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15 Most Popular Musicians of All Time According to Baby Boomers: Ranked

Young Beatles | Round The Beatles
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When it comes to the all-time best music artists, everyone has a different idea of which artists should be included. For the baby boomers among you, if you expect a list of popular artists while you grew up, you’d be spot on. Names like Dolly Parton, The Supremes, and The Eagles are unsurprisingly here, but there is a question of which artists did not make the list. 

According to baby boomers, any list of the most popular all-time musicians will include a few surprises. For the most accurate list, we’ll look to data from YouGov in the first quarter of 2024, which provides a definitive list of artists baby boomers believe to be the most popular of all time.  

Why We’re Covering This

Source: Dave Hogan / Getty Images
Tina Turner has long been one of the best voices in the music industry.

The music industry is one of the biggest entertainment money-makers, with hundreds of billions of dollars in annual revenue. Streaming giants like Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora earn billions, giving us instant access to music. When you add physical discs into the mix, there is plenty of money to be made at 24/7 Wall St favorites like Best Buy, Target, and Walmart, all of whom still have large music aisles. 

15. Gladys Knight & the Pips

Gladys Knight and The Pips | Photo of Gladys KNIGHT & The Pips
Source: David Redfern / Redferns via Getty Images
Gladys Knight and the Pips are a definite Motown success story.
  • Percentage of boomers with a favorable opinion: 82%

Starting as The Pips in 1952, Gladys Knight & the Pips is a famously popular R&B, funk, and soul band. Finding commercial success after joining Motown Records in 1966, Gladys Knight is the band’s most popular member, though her brother, sister, and cousin were all band members. The band’s most famous single, “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” helped it sell millions of copies of their music worldwide. 

14. Stevie Wonder

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images
Stevie Wonder has won an incredible 25 Grammy Awards.
  • Percentage of boomers with a favorable opinion: 83%

One of the best-selling music artists of all time, Stevie Wonder, has sold over 100 million records throughout his career. With 25 Grammy Awards and one Academy Award, Wonder has been praised for his political activism and charity participation. Wonder is also the only person to have won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year three years in a row. 

13. Nat King Cole

Nat King Cole
Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images
Nat King Cole had one of the most iconic voices of the 20th century.
  • Percentage of boomers with a favorable opinion: 84%

Fondly remembered for his incredible tone, Nat King Cole began his career in the 1930s and stayed successful until the 1960s. With hits like “Unforgettable” and “Let There Be Love,” boomers fondly remember Cole’s music. Cole’s musical success even led to the Nat King Cole Show on NBC, the first nationally broadcast show hosted by an African-American. 

12. The Beatles

Beatles | Happy Beatles
Source: Hulton Archive / Hulton Archive via Getty Images
Beatle-mania was no joke as the band drew huge crowds everywhere.
  • Percentage of boomers with a favorable opinion: 84%

One of the most recognizable names in music history, the Beatles brought English rock to the rest of the world. There is little debate that the Beatles were revolutionary in their sound and overall effect on society. The Beatles’ ten-year run between 1960 and 1970 led to the nickname “the Fab Four” and helped the band sell 600 million records worldwide. 

11. The Eagles

Eagles | "Eagles" Portrait
Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images
The Eagles have enjoyed decades of success thanks to their unique sound.
  • Percentage of boomers with a favorable opinion: 

Formed in Los Angeles in 1961, the Eagles are a rock band that has sold over 200 million records worldwide. Their unique vocals and incredible sound have helped them have a lengthy career. The band’s 1976 release, “Their Greatest Hits,” sold over 38 million copies worldwide, making it the best-selling record ever. 

10. Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney | Super Bowl XXXIX Halftime Show
Source: Jed Jacobsohn / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images
Paul McCartney found success as a solo artist after The Beatles.
  • Percentage of boomers with a favorable opinion: 84%

One-quarter of the Beatles, Paul McCartney, has one of the most successful careers in music history. One of the wealthiest musicians in the world, McCartney’s success as both a member of the Beatles and a solo artist has earned him a knighthood and an appointment as a Member of the Order of the British Empire. McCartney has also been incredibly active in international charities, using his popularity for the good of the world. 

