The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary British Singers of all time. This list of famous British Singers is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of British Singers.
With an HPI of 80.81, David Bowie is the most famous British Singer. His biography has been translated into 109 different languages on wikipedia.
David Robert Jones (8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016), known professionally as David Bowie ( BOH-ee), was an English singer-songwriter and actor. A leading figure in the music industry, he is regarded as one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. Bowie was acclaimed by critics and musicians, particularly for his innovative work during the 1970s. His career was marked by reinvention and visual presentation, and his music and stagecraft had a significant impact on popular music. Bowie developed an interest in music as a child. He studied art, music and design before embarking on a professional career as a musician in 1963. "Space Oddity", released in 1969, was his first top-five entry on the UK Singles Chart. After a period of experimentation, he re-emerged in 1972 during the glam rock era with his flamboyant and androgynous alter ego Ziggy Stardust. The character was spearheaded by the success of Bowie's single "Starman" and album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, which won him widespread popularity. In 1975, Bowie's style shifted towards a sound he characterised as "plastic soul", initially alienating many of his UK fans but garnering him his first major US crossover success with the number-one single "Fame" and the album Young Americans. In 1976, Bowie starred in the cult film The Man Who Fell to Earth and released Station to Station. In 1977, he again changed direction with the electronic-inflected album Low, the first of three collaborations with Brian Eno that came to be known as the "Berlin Trilogy". "Heroes" (1977) and Lodger (1979) followed; each album reached the UK top five and received lasting critical praise. After uneven commercial success in the late 1970s, Bowie had three number-one hits: the 1980 single "Ashes to Ashes", its album Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps), and "Under Pressure" (a 1981 collaboration with Queen). He reached his peak commercial success in 1983 with Let's Dance: its title track topped both the UK and US charts. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Bowie continued to experiment with musical styles, including industrial and jungle. He also continued acting; his roles included Major Jack Celliers in Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983), Jareth the Goblin King in Labyrinth (1986), Pontius Pilate in The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), and Nikola Tesla in The Prestige (2006), among other film and television appearances and cameos. He stopped touring after 2004 and his last live performance was at a charity event in 2006. In 2013, Bowie returned from a decade-long recording hiatus with The Next Day. He remained musically active until his death from liver cancer at his home in New York City. He died two days after both his 69th birthday and the release of his final album, Blackstar (2016). During his lifetime, his record sales, estimated at over 100 million records worldwide, made him one of the best-selling musicians of all time. In the UK, he was awarded ten platinum, eleven gold and eight silver album certifications, and released 11 number-one albums. In the US, he received five platinum and nine gold certifications. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. Rolling Stone named him among the greatest artists in history and—after his death—the "greatest rock star ever". On 17 January 2022, Bowie was announced as the best-selling vinyl artist of the 21st century.
With an HPI of 78.62, Mick Jagger is the 2nd most famous British Singer. His biography has been translated into 73 different languages.
Sir Michael Philip Jagger (born 26 July 1943) is an English singer, songwriter, actor, and film producer who has achieved international fame as the lead vocalist and one of the founder members of the Rolling Stones. His songwriting partnership with Keith Richards is one of the most successful in history. Jagger's career has spanned over six decades, and he has been described as "one of the most popular and influential frontmen in the history of rock & roll". His distinctive voice and energetic live performances, along with Richards' guitar style, have been the Rolling Stones's trademark throughout the band's career. Jagger gained press notoriety for his romantic involvements and illicit drug use — and was often portrayed as a countercultural figure. Jagger was born and grew up in Dartford, Kent. He studied at the London School of Economics before abandoning his studies to join the Rolling Stones. Jagger has written most of the Rolling Stones' songs together with Richards, and they continue to collaborate musically. In the late 1960s, Jagger starred in the films Performance (1970) and Ned Kelly (1970) to a mixed reception. In the 2000s, he co-founded a film production company, Jagged Films, and through them has produced a number of feature films, beginning with the 2001 historical drama Enigma. He began a solo recording career in 1985, releasing his first album, She's the Boss and joined the electric supergroup SuperHeavy in 2009. Relationships with the Stones' members, particularly Richards, deteriorated during the 1980s, but Jagger has always found more success with the band than with his solo and side projects. Jagger has been married and divorced once, and has had several other relationships, resulting in eight children with five women. In 1989, Jagger was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 2004 into the UK Music Hall of Fame with the Rolling Stones. As a member of the Rolling Stones, and as a solo artist, he reached number one on the UK and US singles charts with 13 singles, the top 10 with 32 singles and the top 40 with 70 singles. In 2003, he was knighted for his services to popular music.
