Top 20 Greatest And Most Famous Male Singers Of All Time
Music has a profound power to inspire, change our lives, bring out emotions, and make us happy. Throughout the history of the world, many male singers have created extraordinary music that has changed the world—including timeless melodies and remarkable live performances in many genres.
From the powerful and iconic music of The Beatles to the sheer brilliance of Elvis Pressley; from the unrivalled stage presence of Freddy Mercury to the eccentric dance moves of Mick Jagger; from the soulful melodies of Marvin Gaye to the world-changing mastery of Michael Jackson; and from the sensational vocals of Robert Plant to the beautiful falsetto of Barry Gibb.
All in all, male musicians haven’t just changed the music industry, but they’ve also changed the world. In this article, we’ll discuss the top 20 most famous male singers of all time and why they were so special. Let’s go:
The Top 20 Male Singers Ever
As the lead singer of U2, one of the most successful bands in global history, Bono has become one of the world’s most iconic singers.
Born on May 10, 1960, Paul David Hewson, commonly known as Bono, has captivated audiences globally. His vocal style is passionate and unique; his lyrics are insightful and thoughtful.
Bono’s songwriting has been the pillar behind U2’s success. His lyrics touch on personal topics, such as hope, love, and all social justice; all topics that are close to his heart. Moreover, Bono has won various awards, including TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year and a Nobel Peace Prize.
In addition to his success in the music industry, Bono has become a prominent campaigner for human rights and global poverty removal.
He’s founded numerous activism campaigns, including the ONE Campaign and DATA. Bono contributed to Band-Aid’s music in the 1980s and became one of the global leading figures in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Despite all of Bono’s immense success, he remains down to earth and proud of his Irish roots. He’s become a cultural icon throughout the world, not just in Western culture. And still, despite his vast personal wealth of an estimated $700 million, Bono continues to record music around the world.
19. Bob Marley
Bob Marley is one of the most famous singers of all time.
Born on February 6, 1945, Bob Marley is one of the most influential musicians in history. Not only that, his music, life philosophy, and commitment to social justice globally have inspired people of all ages ever since he passed away at only 36 after cancer spread to his lungs and brain.
From humble poverty-stricken beginnings in rural Jamaica, Bob rose to international fame in the band, The Wailers. However, it was his distinctive voice and lyrics that truly made him famous.
Various songs, including “One Love”, “No Woman, No Cry” and “Three Little Birds” have become some of the most famous and most played songs in world history.
In addition to his vast musical success, Bob Marley achieved greatness through his activism. His lyrics often challenged various societal issues, including racism, injustice, corruption, and poverty. As a result, many people have used his quotes for personal development and a better society ever since.
Bob Marley became even more popular because of his unique Rastafarian beliefs. He had an iconic dreadlocked appearance that fans admired worldwide.
Bob’s unwavering commitment to staying true to himself alongside his desire for global freedom created a long-lasting connection with his audience. You can hear Bob’s songs sung at sporting events and covered by some of the world’s most famous artists today.
18. James Brown
James Brown was an American singer-songwriter who transformed music for the entire world.
Born on May 3, 1933, in Barnwell, South Carolina, James Brown became an international sensation because of his incredible stage presence, dynamic performances, and innovative musical style.
His career spanned over an impressive five decades as he became a pioneer of global music and culture.
He contributed to numerous genres, including blues, funk, and soul. Likewise, his voice was infectious and he had incredible showmanship. Various hits, including “Sex Machine” and “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag,” are classics that continue to inspire musicians around the world.
In addition to his outstanding musical contributions, James Brown had a massive influence on fashion and style.
He wore flamboyant outfits and a famous pompadour hairstyle that became notorious with his persona. Furthermore, James Brown became known for his revolutionary dance moves, such as the “Good Foot” and “James Brown Shuffle”.
James Brown was also hugely passionate about social issues and civil rights, becoming a prominent figure in the battle against racial issues. Famous songs like “Say It Loud” and “I’m Black and I’m Proud” became anthems of empowerment and social change.
