Famous 21st Century American Musicians

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 Eminem

Eminem.
70
Famous As: Rapper, Songwriter
Birthdate: October 17, 1972
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Saint Joseph, Missouri, United States

Amongst the biggest rappers of all time, Eminem gained worldwide popularity with the release of albums like The Slim Shady LP and The Marshall Mathers LP. His subsequent albums became huge successes further making him a bigger sensation and one of the bestselling music artists of all time. His fame greatly inspired other white rappers to succeed in popular music.

 2 Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin.
29
Famous As: Singer & Activist
Birthdate: March 25, 1942
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Died: August 16, 2018

Widely regarded as the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin was a singer-songwriter, actress, and civil rights activist. Recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Aretha was ranked number one on Rolling Stone magazine's 100 Greatest Singers of All Time list in 2010. Having sold over 75 million records, she is also one of the best-selling musicians ever.

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 3 Dr. Dre

Dr. Dre.
14
Famous As: Rapper, Record producer, and entrepreneur
Birthdate: February 18, 1965
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Compton, California, United States

Rapper, record producer, and audio engineer, Dr. Dre, is the founder and CEO of Aftermath Entertainment and Beats Electronics. He is credited with the popularization of  West Coast G-funk, a sub-genre of hip hop. After establishing himself in the music industry, he promoted the careers of many other rappers, including 2Pac and Snoop Dogg.

 4 Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan.
9
Famous As: Singer & Songwriter
Birthdate: May 24, 1941
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Duluth, Minnesota, United States

Singer-songwriter and author, Bob Dylan, is widely regarded as one of the greatest songwriters of all time. Active in the music industry for almost six decades, he is a major pop culture icon who introduced a range of political, social, and literary influences to pop music. He is a Nobel laureate and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

 5 Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton.
12
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: January 19, 1946
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Locust Ridge, Tennessee, United States

Multifaceted personality, Dolly Parton is a singer, songwriter, record producer, actress, author and businesswoman and is known mainly for her work in country music. She has received various accolades and awards in her very successful singing career spanning several decades and has composed over 3,000 songs. She has also worked in several movies and is a prolific songwriter.

 6 Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder.
7
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: May 13, 1950
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Saginaw, Michigan, United States

American singer and songwriter, Stevie Wonder, is one of most influential and the best-selling musicians of all time. That Girl, Gotta Have You, I Just Called to Say I Love You, Part-Time Lover and Happy Birthday are some of his chartbuster songs. He has won many awards and accolades, including 25 Grammy Awards.

 7 Stevie Nicks

Stevie Nicks.
34
Famous As: Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: May 26, 1948
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Phoenix, Arizona, United States

Stevie Nicks is a songwriter and vocalist with the British-American rock band, Fleetwood Mac. She also performs solo and is known for her unique voice. She has numerous hits to her credit and her records have sold in millions. She has won many awards, including the Grammy and was named one of the 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time by the Rolling Stone magazine.

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 8 Jay-Z

Jay-Z.
11
Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: December 4, 1969
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Jay-Z is an American rapper and songwriter and is one of the world's best-selling music artists. His debut album Reasonable Doubt was hugely successful in 1996 and since then he has gone on to release many more acclaimed and successful albums. He has been charged with assaulting a record executive and was given a three-year probation sentence in January 2000.

 9 Tom Petty

Tom Petty.
5
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: October 20, 1950
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Gainesville, Florida, United States
Died: October 2, 2017

A rock icon and creator of sprit-lifting songs, Thomas Earl Petty was one of the defining musicians of the 1970s and the lead vocalist and guitarist of the band Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Writing songs and creating music up till his last breath, Petty is noted for positivity and self- liberation themed songs, a rarity in rock music.

 10 Billy Joel

Billy Joel.
16
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: May 9, 1949
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: The Bronx, New York, United States

Popularly known as the Piano Man, Billy Joel is a singer-songwriter and musician. Having sold more than 150 million records worldwide, Billy is one of the best-selling musicians of all time. He is also America's third best-selling solo artist and the sixth best-selling recording artist. He is also known for his multiple relationships with popular women.