9. Simon and Garfunkel 

Source: Kevin Winter / Getty Images
Simon and Garfunkel remain one of the best musical duos of all time.
  • Percentage of boomers with a favorable opinion: 84%

Led by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, Simon & Garfunkel is remembered as one of the best-selling music groups of the 1960s. With big hits like “Mrs. Robinson” from the film The Graduate, the duo has sold over 100 million records. The group is also remembered for its 1981 reunion concert in Central Park, which over 500,000 people attended. 

8. Fleetwood Mac

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Fleetwood Mac has been entertaining fans since 1967.
  • Percentage of boomers with a favorable opinion: 84%

Fleetwood Mac is a British-American rock band that has been performing for audiences since 1967. The band’s best album, Rumours, released in 1977, sold more than 40 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling albums ever. In total, the band has sold more than 120 million records, though it finally said in 2024 that after the death of one of its members, it would stop recording. 

7. Aretha Franklin

Source: David Redfern / Redferns via Getty Images
Aretha Franklin had one of the most recognizable sounds in all of music.
  • Percentage of boomers with a favorable opinion: 85%

Largely remembered as the “Queen of Soul,” Aretha Franklin is often regarded as the greatest singer ever. With over 75 million records sold, Franklin landed 112 singles on the Billboard charts, including 17 top-ten pop singles. Franklin has been nominated for 44 separate Grammy Awards and won 18 awards throughout her legendary career. 

6. Earth, Wind & Fire

Earth, Wind, and Fire
Source: Chris Hakkens / Wikimedia Commons
Earth, Wind & Fire is one of those bands whose songs you know.
  • Percentage of boomers with a favorable opinion: 85%

Spanning the gauntlet of musical genres, Earth, Wind & Fire has sold over 90 million records worldwide. Winning six Grammy Awards, the band has been described as one of the greatest bands ever. With a career starting in 1969 and still going strong today, even with a revolving door of members over the years, the band has never lost its magic with audiences. 

5. The Temptations

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images
The Temptations are one of the best success stories for Motown Records.
  • Percentage of boomers with a favorable opinion: 86%

Another Motown Records success story, The Temptations, were a major musical group from the 1960s to the 1970s. One of the most successful groups in popular music, The Temptations, sold “tens of millions” of records worldwide. In total, 37 singles reached the Billboard Top 40, with multiple number-one hits across the R&B singles charts. 

4. Tina Turner

Source: L. Busacca / Getty Images
Tina Turner had a stage presence unlike any other.
  • Percentage of boomers with a favorable opinion: 86%

Tina Turner, one of the most iconic voices of all time, will forever be remembered as the “Queen of Rock ‘n Roll.” Beginning her music career as part of her future husband Ike Turner’s band, Tina would eventually break out and become a global sensation. Selling over 100 million records, Turner received 12 Grammy Awards, and Rolling Stone called her one of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. 

3. Ray Charles

Source: David Redfern / Redferns via Getty Images
  • Percentage of boomers with a favorable opinion: 86%

An American pianist, songwriter, and singer, Ray Charles is one of the most famous musicians ever. Famously blind, Charles helped pioneer the genre of soul music in the 1950s. He produced and wrote multiple hot singles across R&B, the Hot 100, and country, achieving 18 Grammy Awards. Frank Sinatra once called Ray Charles the “only true genius in show business.” 

2. Dolly Parton

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Dolly Parton is the queen of country and charity work.
  • Percentage of boomers with a favorable opinion: 88%

Seeing this country queen appear on any list of the most popular all-time musicians is hardly surprising. Selling over 100 million records, Dolly Parton has achieved incredible commercial success since her career began in 1955. Of course, Dolly is as much remembered now for her philanthropic causes and theme park as she is for her music, which only further grows her legendary status. 

1. The Supremes

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images
The Supremes are one of the most iconic musical acts of the 20th century.
  • Percentage of boomers with a favorable opinion: 88%

One of Motown Records’ biggest acts during the 1960s, The Supremes, was commercially successful and one of the first African-American groups to find such access. While Diana Ross is the most recognizable name, the group was still full of incredible talent throughout its lengthy career. Throughout their recording career, it’s believed The Supremes sold between 50 to 100 million records.

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