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100 Top Male Singers Of The '50s, '60s, And '70s Who Changed Music

Music | February 13, 2019

Jim Croce performing live on 'In Concert' in 1973. (Photo by ABC via Getty Images)

Musical tastes change, but influence lasts forever. A list of the top 100 male singers of the '50s, '60s and '70s that shaped music history pulls in artists known for natural talent and endlessly-cultivated craftsmanship. In our lifetime, we've seen both flourish, and we've seen popular music evolve from a corporate product to a more personal statement of self. In the '50s, we had singers and songwriters, but singer-songwriters were few and far between. Bob Dylan and the Beatles popularized the practice of releasing entire albums composed of original material. And in a related movement, the artist as an individual -- an Elvis, a Sinatra, an Otis Redding -- ceded ground on the charts to rock groups. The Rolling Stones had Mick Jagger, the Doors had Jim Morrison, Led Zeppelin had Robert Plant -- these vocalists were all frontmen who commanded the crowd's attention, but their names weren't on the album covers. Soul music made us shuffle our feet while enjoying immortal voices -- James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield. Country music gave us memorable traditionalists like Ray Price and Faron Young, then saw an outlaw rebellion, with Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings leading the charge.

These are the artists that we can’t get enough of and leave us with their lyrics rattling around in our heads. They are also the greats that seem to embrace the era with their attitudes, lyrics, and music, bringing it all together to define the times. Like the top female singers of the era, the top 100 male vocalists of the '50s, '60s, and '70s are an eclectic bunch. We've compiled this list to demonstrate just that -- some of the names here are bound to be your absolute favorites, and there will be others you don't care for. It was a tumultuous three decades, with popular music expanding -- exploding -- in many directions at once. 

All Hail The King

Elvis Presley. Source: (ldsliving.com)

Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll, was responsible for introducing and establishing rock and roll to mainstream music. He didn't invent rock 'n roll -- in fact, his genius was his ability to absorb and combine numerous styles, including black rhythm & blues, country music, and gospel. It's all there in his '50s hits -- "Don't Be Cruel," "All Shook Up," "Jailhouse Rock," and so many more you know. Elvis did so much with his voice, his presence, and of course his hips, that he established the model that influenced every male vocalist who followed -- though many might not admit it.

The ‘50s kicked off the age of rock 'n roll, a new kind of music was headed down the pike and growing in popularity, primarily with teenagers. But it wasn't kid stuff -- if it was, we'd have outgrown it. Rock and roll was here to stay, or so we were told by Danny And The Juniors, and there was no denying the excitement for what was to come. After rock and roll took off, it opened the door for artists in genres from country and western to jazz music to let their hair down and get creative.

It would be almost impossible to name every influential music artist and give the credit due, but below are some of the most notable and successful male, pop music artists of the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s. Following is a list, in no particular order, of the unforgettable and influential male music legends, in varying genres, that personified their songs and will go down in pop music history for the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s.


Pay Respect To The Prince

Marvin Gaye. Source: (hollywoodreporter.com)

Marvin Gaye, dubbed the "Prince of Soul," was a Motown legend whose smile and music had a healing effect.

Marvin Gaye

Dean Martin

Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin

Chubby Checker

Roy Orbison

Dion

Johnny Cash

Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones

Perry Como

Nat "King" Cole

Pat Boone

Fats Domino

Ray Charles

Ray Davies of The Kinks

Music Took Us To Some Far-Out Places And Wild Worlds

Cat Stevens in 1972. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Cat Stevens is known for catchy post-hippie anthems like "Peace Train," "Wild World," and "Morning Has Broken." In 1977, he converted to Islam and took a 25-year break from recording or performing secular music. In the early 2000s, as Yusuf, he returned to touring and playing his folk-rock hits, and has released four mainstream studio albums.

Cat Stevens

Frank Sinatra

Marc Bolan of T.Rex

James Brown

Tony Bennett

Joe Strummer of The Clash

Bobby Darin

Jackie Wilson

Johnny Mathis

Eddy Arnold

Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead

Marty Robbins

Stevie Wonder

Willie Nelson

Buddy Holly

Chuck Berry

Music That Had Them Twistin' The Night Away

Sam Cooke. Source: (thefamouspeople.com)

Everyone was twistin’ the night away to Sam Cooke in the early ‘60s. Cooke was known for his smooth and distinctive voice that earned him the title "King of Soul."

Sam Cooke

Ozzy Osbourne of Black Sabbath

Bing Crosby

Little Richard

Freddie Mercury

Jim Morrison of The Doors

Wilson Pickett

Tom Jones

Otis Redding

Roger Daltrey of The Who

Jim Reeves

Bobby Bland

Bobby Goldsboro

Waylon Jennings

Hank Snow

These Singers Knew That Breaking Up Was Hard On Us

Neil Sedaka. Source: (moonmagazine.com)

Neil Sedaka rose to fame in 1959 with his hit song, “Oh Carol!”

Neil Sedaka

George Jones

Lou Reed

Jack Jones

Harry Belafonte

Alice Cooper

Steve Perry

Hank Williams

Louis Armstrong

Steve Miller

Neil Diamond

James Taylor

Gram Parsons

When A Man Loves His Music

Percy Sledge. Source: (rollingstone.com)

Percy Sledge was a rhythm & blues, soul and gospel music marvel. His No. 1 hit, “When A Man Loves A Woman” is the song he is best known for.

Percy Sledge

Joe Cocker

Bon Scott of AC/DC

Elvis Costello

Frank Zappa

Paul Simon

Rod Stewart

Roger Miller

Buck Owens

Neil Diamond

Faron Young

Glen Campbell

B.B. King

Jerry Lee Lewis

Sammy Davis Jr.

The Times They Were A-Changin'

Bob Dylan. Source: (thefamouspeople.com)

Bob Dylan’s music spoke directly to his fans creating a legacy of pop culture/musical influence early on.

Bob Dylan

Michael Jackson

Paul McCartney

Billy Joel

Curtis Mayfield

Neil Young

Van Morrison

Joey Ramone

Bob Marley

Tom Petty

David Bowie

Elton John

Ronnie Van Zant of Lynyrd Skynyrd

Stevie Wonder

Bruce Springsteen

Call Him A Relic, Call Him What You Will...

Bob Seger. Source: (kresge.org)

Bob Seger began making his mark in the ‘70s with hit songs that came from the soul. His hit, "Old Time Rock and Roll,” is ranked as the second most-played jukebox song of all time.

Bob Seger

John Lennon

George Harrison

John "Johnny Rotten" Lydon of the Sex Pistols

Charley Pride

Barry White

Nick Drake

Jackson Browne

Kenny Rogers

Donovan

Dan Fogelberg

Merle Haggard

Jim Croce

Jimi Hendrix. Source: (iloveoldschoolmusic.com)

Jimi Hendrix was known as being one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of pop music and one of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century.

Of this compilation of male musicians, there are many that we lost long before we were ready and others that were legends in their own time. Whichever category your favorite falls into, you can be sure that they helped to shape the history of music.


Tags: Celebrities In The 1950s | Celebrities In The 1960s | Celebrities In The 1970s | Elvis Presley | Famous Singers | Music In The 1950s | Music In The 1960s | Popular Lists Of Everything From The Groovy Era | 1970s Music

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Rebeka Knott

Writer

Rebeka grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s and has always subscribed to the theory that a positive attitude will take you far! She is a wife and mother of 3 with a fun-loving spirit, believing that family and relationships are invaluable.