 11 Ray Charles

Ray Charles.
18
Famous As: Singer-songwriter & Musician
Birthdate: September 23, 1930
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Albany, Georgia, United States
Died: June 10, 2004

Ray Charles went on to become a great singer-songwriter, composer, and pianist, despite suffering blindness due to glaucoma early in his life. One of the most respected and decorated musicians of all time, Ray Charles has been named in lists, such as 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. He pioneered the soul music genre, which remains his greatest contribution.

 12 Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen.
7
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: September 23, 1949
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Long Branch, New Jersey, United States

Considered one of the greatest rock stars, Bruce Springsteen’s catalogue of songs over many decades is unparalleled. His fame skyrocketed in 1975 after the release of his third album, Born to Run, and it reached dizzying heights with his seventh album, Born in the USA, in 1984. He was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.

 13 Eddie Van Halen

Eddie Van Halen.
53
Famous As: Guitarist
Birthdate: January 26, 1955
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Nijmegen
Died: October 6, 2020

Eddie Van Halen was an American songwriter and guitarist. The co-founder of the popular rock band Van Halen, Eddie is widely considered one of the greatest guitar players in the history of rock music. He is credited with popularizing the tapping technique, which is now used extensively by guitarists all over the world.

 14 Finneas O'Connell

Finneas O'Connell.
7
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: July 30, 1997
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California

Finneas O'Connell is an American singer-songwriter, actor, and record producer. He has played an important role in the success of his younger sister Billie Eilish's career as he has written and produced many of her popular songs. He has written and produced songs for other famous music artists as well.

 15 Carole King

Carole King.
6
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: February 9, 1942
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Manhattan, New York City, New York

Carole King is an American singer-songwriter. As a songwriter, King has contributed immensely to the success of other singers and is widely regarded as one of the most successful female songwriters of the 20th century. In 2013, she became the first woman to be honored with the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

 16 John Williams

John Williams.
9
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: February 8, 1932
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Floral Park, New York, United States

John Williams is an American composer, pianist, trombonist, and conductor. Widely considered the greatest film composer ever, John Williams has played a significant role in the American film industry by composing music for films, such as the Jurassic Park films, Star Wars saga, the Indiana Jones films, and Schindler's List. He has also influenced several other composers like Marcus Paus.

 17 Axl Rose

Axl Rose.
9
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: February 6, 1962
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Lafayette, Indiana, United States
Rock and Roll Hall of Famer W. Axl Rose, being true to his rebel spirit, fled to Los Angeles on a bus at 17, before he co-founded the legendary hard rock band Guns N' Roses. Working as the lead vocalist/lyricist of the band, he soon became a global sex symbol. 

 18 Paul Simon

Paul Simon.
9
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: October 13, 1941
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Newark, New Jersey, United States

One half of the popular musical duo Simon & Garfunkel, Paul Simon is a singer-songwriter, musician, and actor. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest guitarists and songwriters of all time. His career, which has spanned more than 60 years, has been so influential that Time named him among the 100 People Who Shaped the World in 2006.

 19 Jon Bon Jovi

Jon Bon Jovi.
4
Birthdate: March 2, 1962
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Perth Amboy, New Jersey, United States

Known as the iconic founder of the popular rock band Bon Jovi, Jon Bon Jovi is a record producer and singer-songwriter. In 2012, he was named in Billboard magazine's The Most Powerful and Influential People In The Music Business list. Also a well-known philanthropist, he founded the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation in an attempt to eradicate poverty and homelessness.

 20 Slash

Slash.
13
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.

