Top 15 Influential Musicians
The musical genre, much akin to movies and film makers, is as widely varied as one subject can possibly be. Spanning generations as well as styles; ranging from gospel to funk, from rockabilly to soul, music as a whole has changed lives, encompassed eras, and become, to many, as powerful a messenger as religion. Here are fifteen of the most influential musicians of all time.
15. Bill Haley & The Comets (1952)
Bill Haley & His Comets was an American Rock & Roll band that was founded in 1952 and continued until Haley’s death in 1981. The band, also known by the names: Bill Haley and The Comets and Bill Haley’s Comets (and several variations thereof), was one of the earliest groups of white musicians to bring rock and roll to the attention of white America and the rest of the world. Bandleader, Bill Haley, had previously been a country and western performer; after recording a country and western-styled version of ‘Rocket 88’, a rhythm and blues song, he changed musical direction to a new sound that eventually came to be called Rock and Roll.
14. The Supremes (1961)
One of Motown’s signature acts, The Supremes were the most successful African American musical act of the ’60s, recording twelve American-Number One Hits between 1964 and 1969.Many of these singles were written and produced by Motown’s main songwriting and production team, ‘Holland-Dozier-Holland’, and the crossover success of the Supremes during the mid-’60s paved the way for future black Soul and R&B acts to gain mainstream audiences and success both in the US and overseas.
13. Queen (1970)
Queen are an English Rock band formed in 1970 in London by guitarist Brian May, lead vocalist Freddie Mercury, drummer Roger Taylor, and bassist John Deacon (joining the following year). Queen rose to prominence during the 1970s and are one of Britain’s most successful bands of the past three decades. The band is noted for their musical diversity, multi-layered arrangements, vocal harmonies and incorporation of ‘Audience Participation’ into their live performances. Their 1985 Live Aid performance was voted the best live music performance of all time in a BBC poll.
12. George Clinton & Parliament/Funkadelic (1978)
George Clinton (born July 22, 1941 is an American Musician and the principal architect of P-Funk. He was the mastermind of the bands ‘Parliament’ and ‘Funkadelic’ during the 1970s and early 1980s, and was a solo funk artist as of 1981. He has been hailed as “The Prime Minister of Funk” as the leader of ‘Parliament’, as well as “The King of Interplanetary Funksmanship”. Though Clinton’s popularity had waned by the mid 1980s, he experienced something of a resurgence in the early 1990s, as many rappers cited him as an influence and began ‘sampling’ his songs. George Clinton is considered to be one of the most sampled musicians ever.
11. Bob Dylan (1941)
Bob Dylan (born Robert Allen Zimmerman, May 24, 1941) is an American Singer/Song Writer, Author, Musician, and Poet who has been a major figure in Popular Music for five decades. Much of Dylan’s most celebrated work dates from the 1960s, when he became an informal chronicler and a reluctant purveyor of American unrest. A number of his songs, such as “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They are A’ Changin’” became important anthems of the anti-war and civil-rights movements.
10. Black Sabbath (1968)
Black Sabbath are an English Heavy Metal band from Birmingham. The original band line up of Ozzy Osbourne (vocals), Tony Iommi (guitar), Terence “Geezer” Butler (bass), and Bill Ward.Black Sabbath remain a dominant influence in the heavy metal genre they helped create. VH1’s 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock ranks them second, behind Led Zeppelin. The original and best known line-up are frequently credited as the inventors of the heavy metal genre. Black Sabbath have sold over 100 million albums worldwide.
Led Zeppelin were (and are, though without John Bonham, as of 2007) an English Rock Band that formed in September 1968. Led Zeppelin consisted of Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham. With their heavy, guitar-driven sound, Led Zeppelin are regarded as one of the first, and most influential, Heavy Metal bands. Their rock-infused interpretation of the blues and folk genres also incorporated: Rockabilly, Soul, Funk, Jazz, Celtic, Latin and Country. The band did not release the popular songs from their albums as singles in the UK as they preferred to develop the concept of ‘Conceptual Album-Oriented Rock’.
8. Pink Floyd (1964)
Pink Floyd are an English Rock band that initially earned recognition for their Psychedelic music, and, as they evolved, for their progressive rock music. They are known for philosophical lyrics, Sonic Experimentation, innovative Album Cover Art, and elaborate live shows. One of rock music’s most successful acts, the group has sold over 300 million albums worldwide and an estimated 74.5 million albums in the United States alone. The Dark Side of the Moon (1973) spent 741 consecutive weeks on the USA-based Billboard 200 album chart, the longest duration in history. It is also the Fifth Highest-Selling album Globally of all time with more than forty million units sold.
