Many genres are out there in the music world we have all come to know and love. Some of the most outstanding performers and musicians hit the stages worldwide within the genres. Some of them are still performing and doing quite well.
There is more than we can count how many we lost from the 20th Century to the present. Many musicians have been influenced by the musicians we lost, like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eddie Van Halen, Bo Diddly, Hank Williams, and many more. Listed below are 15 of the ones that are still with us and still active.
1. Taylor Swift
Perhaps one of the most covered music artists in the media, Taylor Swift signed with Sony/ATV Tree Publishing to become a songwriter in 2004. By her debut album release, she started to top the charts. Up to date, Swift sold over 37 million albums and is followed by over 76 million people on social media.
Taylor Swift was nominated and won countless awards since her debut. She has nine total albums released and put out two of those in 2020. Within the first week, both albums worldwide sold over a million copies, with the second one surpassing the 2 million mark.
Along with her music, Swift is also known for her fashion. As of May 2021, she has received over 78 billion streams for her music, videos, fashion, news, and statements.
Beyonce is the wife of Jay-Z since 2008, and they work together in the music industry. Her career started with the band Destiny’s Child, where she was the lead singer in the late 90s. Today Beyonce is noted for selling over 118 million albums globally and is one of the greatest selling artists.
The first six solo albums rose to number one on the Billboard 200, and her fame has led her to be named Billboard’s Top Female Artist of the Decade in the 2000s. In 2020, she was listed under the top 100 women defining the 1900s according to Time’s list.
Beyonce has over 57 million followers on social media. She is one of the most followed female artists, and she is also well known for her acting and dancing. Beyonce also has side projects and businesses in the philanthropy and fashion world.
Sometimes called The Four Horsemen of Metal, Metallica has been around since 1981, thrashing and bashing the stage, entertaining fans. James Hetfield (Vocals / Rhythm), Lars Ulrich (Drums), Kirk Hammett (Lead Guitar), and Robert Trujillo (Bass) are the members today of Metallica.
In 1991, The Famous Black Album debuted as the band completely turned over the tables with the talents. At the time, Jason Newsted was the bassist. Each member had their own flavor of instrumentals put into the project, winning their first Grammy Award for the album.
As the years went on, they experimented with different sounds, standing out on their own when they made their return with the Load album shocking the world. They have sold over 125 million albums worldwide and have over 36 million followers on social media.
Like The Beatles, they are a British Rock band that originated in London, England. It is difficult to place the band Queen in any genre.
They pretty much stand on their own and never followed those rules. Frontman Freddie Mercury played the piano and the guitar but mostly sang without an instrument.
Many speakers were blown with the song “Another One Bites the Dust.” Between the bass player, John Deacon, and on the drums, Roger Taylor, they put a massive beat in that song and “We Will Rock You.” The cry of the lead guitar added fuel to the fire, with Brian May screaming the guitar lyrics to Mercury’s words.
Together, the theatrical side of the performances awed the crowd, as did the talent. “Bohemian Rhapsody” sums up what the band was made of with all the genres mixed into one song. It is estimated their record sales are approximately 170 million+ with over 26 million followers on social media.
Jay-Z is a music producer, solo artist, and record executive valued at $1.3 billion. He has influenced most of the hip-hop artists we know today. Jay-Z also has the spotlight of being the first Rapper to get inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
He was honored with over 80 awards, nominations, and honorable mentions from his music throughout Jay-Z’s career to his business and philanthropy. Jay-Z sold over 75 million singles globally and over 50 million albums. He has over 22 million followers on social media.
The journey of Jay-Z’s music began in 1995 where he sold his music projects and CDs from his car. The Rolling Stones, Billboard Music Awards, and critics pushed for Jay-Z’s fame and fortune where his debut album Reasonable Doubt went to number 23 on the Billboard 200. His entire career skyrocketed from there, and he is still performing and influencing today.
Aerosmith has been labeled as “America’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band” of all time several times over. From frontman Steven Tyler’s vocals to the instrumentals within the band, the only thing we can say is they hold the torch and rock it. The entire band is known as a whole, but Joe Perry on the lead guitar is phenomenal.
Aerosmith has been playing since 1970 and has been through its ups and downs. They are still touring and winning awards from their past projects to the new stuff they come up with today. Their last album was recorded in 2012.
Worldwide, Aerosmith sold over 150 million albums, and within the US alone, they sold 70.2 million with over 16 million followers on social media. They are neck and neck with Kiss and Van Halen when it comes to gold albums. Their lyrics and musical talent are timeless as the young generation loves their music.
7. Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton is another “larger than life” figure in the music industry. In Rolling Stone’s list of “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time,” Clapton came in at number two. He has sold over 100 million albums worldwide and has over 10 million followers on social media.
Clapton’s reign in music is covered from 1962 and still going. He started out with The Yardbirds in 1963, then went to Cream in 1966.
His next venture was not long after in 1968 with Blind Faith. From 1970 until now, Clapton has been a solo artist and never looked back from where he came.
Clapton has played with many famous artists, done many tributes, and won a massive amount of awards.
His vocals and songwriting with his songs are spectacular, but his guitar style and playing are undeniably in a “league of its own.” He has 22 solo albums released and three collaborations.
8. Sir Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney was the bass player for one of the most popular bands globally, The Beatles, making him famous. McCartney taught himself how to play almost every instrument. Proficiently, he plays the bass, keyboards, guitar, and drums.
Throughout the 60s, the Beatles took the reigns on Rock and Roll as they parted ways in 1970. All members, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, went solo. McCartney and Starr are the only living members of the Beatles, and both are still active in the music industry.
