Greatest Rock / Pop Composers

The Top Ten

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 .

Paul McCartney is THE most successful composer of all time! Composing relevant music for 5 decades! Melody is paramount!
So many styles of composition, but somehow ALL Paul! Hey Jude, Let It Be, Yesterday, Blackbird, The Fool On The Hill, The Long and Winding Road, Penny Lane, For No One, Golden Slumbers, Here, There and Everywhere, Can't Buy Me Love, Eleanor Rigby, Fixing A Hole, Rocky Raccoon, She's Leaving Home, Got To Get You Into My Life, Two Of Us, Hello Goodbye, Lady Madonna, Getting Better, Mother Nature's Son, Helter Skelter, And I Love Her, Birthday, Back In The USSR, Martha My Dear, Things We Said Today, Get Back, I've Got A Feeling, Good Day Sunshine, You Never Give Me Your Money, You Won't See Me, I've Just Seen A Face, She Came In Through The Bathroom Window, Ob La Di Ob La the, I'll Follow The Sun, Maybe I'm Amazed, Junk, Teddy Boy, Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey, Too Many People, Dear Boy, Monkberry Moon Delight, Another Day, Backseat Of My Car, Wild Life, Dear Friend, ...more - frank

Paul McCartney to date has shown unequaled range and number in composing popular songs that are among the best of all time. He is alone at the top and well above all others. The fact that he started in collaboration with a truly great and charismatic songwriter in his own right in John Lennon may confuse the issue for some but none who come to learn the truth of McCartneys solo catalog that had been inaccurately ascribed to that duo as collaborative per there early naive business views as members of the most honored act of all time in the Beatles.

Don't forget: Hi Hi Hi, You Gave Me The Answer, Freedom, All Together Now, No More Lonely Nights, That Would Be Something, Queenie Eye, I Saw Her Standing There, Maxwell's Silver Hammer, Picasso's Last Words, Give Ireland Back To The Irish, Honey Pie, Heart Of The Country, Magical Mystery Tour and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band! - frank

Without a doubt-no one comes close per shear volume of good to great songs

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.

Unreal importance! ONLY McCartney comes close! - frank

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.

Responding to the person below me: Paul McCartney was the creative genius behind albums like Revolver, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and Abbey Road. Pet Sounds is indeed a fantastic album, as is SMiLE, but those are two albums. Nearly every album Paul made was fantastic.

As this is a list of greatest composers, Brian must be higher. Perhaps Macca and the others above have an edge as songwriters, but how many of them actually produced their own albums? And wrote their own orchestral scores? Paul has done things like the "Liverpool Oratorio", but none of them match the complexity of Pet Sounds or SMiLE. - PetSounds

Compare the music, song for song. Brian Wilson has no equal. More is not always better. I defer to Paul McCartney on Pet Sounds being the greatest album with the greatest song.

Brian WILSON is the best

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.

Simple melodies, simple harmonies but so beutiful and haunting.

Desmond Child

He is the real deal on this list. Nobody wrote so many hits performed by different rock and pop artists (several Grammy winners). I’m talking about more than 50 great hits of this calibre:

Bon Jovi - Livin' on a Prayer, You Give Love a Bad Name, Bad Medicine, This ain't A Love Song, Keep the Faith, Diamond Ring, and many more.

Aerosmith - Crazy, Dude (Looks Like a Lady), Angel, What it Takes, Hole in My Soul, etc.

KISS - I Was Made for Lovin' You, Heaven's on Fire

Joan Jett - I Hate Myself for Loving You

Alice Cooper - Poison

Cher - Just Like Jesse James, Does Anybody Really Fall In Love Anymore?

Ricky Martin - Livin' la Vida Loca, She Bangs, Nobody Wants to Be Lonely, Shake Your Bon-Bon

… and so on. - Metal_Treasure

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.

The greatest artist all times

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 more.

Remembering all those live concerts mid to late '70s gave you goose bumps and tears from beginning to end. The hair literally would stand on end. I saw many concerts around the planet, you couldn't compare Purple or Rainbow European crowds to anybody else. Blackmore's Night is another incredible show not to miss. Ritchie has been awarded as #1 musician in eastern Europe many times the past 2 decades. Sorry there is virtually no great music here in the states. Looks like Beethove and Mozart are making a comeback!, imagine that. (wishful thinking)

The most versatile songwriter on this list: metal, hard rock, classic rock, soft rock, Renaissance/folk music. Also divine instrumentals like Anybody There, Snowman, Maybe Next Time.
His riff to Smoke On The Water is the most recognizable riff in rock history.
His songs are written with passion and real inspiration. - Metal_Treasure

Steve Harris (Iron Maiden) 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.

The best metal composer without any doubt.

Billy Joel William Martin Joel is an American singer-songwriter, composer and pianist. Commonly nicknamed the "Piano Man", he has been making music since the 1960s, releasing popular albums throughout the '70s, '80s and '90s.
James Hetfield (Metallica) 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.

The Newcomers

? John Petrucci John Peter Petrucci is an American guitarist, composer and producer. He is best known as a founding member of the progressive metal band Dream Theater. Compared to his level of skill, John Petrucci is relatively unknown in the modern music industry.