The Grateful Dead was an American rock band formed in 1965. The band was known for its unique and eclectic style, which fused elements of Rock, Folk, Bluegrass, and Gospel among many others—and for live performances of long Musical Improv. In particular, the band, as one of the first to do so, frequently made use of “long jams”—whereby Jerry Garcia (lead vocals) would spend lengthy periods engaging in rock lead guitar solos that evoked various “depth moods.” Other bands utilized long improvisational jams, but “The Dead” took it to extremes. “Their music,” Lenny Kaye wrote, “touches on ground that most other groups don’t even know exists”.
6. KISS (1971)
KISS is an American Rock Band formed in 1971. Easily identified by their trademark face paint and stage outfits, KISS rose to prominence in the mid-’70’s on the basis of their elaborate live performances, which, as the most prominent band to do so, featured fire-breathing, blood spitting, smoking guitars, and pyrotechnics. Kiss has been awarded 24 ‘Gold Albums’ to date. The group’s worldwide sales exceed 95 million albums. The original lineup of Gene Simmons (bass and vocals), Paul Stanley (rhythm guitar and vocals), Ace Frehely (lead guitar and vocals) and Peter Criss (drums and vocals) is the most successful and identifiable.
5. The Sex Pistols (1975)
Sex Pistols are an English Punk Rock Band that formed in London in 1975. The band originally comprised vocalist Johnny Rotten, guitarist Steve Jones, drummer Paul Cook, and bassist Glen Matlock (later replaced by Sid Vicious). Although their initial career lasted only three years and produced only four singles and one studio album, the Sex Pistols have been described by the BBC as “the definitive English punk rock band.” The Pistols are widely credited with initiating the punk movement in the UK and creating the first generation gap within Rock & Roll.
Elvis Aaron Presley (1935-1977), was an American Singer, Musician and Actor. He is a ‘cultural icon’ often known as “The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll”, or simply “The King”. Presley began his career as one of the first performers of Rockabilly (an up-tempo fusion of country and Rhythm and Blues with a strong ‘Back Beat’ His novel versions of existing songs, mixing ‘black’ and ‘white’ sounds, made him popular—and controversial—as did his uninhibited stage and television performances. He recorded songs in the Rock & Roll genre, with tracks like “Hound Dog” and “Jail House Rock”, later embodying the style. Presley had a versatile voice and had unusually wide success encompassing other genres, including gospel, blues, ballads and pop. To date, he is the only performer to have been inducted into four music Halls of Fame.
3. Nirvana (1988)
Nirvana was an American Rock Band that was formed by singer/guitarist Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic in Aberdeen (near Seattle), Washington in 1988. Nirvana went through a succession of drummers, with the longest-lasting being Dave Grohl, who joined the band in 1990.With the lead single, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” from their extremely influential 1991 album Nevermind. Nirvana entered into the mainstream, bringing along with it a subgenre of alternative rock called ‘Grunge’, instantly recognizable by its flannel-and-denim jeans dress as well as its near ‘Emo’ appearance and style.
2. The Rolling Stones (1962)
The Rolling Stones are an English Rock Band formed in London in 1962. The band has released 55 albums of original work and compilations, and have had 32 U.K & U.S top-10 singles. They have sold more than 200 million albums worldwide. 1971’s Sticky Fingers began a string of eight consecutive studio albums at number one in the United States. In 1989 the Rolling Stones were inducted into the American ‘Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’ and in 2004 they were ranked number 4 in Rolling Stone magazine’s ‘100 Greatest Artists of all Time’. Their latest album was released in 2005 and accompanied by the band’s highest grossing tour, which lasted into late summer 2007. The Bigger Bang tour had been declared the highest-grossing tour of all time, earning $437 million and landing them in the Guiness Book of World Records.
1. The Beatles (1960)
The Beatles were an English Rock Band from Liverpool, England whose members were John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. They are one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed bands in the history of popular music.
In the UK, The Beatles released more than 40 different singles, albums, and EP’s that reached number one. This commercial success was repeated in many other countries: their record company, EMI, estimated that by 1985 they had sold over one billion discs and tapes worldwide. The Beatles are the best-selling Musical Act of all time in the US. according to the RIAA. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked The Beatles #1 on its list of 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. According to that same magazine, their innovative music and cultural impact helped define the 1960s, and their influence on pop culture is still evident today.