny Rotten, is an English singer, songwriter, and musician.

Not only did he pen many of the songs that brought Sex Pistols to stardom, he also completely turned music and the basic structure of songwriting on its head with Public Image Limited, MULTIPLE times. With each new release, even up to 2015's What the world needs now... there's always something new and innovative, and his evolution of songwriting from pistols to where he is now, is a transformation that very few musicians have accomplished

20 James Taylor James Taylor James Vernon Taylor is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. A five-time Grammy Award winner, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. He is one of the best-selling artists of all time, and he has sold more than 100 million records worldwide.
21 Robbie Williams Robbie Williams
22 Carole King Carole King Carole King is an American composer and singer-songwriter. She is the most successful female songwriter of the latter half of the 20th century in the USA, having written or co-written 118 pop hits on the Billboard Hot 100 between 1955 and 1999. King also wrote 61 hits that charted in the UK, making more.
23 Ray Davies Ray Davies Raymond Douglas "Ray" Davies is an English musician. He was the rhythm guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter for The Kinks, which he led with his younger brother, Dave.
24 Barry Gibb Barry Gibb Barry Alan Crompton Gibb is a British singer, songwriter and record producer who rose to worldwide fame as a co-founder of the group Bee Gees, one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed groups in the history of popular music.

Dude is so awesome with just the lyrics he has written for others.

25 Lou Reed
26 George Harrison George Harrison George Harrison was an English guitarist, singer, songwriter, and music and film producer who achieved international fame as the lead guitarist of the Beatles.
27 Steve Harris Steve Harris Stephen Percy "Steve" Harris is an English musician and songwriter, known as the bassist, occasional keyboardist, backing vocalist, primary songwriter and founder of the British heavy metal band Iron Maiden.
28 Jimmy Page Jimmy Page James Patrick Page is an English musician, songwriter, and record producer who achieved international success as the guitarist and founder of the rock band Led Zeppelin.
29 Keith Richards Keith Richards Keith Richards is an English musician—primarily a guitarist—singer, songwriter, best-selling memoirist, and founding member of the rock band The Rolling Stones.
30 Tom Waits Tom Waits Thomas Alan "Tom" Waits, born December 7, 1949 is an American singer-songwriter, composer, and actor. more.

Pure genius classic albums under his belt since the 70's

31 Nick Cave Nick Cave

Australia's prince of darkness. Has written some of the most beautiful but dark songs ever!

32 Billy Joel Billy Joel
33 Gene Clark Gene Clark Harold Eugene "Gene" Clark was an American singer-songwriter and founding member of the folk rock band the Byrds.
34 Dr. Luke
35 Burt Bacharach
36 Billie Joe Armstrong Billie Joe Armstrong Billie Joe Armstrong is an American musician, singer, songwriter and actor who is best known as the lead vocalist, primary songwriter, and guitarist of the punk rock band Green Day, which he co-founded with Mike Dirnt. V 2 Comments
37 Jim Morrison Jim Morrison James Douglas "Jim" Morrison was an American singer, songwriter, and poet best remembered as the lead singer of the Doors.
38 Noel Gallagher Noel Gallagher Noel Thomas David Gallagher is an English musician, singer, songwriter and guitarist. He served as the lead guitarist, co-lead vocalist and principal songwriter of the rock band Oasis.

If its influence we are talking about, noel should be high on this list. Think of the people who would not have been successful without noel. Hell, he even had a name for this! 'noel rock' legend and top guy

Number 50? Should be way higher. He wrote 95% of Oasis' songs, and sang 15%. And in those 15%, managed to be just as good as his brother. Noel is a legend and deserves to be way higher.

39 Taylor Swift Taylor Swift Taylor Alison Swift (Taylor Swift) is an American singer-songwriter. She was born on December 13, 1989 in Reading, Pennsylvania. She is best known for writing break up songs and for having more than 5 Grammys. She became interested in country music when she was around 9 years old and after watching more.

Don't be ludicrous! 2D lyrics and auto tuned vocals! - shawnwalker

40 Woody Guthrie Woody Guthrie Woodrow Wilson "Woody" Guthrie was an American singer-songwriter and musician whose musical legacy includes hundreds of political, traditional, and children's songs, along with ballads and improvised works.

Great songwriter who had the courage to fight for justice, freedom and democracy

41 Robert Plant Robert Plant Robert Anthony Plant is an English musician, singer, and songwriter best known as the lead singer and lyricist of the rock band Led Zeppelin.
42 Hal David
43 Bernie Taupin
44 Mick Jagger Mick Jagger Sir Michael Philip "Mick" Jagger is an English singer, songwriter, and actor, best known as the lead vocalist and a co-founder of the Rolling Stones.
45 Moby Moby Moby is an American musician, who has produced inventive new styles to various subgenres of electronic music, inspired by 1950's gospel as much as by modern rock, and musicians from New Order to David Bowie. more.

I was watching for this one, PositronWildhawk. - PetSounds

46 Robert Del Naja
47 Warren Zevon Warren Zevon

Very underrated, all artist from Dylan to Springsteen thought the world of Zevon and his music! The artist artist!

48 John Phillips
49 David Foster David Foster David Walter Foster is a Canadian musician, record producer, composer, songwriter, and arranger, who has won 16 Grammys.

AKA "The Hit Man".
Only Lennon/McCartney's compositions have sold more in popular music, because Elvis did not write much, and MJ only wrote a moderate number of his own songs.
Foster is in the neighborhood of 500 million in sales.

50 Diane Warren
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