Rolling Stone magazine listed the 100 best singers of all time back in 2008 and many famous musicians helped to make the list voting for their favorite artists. The legendary Blues singer and guitarist BB King was one of the voters who listed the 20 best singers of all time in his opinion.
The 20 singers that BB King listed as the best of all time:
20 – Barry White
Barry White was an American singer, record producer and composer born in Galveston, Texas back in 1944. Known for his bass-baritone voice and romantic songs he won two Grammy Awards back in 1999 for “Best Male R&B Vocal Performance” and “Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance”.
Some of his most famous songs are “You’re The First, The Last, My Everything”, “Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe” and “Let The Music Play”.
19 – Gladys Knight
The American singer Gladys Knight was born in Atlanta, Georgia back in 1944. She is known for the hits she recorded during the 60s, 70s, and 80s with her group Gladys Knight & the Pips, which also included her brother Merald “Bubba” Knight and cousins William Guest and Edward Patten.
Some of her most famous songs are “Licence To Kill” (Theme song of the 1989 James Bond movie of the same name), “Since I Fell For You” and “Double Or Nothing”.
18 – Etta James
Etta James started her career back in 1954 and made hits like “At Last”, “Tell Mama”, “I’d Rather Go Blind” and “Something’s Got a Hold On Me”, performing in various genres like Blues, R&B, Soul, Rock and Roll, Gospel and Jazz.
She won 3 Grammy Awards for “Best Traditional Blues Album” in 2004, “Lifetime Achievement Award” in 2003 and “Best Jazz Vocal Performance” back in 1994.
17 – Whitney Houston
Born in Newark, New Jersey back in 1963, Whitey Houston is one of the most successful female singers of all time, with sales of over 200 million records worldwide.
Some of her most famous songs are “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me), “Higher Love”, “I Will Always Love You” and “I Have Nothing”.
16 – Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin began her career as a child singing gospel at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan, where her father C. L. Franklin was a minister. At the age of 18, she embarked on a secular-music career as a recording artist for Columbia Records. Her career did not took off immediately but she achived commercial success after she signed with Atlantic Records in 1966.
She had hit songs such as “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)”, “Respect”, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”, “Chain of Fools”, “Think” and “I Say a Little Prayer” propelled her past her musical peers.
15 – Dinah Washington
Born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama back in 1924, Dinah Washington was a singer and pianist that was one of the most popular recording artists of the 1950’s. Often called “The Queen of Blues”, she also recorded R&B and traditional Pop music.
14 – Ray Charles
One of the most important American musicians of all time, Ray Charles was often called by friends “Brother Ray”.
He pioneered the soul music genre back in the 50s with the combination of blues, jazz, rhythm and blues, and gospel styles into the music he recorded for Atlantic records. On the album “Genius Loves Company”, Ray Charles recorded the song “Sinner’s Prayer” with BB King.
13 – Willie Nelson
Willie Nelson was one of the main figures of outlaw country, a subgenre of country music that developed in the late 1960s as a reaction to the conservative restrictions of the Nashville sound.
He has acted in over 30 films, co-authored several books, and has been involved in activism for the use of biofuels and the legalization of marijuana.
12 – Bonnie Raitt
Bonnie Raitt is an American blues singer, guitarist, songwriter, and activist. During the 1970s, Raitt released a series of roots-influenced albums that incorporated elements of blues, rock, folk and country.
She was also a frequent session player and collaborator with other artists, including Warren Zevon, Little Feat, Jackson Browne, The Pointer Sisters, John Prine and Leon Russell.
11 – Nat King Cole
Nat King Cole was an American singer, jazz pianist and actor born in Montgomery, Alabam back in 1919 had had many hit songs like “L-O-V-E”, “Unforgettable” and “Smile”.
He was nominated for the Grammy Awards seven times and won in 1990 his “Lifetime Achievement Award”. However he died long before that back in 1965 at the age of 45 victim of lung cancer.
10 – Luther Vandross
Remembered for his soulful vocals, Luther Vandross was an important American singer who also worked as a background vocalist for many artists like Bette Midler, Diana Ross, David Bowie, Ben E. King, Stevie Wonder and Donna Summer.
