The United Kingdom (UK) is host to some of the most famous and influential musical artists of the past century. Below is a list of the most popular UK singers and groups of all time.
Pink Floyd was an English Rock band founded in London by students Syd Barrett, David Glimmer, Nick Mason, Roger Waters, and Richard Wright. They were one of the first psychedelic rock groups to become famous from the 1960s subculture, helping it gain popularity in the mainstream and later becoming an influencer of the progressive rock genre. Whilst their time together was often fraught with conflicts between members and the core five group members only performed together for five months, their music was commended for its experimentation and thought-provoking lyrics. They are one of only seven artists to sell over 200 million units of their music through record sales.
Queen was made up of members Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon. They formed in 1970, finding success in their second album Queen II in 1974. Their album titled Greatest Hits was released in 1981 and is still the best-selling album of all time in the UK. Lead singer Freddie Mercury died in 1991 due to complications from AIDs and posthumously appeared in the band’s final album, Made in Heaven that was released in 1995. Their song Bohemian Rhapsody brought progressive rock to the mainstream. It is also the UK’s third best-selling single of all time as well as being the only song in history to reach the UK Christmas number one twice that was performed by the same artist.
At the start of his career, Cliff Richards was recognized as a rebellious rock and roll singer, however, he has since come to focus on contemporary Christen music. He has had many successes outside the world of music, starring in many Hollywood films in the 1960s. He is also a known philanthropist, giving away one-tenth of his income to charity every year since 1966. Tied with Elvis Presly, he is the only singer to make the UK singles chart in six consecutive decades.
Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham formed the rock band Led Zeppelin in London in 1968. They were one of the pioneers of heavy metal and are credited by critics as one of the most influential and successful bands in history. In 1980, John Bonham died and as a result, the band broke up although they have worked together and held reunion tours since.
Sir Elton John was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight in London in 1947. Raised in a council house by his restrictive parents, John used music as a form of escapism which would later be reflected in his flamboyant stage costumes. He began playing piano at a young age, eventually getting lessons from the age of seven and being accepted into the Royal Academy of Music at eleven. He came out as bisexual in the Rolling Stones magazine in 1976 and later as gay in the same magazine in 1992. Along with his partner David Furnish, they become one of the first couples to have a civil partnership in 2005 on the day it became legal. The 2019 film Rocketman tells the story of Elton John’s personal and professional life with Taron Egerton in the starring role. He has sold 350 million units worldwide making him the second highest-selling UK artist.
Of course, The Beatles were going to make this list as not only are they the most popular boy band in the UK but the entire world. Hailing from Liverpool, members John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison have been together since 1958 with Ringo Starr joining the group in 1962. They brought British slang to mainstream and worldwide notoriety, not afraid to incorporate their working-class roots into their songs. Not only are they the most popular UK artists of all time they are also the best-selling music act of all time, selling 600 million units worldwide, and the only artists to sell over 400 million. That’s 200 million more than any other artist, a number that in of itself is only held by a handful of people.