 21 Quincy Jones

Quincy Jones.
11
Famous As: Musician, Conductor, Producer, Arranger, Composer, Film Composer
Birthdate: March 14, 1933
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: United Chicago, Illinois, United States

Regarded as one of the most popular and influential jazz musicians of the previous century, Quincy Jones is known for his work with other legendary artists like Michael Jackson and Frank Sinatra. As the first African-American to find success at the Academy Awards ceremony, Quincy has influenced a host of black musicians and songwriters.

 22 Tommy Lee

Tommy Lee.
12
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: October 3, 1962
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Athens, Greece
Best known as the drummer and founding member of the bands Mötley Crüe and Methods of Mayhem, Tommy Lee Bass has been riddled with major controversies and has even spent time in jail for spousal abuse. Brash and bold, he has also been named to VH1's 100 Sexiest Artists list.

 23 Little Richard

Little Richard.
8
Birthdate: December 5, 1932
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Macon, Georgia, U.S.A
Died: May 9, 2020
The Architect of Rock and Roll Little Richard is best known for his track Tutti Frutti, which was included in the National Recording Registry. His music was characterized by energetic piano and back beats. His songs broke all racial barriers and were equally appreciated by white and black listeners.

 24 Jerry Lee Lewis

Jerry Lee Lewis.
7
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: September 29, 1935
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Ferriday, Louisiana, United States
Four-time Grammy-winner Jerry Lee Lewis, nicknamed “The Killer,” is best known for his track Great Balls of Fire. A controversy surrounding his marriage to his 13-year-old cousin Myra destroyed his career. Named to Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, he was also part of the Million Dollar Quartet.

 25 Eddie Vedder

Eddie Vedder.
4
Famous As: Musician & Singer
Birthdate: December 23, 1964
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Evanston, Illinois, United States
Pearl Jam lead singer and guitarist Eddie Vedder went from being a hotel security guard to being ranked 7 on Rolling Stone’s list of the Best Lead Singers of All Time. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee has been a vocal supporter of environmental initiatives and abortion rights.

 26 Loretta Lynn

Loretta Lynn.
4
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: April 14, 1932
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, United States

Loretta Lynn is an American singer known for her groundbreaking contribution to country music. In a career spanning six decades, she has released multiple gold albums and has won Grammy Award thrice. Apart from being the most decorated female country singer, Loretta is also the only female Academy of Country Music (ACM) Artist of the Decade (the 1970s).

 27 Billie Joe Armstrong

Billie Joe Armstrong.
14
Famous As: Singer, Musician, Guitarist
Birthdate: February 17, 1972
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Oakland, California, United States

Billie Joe Armstrong is an American musician and record producer. He is credited with co-founding and popularizing the rock band, Green Day. As a guitarist and vocalist, he has also contributed immensely to the success of the punk rock band Pinhead Gunpowder. In 1997, Armstrong founded Adeline Records to help support contemporary bands; the record company was closed in 2017.

 28 James Hetfield

James Hetfield.
5
Famous As: Musician, Songwriter
Birthdate: August 3, 1963
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Downey, California, United States

James Hetfield is an American songwriter and musician. He is credited with co-founding one of the most popular heavy metal bands of all time, Metallica. James Hetfield is often regarded as one of the greatest guitarists and vocalists ever. Since the 1980s, Hetfield has played a key role in the success of ESP Guitars, as one of its major endorsers.

 29 Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson.
70
Famous As: King of Pop
Birthdate: August 29, 1958
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Gary, Indiana, United States
Died: June 25, 2009

The King of Pop and an international superstar, Michael Jackson was a musical entertainer whose work – both with Jackson 5 and solo – won accolades and hearts worldwide. Equally popular were his unique dance moves that created sensation and shaped future dance styles. Amongst the most successful entertainers of all time, Jackson was later accused of child molestation.  

 30 Steven Tyler

Steven Tyler.
6
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: March 26, 1948
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Manhattan, New York, United States

Popularly known as the Demon of Screamin, Steven Tyler is the lead singer of the famous rock band Aerosmith. Known for his high-energy performances, Tyler is named in Rolling Stone magazine's list of 100 Greatest Singers. Also a well-known philanthropist, Tyler launched a non-profit organization called Janie's Fund and has helped raise more than $2.4 million for the organization.