With an HPI of 77.95, Brian Johnson is the 3rd most famous British Singer. His biography has been translated into 38 different languages.
Brian Francis Johnson (born 5 October 1947) is an English singer and songwriter. In 1980, after the death of Bon Scott, he became the third lead singer of the Australian rock band AC/DC. He and the rest of the band were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003. In March 2016, he temporarily stepped away from the band during the Rock or Bust World Tour due to hearing problems. In September 2020, AC/DC officially confirmed that Johnson along with fellow band-mates Phil Rudd and Cliff Williams had returned in August 2018 to record the band's 2020 album, Power Up. Johnson was one of the founding members of the rock band Geordie formed in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1971. After a few hit singles, including UK Top 10 "All Because of You" (1973), the band split up in 1978. Following the death of Bon Scott on 19 February 1980, Johnson was asked to audition for AC/DC. AC/DC guitarists and founders Angus and Malcolm Young initially reached out to Brian remembering when Bon had been impressed with him after seeing him perform with Geordie. His first album with AC/DC, Back in Black, became the second-best-selling album of all time, according to most estimates. The Guardian ranked the successful transition to Johnson at No. 36 on their list of 50 key events in rock music history.Johnson is known for his distinctive singing voice and strong Geordie accent. In July 2014, he was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Music by Northumbria University in the city of Newcastle in recognition of his significant contribution to the music industry.
With an HPI of 77.27, Ozzy Osbourne is the 4th most famous British Singer. His biography has been translated into 69 different languages.
John Michael "Ozzy" Osbourne (born 3 December 1948) is an English singer, songwriter, and television personality. He rose to prominence during the 1970s as the lead vocalist of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath, during which period he adopted the nickname "Prince of Darkness".Osbourne was fired from Black Sabbath in 1979 due to alcohol and drug problems, but went on to have a successful solo career, releasing 12 studio albums, the first seven of which received multi-platinum certifications in the US. Osbourne has since reunited with Black Sabbath on several occasions. He rejoined in 1997 and helped record the group's final studio album, 13 (2013), before they embarked on a farewell tour that ended with a February 2017 performance in their hometown, Birmingham. His longevity and success have earned him the informal title "Godfather of Metal".Osbourne's total album sales from his years in Black Sabbath, combined with his solo work, are over 100 million. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Black Sabbath and into the UK Music Hall of Fame as a solo artist and as a member of the band. He has been honoured with stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Birmingham Walk of Stars. At the 2014 MTV Europe Music Awards, he received the Global Icon Award. In 2015, Osbourne received the Ivor Novello Award for Lifetime Achievement from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors. In the early 2000s, Osbourne became a reality television star, appearing as himself in the MTV reality show The Osbournes alongside wife and manager Sharon and two of their three children, Kelly and Jack. He co-stars with Jack and Kelly in the television series Ozzy & Jack's World Detour. The show's third season debuted in June 2018.
With an HPI of 77.16, Joe Cocker is the 5th most famous British Singer. His biography has been translated into 77 different languages.
John Robert "Joe" Cocker (20 May 1944 – 22 December 2014) was an English singer known for his gritty, bluesy voice and dynamic stage performances that featured expressive body movements. Most of his best known singles were covers of songs by other artists, though he composed a number of his own songs for most of his albums as well, often in conjunction with songwriting partner Chris Stainton.His first album featured a recording of the Beatles' "With a Little Help from My Friends", which brought him to near-instant stardom. The song reached number one in the UK in 1968, became a staple of his many live shows, including Woodstock and Isle of Wight in 1969, the Party at the Palace in 2002, and was also known as the theme song for the TV series The Wonder Years. He continued his success with his second album, which included a second Beatles cover: "She Came In Through the Bathroom Window". A hastily thrown together 1970 U.S. tour led to the live double-album Mad Dogs & Englishmen, which featured an all-star band organized by Leon Russell. His 1974 cover of "You Are So Beautiful" reached number five in the U.S., and became his signature song. Cocker's best selling song was the U.S. number one "Up Where We Belong", a duet with Jennifer Warnes that earned a 1983 Grammy Award. He released a total of 22 studio albums over a 43-year recording career. In 1993, Cocker was nominated for the Brit Award for Best British Male. He was awarded a bronze Sheffield Legends plaque in his hometown in 2007, and received an OBE the following year for services to music. Cocker was ranked number 97 on Rolling Stone's 100 greatest singers list.
