Top 25 Classic Rock Solo Artists

1 - 10


Some first gained fame as members of a band. A few started and stayed on their own. All share an extraordinary degree of success in a genre that is dominated by groups. Based on longevity, album sales, radio airplay, and their musical influence, here is the About.com list of the Top 25 Classic Rock Solo Artists.

1.
Essential Album:
In the Guinness Book of World Records as the most successful composer of the 20th Century, the success of his solo career has rivaled that he enjoyed as a member of The Beatles.

2.
Essential Album: Greatest Hits 1970-2002
Like the Energizer® bunny (which actually brings to mind some of his early career costumes) he just keeps going and going after 35+ years, 43 albums, and over 200-million albums sold.

3.
Essential Album:
His influence on rock music ranged from founding The Beatles to writing some of the most popular songs of the era, to introducing social and political messages into rock lyrics.

4.
Essential Album:
Since his breakthrough album in 1974, "The Boss" has established himself as the voice of the working class. His album Born In the USA is among the top 20 best selling albums of all time.

5. Eric Clapton
Essential Album:
His command of the guitar is legendary, and his role in groundbreaking groups like Cream, The Yardbirds, and John Mayall's Bluesbreakers has made him the only person to earn three inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

6.
Essential Album:
As a member of The Beatles, a solo artist, and a film producer, he quietly left an indelible mark on the rock music scene.

He is 21st on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists Of All Time.

7.
Essential Album:
He fronted Faces and Jeff Beck Group before breaking out as a solo artist. He has parlayed a unique voice and style into album sales topping 100-million in a career that has spanned more than four decades.

8.
Essential Album: Blonde On Blonde
A successful performer in his own right, he is regarded as one of the most influential songwriters of the rock generation, penning dozens of songs that have been substantial hits for those who have recorded them.

9. Jimi Hendrix
Essential Album:
Considered by many to be rock's best electric guitarist, the reach of his influence was exponentially greater than the length of his short career, which ended with his death at the age of 27.

10. Janis Joplin
Essential Album:
Her powerful, raspy voice was different from any other female rock artist’s. Her explosive style, on stage and off, created a unique persona, but also resulted in her death from a drug overdose at age 27.

11 - 25


Some first gained fame as members of a band. A few started and stayed on their own. All share an extraordinary degree of success in a genre that is dominated by groups. Based on longevity, album sales, radio airplay, and their musical influence, here is the About.com list of the Top 25 Classic Rock Solo Artists.

11.
Essential Album:
His record of success over a career of more than 35 years is attributable to his unique ability to constantly adapt his musical style and stage persona in response to changing cultural trends.

12.
Essential Album:
After a successful career with Genesis, he carved out an equally successful solo career, and has been at the forefront of promoting the digital delivery of music.

13.
Essential Album:
He was influenced musically by the British Invasion in the ‘60s, but added his own unique live performance antics, costumes, and makeup, creating the Shock Rock genre in the process.

14. Pat Benatar
Essential Album:
Her “tough girl” persona and opera-trained voice resulted in GRAMMYs for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for four consecutive years.

15. Eddie Money
Essential Album: The Best Of Eddie Money
He set out to become a police officer, but ended up as a rock star. He had chart success with his first album in 1977 and went on to become a successful large venue live performer.

16.
Essential Album:
He has successfully mastered both hard rock and medium tempo ballads, and has influenced dozens of other successful artists since his debut album in 1969.

17. Robert Plant
Essential Album:
He defined the musical style of Led Zeppelin as its lead vocalist, and has pursued a successful solo career for the quarter century since the group disbanded.

18. Frank Zappa
Essential Album:
His work reflected a wide range of musical styles, but he is best known for his unique ability to weave humor and satire into his music.

His discography includes nearly 100 albums, including a dozen that have been released since his death in 1993.

19. Ted Nugent
Essential Album:
After establishing a solid fan base with the Amboy Dukes in the late 60s, he embarked on a solo career that resulted in sales of more than 35-million albums, while his personal life and politics have been a frequent source of controversy.

20. Peter Frampton
Essential Album:
He was a teen idol as a member of The Herd and Humble Pie, but Frampton's greatest success came as a solo artist. He broke through in 1976 with one of the most successful live albums ever, Frampton Comes Alive!.

21.
Essential Album:
He’s used four different stage names during his career, but has been a consistent performer since the release of his first album (as Johnny Cougar) in 1976.

22. Tom Petty
Essential Album:
An immediate hit in Britain in 1976, this 10-time GRAMMY nominee caught on in the U.S. in 1977 and, both alone and with his band, the Heartbreakers, he has had chart success with every one of his albums.

23.
Essential Album:
He moved through Punk and New Wave before establishing a unique style and persona that has thrived for nearly 30 years.

24. Joe Cocker
Essential Album:
He scored his first hit and performed at Woodstock in 1969.

After 25 albums and a battle with drugs and alcohol, he continues to actively tour and record.

25. Lou Reed
Essential Album:
Considered the Godfather Of Punk, he has also influenced Alternative Rock with 30 solo albums, following a successful stint with Velvet Underground.