Sadly, James Brown passed on December 25, 2006, after a heart attack and growing fluid in his lungs. Still, his music continues to inspire generations until this day.
17. Bruce Springsteen
Born on September 23, 1949, Bruce Springsteen has become a legend of rock and roll music who touched the hearts of millions of people. People often call Bruce Springsteen “The Boss” due to his raw energy, poetic lyrics, and working-class ethos.
Bruce Springsteen started performing music in New Jersey bars before his rise to international stardom. His music has continually discussed the struggles, dreams, and hopes of normal working people throughout the world. Millions of people love Bruce Springsteen for his energy, passion, and the electric atmosphere he creates.
Combined with his distinctive heartful voice, he has created anthems that speak to the human experience, helping to promote American grit and determination throughout the Blue Collar areas. Some of Bruce’s most popular songs include “Born to Run”, “The River”, and “Thunder Road.”
Throughout his career, Bruce Springsteen has won numerous awards, including 20 Grammy Awards, an Academy Award, and an induction to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Until this day, Bruce continues to captivate audiences worldwide. He continues to tour the United States and the rest of the world.
16. Marvin Gaye
Marvin Gaye was a sensational pop singer who became famous for his incredible voice. Born on April 2, 1939, Marvin Gaye was a musical prodigy with a soft, velvet voice that made him one of the most celebrated artists of all time. Not only that, Marvin Gaye was notorious for his masterful songwriting and unique vocal style.
Marvin Gaye started learning how to create music at a young age. His 1971 album, “What’s Going On”, was a true testament to his social consciousness. His lyrics focused on contentious topics, such as poverty, war, and the environment, making him one of the most significant social justice icons of the 20th century.
Another reason for Marvin Gaye’s profound success was his focus on the complexities of love and connection. For instance, hits like “Let’s Get It On”, and “Sexual Healing” became testaments to sensuality. In contrast, ballads like “I Want You” and “Distant Lover” became signals of longing and vulnerability.
Although Marvin Gaye became an inspiration to many, he also had many troubles. Sadly, Marvin’s father shot and killed him in 1984, making him another musical legend that died at a young age.
That said, despite the tragedy, Marvin’s music continues to inspire millions of people worldwide. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, placing him among the legends of the music industry.
15. Sir Tom Jones
Sir Tom Jones is a British music legend and one of the all-time greats.
Born on June 7, 1940, Tom Jones’s career has spanned over six decades—resulting in numerous awards, worldwide fame, and many hit songs. From humble beginnings in a small Welsh mining town to global success, Sir Tom Jones is an inspiration to many young musicians.
Tom’s career began in the local church choir after he was deeply inspired by the soul of the United States. In his late teens, he started playing in various pubs and clubs, looking for his break into stardom, while working numerous odd jobs, such as construction. Under the guidance of Gordon Mills, Sir Tom Jones’s life changed forever.
He released numerous global hits—including “It’s Not Unusual”, “Delilah” and “What’s New Pussycat.” And throughout his long career, Sir Tom has dabbed in many genres, including pop, soul, rock, and dance. He’s also won many music awards, including a Brit Award, a Grammy Award and two MTV music awards.
14. Sir Elton John
Sir Elton John is one of the world’s most iconic singer-songwriters. Born on March 25, 2947, in England, Sir Elton John has become a musical icon with incredible musical talent and a flamboyant style. With his incredible voice, lyrics, and stage presence, Elton John has sold over 300 million records globally, making him one of the world’s most successful artists ever.
Elton John began his musical career at a very early age when he learned how to play the piano. From his humble younger years playing music in pubs and clubs, Elton enjoyed a rapid rise to global stardom. He’s dabbled in many genres, including pop, rock, glam, and more. Bernie Taupin, Elton’s primary songwriter, has helped Elton John craft many timeless global hits.
Many people remember Elton John singing at Princess Dianna’s funeral. However, Elton has performed at many iconic global events, and his energetic live performances have only contributed to his global stardom.
