What makes a rock star? Selling out stadiums and destroying hotel rooms in a drug-fueled craze? Shredding guitar solos and a strong disdain for authority? Many of the bands here fit the archetype, but the genre has also branched out in a million different directions.
To determine the 50 most popular rock performers of all time, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the top 10,000 most popular artists on the music analytics site Chartmetric. The site ranks them according to cross platform performance score (CPP), a measure based on views, subscribers, fans, streams, and other metrics on multiple social media and streaming platforms. Drawing on Chartmetric data, 24/7 Tempo created an index using Spotify followers, YouTube channel views, lifetime Pandora streams, and Wikipedia views from late May through late June 2021. All data was weighted equally.
The variety of artists who made the top 50 demonstrates that fans these days enjoy all kinds of rock. The list includes solo artists and groups ranging from Jimi Hendrix to Neil Young, Metallica to Radiohead. Rock royalty like Elvis and The Beatles are here, as are such newer alternative bands as Gorillaz and The Killers. Pop and rap/hip-hop artists are not included. (Here are the most famous rock bands formed every year since 1960.)
This ranking should be useful for anyone looking for some music recommendations, or who wants to see how their favorites from the past stack up in the modern world of streaming. Many bands come and go. Some are superstars in their time but don’t trickle down to future generations. Others have made timeless music that is still on repeat decades later. Many of the older rock icons here continue to create music. Here are 35 rock stars now 75 or older.