Sir Paul McCartney has close to 9 million followers on social media and has sold over 100 million albums worldwide. His services to the music industry earned him knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II in 1997, and his awards are endless. The 2009 Guinness Book of World Records holds McCartney as the “most successful songwriter.”
Carlos Santana is a Mexican/American Rock Musician who likes to throw in Latin, Jazz, and well-balanced blues in the mix. He has sold over 100 million albums worldwide and has almost 8 million followers on social media. His life and music are an inspiration to many who faced the same hardships as he did.
Santana’s fame rose to high levels in the late 60s and continued to flourish as he has a total of 10 Grammy Awards, three Latin Grammys, and is inducted like many on this list into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. There are multiple other awards he received over his span of music.
Santana has even put out his own line of guitars. There is 12 total from 1988 to the most recent one built in 2017, all labeled PRS Santana. He has a total of 18 albums put out, both studio and live shows.
10. Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan is widely known and respected across the music industry on stage and in the studios. He has been performing since the early 60s and wrote and composed many songs across the Billboard Charts in different genres.
Dylan started out as a Folk artist and, later in the 60s, picked up electric guitars crossing the boundaries into Rock Music. It was not a popular decision among his original fans, but they warmed up to him as a musician, singer, and songwriter as he sold over 40 million albums. He has close to 7 million followers on social media.
Listed below are the awards he won over the decades.
- Ten Grammy Awards
- Presidential Medal of Freedom
- Golden Globe Award
- Academy Award
- Songwriters Hall of Fame
- Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame
- Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
- Nobel Peace Prize in Literature
11. Stevie Wonder
Disability never kept singer, songwriter, and musician Stevie Wonder down. He is also a record producer and carried Pop, Rhythm and Blues, Gospel, Soul, Jazz, and Funk to a high level, with over 100 million albums sold globally. Social media has him with close to 7 million followers.
Stevie Wonder used his disability of being blind to hear and play sounds in music most musicians could never touch. His talent in instruments covers the keyboards, drums, and harmonica.
Wonder is the epitome of being a one-man-band. He has entertained his fans since 1961 and is known as a “musical genius.”
Motown, in the 60s, adored him when he landed his first record deal at age 11 with Tamla. A book could get written about all the awards, and honorable mentions Wonder received over the decades. He also introduces himself sometimes as, “Hi, I’m Stevie Wonder, and I write a song a day.”
12. Phil Collins
Phil Collins started playing the drums at five years old. He became the frontman of the band Genesis in 1970 but went solo a decade later in the 80s.
As a solo artist, he sold over 100 million albums and even more under different bands. He has over 7 million followers on social media.
Collins is another Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and well noted for his vocals, drum, and piano playing skills. One of the most familiar drum beats every music lover can pick out is the drum solo on “Calling in the Air Tonight.”
For only having eight studio albums over Collin’s career, having the numbers sold are spectacular. Within his shows, Collin’s talent shines through playing the instruments.
The crowd feels it, and his latest tour, which ended in 2019, “Not Dead Yet Tour,” says it all. He is still going.
13. The Eagles
Even though co-founder Glen Frey passed away, the band still tours and makes appearances. Their music is a mixture of Country and Rock.
The entire band together is spell-binding instrumentally. The band was formed in 1971 but took a 14-year split up due to discrepancies.
How great are these musicians? The band sold over 100 million records in the US alone and over 200 million globally with over 6 million followers.
All the songs are fabulous, but one stands out, showing their true talents, “Hotel California.” The lyrics are mysterious, and the instrumentals, when they come together, set the scene.
Perhaps one of their biggest tours ever was the “Hell Freezes Over Tour.” No one thought the band would get back together after they went their separate ways in 1980. In 1994, they not only got back together, but they also came back better than when they split up.
14. Billy Joel
Billy Joel is known as “The Piano Man,” named after the hit song he recorded in 1973. He began his career in music in 1964 and remains active in the music industry today.
Although he favors the piano in musical instruments, he has played accordion and guitar in his songs. The rugged style of New York has many stories within his songs.
Billy Joel has influenced so many artists across the board and sold over 150 million albums across the world. He still tours and makes appearances here and there, but his last album was recorded in 2001, “Fantasies & Delusions,” loaded with classical compositions.
Although Joel has not recorded an album in 20 years, he works with other artists touring the world. He also helps out behind the scenes offering inspiration and sound advice to anyone who will listen coming up in the music industry. Joel has over 3.4 million followers on social media.
15. Lang Lang
Lang Lang is a young pianist from China who plays Classical Music. He was motivated to play the piano at the age of two, and by five years old, he did his first public recital at the Shenyang Piano Competition.
Lang won first place. Many current artists use his music to break away from the world.
Many call Lang Lang “a mastery of the piano.” All over the world, he is recognized and respected by fellow musicians to critics. Some also say his music “straddles two worlds.”
He did not just walk in; he stormed into the Classical Music genre in 1999 and practically claimed it his own. With his talent, he may have that right.
Lang has an autobiography describing his journey in music. He took home several awards during his career, which is still growing as more people listen to Classical Music.
His piano playing makes the listener feel every note. He has sold millions of albums and has almost a million followers on social media.
These are only a small count of the most talented musicians out there in the world. The sad part is that many who never make it famous have the same talents to become greats alongside these names. Some passed away tragically who were friends to these musicians inspired by or just as good as those listed here.
The talents of those not listed and those who have passed away are never forgotten. Through the instruments and recordings, the music never dies. It keeps the musician’s souls very much alive as though they never died.
Many on the list made their mark. Some are still making it.
Either way, the impact of a great musician lives on as their inspiration passes on to the next generation and perhaps continues to surpass the expectations. Isn’t that what musicians are best known for?