 31 Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift.
70
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: December 13, 1989
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Reading, Pennsylvania, United States

American pop and country music singer-songwriter, Taylor Swift is a multiple Grammy award winning artist who has inspired a number of hopeful musicians. A talented artist since a young age, she achieved success with her first single and debut album in 2006. Since then, the Fearless star has not looked back and also made her acting debut in 2009.

 32 Neil Diamond

Neil Diamond.
4
Famous As: Singer-songwriter & Musician
Birthdate: January 24, 1941
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Neil Diamond has sold more than 125 million records and has had 10 Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary chart-topping singles. The Lifetime Achievement Grammy-winner was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His song Sweet Caroline was preserved in the National Recording Registry for being culturally relevant.

 33 Brian Wilson

Brian Wilson.
7
Famous As: Musician, Singer
Birthdate: June 20, 1942
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Inglewood

Brian Wilson is a singer-songwriter and record producer. He is credited with co-founding the popular rock band, The Beach Boys. Referred to as a genius, Wilson serves as an inspiration to several indie musicians. Regarded as one of the most significant songwriters of his generation, Wilson is often featured in lists, such as the 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time.

 34 Lindsey Buckingham

Lindsey Buckingham.
4
Famous As: Singer, Musician
Birthdate: October 3, 1949
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Palo Alto

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Lindsey Buckingham ruled the American rock scene with the band Fleetwood Mac, performing with his then-girlfriend, Stevie Nicks. Rolling Stone named him one of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. After a brief hiatus, he rejoined the band but was fired eventually.

 35 Missy Elliott

Missy Elliott.
5
Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: July 1, 1971
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Portsmouth
Four-time Grammy-winning rapper Missy Elliott, known for her chartbusting tracks such as Get Ur Freak On, was ranked fifth on Billboard’s 100 Greatest Music Video Artists of All Time list. She was initially part of the R&B group Sista and then collaborated with Timbaland in the collective Swing Mob

 36 Carlos Santana

Carlos Santana.
6
Birthdate: July 20, 1947
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Autlán de Navarro, Jalisco, México

Guitarist Carlos Santana rose to fame in the late 1960s and 1970s with his rock band Santana. He introduced elements of Latin American jazz in his rock music to create unique songs. He is the recipient of ten Grammy Awards and three Latin Grammy Awards. Rolling Stone magazine listed him on its list of the 100 greatest guitarists in 2015.

 37 Dave Grohl

Dave Grohl.
9
Famous As: Musician & Singer
Birthdate: January 14, 1969
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Warren, Ohio, United States

Regarded as one of the most popular and influential rock musicians of the 1990s and 2000s, Dave Grohl is best known for his association with the famous rock band Nirvana, for which he was the drummer. Also a singer-songwriter, Dave Grohl was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014.

 38 Tom Waits

Tom Waits.
4
Famous As: Singer, Composer, Actor
Birthdate: December 7, 1949
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Pomona, California, United States

Tom Waits is a musician and songwriter. His lyrics, which are delivered in his trademark gravelly voice, often focus on the underbelly of society. His story of being born in a middle-class family to becoming one of the greatest songwriters of all time serves as an inspiration to many. He has also influenced several musicians and attained a cult following.

 39 James Taylor

James Taylor.
5
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: March 12, 1948
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Five-time Grammy Award-winning folk singer James Taylor is best known for his hits You've Got a Friend and Fire and Rain. One of Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, he has sold over 100 million records worldwide and has also won the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

 40 Trent Reznor

Trent Reznor
5
Famous As: Singer, Composer, Pianist, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Guitarist, Record producer
Birthdate: May 17, 1965
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Mercer

Trent Reznor is an American singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, and composer. Reznor is credited with founding the popular band Nine Inch Nails, where he serves as the principal songwriter, lead vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist. Trent Reznor is also credited with mentoring Marilyn Manson and has contributed to the latter's albums. . 