Beyond his immense success in the music industry, Elton John has made significant contributions to charity, including raising awareness and money for HIV through the Elton John AIDS Foundation. He’s also won numerous awards, such as 5 Grammy Awards, an Academy Award, and an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
13. Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash is one of the most famous musicians worldwide and a cultural icon in the country music scene. Born on February 26, 1932, Johnny Cash became famous for his raw voice, rebellious spirit, and deep voice.
Johnny Cash’s career started in the 1950s when Sun Records signed him. Shortly after, he recorded and released his first hits: “I Walk the Line” and “Folsom Prison Blues”. With his unique blend of blues, country, and rock music, Johnny was able to create a distinctive sound that went against traditional genre boundaries.
Johnny’s songs talk about many human issues, such as hardship, redemption, and love, making him a captivating listen for anyone seeking emotional depth and deep lyrics. In addition to his unique voice, Johnny Cash became famous for his ultra-charismatic persona on and off the stage.
Some of Johnny’s most impressive hits include “Ring of Fire” and “Boy Named Sue.” In addition, his majestic collaboration with artists like Bob Dylan and June Carter Cash further increased his influence and versatility.
In addition to his success, Johnny was open about his battle with addiction and his powerful religious beliefs. This enabled him to build a true connection with his fans.
12. David Bowie
David Bowie became one of the most iconic and successful musicians of the 20th century. After being born on January 8, 1947, David Bowie not only became an outstanding musician, but also became a fashion icon, artist, and all-around creative genius that changed the music industry in many ways.
With his constantly evolving persona and incredible stage presence, David Bowie became loved by musicians of all backgrounds, including rock, country, and hip-hop.
David first started creating music in the 1960s but struggled to find enough success in his early years. However, by the 1970s, David Bowie quickly began to grow into an international star as his alter ego, Ziggy Stardust.
His alter ego enabled him to create an otherworldly persona that expressed a true artistic vision. And it was his album, “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars”, that truly made him a respected global star.
Throughout David’s long and successful career, he’s challenged norms and conventions. This made him so profound as a musician and fashion icon. He often wore an avant-garde style mixed with an androgynous appearance that made him so unique.
But, with all that said, it was his continually impressive musical catalogue that made him globally famous. Songs like “Let’s Dance” and “Heroes” became critically acclaimed hits around the world.
And his lyrics often explored themes of the human condition and identity, two things that millions of humans worldwide can relate to. Although David Bowie sadly passed away in January 2016, leaving behind a huge legacy, his music continues to grow in popularity worldwide.
Prince is one of the most significant singers and cultural icons of the 20th century. Born on June 7, 1958, Prince became one of the best live performers, songwriters, and creative talents of all time. Prince’s fearless approach and emphasis on individuality continue to captivate people and inspire people around the world.
Prince started his incredible musical journey as a kid when he learnt how to play various instruments. Throughout the years, he grew a truly distinctive falsetto voice mixed with sensational guitar solos alongside rock, funk, and pop musical sounds.
Prince has enjoyed many successful hits, including “Purple Rain”, “When Doves Cry”, and “Kiss”. These songs became anthems for many generations.
In addition to his success in the music industry, Prince’s influence on the music industry has been profound. For instance, his advocacy for artists’ rights and independence has inspired younger generations to follow in his footsteps.
Unfortunately, Prince passed away on April 21, 2016, just months after the death of fellow musical legend David Bowie. However, his extensive discography—including over 30 studio albums—has become more and more popular since his passing. His music remains timeless due to its mix of genres and innovative production levels.
10. Mick Jagger
Mick Jagger, the lead singer-songwriter of the legendary Rolling Stones, is one of the greatest and most famous singers of all time. Born on June 26, 1943, in England, Mick Jagger is one of the greatest rock singers of all time. As the lead vocalist of the Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger became a global sensation for his stunning stage presence, unique voice, and incredible dance moves.
