Rock and roll music emerged in the United States in the 1950s, blending elements of rhythm and blues, country, and other genres. Over the years, rock and roll have evolved and diversified, spawning countless subgenres and producing some of the most iconic and influential musicians ever.
From Elvis Presley and Eric Clapton to Prince, rock and roll artists have profoundly impacted popular culture and helped shape the musical landscape of the last several decades. Their enduring legacies are celebrated and honoured.
Here’s a list of 10 evergreen rock and roll artists, including old and new:
1. Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley (1935-1977) was an American singer, actor, and cultural icon. He is often called the “King of Rock and Roll” as he helped popularize rock and roll music. He was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, and grew up in a working-class family.
His music career began in the mid-1950s. Presley gained popularity with his unique rock, blues, country, and gospel music blend. His energetic performances, hip-swivelling dance moves, and powerful vocals impact popular culture to a level that cannot be overstated.
“Hound Dog,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Love Me Tender,” and “Blue Suede Shoes” are famous tracks of Elvis Presley. Presley featured in several movies like, “Jailhouse Rock,” “Blue Hawaii,” and “Viva Las Vegas” in the 1950s and 1960s.
This famous rock artist has influenced countless musicians who followed in his footsteps. In the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 Presley was inducted. Even today, his music is celebrated and enjoyed by fans worldwide.
2. Jim Morrison
Jim Morrison was an American musician, singer, and songwriter who was the lead vocalist and lyricist for the legendary rock band The Doors. He was born on December 8, 1943, in Melbourne, Florida, and grew up in a military family.
His unique vocal style, poetic lyrics, and charismatic stage presence make him stand out. In 1965 he formed The Doors with the keyboardist Ray Manzarek. The band became one of the most influential and successful rock acts of the 1960s. Hit songs like “Light My Fire,” “Break on Through (To the Other Side),” and “The End” are some of the releases by this band.
Considered among the best rock artists, he often pushed the boundaries of what was considered acceptable in his lyrics and performances. Often in controversy, he had several run-ins with the law for indecent exposure and other offences.
Morrison died on July 3, 1971, in Paris, France, at 27. His sudden death remains a subject of speculation and controversy, although the reason stated then was heart failure. Morrison’s influence on rock music and popular culture has been significant. He is remembered as one of the most iconic and enigmatic figures of the 1960s counterculture.
3. Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell is a Canadian musician, singer-songwriter, and painter widely regarded as one of the most influential and talented songwriters of the 20th century. She was born in Alberta, Canada, on November 7, 1943, and grew up in Saskatoon.
Mitchell began her music career in the 1960s as a folk singer, performing in coffeehouses and clubs in Canada and the United States. Her early albums, such as “Clouds” and “Ladies of the Canyon,” showcased her unique voice and song writing skills.
In the 1970s, Mitchell continued to evolve her sound and style, incorporating jazz, rock, and pop influences into her music. She released several critically acclaimed albums during this period, including “Blue,” “Court and Spark,” and “Hejira.”
Known for her introspective and poetic lyrics, countless artists have covered Mitchell’s songs over the years. She has won numerous awards and honours, including nine Grammy Awards. This legendary rock artist was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.
4. Freddie Mercury
Freddie Mercury was the lead vocalist of the legendary rock band Queen. He was born on September 5, 1946, in Zanzibar (now part of Tanzania) and grew up in India and England.
Freddie is known for powerful vocals and flamboyant stage presence. He is associated with a major part of Queen’s success and wrote many of the band’s most popular songs. “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Are the Champions,” and “Somebody to Love” are some of Freddie’s compositions.
This great rock artist, diagnosed with AIDS in 1987, passed away on November 24, 1991, at 45. He was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Queen in 2001.
5. Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton a famous rock artist is considered one of the greatest guitarists of all time. He was born on March 30, 1945, in Surrey, England, and began playing the guitar in his teens.
