Ok, so…I had to make a part 2. Can you blame me though? I mean, there are SO many people worth mentioning, it’s rather difficult to narrow it down to a handful.
I think, however, that between this list and the previous one that I’ll have all the bases covered. Starting with:
Ah yes, the great and powerful Moz. The former Smiths frontman essentially spearheaded the Indie music movement, and has been owning the stage for over three decades. With his unique vocal styling and signature coifed hair, Morrissey’s apathetic lyrics and commanding stage presence enraptures listeners to this day.
9. Whitney Houston
While later on in her life she was known more for her drug-fueled diva antics, there’s no denying Whitney Houston’s powerful on music. She had a powerful voice, and she had a catalogue of really touching songs (come on, admit it, the music drop followed by the snare/floor tom hit in “I Will Always Love You” still gets you.)
8. Frank Sinatra
Ol’ Blue Eyes. The Chairman of the Board. Whatever nickname you choose to refer to him as, it’s always with an air of respect. Sinatra is arguably the most famous crooner of all time, and boasts a myriad of hits. He was the leader of the Rat Pack, which consisted of him, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop, and Humphrey Bogart until he died. Frank Sinatra was, and still is, one of those guys that everyone respected. Maybe it was due, in part, to rumored mob ties, but respected nonetheless.
7. Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G
Growing up in Southern California, I was around more of Tupac’s influence as opposed to Biggie’s. I even hear people talk about I’m still being alive, as if he’s the hip-hop version of Elvis. And really no 90’s Hip-Hop playlist is complete without at least two or three of Pac’s songs.
Biggie. He pretty much owned the 90’s hip-hop/rap scene, and was at the forefront of the East Coast vs. West Coast feud. I didn’t really list to much of his music until the more recent years as I’m from the West Coast, but I appreciate it nonetheless. Between his rocket to stardom until his shocking and early death, Notorious B.I.G will forever be known as a major influence in the hip-hop community.
6. James Brown
James Brown was the founding father of Funk, and had an electrifying stage presence. In addition to being a singer, he was also a songwriter, dancer, and music producer. Brown has become one of the most recognizable and predominate figures in popular music of the the 20th century, and you can’t help but dance around and sing along to “I Got You (I Feel Good),” admit it! And I regularly bump “Get Up Offa That Thing” while driving around town.
5. Johnny Cash
The Man in Black. Johnny Cash was, essentially, the rockstar of country music at the time. Well, before Garth Brooks turned country into a rickshaw at least. Everyone I’ve ever talked to who said they didn’t like country music said they still liked Johnny Cash! With his deep voice and non-compliant attitude towards the music industry, Cash rose to super stardom very quickly. Joaquin Phoenix’s portrayal of Johnny Cash in the 2005 biopic “Walk the Line” was spot on, and Cash was even a consultant through filming.
Revered through the entire Hispanic community, Selena was the biggest Latin Pop Star in history. Her career and life were tragically cut short in 1995 when she was shot dead by a friend and former employee Yolanda Saldivar. Known as the “Tejano Madonna,” Selena was a major force in music and fashion, and was even an active supporter for civil rights and Coca-Cola’s spokesperson in Texas. George W. Bush (the Governor of Texas at the time) officially made her birthday a state holiday after her death.
3. John Lennon
Arguably the most famous member of The Beatles, Lennon’s shocking departure from the Fab Four caused major controversy (and, subsequently, heartbreak amongst fans) that was focused primarily (and a bit unfairly) on his love interest Yoko Ono. That’s not to say his career was adversely effected, however. In fact, Lennon enjoyed a rather successful solo career that spawned a number of hits! So why did I pick John Lennon specifically when every member of the Beatles could be considered for the title? Well, even though he wasn’t my favorite Beatle (that would be George Harrison), John Lennon had the most successful solo career of them all, up until it was tragically cut short when he was shot to death by Mark David Chapman in New York City in 1980. Not since Elvis Presley died three years earlier in 1977 was the world so shocked at the passing of a musician. John Lennon’s influence on music, as well as his advocacy for peace, spans generations and still reverberates to this day.
The King of Rock ‘n Roll himself, Elvis Presley. He took America by storm with his amazing voice, gyrating hips, and boyish good looks. We’re talking about a man who was so impactful to the pop culture in this country that he is revered even to this day. Not to mention the tremendous respect many have for him for putting his career on pause to serve in the United States Army during wartime. The King’s legacy has held steady well beyond his passing, and there’s no doubt that he’s easily considered not only one of the most iconic figures in music history, but in American history as well.
So, Elvis Presley. I mean, doesn’t get more iconic than him, am I right? So then why did I place him at the number two spot? Who could possibly be more of a bigger icon than the King of Rock ‘n Roll? That would be the King of Pop.
1. Michael Jackson
Yes, Michael Jackson. From beginning his career as the frontman of the Jackson 5 at age ELEVEN, and up until his his passing in 2009 at the age of 50, Michael Jackson was a dominate force in the music industry. I mean, the man had a statue erected in his honor an floated down a river in celebration of just him existing. Even though he was a troubled man who’s later part of life was wrought with controversy, I’ve never met a single person who didn’t love at least one of his songs. He was immensely talented not only as a vocalist, but as a dancer. Come on, everyone’s tried to moonwalk like Michael Jackson at least once in their life!