Famous 20th Century British Musicians

Find out more about the greatest 20th Century British Musicians, including John Lennon, Mel B, David Bowie, Amy Winehouse and Ellie Goulding

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 John Lennon

John Lennon
59
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: October 9, 1940
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Liverpool, England
Died: December 8, 1980

John Lennon was part of the hugely successful and popular music band, Beatles. It became the first British band to break out big in the US. However, they eventually broke up. Subsequently, Lennon went solo, with 1971 album, Imagine, being his most successful and acclaimed post-Beatles efforts. Sadly he was shot dead by a deranged fan in New York.

 2 Elton John

Elton John
60
Famous As: Singer, Composer
Birthdate: March 25, 1947
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Pinner, England
The supremely gifted English singer, songwriter, pianist and composer, Elton John has entertained music lovers globally since the 1970s. His phenomenal talent make him one of the best-selling music artists in the world. Not to forget his tribute to Princess Diana, Candle in the Wind 1997, which till date is one of the best-selling singles in the UK and the US.

 3 George Harrison

George Harrison
36
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: February 25, 1943
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Liverpool, England
Died: November 29, 2001

Gaining fame as the lead guitarist of the rock band, the Beatles, English musician, George Harrison, helped broaden the scope of popular music in the Western world. He was also successful as a solo performer and released many best-selling albums. He was named in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time

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 4 Brian May

Brian May
23
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: July 19, 1947
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Hampton, London, England

Queen guitarist and singer-songwriter Brian May is also a PhD in astrophysics. One of Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time and Guitar World’s second-greatest guitarist, he received a CBE. He was a Chancellor of Liverpool at John Moores University, has worked with NASA, and fights for animal rights.

 5 Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton
22
Famous As: Singer, Musician
Birthdate: March 30, 1945
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Ripley, England

Eric Clapton, the rock and blues guitarist, singer and songwriter, is considered one of the most influential guitarists of all time. In the 1970s, he recorded a number of successful solo albums and continued to do so over the next several decades and is one of the best-selling musicians of all time. He has had issues with alcohol and drugs.

 6 Mick Jagger

Mick Jagger
11
Famous As: Singer, Songwriter
Birthdate: July 26, 1943
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Dartford, England

Mick Jagger is widely regarded as one of the most influential frontmen in rock & roll history. Known for his energetic performances on-stage and multiple relationships off-stage, Mick is frequently portrayed as a countercultural figure. He is an inductee to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and UK Music Hall of Fame.

 7 Phil Collins

Phil Collins
32
Famous As: Drummer, Singer
Birthdate: January 30, 1951
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Chiswick, Middlesex, London, United Kingdom

Phil Collins is best known for his work with the popular rock band Genesis. Having sold more than 150 million copies worldwide, he is one of the best-selling music artists in the world. Phil is one of three recording artists who have sold more than 100 million records both as principal members of a band and as solo artists.

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 8 Slash

Slash
19
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: July 23, 1965
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Hampstead

Slash is an English-American songwriter, musician, and record producer. After achieving popularity as the lead guitarist of Guns N' Roses, Slash left the band to form Velvet Revolver, a hard rock supergroup. Widely regarded as one of the greatest guitar players in the history of rock, Slash is often named in lists, such as the Top Guitarists of All Time.

 9 Sting

Sting
14
Famous As: Musician & Singer
Birthdate: October 2, 1951
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Wallsend, England

Sting is an English singer-songwriter, musician, and actor. Credited with co-founding the popular rock band, The Police, Sting played an important role in the band's success from 1977 to 1984 during which he served as the band's bassist, lead singer, and principal songwriter. Also known for his work as an activist, Sting has shown interest in political and social issues.

 10 Jimmy Page

Jimmy Page
12
Famous As: Musician, Record Producer
Birthdate: January 9, 1944
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Heston, Middlesex, England

An English musician, songwriter, and record producer, Jimmy Page gained international recognition as the founder of the popular rock band Led Zeppelin. Widely regarded as one of the most influential and greatest guitarists of all time, Jimmy Page was ranked third in Rolling Stone magazine's list of 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. Jimmy Page has influenced several popular guitarists.