Mick Jagger began his music career in the 1960s. He formed the Rolling Stones alongside Brian Jones, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, and Bill Wayman. Quickly, the band rose to prominence with hits like “Paint It Black”, “Gimme Shelter”, and “Sympathy for the Devil.” His band quickly began a rivalry with The Beatles as British Invasion music grew.
However, Mick’s influence extends beyond his key role as the frontman of the Rolling Stones. Many of his songs touched on controversial topics at the time, such as the Vietnam War and cultural issues in the Western world. Jagger’s incredible songwriting prowess has added meaning to the band’s music, and many people place him as one of the greatest songwriters ever.
Moreover, Mick Jagger continued his flamboyant and daring style choices until today. Fans still marvel at his incredible energy during live performances, which include a lot of dancing and moving. The Rolling Stones continue to tour around the world, making them one of the most legendary bands in the world.
9. Stevie Wonder
As we enter the top ten male musicians of all time, we start with a true legend: Stevie Wonder. Born on May 13, 1950, Stevie Wonder is an iconic musical talent who has touched the hearts and ears of hundreds of millions of people worldwide.
As a multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, and producer, Stevie Wonder’s remarkable contributions to music have been truly immeasurable.
Stevie Wonder became blind after birth. Determined to not let that stop him from making music, he mastered various musical instruments: the piano, drums, and harmonica.
His early recording began in the 1960s when he showcased his incredible vocal range, melodic talent, and the gift of being able to blend genres like soul, funk, pop, and R&B.
One of the best aspects of Stevie Wonder’s craftsmanship is his ability to go beyond boundaries. Songs like “Isn’t She Lovely”, “Sir Duke”, and “I Just Called to Say I Love You” have become truly timeless classics throughout all age demographics.
In most of Steve’s songs, his lyrics touch on various important issues, such as love, social consciousness, and unity. He also talks about civil rights, climate issues, and poverty.
During his long career, Stevie has won 25 Grammy Awards and an Academy Award; he’s also been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. These incredible accolades showcase Stevie’s remarkable talent despite being blind. As a result, his impact on the music industry continues to this day.
8. Robert Plant
Robert Plant, the iconic frontman of Led Zeppelin, is one of the most iconic rock and roll singers in history.
With his poetic songwriting, charismatic stage presence, and immense vocals, Plant has left a huge mark on the global music industry. Born on August 20, 1948, in England, Robert Plant developed his talent as a musician from his early years.
Robert Plant then went on to join Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham to form Led Zeppelin in 1968 as Beatlemania ruled the world. Over the next decade, Led Zeppelin became the number-one band in the world.
Various hits, including “Whole Lotta Love”, “Kasmir”, and “Stairway to Heaven”, became some of the world’s most iconic songs in the last 50 years.
After Led Zeppelin split up in 1980 following the death of John Bonham, a drummer widely regarded as the best ever. However, Robert Plant started a successful music career after Led Zeppelin disbanded, with a vast range of unique music from electronica to classical.
Throughout his long and successful career, Robert Plant has become famous for his distinctive vocal style, which he often blends with blues, folk, and rock influences. The music industry has long praised him for his daring tendency to try new things and be inventive.
7. Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan is an iconic American singer-songwriter who many regards as one of the greatest musicians ever. Born on May 24, 191, Bob Dylan became known for his raspy voice, poetic lyrics, and a huge influence on popular culture.
Bob Dylan started his musical journey as a kid when he started to write lyrics and sing. However, his journey to musical stardom began in the 1960s when he became a prominent figure in the folk music revival.
In 1963, Bob Dylan released his second studio album: “The Freewheelin Bob Dylan.” It was a huge breakthrough album for Bob who rapidly became known as one of the world’s best songwriters.
Throughout his long career, Bob Dylan has continued to defy all expectations. From albums like “Blood on the Tracks” and “Desire”, Bob’s musical exploration is limitless. The work of Bob Dylan has inspired countless musicians since the 1960s, thus shaping the entire music industry.
