15 Most Popular Classic Rock Artists According to Gen Xers: Ranked

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Sandwiched between the Baby Boomers and the Millennials, Generation X, also known as the “latchkey generation,” grew up playing PacMan, watching MTV, and Star Wars. When it comes to music, Gen Xers embraced alternative rock bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Green Day, and Red Hot Chili Peppers. While classic rock pervaded this generation’s formative years, its influence on Gen Xers is undeniable. Therefore, when 24/7 Wall St. examined the results of the survey, The Most Popular Classic Rock/Rock Music Artists (Q1 2024)conducted by, Gen Xers were vocal in sharing the classic rock artists they favored most. 

Respondents were asked whether they had a favorable opinion of each classic rock artist. We listed 15 classic rock musicians with the highest percentage of favorable ratings out of all Generation X respondents. Here are the 15 most popular classic rock artists according to Gen Xers. 

15. Eric Clapton

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Eric Clapton is known to touch upon many musical genres, including rock, blues, pop, jazz, country, techno and R&B.
  • Percentage of Gen Xers with a favorable opinion: 72%

There is something undeniably cool about classic rock, and that is its extreme artistry and instrumentation. When it comes to guitar genius, it doesn’t get any better than Eric Clapton. Clapton’s enduring legacy continues to be felt and admired by Gen Xers. The “Guitar Genius” is featured in Gibson’s Top 50 Guitarists of All Time, for his “far-reaching solo work.” Clapton loved the blues and honored his heroes such as B.B. King and Robert Johnson. His innumerable talents are one of the many reasons why the Gen X generation appreciate the guitarist’s enduring legacy. 

14. Billy Idol

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Idol will take part in his Rebel Yell transcontinental tour, this summer, beginning in Canada.
  • Percentage of Gen Xers with a favorable opinion: 72%

With his curled up lip and platinum, spiked locks, Billy Idol continues to command attention. Curiously, the British punk musician was the front man of the London-based group, Gen X, formed in 1976. After the breakup of the band, Idol left England for the United States, where he had signed a solo contract with Chrysalis Records. As a new solo artist, Idol re-released Dancing with Myself, in 1981. Idol enjoyed commercial success for much of the 1980s. In April of this year, he released the 40th Anniversary edition of his highly successful album, Rebel Yell, and he continues to tour with sellout shows

13. Bon Jovi

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Bon Jovi is known for their outstanding work ethic and high-quality songwriting.
  • Percentage of Gen Xers with a favorable opinion: 73%

Formed in 1983, Bon Jovi has been seamlessly blending rock, pop, and metal, producing such iconic hits as “I’ll Be There For You,” “Wanted, Dead or Alive,” and the rock classic, “Livin’ On a Prayer.” With teased hair and long coats, Bon Jovi could potentially be considered part of the hair metal category and were a permanent staple on MTV during the 80’s and 90’s. With 73% of Gen Xers polled, granting the band from New Jersey a favorable opinion, it’s proof that their well-crafted rock songs continue to appeal to a generation that has been with them since the beginning. 

12. The Beatles

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The Fab Four from Liverpool will be featured in four biopic films, to be released in 2027.
  • Percentage of Gen Xers with a favorable opinion: 73%

Though The Beatles’ time together lasted only eight years, their influence on music remains undeniable. From inspiring countless artists across many genres, their legacy is woven into the very fabric of popular music. The Beatles’ historic 1965 Shea Stadium performance in New York remains a testament to the phenomenon of Beatlemania. Witnessing the footage of screaming fans and the sheer electrifying energy (with tickets gone in a record-breaking 17 minutes!) is enough to send shivers down your spine. As evidenced by 73% of those polled, some Gen Xers certainly appreciate the band’s dramatic evolution and artistry during their short career. 

11. David Bowie

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David Bowie released 27 studio albums and was a multi-instrumentalist.
  • Percentage of Gen Xers with a favorable opinion: 73%

David Bowie is known for his musical innovation and iconic style. With his onstage persona, Ziggy Stardust, David Bowie wore outlandish outfits designed by the visionary Japanese fashion icon Kansai Yamamoto. Through this character of an androgynous, alien rock star, Bowie portrayed a message of hope as well as a social commentary on the futility of worshipping celebrities. For Gen X, David Bowie’s embrace of new technology, from synthesizers to music videos, continues to be a source of inspiration.

10. Tom Petty

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Tom Petty’s band, The Heartbreakers, have been a formidable mainstay and support for Petty in his 40-year career.
  • Percentage of Gen Xers with a favorable opinion: 73%

With popular anthems such as “Free Fallin’,” and “I Won’t Back Down,” Tom Petty popularized themes of resilience and empowerment, becoming a powerful voice for overcoming adversity. Petty was also highly creative in his videos. Not settling for cheaply-made videos, he hired the best in the entertainment business, hiring 80’s and 90’s teen heartthrob, Johnny Depp to star in his music video, “Into The Great Wide Open.” Tom Petty’s unconventional voice, became another trademark of his rebellion against rock’n’roll norms. This perfectly complemented his themes of freedom championed in his lyrics.

9. Foreigner

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After selling over 80 million records worldwide, Foreigner received its first nomination for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2024.
  • Percentage of Gen Xers with a favorable opinion: 73%

With top hits like “Feels Like The First Time,” “Juke Box Hero,” and “Hot Blooded,” the British-American band continues to have an impact more than 50 years since their formation. After touring for 18 years, the band is now on its Farewell Tour, which will continue through the fall of 2024. With a staggering 16 Top 30 hits, Foreigner’s music was undeniably a mainstay of the Gen X musical backdrop, making it highly likely that many Gen Xers would have heard their songs along the way. Their enduring popularity is one of the many reasons why Foreigner is one of the top 10 classic rock bands that still receive radio play. 

