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 Winston Ono Lennon, MBE (9 October 1940 - 8 December 1980) 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. Lennon was characterised by the rebellious nature and acerbic wit in his music, writing and drawings, on film, and in interviews. His songwriting partnership with Paul McCartney remains the most successful in history.

Across The universe, Imagine, And your Bird Can sing, Sexy Sadie, It won't be Long, Nowhere Man, Strawberry Fields, Walrus, All you Need Is Love, Benefit of Mr. Kite, Bungalow bill, Dear Prudence, Revolution, Come Together. What kind of ignorant dunce would moronically label this genius overrated? Pity the fool!

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".

Only a delusional Freddie Mercury lover could call John Lennon "overrated". Thank God there are The Beatles towering at #1 to keep Queen fans in their place.

Unparalleled in his brilliance. He's the best there ever was and the Beatles were so lucky to have him!'s us who were so lucky to have him. Miss him so much!

2 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.

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.

John Lennon above Bob Dylan ? What is this nonsense ? Bob Dylan TAUGHT John Lennon and Paul McCartney ! Whats not to understand ?

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

He has been very creative through the years. He is an excellent songwriter.

3 Paul McCartney Sir James Paul McCartney (born 18 June 1942) 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 more.

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.

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.

First of all, get a real pic of him. He rivaled Lennon in the Beatles, and maybe even edged him out. But don't forget the 1970s. Wings may catch a lot of crap but there were some stellar songs. If nothing else, he wrote "Maybe I'm Amazed."

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

4 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.

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

5 David Bowie David Robert Jones, known professionally as David Bowie (January 8, 1947 - January 10, 2016) was an English singer born in London, the son of a fundraiser and a waitress. He is credited for his experimental and creative musical discography which has won praise and accolades for many critics and fans. more.

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

6 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.

Progressive genius - greatest producer of all time, greatest pop songwriter of all time - could neglect all rules there are to songwriting and come up with incredibly catchy tunes.

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

7 Nick Cave Nicholas Edward Cave (born 22 September 1957) is an Australian musician, singer-songwriter, author, screenwriter, composer and occasional film actor, best known as the frontman of the rock band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Cave's music is generally characterized by emotional intensity, a wide variety more.

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

Has produced tons of music able to influence people and men.

More than 40 years of creativity!

He influences me a lot!

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

He's Canadian gotta go with my countryman!

9 Joni Mitchell Roberta Joan Mitchell, professionally known as Joni Mitchell, is a Canadian singer-songwriter. Drawing from folk, pop, rock, and jazz, Mitchell's songs often reflect social and environmental ideals as well as her feelings about romance, confusion, disillusionment, and joy.

Totally underrated... Should be top 5!

10 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!

Wrote songs like you wouldn't believe.

The Newcomers

? Tupac Shakur Tupac Amaru Shakur, also known as 2Pac, was an American rapper and actor born on June 16, 1971 in East Harlem, New York. Tupac sold over 75 million records worldwide and has been referred to in multiple major publications such as Rolling Stone as one of the greatest music artists of all time. 2Pac was assassinated on September 1996 at the age of 25. more.
The Contenders
11 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.

During his short career, Holly wrote, recorded, and produced his own material. He is often regarded as the artist who defined the traditional rock-and-roll lineup of two guitars, bass, and drums. Holly was a major influence on later popular music artists, including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, and Elton John. 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.

12 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.

"All the lonely people, where do they all come from? All the lonely people, where do they all belong?"
"There are places I'll remember, all my life, though some have changed; some forever, not for better, some are gone, but some remain".
"He didn't notice that the lights had changed".
"She told me she worked in the morning and started to laugh; I told her I didn't, and crawled off to sleep in the bath".

Love, love me do
You know I love you
I'll always be true
So please, love me do
Whoa, love me do
Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide
No escape from reality
Open your eyes
Look up to the skies and see
I'm just a poor boy, I need no sympathy
Because I'm easy come, easy go
A little high, little low
Anyway the wind blows, doesn't really matter to me, to me...

Is there any question?

He was much more creative, experimental than Paul McCartney and John Lennon together. He created a lot of amazing and timeless songs is a lot of genre, not just pop/rock as McCartney and Lennon.


Bicycle race is a great song.

He never ever wrote such stupid and easy songs like "Love me do", or "I want to hold your hand", or "Yellow submarine"...

13 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.

John Denver was very underrated. If you don't believe me, listen to take me home country roads or sunshine on my shoulders. Both are really calming and happy songs.

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

Highly underrated. His songs are so poetic and inspirational.

14 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.

15 Roger Waters George Roger Waters is an English singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and composer. He is mostly known for being the secondary lead vocalist 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.

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.

18?I don't know what life is without him

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

16 Michael Jackson Michael Jackson (Michael Joseph Jackson; August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009) was an American singer, dancer, and songwriter. He passed away from cardiac arrest caused by a propofol and benzodiazepine overdose 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 the initials MJ. Dubbed the King of Pop, he is regarded as one of the most significant cultural figures of the 20th century. more.

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

He has definitely changed peoples' lives!

17 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 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.

He's definitely as great and talented as Lennon and McCartney!
An underrated talent that deserves to be higher than 28!

One of the greatest musicians and songwriters of all time. Unfortunately, he was only the third best in his own band.

19 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.
20 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.
21 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.

Barry Gibb has been an amazing songwriter for decades!
He is a musical genius who people overlook because of hits written during the disco era.
Immorality and Too Much Heaven are top notch songs!

Only Lennon-McCartney have produced more number ones in history.

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

22 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 more.
23 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

24 Elton John Sir Elton Hercules John (born Reginald Kenneth Dwight; 25 March 1947) is an English singer, pianist and composer. Collaborating with lyricist Bernie Taupin since 1967 on more than 30 albums, John has sold over 300 million records, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time. He has more.

To the person who posted 'He didn't write any of his songs'... crawl back under your rock. Bernie Taupin wrote the lyrics, handed them to Elton & within 1/2 hour, Elton had composed the whole song from start to finish, all the arrangements, everything PLUS he plays them on the piano and SINGS them. I heard Elton say in one interview that he composed the music to one of his songs in 10 minutes.

25 Lou Reed
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