Rolling Stone magazine listed the 100 best singers of all time back in 2008 with the help of many famous musicians who voted for their favorite artists. ZZ Top singer and guitarist Billy Gibbons was one of the voters who listed the 19 best singers of all time in his opinion at the time.
The 20 singers that Billy Gibbons listed as the best of all time:
19 – Bill Medley
William Thomas Medley is an American singer and songwriter, best known as one half of The Righteous Brothers. He is noted for his bass-baritone voice, exemplified in songs such as “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'”
18 – Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash was born February 26, 1932 and died September 12, 2003. He was an American singer, songwriter, musician, and actor. Much of Cash’s music contained themes of sorrow, moral tribulation, and redemption, especially in the later stages of his career.
He was known for his deep, calm bass-baritone voice, the distinctive sound of his Tennessee Three backing band characterized by train-like chugging guitar rhythms. Also a rebelliousness coupled with an increasingly somber and humble demeanor, free prison concerts. Besides a trademark all-black stage wardrobe which earned him the nickname “The Man in Black”.
17 – James Brown
James Brown was an American singer, songwriter and dancer. The central progenitor of funk music and a major figure of 20th-century music, he is often referred to by the honorific nicknames “Godfather of Soul”, “Mr. Dynamite”, and “Soul Brother No. 1”.
16 – 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.
15 – Hank Williams
Hiram “Hank” Williams was an American singer regarded as one of the most significant and influential American singers and songwriters of the 20th century. He recorded 35 singles (five released posthumously) that reached the top 10 of the Billboard Country & Western Best Sellers chart, including 11 that reached No. 1 (three posthumously).
14 – Mavis Staples
Mavis Staples is an American rhythm and blues and gospel singer, actress, and civil rights activist. She has recorded and performed with her family’s band The Staple Singers and also as a solo artist.
13 – Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell is a Canadian singer-songwriter. Drawing from folk, pop, rock, classical, and jazz, Mitchell’s songs often reflect on social and philosophical ideals as well as her feelings about romance, womanhood, disillusionment, and joy
12 – Robert Plant
Robert Plant, also known as the “Golden God” is Led Zeppelin’s vocalist, known for his high vocal range. He also had a successful solo career after the British band came to an end with the death of drummer John Bonham.
Occasionally, Plant collaborated with Jimmy Page on various projects in later years.
11 – B.B King
B.B King passed away at the age of 89 in 2015, but left us with 40 studio records and an immeasurable contribution to the music recognized by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. He was born on a cotton plantation in Itta Bena, Mississippi. Later he worked at a cotton gin in Indianola, Mississippi and was attracted to music and the guitar in church, and began his career in juke joints and local radio. He later lived in Memphis, Tennessee, and Chicago, and as his fame grew, toured the world extensively.
10 – Sheryl Crow
Sheryl Crow is an American musician, singer, songwriter, and actress. Her music incorporates elements of pop, rock, country, jazz, and blues.
9 – Sammy Hagar/Elvis Presley
8 – Billy Gibbons
Gibbons listed himself in the 8th position. He was born to Frederick Royal (“Freddie”) and Lorraine (née Duffy) Gibbons in the Tanglewood neighborhood of Houston, Texas. His father was an entertainer, orchestra conductor, and concert pianist who worked alongside his second cousin, art director Cedric Gibbons, for Samuel Goldwyn at MGM Studios. When Gibbons was five years old, his mother took him and his sister to see Elvis Presley.
7 – Ray Charles
Ray Charles was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, and composer. Among friends and fellow musicians he preferred being called “Brother Ray”. He was often referred to as “the Genius”. Charles was blinded during childhood due to glaucoma.
Charles pioneered the soul music genre during the 1950s by combining blues, jazz, rhythm and blues, and gospel styles into the music he recorded for Atlantic.
6 – Paul D’ianno
Paul Di’anno was Iron Maiden’s first singer that were in the first two albums of the band “Iron Maiden” and “Killers”. He was later replaced by singer Bruce Dickinson in the band.
5 – Gregg Allman
Gregory LeNoir Allman was an American musician, singer and songwriter. He was known for performing in the Allman Brothers Band. Allman grew up with an interest in rhythm and blues music, and the Allman Brothers Band fused it with rock music, jazz, and country at times.
4 – Bobby “Blue” Band
Robert Calvin Bland, known professionally as Bobby “Blue” Bland, was an American blues singer. Bland developed a sound that mixed gospel with the blues and R&B
3- Brian Wilson
He is the founder, in 1961, of the Beach Boys. He was the leading American composer in the 1960s. Also being one of the most creative musicians in popular music of the 20th century. Together with his brothers Dennis and Carl Wilson, cousin Mike Love and friend Alan Jardine, he performed songs that are part of the rock manual.
2 – Steve Winwood
Steve Winwood is an English singer, songwriter, and musician whose genres include blue-eyed soul, rhythm and blues, blues rock, and pop rock. Though primarily a vocalist and keyboard player, Winwood plays other instruments proficiently, including drums, mandolin, guitars, bass, and saxophone.
In addition, he was a key member of several major acts of the 1960s and 1970s, including the Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, and Blind Faith. After that, in th beginning in the 1980s, his solo career took off and he had a number of hit singles.
1 – Little Richard
Little Richard was one of the biggest stars in rock history who died at the age of 87 back in 2020. In his childhood in Georgia, Little Richard grew up listening to rapturous gospel singers in black churches and this influenced his singing. He also learned to play the piano in his teens, an instrument that would help him to become a rockstar.
Two bands that opened Little Richard concerts in the beginning of their careers were The Beatles and Rolling Stones, in the early 60s. In the last years of his life he just participated in some recordings throughout the years and toured until 2013.
Billy Gibbons is one of the greatest rock and blues musicians of all time. The lead singer and guitarist of ZZ Top became a percussionist at first, being sent by his father to New York City to study with Tito Puente. But back in 1963, he received his first electric guitar following his 13th birthday, a sunburst Gibson Melody Maker, accompanied by a Fender Champ amplifier. He was influenced by guitarists such as Jimmy Reed.
While attending Warner Brothers’ art school in Hollywood, California, Gibbons engaged with his first bands including The Saints, Billy G & the Blueflames, and The Coachmen. At the age of 18, he formed an artfully designed band, conceptually inspired by friend and fellow musician, Roky Erickson and The 13th Floor Elevators. Then naming the group the Moving Sidewalks, penning the hit single “99th Floor”, and engaging in a friendship with Jimi Hendrix.