Clapton first gained fame in the 1960s as a member of several bands, including the Yardbirds and Cream. He later formed the supergroup Blind Faith and continued to release successful solo albums throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
Clapton’s music is known for its bluesy, soulful sound and virtuoso guitar playing. He is famous for such classic songs as “Layla,” “Tears in Heaven,” and “Wonderful Tonight,”. He has collaborated with many prominent musicians, including B.B. King, Carlos Santana, and George Harrison.
He has won numerous awards and honours, including 18 Grammy Awards. Clapton was enlisted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three times – as a member of the Yardbirds, Cream, and a solo artist.
6. Rod Stewart
Known for his distinctive voice and eclectic blend of rock, folk, and soul music Rod Stewart was born on January 10, 1945, in London, England. This famous rock and roll artist began his music career in the early 1960s as a member of several bands.
Stewart first gained fame as a solo artist in the early 1970s, releasing a string of successful albums that included hits such as “Maggie May,” “You Wear It Well,” and “Tonight’s the Night.” His unique style, combining rock and roll energy with folk-influenced storytelling, earned him a devoted fanbase.
Stewart has sold over 120 million records worldwide. He has been awarded numerous accolades, including two inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
He has been awarded a CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire). Stewart is soccer lover and lifelong supporter of the Scottish national team.
7. Jimmi Hendrix
Jimmi Hendrix is widely considered as one of the most influential guitarists in the history of rock music. This great rock artist began playing the guitar at a young age.
Hendrix first gained fame in the late 1960s as the frontman of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, a power trio that included bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell. He is known for incorporating elements of blues, jazz, and psychedelic rock into his music. Some of his most famous songs include “Purple Haze,” “Hey Joe,” and “Voodoo Child (Slight Return).”
Tragically, Hendrix died on September 18, 1970, at 27, due to drug-related complications. He was honoured posthumously in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.
8. Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan is one of the most influential figures on the rock and roll artists list and has been active for over six decades. He started his career in the early 1960s as a folk musician and quickly gained a following for his socially conscious and politically charged lyrics.
Some of his most famous songs from this period include “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” and “Like a Rolling Stone.” Dylan’s music significantly influenced the civil rights movement, and he was known as the “voice of a generation.”
Dylan has released over 40 studio albums, won numerous awards, including the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016. He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Dylan is also a painter and has exhibited his artwork in galleries worldwide.
9. Brittany Howard
Brittany Howard is best known as the lead vocalist and guitarist for the band Alabama Shakes. This famous rock and roll artist grew up in a musical family.
Howard formed Alabama Shakes in 2009. They released their debut album, “Boys & Girls,” in 2012, which included hit songs like “Hold On” and “Gimme All Your Love.”
Her debut solo album, “Jaime,” was released in 2019 and widely praised for its genre-defying sound and personal lyrics. The album features a mix of rock, soul, funk, and R&B influences and includes songs like “Stay High” and “Georgia.”
Howard has won four Grammy Awards with Alabama Shakes and received critical acclaim for her solo work. She has been praised for her powerful vocals and raw, emotional performances.
Prince was born Prince Rogers Nelson on June 7, 1958, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and began his music career in the late 1970s. He was known for his innovative and eclectic approach to rock music and drawing on various genres, including rock, funk, R&B, and pop.
He released his debut album, “For You,” in 1978 and quickly gained a following with hits like “I Wanna Be Your Lover” and “Controversy.” Prince is known for his flamboyant stage presence and distinctive falsetto vocals.
In the 1980s, Prince became one of the biggest stars in the world with albums like “1999” and “Purple Rain,” which included hit songs like “Little Red Corvette,” “Let’s Go Crazy,” and “When Doves Cry.”
He continued to release music throughout the 1990s and 2000s, and his discography includes over 40 studio albums.
Rock and roll artists have played an instrumental role in the development and evolution of popular music. From 1950s to today, rock and roll has been characterized by its rebellious spirit, raw energy, and unapologetic attitude.
While the face of rock and roll has changed over the years, its impact on popular culture remains as strong as ever. As we continue to celebrate the music of rock and roll artists, both past and present, we honour their legacy and enduring contributions to the world of music.