With an HPI of 76.51, Phil Collins is the 6th most famous British Singer. His biography has been translated into 74 different languages.
Philip David Charles Collins (born 30 January 1951) is an English drummer, singer-songwriter, record producer, and actor. He is best known for his tenure as the drummer and lead singer of the rock band Genesis and for his solo career which began in 1981. Between 1982 and 1990, Collins scored three UK and seven US number-one singles as a solo artist. When his work with Genesis, his work with other artists, as well as his solo career is totalled, he had more US top 40 singles than any other artist during the 1980s. His most successful singles from the period include "In the Air Tonight", "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)", "One More Night", and "Another Day in Paradise". Born and brought up in west London, Collins played drums from the age of five and completed drama school training, which secured him various roles as a child actor, with his first major role, aged 13, as the Artful Dodger in the West End musical Oliver!. He then pursued a music career, joining Genesis in 1970 as their drummer and becoming lead singer in 1975 following the departure of Peter Gabriel. Collins began a successful solo career in the 1980s, initially inspired by his marital breakdown and love of soul music, releasing the albums Face Value (1981), Hello, I Must Be Going (1982), No Jacket Required (1985) and ...But Seriously (1989). Collins became, in the words of AllMusic, "one of the most successful pop and adult contemporary singers of the '80s and beyond". He also became known for a distinctive gated reverb drum sound on many of his recordings. In 1985, he was the only artist to perform at both Live Aid concerts. He also resumed his acting career, appearing in Miami Vice and subsequently starring in the film Buster (1988). In 1996, Collins left Genesis to focus on solo work; this included writing songs for Disney's Tarzan (1999) for which he received an Oscar for Best Original Song for "You'll Be in My Heart". He rejoined Genesis for their Turn It On Again Tour in 2007. Following a five-year retirement to focus on his family life, Collins released an autobiography in 2016 and completed his Not Dead Yet Tour in 2019. He then rejoined Genesis in 2020 for a second reunion tour, ending in March 2022. Collins's discography includes eight studio albums that have sold 33.5 million certified units in the US and an estimated 150 million records sold worldwide, making him one of the world's best-selling artists. He is one of only three recording artists, along with Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson, who have sold over 100 million records both as solo artists and separately as principal members of a band. He has won eight Grammy Awards, six Brit Awards (winning Best British Male Artist three times), two Golden Globe Awards, one Academy Award, and a Disney Legend Award. He was awarded six Ivor Novello Awards from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, including the International Achievement Award. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1999, and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2003 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Genesis in 2010. He has also been recognised by music publications with induction into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 2012, and the Classic Drummer Hall of Fame in 2013.
With an HPI of 74.99, Marianne Faithfull is the 7th most famous British Singer. Her biography has been translated into 35 different languages.
Marianne Evelyn Gabriel Faithfull (born 29 December 1946) is an English singer, songwriter and actress. She achieved popularity in the 1960s with the release of her hit single "As Tears Go By" and became one of the lead female artists during the British Invasion in the United States. Born in Hampstead, London, Faithfull began her career in 1964 after attending a Rolling Stones party, where she was discovered by Andrew Loog Oldham. Her debut album Marianne Faithfull (1965) (released simultaneously with her album Come My Way) was a commercial success followed by a number of albums on Decca Records. From 1966 to 1970, she had a highly publicised romantic relationship with Mick Jagger. Her popularity was further enhanced by her film roles, such as those in I'll Never Forget What's'isname (1967), The Girl on a Motorcycle (1968), and Hamlet (1969). However, her popularity was overshadowed by personal problems in the 1970s. During that time she was anorexic, homeless, and a heroin addict. Noted for her distinctive voice, Faithfull's previously melodic and higher-registered vocals (which were prevalent throughout her career in the 1960s) were affected by severe laryngitis, coupled with persistent drug abuse during the 1970s, permanently altering her voice, leaving it raspy, cracked and lower in pitch. This new sound was praised as "whisky soaked" by some critics and seen as having helped to capture the raw emotions expressed in Faithfull's music.After a long commercial absence, Faithfull made a comeback with the 1979 release of her critically acclaimed album Broken English. The album was a commercial success and marked a resurgence of her musical career. Broken English earned Faithfull a nomination for the Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance and is often regarded as her "definitive recording". She followed this with a series of albums, including Dangerous Acquaintances (1981), A Child's Adventure (1983), and Strange Weather (1987). Faithfull also wrote three books about her life: Faithfull: An Autobiography (1994), Memories, Dreams & Reflections (2007), and Marianne Faithfull: A Life on Record (2014). Faithfull is listed on VH1's "100 Greatest Women of Rock and Roll" list. She received the World Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2009 Women's World Awards and was made a Commandeur of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the government of France.
