Sunday, March 5, 2023

The Top 100 Singers of All Time


Top 100

This list has been updated several times, most recently in 2023 after the Rolling Stone list of the top 200 singers of all time. More than 70 lists – some of which focus on singers and some of which focus on greatest frontmen and women – have been aggregated to create this list.

Lists which purport to be “the best of all time” are usually flawed in several ways. First of all, they tend to focus on the rock era, oblivious that there was music before the 1950s. Second, they not only lean on that era, but tend to favor rock and roll artists. Third, those artists are overwhelmingly from English-speaking countries, namely the United States and the United Kingdom. While the third circumstance is still overwhelmingly obvious on this list, I have done my best to pull lists to represent different genres and eras as much as possible. It still isn’t perfect, but it does offer more diversity and representation than you’ll typically find on a best-of list.

See other lists of Acts/Music Makers by Categories.

Queen’s Freddie Mercury, image from

1. Freddie Mercury
2. Frank Sinatra
3. Aretha Franklin
4. Elvis Presley
5. Robert Plant
6. Janis Joplin
7. Stevie Wonder
8. Michael Jackson
9. Whitney Houston
10. Ella Fitzgerald

Even though the sources behind this list heavily favor white male singers who front rock bands, the list makers still showed “Respect” to Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul. Image from

11. Marvin Gaye
12. David Bowie
13. Ray Charles
14. Mariah Carey
15. John Lennon
16. Paul McCartney
17. Mick Jagger
18. Prince
19. Jim Morrison
20. Billie Holiday

Many of the names on this list wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for “The King of Rock and Roll.” Image from

21. Sam Cooke
22. Bono
23. James Brown
24. Axl Rose
25. Elton John
26. Otis Redding
27. Céline Dion
28. Tina Turner
29. Nat “King” Cole
30. Kurt Cobain

Divas like Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, and Christina Aguilera show they deserve a place on this rock-heavy list.

31. Roy Orbison
32. Bob Dylan
33. Louis Armstrong
34. Roger Daltrey
35. Stevie Nicks
36. Johnny Cash
37. Karen Carpenter
38. Nina Simone
39. Bruce Springsteen
40. Smokey Robinson

Even a rock-heavy list can’t hold back jazz singer icons like Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Etta James. Image from

41. Patsy Cline
42. Steven Tyler
43. Al Green
44. Etta James
45. Little Richard
46. Christina Aguilera
47. Steve Perry
48. Barbra Streisand
49. Luther Vandross
50. Dolly Parton

R&B legends like James Brown, Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, and Sam Cooke make the list. Image from

51. Bing Crosby
52. Beyoncé
53. Björk
54. Joni Mitchell
55. Chris Cornell
56. Thom Yorke
57. Iggy Pop
58. Tony Bennett
59. Van Morrison
60. Dusty Springfield

Pre-rock era crooners like Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Tony Bennett, and Nat “King” Cole couldn’t be denied. Image from

61. Jeff Buckley
62. Bob Marley
63. Morrissey
64. Gladys Knight
65. Dean Martin
66. Adele
67. Amy Winehouse
68. Madonna
69. Eddie Vedder
70. Ozzy Osbourne

Country stars like Johnny Cash, Dolly PartonGeorge Jones, Patsy Cline, and Hank Williams made the cut even without rock and roll credentials. Image from

71. Neil Young
72. Maria Callas
73. Jimi Hendrix
74. Ann Wilson
75. George Michael
76. Rod Stewart
77. Perry Como
78. Luciano Pavarotti
79. Jon Bon Jovi
80. Bon Scott

Despite the shortcomings of lists such as these, don’t let that take away from rock gods like Robert Plant, Jim Morrison, and Mick Jagger who absolutely belong on this list. Image from

81. Debbie Harry
82. Michael Stipe
83. Mel Tormé 84. Bruce Dickinson
85. George Jones
86. Hank Williams
87. Edith Piaf
88. Judy Garland
89. Ronnie James Dio
90. Diana Ross

World music gets almost no love from the list makers, but at least Jamaican reggae star Bob Marley and French singer Edith Piaf make the list. Image from

91. Tom Jones
92. Jackie Wilson
93. Joe Strummer
94. Patti Smith
95. Mary J. Blige
96. Lou Reed
97. Matt Bellamy
98. Bobby Darin
99. Johnny Mathis
100. Curtis Mayfield

Resources/Related Links:

First posted 7/17/2012; last updated 3/5/2023.


  1. Greatest rock star isn't the same thing as greatest singer!

    1. I know. I didn't ever use the terms interchangeably.

  2. Singer and frontman aren't the same thing.

    1. Fair enough. I think, though, that if I were to make two separate lists there'd be a heckuva lot of overlap.