 11 Keith Richards

Keith Richards
19
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: December 18, 1943
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Dartford, Kent, England, United Kingdom

Keith Richards is a musician and songwriter. He is credited with co-founding one of the most popular rock bands ever, The Rolling Stones. Also a guitarist, he was ranked fourth on Rolling Stone magazine's 100 best guitarists list in 2011. Richards' look and characterization inspired the character of Captain Teague who appears in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series.

 12 Ringo Starr

Ringo Starr
34
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: July 7, 1940
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Dingle, Liverpool, United Kingdom

English musician, singer, and songwriter, Ringo Starr, gained international fame as the drummer for the rock band, the Beatles. Raised by a single mother, he had a difficult childhood. He sought solace in music and it became his vocation. After finding success with the Beatles, he embarked on a solo career as well.

 13 David Bowie

David Bowie
21
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: January 8, 1947
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: London, England
Died: January 10, 2016

English singer-songwriter and actor David Bowie is regarded as one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. Dubbed "The Greatest Rock Star Ever" by Rolling Stone magazine, he rose to international prominence in the 1970s with his innovative style of music. Deeply dedicated to his profession, he remained musically active until his death in 2016.

 14 John Deacon

John Deacon
12
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: August 19, 1951
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Oadby, United Kingdom
Former Queen bass guitarist and songwriter John Deacon contributed to some of the most popular hits of the band, such as I Want to Break Free and Another One Bites the Dust. He was the last member to enter the band, and the “quietest.” He retired in 1997.

 15 Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney
12
Famous As: Singer-songwriter & Musician
Birthdate: June 18, 1942
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Liverpool, England

English singer-songwriter and musician, Paul McCartney, is one of the most successful composers and performers of all time. He gained worldwide fame as co-lead vocalist and bassist for the rock band, the Beatles. He also enjoyed a successful solo career. Besides music, he has been actively involved in humanitarian causes and animal rights issues.

 16 Van Morrison

Van Morrison
8
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: August 31, 1945
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Bloomfield, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Northern Irish singer, Van Morrison, garnered recognition in the 1960s while playing with the band, Them, and then later as a solo singer with the 1967 song Brown Eyed Girl. Over the years, he has released more than 40 albums. Astral Weeks, Moondance, Wavelength, Down the Road and Keep It Simple are some of his acclaimed and commercially successful albums.

 17 John Bonham

John Bonham
7
Famous As: Drummer of Rock Band Led Zeppelin
Birthdate: May 31, 1948
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Redditch, England, UK
Died: September 25, 1980

John Bonham was an English drummer and songwriter. Considered one of the most influential and greatest rock drummers in history, Bonham was part of the world-renowned rock band Led Zeppelin. He influenced several drummers like Joey Kramer, Dave Grohl, Ian Mosley, Neil Peart, and Tommy Lee among other famous drummers. Bonham is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee.

 18 Thom Yorke

Thom Yorke
7
Famous As: Singer, Musician, Songwriter
Birthdate: October 7, 1968
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Wellingborough

English musician, Thom Yorke, is the main vocalist and songwriter of the rock band Radiohead. He is a multi-instrumentalist as well. Active in the music industry for over 35 years, he performs both as part of his band and as a solo artist. He is a human rights activist and also supports animal rights, environmental and anti-war causes.

 19 Jeff Lynne

Jeff Lynne
6
Famous As: Singer-songwriter, Record producer
Birthdate: December 30, 1947
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Shard End

Jeff Lynne is an English multi-instrumentalist, record producer, singer, and songwriter. He is credited with co-founding the popular rock band Electric Light Orchestra. He is also credited with popularizing the band with his leadership skills following the exit of co-founder Roy Wood in 1972. In the 2020 Birthday Honours, Lynne was appointed OBE for services to music.