With an HPI of 74.81, Rod Stewart is the 8th most famous British Singer. His biography has been translated into 63 different languages.
Sir Roderick David Stewart (born 10 January 1945) is a British rock and pop singer, songwriter, and record producer. Born and raised in London, he is of Scottish and English ancestry. With his distinctive raspy singing voice, Stewart is among the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold over 120 million records worldwide. He has had 10 number-one albums and 31 top ten singles in the UK, six of which reached number one. Stewart has had 16 top ten singles in the US, with four reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100. He was knighted in the 2016 Birthday Honours for services to music and charity.Stewart's music career began in 1962 when he took up busking with a harmonica. In 1963, he joined The Dimensions as a harmonica player and vocalist. In 1964, Stewart joined Long John Baldry and the All Stars before moving to the Jeff Beck Group in 1967. Joining Faces in 1969, he also maintained a solo career releasing his debut album that year. Stewart's early albums were a fusion of rock, folk music, soul music, and R&B. His third album, 1971's Every Picture Tells a Story, was his breakthrough, topping the charts in the UK, US, Canada and Australia, as did its ballad "Maggie May". His 1972 follow-up album, Never a Dull Moment, also reached number one in the UK and Australia, while going top three in the US and Canada. Its single, "You Wear It Well", topped the chart in the UK and was a moderate hit elsewhere. After Stewart had a handful more UK top ten hits, the Faces broke up in 1975. Stewart's next few singles were ballads with "Sailing", off the 1975 UK and Australian number-one album, Atlantic Crossing, becoming a hit in the UK and the Netherlands (number one), Germany (number four) and other countries, but barely charting in North America. A Night on the Town (1976), his fifth straight chart-topper in the UK, began a three-album run of going number one or top three in North America, the UK and Australia with each release. That album's "Tonight's the Night (Gonna Be Alright)" spent almost two months at number one in the US and Canada, and made the top five in other countries. Foot Loose & Fancy Free (1977) contained the hit "You're in My Heart (The Final Acclaim)" as well as the rocker "Hot Legs". Blondes Have More Fun (1978) and its disco-tinged "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy" both went to number one in Canada, Australia and the US, with "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy" also hitting number one in the UK and the top ten in other countries. Stewart's albums regularly hit the upper rungs of the charts in the Netherlands throughout the 70s and in Sweden from 1975 onward. After a disco and new wave period in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Stewart's music turned to a soft rock/middle-of-the-road style, with most of his albums reaching the top ten in the UK, Germany and Sweden, but faring less well in the US. The single "Rhythm of My Heart" was a top five hit in the UK, US and other countries, with its source album, 1991's Vagabond Heart, becoming, at number ten in the US and number two in the UK, his highest-charting album in a decade. In 1993, he collaborated with Bryan Adams and Sting on the power ballad "All for Love", which went to number one in many countries. In the early 2000s, he released a series of successful albums interpreting the Great American Songbook. In 2008, Billboard magazine ranked him the 17th most successful artist on the "Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists". A Grammy and Brit Award recipient, he was voted at No. 33 in Q Magazine's list of the Top 100 Greatest Singers of all time As a solo artist, Stewart was inducted into the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2006, and he was inducted a second time into the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012 as a member of Faces.
With an HPI of 74.61, George Michael is the 9th most famous British Singer. His biography has been translated into 84 different languages.
