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.
Tupac Amaru Shakur, popularly known as 2Pac or Makaveli, is considered as one of the greatest American rappers of all time. Talent and trouble went hand in hand in Shakur’s journey to fame; the higher Shakur rose in his iconic status, the deeper he became entangled in gang violence and an infamous rivalry, which sadly led to his untimely demise.
Singer-songwriter, dancer, and musician, Prince is is widely regarded as one of the greatest musicians of his generation. He was considered a guitar virtuoso and could also play several other instruments. With worldwide sales of over 150 million records, he is ranked among the best-selling music artists of all time. He was also well known for his flamboyant persona.
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.
Amongst the best-selling recording artists of all time and an inspiration to millions of budding artists, Whitney Houston achieved stardom with her eponymous debut album. The success of her later albums consolidated her position and earned her a spot in the Guinness World Records as the most awarded female artist of all time. She struggled with drug abuse and troubled marriage and died of drowning in her hotel's bathtub.
The Notorious B.I.G. was a rapper and songwriter and is considered one of the best ever. His debut album Ready to Die in 1994 was critically acclaimed. He was murdered in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles in September 1996. His album Life After Death was released two weeks after his death.
Widely regarded as the godfather of gangsta rap, Eazy-E was a rapper and record producer. He played a major role in popularizing gangsta rap and West Coast rap by forming N.W.A, which is considered one of the most influential and greatest hip hop groups of all time. Eazy-E died at the age of 30 after being diagnosed with AIDS.
Johnny Cash, the American singer, songwriter and actor, was known for sorrow, moral suffering and redemption themes in his music. His genre was country, rock and roll, blues, folk and gospel sounds and he is one of the best-selling artists of all time. Cash had issues with drinking and drug abuse. Later he was diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease.
11 Kurt Cobain
Gaining fame as a member of the rock band Nirvana, singer-songwriter and musician Kurt Cobain was often heralded as a spokesman of Generation X. He is considered to be one of the most influential musicians in the history of alternative rock. He enjoyed tremendous professional success, but his personal life was troubled. He died of suicide at just 27.
Amongst the most popular singers of the 20th century and one of the bestselling artists of all time, Frank Sinatra began his musical career singing with bands and later established his successful solo career with albums like The Voice of Frank Sinatra. Also an award winning actor, he featured in movies like From Here to Eternity and The Manchurian Candidate.
13 J. Cole
German born American rapper, singer, songwriter, and record producer J. Cole is considered one of the most respected and influential rappers of his generation. Interested in music from a young age, he decided to become a singer when he was just 12. His debut mixtape was a hit, and he went on to release many other successful mixtapes and albums.
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
15 Jim Morrison
Considered the prototypical rock star, Jim Morrison remains one of the most influential singer-songwriters, almost five decades after his death. Jim influenced the counterculture of the 1960s as he embodied the hippie counterculture rebellion. Due to his erratic performances and wild personality, he is regarded as one of the most iconic frontmen in rock history.
16 Marvin Gaye
American singer Marvin Gaye is one of the most successful black artists ever and his albums have sold in millions. His success reached great heights with the 1972 song What's Going On. The 1982 single Sexual Healing was the biggest hit of his career and was a chartbuster. He was tragically shot dead by his father after a family altercation.
Lionel Richie is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, and composer whose work with the band Commodores and his solo career established him as a successful balladeer of the 1980s. Having sold more than 90 million records, Lionel Richie is one of the best-selling musicians of all time. Also a philanthropist, Richie helped raise money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
18 John Denver
John Denver was one of the highest-selling and most popular singers during the 1970s. He was known for folk, pop and country music. Some of his greatest songs are Take Me Home Country Roads, Leaving on a Jet Plane, Rocky Mountain High, Sunshine on My Shoulders and Annie's Song. He died when a plane he was piloting crashed in California.
19 James Brown
Referred to by honorific nicknames, such as Godfather of Soul, James Brown was a prominent figure of 20th century music. A progenitor of funk music, Brown influenced the development of many music genres. An inductee of the Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame, Brown is ranked seventh in Rolling Stone magazine's 100 Greatest Artists of All Time list.
Louis Armstrong was an American trumpeter and singer who played an important role in the development of jazz. Thanks to his playing, trumpet became known as a solo instrument and jazz, which was previously known as a collectively improvised folk music, became a soloist's art form. Not surprisingly, Louis Armstrong is widely accepted as the embodiment of jazz.
21 Jimi Hendrix
One of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century, Jimi Hendrix began playing guitar at the age of 15. As his career progressed, he became the first musician to use stereophonic phasing effects in recordings. Rolling Stone ranked him as the greatest guitarist and the sixth greatest artist of all time. He died under mysterious circumstances at the age of 27.
22 Janis Joplin
Best known for her powerful mezzo-soprano voice, Janis Joplin was one of the most successful rock stars of her era. Before dying at the age of 27, she achieved so much that Rolling Stone magazine included her in its 100 Greatest Artists of All Time list in 2004 and 100 Greatest Singers of All Time list in 2008.
23 Rick Ross
24 Chuck Berry
Chuck Berry was an American singer-songwriter. Referred to as the Father of Rock and Roll, Berry is credited with pioneering rock and roll music. He is also credited with influencing the attitude with which the rock music lifestyle is usually associated. Also revered for his guitaring skills, Berry is often included in lists like the Greatest Artists of All Time.
25 Rod Stewart
British rock and pop singer and songwriter, Rod Stewart has sold over 250 million records worldwide and is counted among the best-selling music artists of all time. During his extensive career that spans almost six decades, he has won numerous awards and accolades. He was mentioned on the "Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists" list in 2008.
