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

Again, I'm not a big fan of his music, but he's still going after over fifty years, which is something not many musicians can claim. - PetSounds

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

The top 3 is great in my opinion

V 3 Comments
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...

V 2 Comments
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 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 300,000,000 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

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 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

8 Freddie Mercury Freddie Mercury Freddie Mercury (5th September 1946 - 24th November 1991) was a Tanzanian-born British singer, songwriter and record producer, known as the lead vocalist and songwriter of the rock band Queen. He also became known for his flamboyant stage persona and four-octave vocal range. Before he became a singer more.

Two words: Bohemian Rhapsody. - PetSounds

9 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

10 Joni Mitchell Joni Mitchell

The Contenders

11 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

12 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

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 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.

15 Kurt Cobain Kurt Cobain Kurt Cobain was born February 20, 1967, in Aberdeen, Washington. In 1988, 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

16 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

17 Elton John Elton John V 1 Comment
18 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!

19 Robbie Williams Robbie Williams
20 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

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200 votes
62 listings
4 years, 4 days old

Top Remixes (6)

1. Bob Dylan
2. Chuck Berry
3. Joni Mitchell
1. Bob Dylan
2. John Lennon
3. Paul McCartney
1. Paul McCartney
2. Bob Dylan
3. John Lennon

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