George Michael (born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou; 25 June 1963 – 25 December 2016) was an English singer and songwriter. Known as a leading creative force in music production, songwriting, vocal performance and visual presentation, he is regarded as one of the most significant cultural figures of the MTV generation.Born in East Finchley, North London, Michael rose to fame as a member of the music duo Wham! and later embarked on a solo career. Forming the duo Wham! with Andrew Ridgeley in 1981, the band's first two albums, Fantastic (1983) and Make It Big (1984), reached number one on the UK Albums Chart and the US Billboard 200. Their hit singles included "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" and "Last Christmas". Establishing themselves as a global act, Wham! toured China in April 1985; the tour was the first visit to China by a Western popular music act, and it generated worldwide media coverage.Michael's first solo single, "Careless Whisper", reached number one in over 20 countries, including the UK and US. Before embarking on the production of his first solo album, Michael went on to release two more number-one singles, "A Different Corner" and the Aretha Franklin duet "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)". Michael's debut solo album, Faith, was released in 1987, topping the UK Albums Chart and staying at number one on the Billboard 200 for 12 weeks. Globally it sold 25 million copies, and four singles from the album—"Faith", "Father Figure", "One More Try", and "Monkey"—reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Michael became the best-selling music artist of 1988, and Faith was awarded Album of the Year at the 1989 Grammy Awards. His second solo album, Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 (1990), sold approximately eight million copies and was a UK number-one. It included the Billboard Hot 100 number-one "Praying for Time" and the worldwide hit "Freedom! '90". A 1991 live duet with Elton John, "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me", was also a transatlantic number one. Michael went on to release two more multimillion-selling albums, Older (1996) and Patience (2004). Outside music, Michael was an active LGBT rights campaigner and HIV/AIDS charity fundraiser. His personal life, drug use, and legal troubles made headlines during the late 1990s and 2000s, as he was arrested for public lewdness in 1998 and was arrested for multiple drug-related offences after that time. Michael came out as gay in 1998. The 2005 documentary A Different Story covered his career and personal life. Michael's 25 Live tour spanned three tours from 2006 to 2008. Michael fell into a coma in 2011 during a bout with pneumonia, but later recovered. He performed his final concert at London's Earls Court in 2012. On 25 December 2016, Michael was found dead of heart disease at his home in Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire. Michael is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, with sales of over 120 million records worldwide. He achieved seven number-one songs on the UK Singles Chart and eight number-one songs on the US Billboard Hot 100. Michael won various music awards, including two Grammy Awards, three Brit Awards, three American Music Awards, 12 Billboard Music Awards, four MTV Video Music Awards, and six Ivor Novello Awards. In 2015, he was ranked 45th in Billboard's list of the "Greatest Hot 100 Artists of All Time". The Radio Academy named him the most played artist on British radio during the period 1984–2004.
With an HPI of 74.38, Ian Gillan is the 10th most famous British Singer. His biography has been translated into 44 different languages.
Ian Gillan (born 19 August 1945) is an English singer and songwriter. He is the lead singer and lyricist for the rock band Deep Purple and is known for his powerful and wide-ranging singing voice. Initially influenced by Elvis Presley, Gillan started and fronted several local bands in the mid-1960s, and eventually joined Episode Six when their original singer left. He first found widespread commercial success after joining Deep Purple in 1969. He resigned from the band in June 1973, having given a lengthy notice period to their managers. After a short time away from the music business, he resumed his music career with solo bands the Ian Gillan Band and Gillan, before a year-long stint as the vocalist for Black Sabbath in 1983. The following year, Deep Purple reformed and two more successful albums followed before he left in 1989. He returned to the group in 1993, and has remained its lead singer ever since. In addition to his main work—performing with Deep Purple and other bands during the 1970s and 1980s—he sang the role of Jesus in the original recording of Andrew Lloyd Webber's rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar (1970), performed in the charity supergroup Rock Aid Armenia, and engaged in a number of business investments and ventures, including a hotel, a motorcycle manufacturer, and music recording facilities at Kingsway Studios. More recently, he has performed solo concerts concurrently with his latter career in Deep Purple, and his work and affinity with Armenia, combined with his continued friendship with Tony Iommi since his brief time in Black Sabbath, has led him to form the supergroup WhoCares with Iommi. His solo career outside of Deep Purple was given a comprehensive overview with the Gillan's Inn box set in 2006.
Pantheon has 349 people classified as singers born between 1874 and 2000. Of these 349, 302 (86.53%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living singers include Mick Jagger, Brian Johnson, and Ozzy Osbourne. The most famous deceased singers include David Bowie, Joe Cocker, and George Michael. As of October 2020, 39 new singers have been added to Pantheon including Annie Ross, Aneka, and Gwyneth Jones.
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Which Singers were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Singers since 1700.