Some of his most famous songs are “Never Too Much”, “Endless Love”, “Dance With My Father”, “I’d Rather” and “Always and Forever”.
9 – Sam Cooke
Sam Cooke is considered to be a pioneer and one of the most influential soul artists of all time. He is commonly referred to as the “King of Soul” for his distinctive vocals, notable contributions to the genre and high significance in popular music.
Some of his most famous songs are “(What A) Wonderful World”, “Change Is Gonna Come”, “Bring It On Home to Me” and “Nothing Can Change This Love”.
8 – Johnny Adams
Johnny Adams was an American Gospel, Jazz and Blues singer that also was known as “The Tan Canary” due to his multi-octave range.
His biggest hits were “Georgia Morning Dew”, “This Time I’m Gone For Good”, “Reconsider Me”, “(Oh Why) I Won’t Cry” and “Walking On a Tightrope”.
7 – Bobby Bland
Born in Barretville, Tennessee back in 1930, Bobby Blend created a sound mixing Gospel music with R&B and Blues. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1981, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.
Some of his biggest hits are “Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City”, “I’ll Take Care Of You”, “Ain’t no Sunshine When She’s Gone” and “Driftin’ Blues”.
6 – Lonnie Johnson
The oldest musician on the list, Lonnie Johnson was born in New Orleans, Lousiana back in 1899 and was a jazz singer, guitarist, violinist and songwriter. He was a pioneer of the genre and was the first to play an electrically amplified violin.
Among his most famous songs are “Some Day Baby”, “Looking For a Sweetie”, “Another Night To Cry”, “The Mooche” and “Tomorrow Night”.
5 – Howlin’ Wolf
Howlin’ Wolf was a Chicago blues singer, guitarist, and harmonica player. Originally from Mississippi, he moved to Chicago in adulthood and became successful, forming a rivalry with fellow bluesman Muddy Waters. With a booming voice and imposing physical presence, he is one of the best-known Chicago blues artists.
His most famous songs are “Spoonful”, “Smokestack Lightin'”, “Killing Floor” and “How Many More Years”.
On the book “Moanin’ At Midnight“, BB King recalled how he met Howlin’ Wolf, saying “I first met him in 1949 at a place out from Memphis called Black Fish Lake. A guy called Willie Ford had a club there called the Top Hat and Wolf had been playing for him. I think Wolf had a death in his family, so he had to go back to where he lived at the time.”
“While he was gone, Willie Ford hired me to play in his place. So I was there for two weekends before Wolf came back. Willie Ford liked us both, so he didn’t want to fire either of us. But he couldn’t afford both of us, so he let us both play that night. Wolf played and I played after him.”
4 – Ella Fitzgerald
Also known as the “Queen of Jazz”, Ella Fitzgerald was born in Newport News, Virginia back in 1917 and recorded hits like “Dream A Little Dream of Me”, “Summertime”, “They Can’t Take That Away From Me”.
She won the Grammy Awards 13 times. The legendary singer holds the distinction of being the female artist with the most recordings (9) in the Grammy Hall Of Fame.
3- Sarah Vaughan
Sarah Vaughan was an American Jazz singer known for songs like “Misty”, “Broken Hearted Melody” and “Lullaby Of Birdland”. She also won the Grammy “Lifetime Achievement Award” back in 1989.
2 – Frank Sinatra
Born in Hoboken, New Jersey back in 1915, Frank Sinatra was one of the most famous singers and actors of the 20th century. He sold more than 150 million records worldwide, that had songs like “My Way”, “Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words”, “That’s Life” and “Strangers In The Night”.
He also acted in several famous movies like On the Town (1949), From Here to Eternity (1953) and Ocean’s 11 (1960).
BB King and Sinatra died in the same day but in different years. Sinatra died on May 14, 1998 and BB King in May 14, 2015.
1 – Sammy Davis Jr.
Born in New York City back in 1925, Sammy Davis Jr. was an American singer, dancer and actor. He had hits like “Something’s Gotta Give”, “All Of You” and “We Open In Venice”.
Back in 2001 he won the Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award. But he unfortunately died 21 years before at the age of 64 victim of complications from throat cancer.