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Who are the Music legends of the 20th Century?

Updated on June 24, 2012
The Beatles censored cover in 1965
The Beatles censored cover in 1965
Bee gees
Bee gees
Disco Fever
Disco Fever
James Brown
James Brown
Elvis 1956
Elvis 1956
led Zeppelin-birth of heavy metal music 1969
led Zeppelin-birth of heavy metal music 1969
Frank Sinatra-1940
Frank Sinatra-1940

What is a legend?

An artist who is legendary is a person or band that stands the test of time long after they cease to exist or decades have long passed. They are performers that truly changed music, whether in sound, in performance, in style and the first to do it. They would be copied endlessly. They changed culture in some major way, whether it is clothes, hair, attitude, talk because thousands or millions followed them. Their music transcends generations and continue to be popular, copied in some manner. In short, legends really do live forever in time. They have a "fountain of youth".

The 20th century (1900-1999) created the most legends in music ever. It was rock n' roll that really created the bulk of them. Some early legends are: Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, The Dorsey Brothers Band, The Andrew Sisters and the most famous of them all, Frank Sinatra. Even though I was not a fan of any of them (way before my time), I know of them and tidbits of their story or music via the media and those who were fans. None of them exist now. Only their music does on old 78's. Yet, they still live today in different generations. If by some oddity, you do not know the impact Sinatra on women and music in the 1940's, think: Elvis, The Beatles except for the 1940's. His sound was unique and he was the first to cause mass hysteria and mania among teen fans.

The 1950's brought many rock legends: Elvis, Little Richard, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly and the Crickets, Fats Domino, to name a few. All are legends for each was unique, were copied, changed music, created a mania wherever they went. Their songs still are covered. Most of these are also dead now, but once you hear a Little Richard song or Elvis, you can recognize them at anytime. Their sound is so distinctive, it is legendary.

The 1960's added many more legends to music: The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Cream, James Brown, The Supremes, Santana, are all legends, all changed music, set trends, were and still are copied. These legends set the trends and standards that many others would follow.

The 1970's biggest legend was The Bee Gees for their disco sound and clothes that many men wore. There were many great bands then but none reached the legendary status.

The 1980's legend is Madonna, who like The Beatles, set music and fashion trends. Just as there is a Elvis look, a Beatle look, there is a Madonna look. Anyone who was a girl or teen tended to look like Madonna. Like the Beatles, her music evolved as she aged. She also always gave unforgettable performances. Another legend is Michael Jackson. Like others, his style, clothing, music and dancing continues to be copied today. He was a huge Beatles fan buying the copyrights to their songs.

The 1990's only legend must be Nirvana. He gave the grunge, garage sound and look that many copied and still do. His sound was unique and like the previous legends, timeless.

While there are many, many great singers or bands from the 60's to present, only a very few reach a legendary status.


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    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Forgot about Nat king Cole, Kiss and others.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Love your hub. I was brought up with music from Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Shirley Bassie, (is that how you spell it!). All the late 40's onward. My dad had a voice just like Bing Crosby and if you'd put them in a room together and you were listening behind a closed door you would not have been able to tell the difference.

      Some stars will be more famous than others and become legends of their time. Nice to look back on your life through a musical avenue.



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