Bob has won many awards for his contribution to music. However, his most significant award was the Nobel Prize for Literature, becoming the first songwriter in history to achieve this incredible feat. The Nobel committee said they recognised him for “creating new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”
6. John Lennon
John Lennon, the legendary Beatles frontman, is one of the most famous singer-songwriters in history. Born on October 9, 1940, John Lennon left a remarkable impact on the world with his profound messages of love, social change, and peace. He also became one of the best true icons of the counterculture scene of the 1960s.
John’s rise to fame started in the early 1960s when he formed The Quarrymen, a band that became The Beatles. Alongside Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison, they changed the music industry and, in many ways, the global culture.
Lennon was a key person in the rise of the band. He quickly became known for his incredible songwriting partnership with Paul McCartney, but also his rebellious nature, amazing melodies, and groundbreaking studio techniques.
John Lennon wrote many of the band’s biggest hits, such as “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”, “All You Need Is Love”, and “Strawberry Fields Forever”.
In addition to his amazing success with The Beatles, John Lennon became a legend for his solo work with songs like “Imagine”.
However, John didn’t just impact the music industry, he impacted the entire world. And, after his untimely death in 1980, he became known as a true legend of music and a beacon of peace.
5. Luciano Pavarotti
Although most opera singers never become famous, Luciano Pavarotti was the true exception. Born on October 12, 1945, in Modena, Italy, Luciano Pavarotti is an iconic opera singer with unmatched vocal power, an incredible stage presence, and a genuinely charismatic personality.
His path to fame began in the 1960s after making his professional debut as Rodolfo in Puccini’s “La Bohème.” It was his powerful, expressive voice that caught the world’s attention. And, as he continued to refine his technique, his talent and artistry continued to grow.
Perhaps the most defining quality of Luciano was his outstanding vocal range. His voice, even today, can effortlessly hit the highest notes with excellent clarity and richness. However, it was his stunning performance in the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy, when he performed “Nessun Dorma” that sent him to global fame.
In the last 50 years, Luciano has won countless awards, including the Grammy Legend Award, the Kennedy Center Honors, and much more. He continues to inspire generations with his extraordinary stage presence and masterful live performances.
4. Sir Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney is a British singer songwriter and one of the most iconic and famous musicians in world history. Born in Liverpool, England, on June 18, 1942, Paul McCartney is best known for his incredible work alongside John Lennon in The Beatles. For over six decades, Paul’s creativity and melodic genius have stunned people from every corner of the world.
Paul began his career in the 1950s when, alongside John Lennon and George Harrison, he joined The Beatles. Then, Paul became the bassist and co-songwriter of all the music, working alongside John and George.
However, although the debate on the greatest Beatle will probably never rest, Paul has written some of the most famous Beatle songs: “Hey Jude”, ” Yesterday”, and “Let It Be.” But it was Paul’s incredible vocals, as shown on “Oh Darling” and “Helter Skelter”, that defined his talent.
After The Beatles broke up in 1970, Paul had a very successful solo career. He wrote many famous solo hits, including “Band On The Run” and “Live and Let Die”. Sir Pual McCartney still performs music live today; he’s truly a legend of British culture, not just music. Today, he’s become a brilliant record producer.
3. Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley, commonly known as the “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” is the second most famous male vocalist of all time.
B0rn on January 8, 1935, Elvis Presley’s influence on the global music industry is almost unrivalled. Experts estimate that he’s sold over 1 billion records worldwide, making him one of the most successful artists ever.
Elvis Presley started his musical career in the 1950s. He started to mix many genres together, including blues, rockabilly, and rhythm. In addition, he also dabbled in country and gospel.
In 1954, Elvis signed with Sun Records and he released his first single “That’s All Right.” Then, following hits like “Hound Dog” and “Heartbreak Hotel” propelled him into the stratosphere.
Alongside his successful music career, Elvis also had a successful acting career. He played roles in numerous films, including “Jailhouse Rock” (1957) and “Viva Las Vegas” (1964), where he showcased his natural on-screen charisma. Although his film career took up a significant part of the 1960s, Elvis remained connected to his musical roots.