 20 Mark Knopfler

Mark Knopfler
6
Famous As: Singer-songwriter, Guitarist, Record producer, Film score composer
Birthdate: August 12, 1949
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Glasgow

Best known as the lead guitarist and singer of the popular rock band Dire Straits, Mark Knopfler is one of Britain’s most celebrated guitar icons. Known for hits such as Sultans of Swing, he and his band also released Brothers in Arms, one of the best-selling albums of all time.

 21 Bernie Taupin

Bernie Taupin
7
Famous As: Songwriter
Birthdate: May 22, 1950
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Sleaford, Lincolnshire, England

Lyricist Bernie Taupin is best known for his collaboration with Elton John for over 30 albums. Their works include the iconic hit Candle in the Wind. Taupin has also had a successful solo career and has performed with the band Farm Dogs. He has also exhibited his original artwork.

 22 Keith Moon

Keith Moon
8
Famous As: Drummer
Birthdate: August 23, 1946
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Wembley, England
Died: September 7, 1978

Keith Moon was an English drummer whose drug addiction and self-destructive behavior overshadowed his contribution to the rock band The Who. His drumming continues to attract appreciation from critics. Several other drummers like Dave Grohl and Neil Peart have cited Moon's drumming style as an influence. In 1982, he was inducted posthumously into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame.

 23 Elvis Costello

Elvis Costello
6
Birthdate: August 25, 1954
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paddington, London, England

Regarded as one of the greatest artists of all time, Elvis Costello is a British singer-songwriter. Often counted among British cultural icons, Costello is also known for his humanitarian efforts; a prominent member of the Jazz Foundation of America, Costello has played a crucial role in saving the lives of many elderly blues and jazz musicians in America.

 24 Lemmy

Lemmy
9
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: December 24, 1945
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, England
Died: December 28, 2015

Lemmy was an English musician who founded the popular rock band Motörhead. The only continuous member of Motörhead, Lemmy served as the band's lead singer, primary songwriter, and bassist. Renowned for his gravelly voice, which was counted among the most recognizable voices in rock, Lemmy is also remembered for his military-influenced fashion sense and his signature friendly mutton chops.

 25 Ronnie Wood

Ronnie Wood
5
Famous As: Musician & Songwriter
Birthdate: June 1, 1947
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Hillingdon, Middlesex, England

Ronnie Wood is a musician and songwriter. Over the years, Wood has been an important member of popular rock bands like the Rolling Stones, Jeff Beck Group, and Faces. He is one of the few musicians to be inducted twice into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A cancer survivor, Wood serves as an inspiration to those fighting cancer.

 26 Freddie Mercury

Freddie Mercury
56
Famous As: Singer-songwriter, Record Producer
Birthdate: September 5, 1946
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Stone Town, Tanzania
Died: November 24, 1991

Legendary singer, songwriter and lead vocalist of the British rock band, Queen, Frederick Bulsara adopted the name Freddie Mercury which aptly suits his on-stage vibrant and exuberant persona. A four-octave vocal range musician, Mercury owned every stage he set foot on as much with his vivid performance as with his superhuman voice modulation.  

 27 Joe Strummer

Joe Strummer
4
Famous As: Singer, Guitarist
Birthdate: August 21, 1952
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Ankara, Turkey
Died: December 22, 2002
Joe Strummer is remembered for his memorable performances with the punk rock band The Clash, with whom he delivered hits such as London Calling and Train in Vain. He was known for his rebellious and politically charged lyrics. He also experimented with acting and hosted on a BBC radio show.

 28 Pete Townshend

Pete Townshend
6
Famous As: Singer-songwriter, Guitarist
Birthdate: May 19, 1945
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London, England

Pete Townshend is an English guitarist, composer, and singer. He is credited with co-founding and leading one of the most influential and important rock bands of the 20th century, The Who. Also an influential guitarist, Pete Townshend was ranked 10th in Rolling Stone magazine's 100 greatest guitarists of all time list published in 2011.