8. Phil Collins

Phil Collins | The Little Dreams Foundation Benefit Gala: Dreaming on the Beach
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As a solo artist, Phil Collins has sold over 150 million records.
  • Percentage of Gen Xers with a favorable opinion: 74%

For The MTV Generation, Phil Collins was a permanent fixture. According to a poster on Reddit, “Phil Collins basically raised a generation.” With smash hits like, “Groovy Kind of Love,” “Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now),” and “Easy Lover,” this prolific vocalist and drummer seemed to do it all. In the 80’s alone, he had seven number one singles on the Billboard Top 100. It has been written that Phil Collins’ “critical and golden age,” were between 1981 and 1991, with critics lauding Collins for being an innovative songwriter. With his soulful voice, Phil Collins will always be a fine musician to be admired for many in the Gen X demographic. 

7. Fleetwood Mac

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Another band that hit the airwaves during Gen X’s formative years, Fleetwood Mac’s music continues to resonate.
  • Percentage of Gen Xers with a favorable opinion: 74%

While Gen X may not recall the band’s internal struggles, it’s the enduring music of Fleetwood Mac that resonates with them. With the rising interest for nostalgia amongst the younger generations, Fleetwood Mac has certainly gained plenty of interest. With 40 million copies sold since 1977, the album Rumours, has, according to, “has never not been popular.” 

6. Jimi Hendrix

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Guitarist, singer, and songwriter, Jimi Hendrix, is one of the most influential rock musicians of the 20th century.
  • Percentage of Gen Xers with a favorable opinion:  74%

Woodstock evokes a vivid image like no other. Jimi Hendrix shredding his guitar for a sea of close to 200,000 on a Bethel, New York farm in August 1969. He played an uninterrupted set for 2 hours, closing his performance with The Star Spangled Banner. Even for Gen Xers that were too young to attend Woodstock, Hendrix’s performance is forever cemented in music history. 

5. Stevie Nicks

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Stevie Nicks is revered as a pioneer in feminine rock.
  • Percentage of Gen Xers with a favorable opinion: 74%

Beginning with the iconic 1970s band, Fleetwood Mac, and later in her highly successful solo career, Stevie Nicks continues to influence a new generation of music artists. Sheryl Crow, Harry Styles, and Taylor Swift have credited Nicks for inspiring their music. Nicks was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, with Fleetwood Mac in 1998 and again as a solo artist in 2019. 

4. Journey

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In January 2024, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has certified Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” as 18 times platinum.
  • Percentage of Gen Xers with a favorable opinion: 75%

If you grew up in the 80s, it was almost guaranteed you’d see Journey getting a lot airtime on MTV. With classic hits such as “Faithfully,” “Open Arms,” and “Anyway You Want It,” the Bay Area-based band was characterized by their impressive vocal and instrumental abilities. Frontman Steve Perry’s powerful, operatic vocals earned him the legendary nickname ‘The Voice.’ 

3. Billy Joel

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Piano man, singer, and songwriter Billy Joel, wrote 33 top 40 hits.
  • Percentage of Gen Xers with a favorable opinion: 75%

Citing Beethoven, Debussy, and Chopin, as his musical influences, Billy Joel has enjoyed success as a solo artists since the 1970s. He has produced 33 top 40 hits in the U.S. and won 6 Grammy Awards. Having sold over 150 million records worldwide, it is unthinkable that Gex Xers have not come across his catchy melodies. 

2. Eagles

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Legacy artists, the Eagles, are ready to embark on their final tour, “The Long Goodbye,” in 2024 and 2025.
  • Percentage of Gen Xers with a favorable opinion: 76%

With hits such as “Hotel California,” “Take It Easy,” and “Desperado,” the Eagles have tapped into funk, bluegrass, mainstream country, just to name a few. Known for its distinctive harmonies, the band owe much of the songwriting to Glen Frey and Don Henley. Earning six Grammy Awards and five American Music Awards, this band’s sound has been described as California rock. 

1. Queen

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The sound of Queen featured glam rock, intricate vocal harmonies, and heavy metal.

  • Percentage of Gen Xers with a favorable opinion: 76%

Securing the number one spot featured on  24/7 Wall St.’s list of 15 Most Popular Classic Rock Artists According to Gen Xers, is none other than British rock band, Queen.  With their flamboyant frontman, Freddie Mercury, Queen has solidified its position as the most popular classic rock band among Gen Xers. Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody is the third, best-selling single of all time. Their live, history-making performance at the 1985 Live-Aid concert became the stuff of legends. Mercury’s powerful vocal range originates from his love for opera, switching effortlessly from one range to another, a feat that no other singer since has been able to replicate. Queen’s legacy continues to transcends generation. Their biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody‘s winning four Academy Awards, is a testament to the band’s enduring power to electrify audiences, young and old.

Why We’re Covering This

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Gen X is getting older and it matters.

At roughly 44-59 years of age, Generation X is aging. What is currently weighing heavily on their minds is whether or not they will be able to afford to retire like their Boomer parents. Many in this demographic believe that they won’t have a retirement and will work till the very end of their lives. That is why developing a savings and investment program now will help people build financial security when they reach their retirement years. 

To learn more about the least popular classic rock artists according to Gen Xers, read here


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