The Best Musical Artists Ever, Guaranteed

It started last weekend when my daughter Laura’s husband, Nathan, said a few controversial things about Beatles music. Laura and I were shocked, of course, because who in their right mind would refuse to acknowledge that the Beatles were by far the greatest musical artists of all time?
Well, one thing led to another, and so Nathan decided to access the Internet to look up the list of the greatest 100 artists of all time according to Rolling Stone.
One by one, he read them to us. We agreed with a few of them, generally.
But mostly, we registered shock. Shock, I tell you, that so and so was rated far too low. And this other person was rated far too high. And we felt literally insulted that this artist, and that artist, weren’t on the list at all.
So the next day, we began our own Top 20 lists of the greatest musical artists of all time.
Granted, it’s tough to do. How do you compare the country stars with the rock stars? Should the heartthrobs of the ’40s and ’50s get considered alongside the rappers?
We all agreed to play it as straight as we could. We promised not to make our lists a “favorites” list but vowed to judge them all according to their impact on the music industry, their popularity with the public, and — most importantly — their overall quality. We admitted that our personal tastes could not be completely overlooked.
After all, if WE like them, they must be great. Right?
Before I give you our lists, I want to explain a few of my choices. Like No. 20. I never liked this artist, but it’s hard to ignore what he was able to accomplish in a long career. And No. 19. I don’t care what anybody says, he’s one of the best song writers I’ve ever heard. And No. 17. Many of you might not have heard of him, but he’s called the Father of Christian rock. If he hadn’t sung about Christian themes he would have been far better known. And as for Lennon and McCartney, I was always a big Lennon fan. But I rated McCartney higher because, frankly, his post-Beatles career was more impressive.
We welcome your responses. Go ahead and criticize our lists if you want. That’s the fun of it.
Here’s my list:
(20) Michael Jackson; (19) Don McLean; (18) Ray Charles; (17) Larry Norman; (16) The Beach Boys; (15) Frank Sinatra; (14) John Lennon; (13) Tom Petty; (12) Chuck Berry; (11) Johnny Cash; (10) Paul McCartney; (9) Pink Floyd; (8) Neil Young; (7) Simon and Garfunkel; (6) Led Zeppelin; (5) The Who; (4) The Rolling Stones; (3) Elvis Presley; (2) Bob Dylan; (1) The Beatles.
Here’s Laura’s list:
(20) The Police; (19) Etta James; (18) TLC; (17) R.E.M.; (16) Janis Joplin; (15) The Temptations; (14) Boys II Men; (13) Journey; (12) Paul McCartney; (11) Billy Joel; (10) George Harrison; (9) Whitney Houston; (8) Queen; (7) John Lennon; (6) Elvis Presley; (5) Elton John; (4) Electric Light Orchestra; (3) Michael Jackson; (2) Tom Petty; (1) The Beatles.
And here’s Nathan’s list:
(20) R.E.M.; (19) ACDC; (18) Stevie Wonder; (17) Janis Joplin; (16) The Eagles; (15) Bob Marley; (14) Neil Young; (13) David Bowie; (12) Chuck Berry; (11) Pink Floyd; (10) Elton John; (9) Nirvana; (8) Johnny Cash; (7) Jimi Hendrix; (6) Michael Jackson; (5) Led Zeppelin; (4) Elvis Presley; (3) Queen; (2) Bob Dylan; (1) The Beatles.
Yep, Nathan finally acknowledged how great the Beatles were. Laura and I respect him for that.

3 Responses

  1. scott place

    Nathans list is quite good …only names I would question as being “best of all time”…REM, ACDC, and Bob Marley

    Lauras list seems to a little heavy on personal likes as opposed to “GREATEST OF ALL TIME” but alas her “All” time and my “All” time are much different ….I question TLC, REM and The Police??? really??? Tom Petty is a great selection however along with The Temptations

    Doug, its easy to see that you and I are closer to the same vintage as I agree with most of your picks …I’ll take your word on L Norman as I am unfamiliar with him, but I do feel some hesitation using Don McClean although I do indeed love his American Pie…Some names from the country history realms to consider might include Roy Clark,Dolly Parton, Hank Williams, George Strait and Roy Orbson.

    There might be some Rap artist that could fit in …..hmmmmmm , no, I guess not!

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