 29 Brian Eno

Brian Eno
6
Famous As: Musician, Record producer
Birthdate: May 15, 1948
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Melton, Suffolk, England
Brian Eno created "The Microsoft Sound" for Windows 95 and co-developed the card-based creativity-improving technique Oblique Strategies. His ambient music album Reflection was nominated for a Grammy, and his visual installations have been projected on structures such as the Sydney Opera House. He also co-founded the Long Now Foundation.

 30 Amy Jade Winehouse

Amy Jade Winehouse
31
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: September 14, 1983
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Enfield, London, England
Died: July 23, 2011
Soul and jazz singer Amy Winehouse is best remembered for her tracks Stronger Than Me and Rehab. She was the first British female to win five Grammys. Following her death due to alcohol poisoning at age 27, her album Back to Black became U.K.’s best-selling album of the 21st century.

 31 Peter Green

Peter Green
5
Famous As: Musician & Songwriter
Birthdate: October 29, 1946
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Bethnal Green, London

Peter Green was an English guitarist and singer-songwriter. Green is credited with founding the popular British-American rock band, Fleetwood Mac. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. Named in Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time list, Green has influenced many other guitarists like Joe Perry and Gary Moore.

 32 Mick Fleetwood

Mick Fleetwood
6
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: June 24, 1947
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Redruth, Cornwall, England

 33 Ginger Baker

Ginger Baker
5
Famous As: Drummer, Jazz musician, Musician, Songwriter
Birthdate: August 19, 1939
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: London Borough of Lewisham

 34 Richard Wright (Musician)

Richard Wright (Musician)
4
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: July 28, 1943
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Hatch End, Middlesex, England
Died: September 15, 2008

Richard Wright was an English musician. He is credited with co-founding the popular band ,Pink Floyd, for which he also served as a vocalist and keyboardist. Wright contributed immensely to the success of Pink Floyd and his distinctive keyboard playing was a key component of the music produced by the band.

 35 Ozzy Osbourne

Ozzy Osbourne
6
Famous As: Singer, Songwriter
Birthdate: December 3, 1948
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Aston, Birmingham, England

The lead vocalist of the hard rock band, Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne is an iconic hard rock star. His successful stint with the band was followed by an equally successful solo career with albums like No More Tears. However, the Godfather of Metal has also attracted media glare owing to his alcohol and drug abuse issues and crazy public behaviour.

 36 Bill Wyman

Bill Wyman
5
Famous As: Musician and Singer
Birthdate: October 24, 1936
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Lewisham
Bill Wyman is known as the bassist for the iconic band The Rolling Stones. He later formed the band Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings. He is a skilled photographer who has exhibited his work. He has also written several books, including one on archaeology. He has also patented a metal detector.

 37 Olivia Newton-John

Olivia Newton-John
4
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: September 26, 1948
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Cambridge, England

A singer, actress, businesswoman and activist, Olivia Newton-John is an DBE honouree who has donned on many hats and shined in all of them. Her five Billboard No.1 singles and two Billboard No.1 albums made her a household name. Turning her personal pain into a global mission for cancer awareness, this four-time Grammy winner is truly a symbol of resilience.

 38 Robert Plant

Robert Plant
4
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: August 20, 1948
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: West Bromwich, England

Regarded as one of the most influential music artists of all time, Robert Anthony Plant was the lead singer and song writer of the extremely successful rock group Led Zeppelin. After the band disbanded, the Grammy award winning artist, with his powerful and wide vocal range, established a successful solo career. He has also collaborated with other artists and bands.

 39 Ritchie Blackmore

Ritchie Blackmore
6
Famous As: Guitarist, Songwriter
Birthdate: April 14, 1945
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Weston-super-Mare

 40 John Entwistle

John Entwistle
5
Famous As: Guitarist
Birthdate: October 9, 1944
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Chiswick, London, England, United Kingdom
Died: June 27, 2002

John Entwistle was an English singer-songwriter, bass guitarist, and music producer. He is credited with co-founding the popular rock band, The Who, for which he served as the original bass guitarist and backing vocalist. Nicknamed Thunderfingers, Entwistle was named in Rolling Stone magazine's 100 Greatest Bass Players list. He was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

 41 Rita Ora

Rita Ora
12
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: November 26, 1990
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Pristina, SFR Yugoslavia

Rita Ora is a popular singer and actress who became the first British female solo artist to release 13 top ten songs in the UK. Also a well-known philanthropist, Rita Ora was appointed as one of the ambassadors for UNICEF UK in 2019. She performs quite frequently in charity concerts and supports several charity organizations.

