100 Top Male Singers Of The '50s, '60s, And '70s Who Changed Music
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, 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, dubbed the "Prince of Soul," was a Motown legend whose smile and music had a healing effect.
Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin
Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones
Nat "King" Cole
Ray Davies of The Kinks
Music Took Us To Some Far-Out Places And Wild Worlds
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.
Marc Bolan of T.Rex
Joe Strummer of The Clash
Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead
Music That Had Them Twistin' The Night Away
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."
Ozzy Osbourne of Black Sabbath
Jim Morrison of The Doors
Roger Daltrey of The Who
These Singers Knew That Breaking Up Was Hard On Us
Neil Sedaka rose to fame in 1959 with his hit song, “Oh Carol!”
When A Man Loves His Music
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.
Bon Scott of AC/DC
Jerry Lee Lewis
Sammy Davis Jr.
The Times They Were A-Changin'
Bob Dylan’s music spoke directly to his fans creating a legacy of pop culture/musical influence early on.
Ronnie Van Zant of Lynyrd Skynyrd
Call Him A Relic, Call Him What You Will...
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.
John "Johnny Rotten" Lydon of the Sex Pistols
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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