26 Bing Crosby
Bing Crosby was an American singer, actor, and comedian. Widely regarded as the first multimedia star, Bing was a leader in motion picture grosses, radio ratings, and record sales from 1930 to 1954. His intimate singing style influenced several popular singers, such as Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, John Lennon, and Elvis Presley among others.
27 Sam Cooke
One half of the popular musical duo The Carpenters, Karen Carpenter was an American drummer and singer. Her death at age 32 and life-long struggles with eating disorders led to increased awareness of conditions like anorexia and body dysmorphia, which were little-known at the time. In 2010, Carpenter was named on Rolling Stone's 100 greatest singers of all time list.
29 Joan Jett
Joan Jett, also known as The Queen of Rock 'n' Roll, is the frontwoman of Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, best known for their rendition of the Arrows song I Love Rock 'n Roll, which topped the Billboard Hot 100. Jett also released the hit Cherry Bomb with the Runaways.
30 Alice Cooper
Alice Cooper is a singer-songwriter. In his career, spanning more than five decades, Alice Cooper has earned the nickname The Godfather of Shock Rock for his ability to produce a theatrical brand of rock aimed at shocking audiences. He is also credited with helping to shape the look and sound of heavy metal. Cooper has influenced musicians like Rob Zombie.
31 The Weeknd
One of the most successful Canadian recording artists, singer-songwriter, the Weeknd, holds several chart records and has won numerous awards, including three Grammy Awards. Despite a difficult childhood marred by drug abuse and violence, he persevered and worked hard to emerge as a beloved music star. He is actively involved in philanthropy.
32 Patsy Cline
Patsy Cline was an American singer widely regarded as one of 20th century's most influential, celebrated, and respected vocalists. Her singing style helped influence several artists and musical genres. She also helped define the Nashville Sound style associated with country music. She has been a major influence on artists, such as Loretta Lynn, Reba McEntire, Linda Ronstadt, and Dottie West.
33 Bob Marley
Bob Marley was a Jamaican singer and songwriter who sold 20 million records in his career. He was the first international star to come from the ‘Third World’ and is considered one of the forerunners of reggae. A fusion of reggae, ska and rocksteady was his music’s hallmark. Marley died due to cancer at the age of 36.
34 Bon Scott
Aaliyah was an American singer, actress and model, who became famous when her debut album, Age Ain't Nothing but a Number sold three million copies in the US. Her subsequent albums also sold in millions and won her numerous accolades. She also acted in some films. She tragically died in an airplane crash in the Bahamas, at the age of 22.
36 Zayn Malik
37 Otis Redding
Known as the queen of Tejano music, Selena became the most famous Mexican-American entertainers during the late 20th century, thanks to her contributions to fashion and music. She is one of the most influential Latin artists ever. Her rags-to-riches story, which includes struggle, fame, and finally death at the age of 23, was showcased in the 1997 film, Selena.
Luther Vandross was an American record producer and singer-songwriter. As a background vocalist, Vandross contributed to the success of several songs recorded by artists like David Bowie, Diana Ross, and Judy Collins. Regarded as a singer with one of the greatest voices in recorded history, Luther Vandross' works have influenced many artists like D'Angelo, Jaheim, Ne-Yo, John Legend, and Usher.
40 Iggy Pop
Iggy Pop is an American singer-songwriter, actor, musician, and record producer. Nicknamed the Godfather of Punk, Iggy Pop was an important member of the proto-punk band Iggy and the Stooges. One of the first singers to perform stage-dive, Pop is credited with popularizing the activity. A culture icon, Iggy Pop has had a major influence on musicians of various genres.
41 Charlie Puth
Leonard Cohen was one of the most popular Canadian celebrities of all time. After starting his career as a poet and novelist, Leonard went on to become a famous singer-songwriter, exploring themes like sexuality, religion, depression, and romantic relationships in his work. Leonard Cohen was one of the inspirations for Steven Clark and Matthew Bissonnette's 2002 film Looking for Leonard.
43 Roy Orbison
44 Randy Travis
Meghan Trainor is an American talent show judge and singer-songwriter. Trainor is credited with promoting body positivity through her music; her songs often have lyrical themes based on personal empowerment and body image. Also a well-known philanthropist, Meghan Trainor works closely with organizations, such as The American Cancer Society. She also takes an active part in several charity events.
46 Etta James
Etta James was an American singer whose powerful, deep voice bridged the gap between rock and roll and rhythm and blues. Her ability to perform in various genres earned her a spot in Rolling Stone magazine's 100 Greatest Singers of All Time list. Her work has influenced several musicians, including Christina Aguilera, Diana Ross, Janis Joplin, Adele, and Rita Ora.
47 Bill Withers
Soul and R&B legend Bill Withers is best remembered for hits such as Ain't No Sunshine and Lean on Me. The three-time Grammy Award-winner also inspired the documentary Still Bill. A Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Bill moved on to other jobs after his 15-year music career.
49 Alan Jackson
Singer and songwriter Alan Jackson is famous for popularizing the “neotraditional country” genre of music that has elements of traditional honky-tonk and mainstream country-pop sounds. Having sold over 75 million records worldwide, he is one of the best-selling music artists of all-time. In 2017, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
50 Liam Payne
Liam Payne is a popular English singer-songwriter who is part of the world-renowned boy band One Direction. Also a well-known philanthropist, Liam Payne has supported Comic Relief and Unicef. In 2020, he helped raise over $10 million for charitable organizations fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to his charity work, he serves as an inspiration to many youngsters across the world.