 42 Mark Ronson

Mark Ronson
21
Famous As: Disc jockey
Birthdate: September 4, 1975
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: London, England
Seven-time Grammy-winning music producer and DJ Mark Ronson shot to fame with Amy Winehouse’s album Back to Black and single Rehab, and his own single Uptown Funk, featuring Bruno Mars. He won both the Grammy and the Golden Globe for co-writing Shallow. He supports disadvantaged children and budding artists.

 43 Roger Taylor

Roger Taylor
9
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: July 26, 1949
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: King's Lynn, Norfolk, England, United Kingdom
Roger Taylor soared to fame as the drummer of the iconic rock band Queen. A Planet Rock poll named him the eighth-greatest classic rock drummer. Taylor also became known for his falsetto vocal range and co-wrote hits such as Innuendo and Under Pressure. He also appeared on Pop Quiz.

 44 Jessie J

Jessie J
9
Famous As: Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: March 27, 1988
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Redbridge, London, England
Jessie J, the first U.K. female artist to score six Top-10 singles from the same album, is best known for her Billboard Hot 100-charting single Domino. She has been a coach on The Voice in the U.K. and Australia, and has also appeared in the Chinese singing contest Singer.

 45 David Gilmour

David Gilmour
4
Famous As: Guitarist, Singer-songwriter, Songwriter, Multi-instrumentalist, Record producer
Birthdate: March 6, 1946
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Cambridge ,England

Pink Floyd guitarist/singer David Gilmour helped the band become one of the best-selling acts ever. One of Rolling Stone magazine’s greatest guitarists of all time, he has also been an advocate of animal rights and other causes. He once auctioned off 120 guitars, including his iconic Black Strat, for charity.

 46 Sade Adu

Sade Adu
9
Famous As: Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: January 16, 1959
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Ibadan, Nigeria

Nigerian-British singer Helen Folasade Adu, or Sade Adu, often blends Afro-Cuban tunes with soul and smooth jazz in her music. The Grammy Award winner had initially studied fashion designing and been a model. The founder of the band Sade, she has released iconic tracks such as No Ordinary Love.

 47 Mick Taylor

Mick Taylor
6
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: January 17, 1949
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Welwyn Garden City, England

Mick Taylor soared to fame as the guitarist of iconic rock band The Rolling Stones. He has also been part of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. Named to the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame, he was also declared one of Rolling Stone magazine’s 100 greatest guitarists of all time.

 48 Idris Elba

Idris Elba
17
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: September 6, 1972
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: London, England

Idris Elba is a successful actor both on the small and the big screen and is mainly known for the television series The Wire and Luther and also for films, such as Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom and Beasts of No Nation. He has also acted in blockbuster films of Marvel Comics universe like Avengers: Age of Ultron and Avengers: Infinity War.

 49 Seal

Seal
17
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: February 19, 1963
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Paddington, London, England

Seal is a British singer and songwriter. He has received several prestigious awards over the course of his career. Also known for his charity work, Seal has performed at several charity events in an attempt to help non-profit organizations, such as the Make It Right Foundation.

 50 Cat Stevens

Cat Stevens
16
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: July 21, 1948
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: London, England

British singer, Cat Stevens, has released more than 15 studio albums and has churned out many hit songs. He converted to Islam in 1977 and adopted the name Yusuf Islam. He was slammed for reportedly backing the death fatwa on author Salman Rushdie. He has also been accused of allegedly having ties with terrorist organisations, a charge he has vehemently denied.