In the following years, Elvis faced many personal challenges, which led to a brief pause from live music in the 1960s. However, in 1968, he made a huge comeback with a live TV special called the “68 Comeback Special.”
Sadly, Elvis died aged 42 in 1977, a death that truly stunned the world. That said, his musical legacy has truly lived on in the following decades.
His combination of musical genres, magnetic stage presence, and charisma has made him a myth. And, without a doubt, his nickname as the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll lives on until this day.
2. Freddie Mercury
As the lead singer of Queen, one of the most famous bands ever, Freddie Mercury has become somewhat of a phenomenon in the last thirty years. Born on September 5, 1946, Freddie Mercury became one of the most successful frontmen in rock history.
Freddie’s path to musical stardom began when he formed Queen in the 1970s. Alongside Brian May and Roger Taylor, Freddie Mercury wanted to create a truly innovative sound that pushed boundaries—and that’s precisely what he did. Mercury had an outstanding vocal range that spanned four octaves, enabling him to effortlessly transition from high notes to soulful lows.
Queen’s success grew in the 1970s and 80s and before long Freddie Mercury became an international icon for his songwriting, amazing live performances, flamboyant style, and dramatic gestures.
However, Freddie’s life was cut short by AIDS-related complications in 1991. But his legacy and fame have never died.
1. Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson, often regarded as the King of Pop, is the most iconic and famous singer of all time. Born on August 29, 1958, in Gary, Indiana, Michael Jackson’s impact on the music industry, dance, and entertainment industry is utterly huge.
Michael showcases his incredible talents from a young age. As a member of the iconic Jackson 5, he captured the hearts of millions of people around the world. Even in those days, surrounded by his brothers, it was evident that Michael Jackson had something very special.
Then, as a solo artist in the 1980s, Michael’s fame grew to unprecedented levels. His 1982 album “Thriller” remains one of the top-selling albums in history, giving him his status as a global icon. In addition, songs like “Billy Jean” and “Beat It” continued his rise to extreme fame.
Michael’s unique dance style, including the famous Moonwalk, has captivated audiences around the world. His performances became notorious for his sensational showmanship, stage presence, and dance moves.
However, despite his musical greatness, Michael Jackson’s private life has been controversial, often overshadowing his musical success. But still, Michael has won many awards, including 13 Grammy Awards, the Grammy Legend Award, and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Sadly, Michael Jackon passed away on June 25, 2009, sending shockwaves around the entire world. However, people from every corner of the world continue to listen to his songs today. He will always be known as one of the greatest musical acts alongside The Beatles and Elvis Presley. His music will never die.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who Is The Best Male Lead Singer?
There are many excellent lead singers in bands, including John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Robert Plant, Kurt Cobain, Freddie Mercury, etc. Therefore, it’s challenging to say who the best lead singer was.
However, John Lennon and Paul McCartney—as the co-lead singers of The Beatles—have had the most impact on the music industry.
Which Male Singers Have Entered The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
Many amazing male singers have entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. These include Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, David Bowie, John Lennon, and more.
In some cases, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame allows popular music singers and soul music singers to enter if they’ve impacted the overall industry enough. Generally, the award goes to alternative rock singers.
Which Male Singer Had the Best Debut Album?
Although many male singers have enjoyed superb debut albums, Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith have had great success with their first albums, propelling them to quick stardom.
Which Male Singers Have Impacted the Music Industry The Most?
Many male singers have had a huge impact on the music industry.
However, John Lennon, Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, Sir Elton John, and many more, have had a major impact on the music industry by selling billions of records combined, becoming global stars, and influencing fashion, cultural, and artistic trends.
Master Your Singing Voice Today
There are many excellent male singers. If you’re looking to improve your vocals or simply learn about the art of singing, you’ve come to the right place. At ICMP Elevate, we have numerous courses to help your singing excel. These include:
- The Essential Guide to Learning How to Sing
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- An Introduction to Vocals
With these highly informative courses created by expert musicians—your voice will improve rapidly. Better still, you’ll learn how to preserve your voice, ensuring your singing prowess continues for many years.