 41 Madonna

Madonna.
5
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: August 16, 1958
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Bay City, Michigan, United States

Often called the Queen of Pop, Madonna is considered one of the most popular and influential personalities in popular culture. Having sold more than 300 million records, she is the best-selling female musician of all time. Often featured in lists like the Greatest Artists of All Time, Madonna serves as an inspiration to many musicians, singers, and songwriters.

 42 Don Henley

Don Henley
7
Famous As: Singer, Composer, Musician, Drummer, Pianist, Songwriter
Birthdate: July 22, 1947
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Gilmer, Texas, United States

Don Henley is an American record producer, singer, songwriter, and musician. A founding member of Eagles, Henley contributed immensely to the success of the band. Don Henley has also been successful as a solo artist, selling more than 10 million albums and winning two Grammy Awards. In 2008, Rolling Stone magazine named him among the greatest singers of all time.

 43 Jackson Browne

Jackson Browne.
6
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: October 9, 1948
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Heidelberg, Germany
Six-time Grammy-nominated rock singer Jackson Browne has sold more than 18 million albums in the U.S. Best known for his hits These Days, Running on Empty, and Doctor My Eyes, he was featured on Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time. The MUSE founder is an avid environmentalist, too.

 44 Patti Smith

Patti Smith.
4
Famous As: Singer & Musician
Birthdate: December 30, 1946
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Patti Smith is an American singer-songwriter. Referred to as the punk poet laureate, Smith became an influential figure of the punk rock movement with the release of her album Horses. Many world-renowned musicians, such as Madonna and Michael Stipe, have cited Smith as their inspiration. Even actresses like Ellen Page and Maria Doyle Kennedy have called Smith a major influence.

 45 Todd Rundgren

Todd Rundgren.
6
Famous As: Singer, Record Producer
Birthdate: June 22, 1948
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Todd Rundgren is an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and record producer. He is credited with forming popular rock bands, such as Utopia and Nazz. Regarded as a pioneer in the fields of progressive rock, electronic music, Internet music delivery, and music videos, Todd Rundgren's works, such as A Wizard, a True Star remain influential in the world of music.

 46 Rick Rubin

Rick Rubin.
5
Famous As: Record Producer
Birthdate: March 10, 1963
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Lido Beach

A record producer, Rick Rubin is the former co-president of Columbia Records and a co-founder of Def Jam Recordings. By promoting the musical groups  Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, and Public Enemy, he helped popularize hip hop music. He has been named on Time's 100 Most Influential People in the World.

 47 Smokey Robinson

Smokey Robinson.
4
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: February 19, 1940
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Singer, songwriter, and record producer, Smokey Robinson, first gained fame as the founder and frontman of the vocal group, The Miracles, in the 1950s. He embarked on an equally successful solo career after leaving the group. He is the recipient of many awards, including the prestigious Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement.

 48 David Byrne

David Byrne.
5
Famous As: American-Scottish musician
Birthdate: May 14, 1952
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Dumbarton, Scotland
Talking Heads lead vocalist and avant-garde musician David Byrne has won several awards, including the Grammy, Oscar, and Golden Globe. He has spoken at TED Talks, launched his own record label, and held visual arts exhibitions. He advocates for cycling and has mostly used a bike throughout his life.

 49 Beck

Beck.
5
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: July 8, 1970
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

Beck is an American musician and record producer. He came into prominence for creating musical collages of several genres. Beck has been applauded by music lovers and critics as being one of the most idiosyncratically creative musicians of alternative rock. Two of his albums were named in the 500 greatest albums of all time list by Rolling Stone magazine. 

 50 Nile Rodgers

Nile Rodgers
4
Famous As: Guitarist, Composer, Songwriter, Record producer, Film score composer
Birthdate: September 19, 1952
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: New York City