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.
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.
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.
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.
Rapper, singer, songwriter, musician, and actor, Ice-T is known for his fusion music that combines elements of rock and hip hop. Beginning his career as an underground rapper in the 1980s, he went on to release many albums that were commercially and critically successful. He is also an actor and voice actor.
10 Steven Tyler
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.
11 Paul Simon
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.
12 Kenny Rogers
Kenny Rogers was an American singer-songwriter. He is among the best-selling musicians of all-time list, having sold over 100 million records. His songs and albums remain influential among country music lovers. A multi-talented personality, Rogers was also successful as an actor and entrepreneur; he was the co-founder of the Kenny Rogers Roasters chain of restaurants.
Kesha is an American singer-songwriter. Having sold more than 134 million records, Kesha is one of the best-selling singers of her generation. As a songwriter, she has contributed to the success of songs recorded by artists like Britney Spears, Miranda Cosgrove, Miley Cyrus, and Ariana Grande. As an openly bisexual musician, she serves as an inspiration to the LGBT community.
14 Frank Ocean
Regarded as one of the most acclaimed musical artists of his generation, Frank Ocean is recognized for his unconventional production techniques and wide vocal range. He is credited with revitalizing and popularizing jazz and funk-influenced R&B. He is also regarded as a representative of alternative R&B. He was named in Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world list.
15 ASAP Rocky
16 Snoop Dogg
Snoop Dogg is a famous American rapper whose life is a perfect example of rags-to-riches story. As a child, he did various odd jobs to help his family make ends meet. He started rapping as a young boy to distract himself from his unstable family life. He ran into trouble with the law as a teenager. However, once he released his debut album, there was no looking back.
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.
Troyal Garth Brooks is an American singer-songwriter. Having sold over 170 million records worldwide, Brooks is one of the best-selling musicians in the world. He is also the best-selling solo albums musician in the US. Also known for his charitable activities, Garth Brooks established the Teammates for Kids Foundation in 1999, which provides financial support to charities for kids.
Khalid is an American singer-songwriter whose work in Logic’s hit single 1-800-273-8255 earned him a nomination at the Grammy Awards. He has also received prestigious awards, such as Billboard Music Awards, MTV Video Music Award, and American Music Awards. In 2019, he was named in Time magazine's list of 100 Most Influential People.
21 Young Thug
Rapper, singer, and songwriter, Young Thug, is considered to be one of the most influential rappers of his generation. Famous for his eccentric vocal style, he has inspired many others in the music industry. His debut studio album peaked at number one on the US Billboard 200 and earned him international fame.
22 NBA YoungBoy
NBA YoungBoy is an American singer, songwriter, and rapper. He garnered a cult following between 2015 and 2017, during which he released eight successful, independent mixtapes. Rated highly among America's most controversial rappers, NBA YoungBoy has been arrested on a couple of occasions for charges, including attempted first degree murder.
23 Nikki Sixx
Nikki Sixx, the co-founder, songwriter, and bassist of the heavy metal band Mötley Crüe, has also worked with side bands such as Sixx:A.M. Sixx owns a clothing line, has been part of radio shows such as Sixx Sense, and has written a bestselling memoir. He is also a talented photographer.
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.
Akon is one of the most successful R&B, hip hop and rap singers in the world. His albums Trouble, Konvicted, Freedom, El Negreeto and Akonda have many chartbusters songs. He has also founded record labels Akonik Label Group, KonLive Distribution and Konvict Mizik. He courted controversy in 2007 for an onstage act involving simulated sex with a 15-year-old girl.
Queen Latifah is an American musician and actress whose song U.N.I.T.Y. played a major role in raising awareness about women's rights worldwide. Dubbed Queen of Jazz-Rap, Latifah has influenced several soul, R&B, and hip-hop artists like Remy Ma, Lil' Kim, Ivy Queen, Missy Elliott, Lauryn Hill, and Eve among other artists. As an actress, Latifah has won several prestigious awards.
27 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.
28 Lil Xan
29 Jamie Foxx
Actor, singer-songwriter, and comedian, Jamie Foxx became internationally famous for his portrayal of Ray Charles in the biographical film Ray, a role that earned him an Academy Award. He is also known for hosting his own television sitcom, The Jamie Foxx Show. Besides acting, he is also a Grammy Award-winning musician who has released four albums.
American rapper and songwriter DaBaby gained critical acclaim and commercial success with his debut album Baby on Baby. Later, his two other albums Kirk and Blame It on Baby became huge successes and made him one of the biggest rappers in the US. Earlier his single Light Show and Baby Talk series of mixtape attracted quite a lot of attention.
31 Nina Simone
Widely regarded as one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, Nina Simone was a pioneering recording artist whose career was characterized by improvisational genius and fits of outrage. Nina continues to be an important musician and has influenced several artists like Elton John, Adele, David Bowie, Madonna, and Aretha Franklin. She was also a civil rights activist.
32 Kevin Jonas
Musician, singer, and songwriter Kevin Jonas rose to fame as a member of the pop-rock band, the Jonas Brothers, with his younger brothers, Joe and Nick. Also an actor, he has appeared in many Disney Channel productions. He is involved in business ventures as well and is the founder of a construction company, JonasWerner.
33 Roy Orbison
34 Carole King
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.
37 Emmy Rossum
Actress and singer-songwriter, Emmy Rossum, is best known for her portrayal of Fiona Gallagher in the TV series Shameless. Beginning her career as a child actress in the 1990s, she began taking up more mature roles in her teens. As a singer, she has released two albums and an EP and has also provided vocals to many collaborative singles.
40 Mark Salling
Beginning his career as a child actor, American actor, Mark Salling, gained fame with his portrayal of musically-inclined football star Noah ‘Puck’ Puckerman’ in television series Glee. The actor, who was also a singer and musician, was arrested for possessing images of child pornography. He pleaded guilty but before his court sentencing, he was found dead from asphyxia by hanging.
41 Michael Peña
44 Eddie Vedder
Widely regarded as the pioneer of Latin rock and Chicano rock, Ritchie Valens was an American guitarist and singer-songwriter. Since his untimely death at the age of 17, Ritchie Valens has inspired several musicians and bands like Carlos Santana, Los Lonely Boys, and Los Lobos. Valens also inspired Robert Quine, Jimi Hendrix, Keith O'Conner Murphy, and Chris Montez among others.
47 Ava Max
48 Paula Abdul
Starting her career as a cheerleader, Paula Abdul went on to choreograph music videos for Janet Jackson. She then tried her hand at singing-songwriting and released a highly successful debut studio album. Also an award-winning actress, Paula was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She has also appeared in TV shows like American Idol.
The singer of chartbuster songs like The Boy Is Mine, I Wanna be Down and Sittin' Up in My Room, Brandy Norwood is known for her raspy and husky voice. Most of her songs are about love, relationships and heartache. She was involved in a car accident in 2006, leading to multiple lawsuits, which were eventually settled out of court.
Kris Kristofferson is a popular singer-songwriter and actor. Over the years, Kris has played a major role in the success of many famous singers, having contributed to their musical albums as a songwriter. For his achievements in the field of music, Kris Kristofferson was made a Country Music Hall of Fame inductee in 2004.