The Contenders

Bruce Springsteen Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen (born September 23, 1949) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, and humanitarian. He is known for his work with the E Street Band. Nicknamed "The Boss", Springsteen is widely known for his brand of poetic lyrics, Americana, working class and sometimes political more.
Björn Ulvaeus (ABBA)
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.

Freddie is underrated as a songwriter, because everybody take attention to his singing skills only (which are amazing! ), but he composed great, iconic and timeless songs. The best song of all time in TopTen is "Bohemian Rhapsody".

The most creative and experimental in this list, who created a lot of amazing songs in a lot of genre.

For you, who wrote this: "I ADORE Freddie/Queen but they're a ROCK band not a pop band..." - did you read the title? Greatest rock/pop composers!

Bohemian Rhapsody
Don't stop me now
We are the champions
Love of my life
Somebody to love
You take my breath away
Crazy little thing called love
It's a hard life
...and a lot of hits he wrote.

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.

McCartney greatest pop composer, Townshend greatest rock composer. Quadrophenia is the towering masterpiece of rock writing ( and performance ).

Should be number 1! Name anybody who written and composed anything near as Tommy, Quad, and multiple albums that went platinum. Their aren't any...

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.
Jon Schaffer (Iced Earth) Jon Ryan Schaffer is an American heavy metal musician. He is best known as the guitarist and last remaining original member of the Florida-based heavy metal band Iced Earth, which he formed in 1985 under the name "Purgatory".
Stevie Wonder Stevland Hardaway Morris, known by his stage name Stevie Wonder, is an American musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, and multi-instrumentalist.
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.

Underrated as a composer, but who else could compose Love You To, Within You Without You, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, My Sweet Lord, and so on? Maybe Paul McCartney and John Lennon. George should at least be in the top ten.

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.
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" .
Smokey Robinson William "Smokey" Robinson, Jr. is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, and former record executive.
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.
Richard Carpenter
Pink Alecia Beth Moore known professionally as P!NK, is an American singer, songwriter, dancer and actress.
Frank Zappa Frank Vincent Zappa was an American musician, songwriter, composer, record producer, actor and filmmaker.
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.
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.
Paul Anka Paul Albert Anka, OC is a Canadian American singer, songwriter, and actor. Anka became famous during the late 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s with hit songs like "Diana", "Lonely Boy", "Put Your Head on My Shoulder", and " Having My Baby".
Yoshiki Hayashi Yoshiki Hayashi is a Japanese musician, songwriter, composer and record producer. Better known by his stage name Yoshiki, he is best known as the leader and a co-founder of the heavy metal band X Japan, for which he is the drummer, pianist and main songwriter. The band achieved breakthrough success more.
Trent Reznor Michael Trent Reznor, known professionally as Trent Reznor, is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, and film score composer. He is known for his intense music videos.
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.
Todd Rundgren Todd Harry Rundgren is an American multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, and record producer who has performed a diverse range of styles as a solo artist and as a member of the band Utopia.
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.
Randy Newman
Harry Nilsson Harry Edward Nilsson III, usually credited as Nilsson, was an American singer-songwriter who achieved the peak of his commercial success in the early 1970s.
Jackson Browne Clyde Jackson Browne is an American singer-songwriter and musician who has sold over 18 million albums in the United States.
Glenn Frey Glenn Lewis Frey was an American singer, songwriter and actor, best known as a founding member of the rock band Eagles.
Don Henley Donald Hugh "Don" Henley is an American singer-songwriter, producer, and drummer, best known as a founding member of the Eagles before launching a successful solo career.
Laura Nyro Laura Nyro was an American songwriter, singer, and pianist. She achieved critical acclaim with her own recordings, particularly the albums Eli and the Thirteenth Confession and New York Tendaberry, and had commercial success with artists such as Barbra Streisand and The 5th Dimension recording her songs. more.
Van Morrison Sir George Ivan Morrison OBE is a Northern Irish singer, songwriter, instrumentalist and record producer. In 2016, he was knighted for services to the music industry and to tourism in Northern Ireland.
Seweryn Krajewski
George Martin Sir George Henry Martin was an English record producer, arranger, composer, conductor, audio engineer, and musician

You said composer right, not necessarily writer.

Gerard Way Gerard Arthur Way is an American singer, songwriter, musician, and comic book writer who was the lead vocalist and co-founder of the American alternative rock band My Chemical Romance from its formation in September 2001 until its split in March 2013. His debut solo album Hesitant Alien was released more.
Brendon Urie Brendon Boyd Urie, more commonly known as Brendon Urie, was born April 12, 1987, in St. George, Utah. He is an American singer, songwriter, musician and multi-instrumentalist. He is best own as the lead singer of the American pop-rock band Panic! At The Disco. He is the only original remaining member. more.
Ezra Koenig
PJ Sloan
Tom Petty Thomas Earl "Tom" Petty was an American musician, singer, songwriter, multi instrumentalist and record producer.
Barry Manilow Barry Manilow is an American singer-songwriter, arranger, musician, and producer with a career that has spanned more than 50 years.
Mark Knopfler Mark Freuder Knopfler is a British singer, songwriter, guitarist, record producer and film score composer. He is best known for being the frontman of the British band Dire Straits.
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