Top Musical Artists of All Time

By Matt Baker email   Updated 8 Jan 2013

This chart counts down a list of the 20 top musical artists of all-time. The rankings were based on the combination of four authoritative charts:

  1. Rolling Stone Magazine's 100 greatest artists of all-time
  2. Billboard Magazine's Hot 100 all-time top artists
  3. VH1's Top 100 all-time greatest artists
  4. Wikipedia's list of Best-selling music artists by record sales
 

Rank

Artist

Signature song

Description

ABBA 20 ABBA Dancing Queen This Swedish group, known for its disco style, was popular in the 70's. The name is based on the initial letters of the singers' first names (Anni, Bjorn, Benny, and Agnetha)
Whitney Houston 19 Whitney Houston I will always love you Popular since the late 80's, Whitney Houston is often remembered for singing the US national anthem at the 1991 Superbowl and for her marriage to Bobby Brown. She has also acted in several movies and is the cousin of Dionne Warwick.
Pink Floyd 18 Pink Floyd Another brick in the wall, Part II This psychedelic rock band from the UK was most popular during the 70's. Their album The Wall is considered by many to be one of the greatest rock albums of all-time.
Marvin Gaye 17 Marvin Gaye I heard it through the grapevine Marvin Gaye, known as the Prince of Soul, was one of Motown's most popular solo artists during the 60's and 70's. He died in 1984 during an argument with his father.
The Beach Boys 16 The Beach Boys Good Vibrations Known for their California-style rock music in the 60's and their vocal harmonies, the Beach Boys are the most successful American rock band of all-time.
Mariah Carey 15 Mariah Carey We belong together Popular since the early 90's, this US singer has had more No. 1 songs on Billboard than any other solo artist. She is most well-known for her five-octave vocal range.
Aretha Franklin 14 Aretha Franklin Respect Known as the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin was named the greatest singer of all-time by Rolling Stone magazine. Famous since the 60's, she sang at Barack Obama's presidential inauguration. She is also the godmother of Whitney Houston.
Ray Charles 13 Ray Charles What'd I say Blind from age of seven, Ray Charles became popular in the early 50's and was a key player in the racial integration of pop music in the US.
The Bee Gees 12 The Bee Gees Stayin' Alive The Bee Gees started their career in Australia and eventually became the foremost stars of the the late 70's disco era. The group consisted of three brothers, one of which was famous for his high-pitched falsetto voice.
James Brown 11 James Brown I got you (I feel good) Known as the Godfather of Soul and "the hardest working man in show business", James Brown is famous for his "scream" and feverish dancing.

Michael Jackson 10 Michael Jackson Billie Jean Known as the King of Pop, Michael Jackson started his career in the early 70's in a group with his brothers called the Jackson 5. He later went solo and by the 80's had become the most successful entertainer of all-time (according to the Guiness Book of World Records). He lived a highly publicized and controversial life up until his sudden death in 2009. His sister Janet Jackson is also a very famous solo artist.
Madonna 9 Madonna Like a virgin Popular since the 80's and known as the Queen of Pop, this often controversial singer is the most successful female artist of all-time.
Jimi Hendrix 8 Jimi Hendrix Purple Sky Considered the greatest electric guitar player in the history of rock music, Jimi Hendrix influenced later guitarists by popularizing the wah-wah pedal and amplifier feedback in the late 60's. Hendrix died an early death in 1970, the exact of circumstances of which are still not fully known.
Bob Dylan 7 Bob Dylan Like a rolling stone One of the most influential and ground-breaking artists of all-time, this US singer-songwriter became famous in the early 60's as a counterculture folk singer
Led Zeppelin 6 Led Zeppelin Stairway to heaven This British group rose to prominence in the early 70's and became one of the first ever heavy metal bands. Their song "Stairway to Heaven" is often cited as the most requested radio song of all-time.
Elton John 5 Elton John Candle in the wind Popular since the 70's and known for his flamboyant costumes, Elton John's remake of "Candle in the Wind" for Princess Diana's funeral became the best selling single of all-time.
Stevie Wonder 4 Stevie Wonder Superstition Blind from birth, Stevie Wonder plays several instruments and several genres of music, ranging from soul to pop. He has won more grammy awards than any other male solo artist.
The Rolling Stones 3 The Rolling Stones (I can't get no) Satisfaction This British rock band has been playing together for almost 50 years. Second only to the Beatles, they helped lead "The British Invasion" in the mid-60's.
Elvis Presley 2 Elvis Presley Hound dog Known as the King of Rock and Roll, or simply "the King", Elvis was popular from the mid 50's until his death in the 70's afterwhich he quickly became a cultural icon. He was so well loved that many people denied his death and to this day, Elvis impersonation is a major worldwide phenomenon.
The Beatles 1 The Beatles Hey Jude The Beatles, made up of Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, are undeniably the greatest musical group of all-time. Formed in the early 60's, most of their songs were written by McCartney and Lennon and were known for breaking new ground. The UK group also had a tremendous cultural impact up until their breakup in 1970. Most of the members went on to successful solo careers, particularly John Lennon, who was assassinated in 1980.