greatest music artists

The 100 greatest music artists and their first top 10 singles [infographic]

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As Rolling Stone magazine celebrates its 50th anniversary this November, the folks at decided to take a look at Rolling Stone‘s Top 100 Greatest Music Artists of all time and figure out how long it took each to score a top 10 single in either the US or the UK. The “start” of each artists’ career, for the sake of this study, was derived from Wikipedia’s definition of the career start.

So what did the study show?

I’ve been waiting…

James Brown had to wait 12 years before scoring “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” in 1965, The Grateful Dead took 22 years to break the seal with “A Touch Of Grey” in 1987, and AC/DC banged around for 40 years before “Highway To Hell” broke through after a campaign was launched to get it into the charts to celebrate the band’s 40th anniversary (the album was originally released in 1979). The average wait for a top 10 hit among this group is six years.

The 10 artists with the longest wait:

  1. AC/DC – 40 years (“Highway To Hell” – 2013)
  2. Public Enemy – 25 years (“Harder Than You Think” – 2007)
  3. Grateful Dead – 22 years (“Touch Of Grey” – 1987)
  4. Nine Inch Nails – 17 years (“The Hand That Feeds” – 2005)
  5. Curtis Mayfield – 16 years (“Freddie’s Dead” – 1972)
  6. Bruce Springsteen – 16 years (“Hungry Heart” – 1980)
  7. Johnny Cash – 15 years “(A Boy Named Sue” – 1969)
  8. Bob Marley – 13 years (“No Woman, No Cry” – 1975)
  9. Ray Charles – 12 years (“What’d I Say” – 1959)
  10. Jay Z – 12 years (“Hard Knock Life” – 1998)

I’m still waiting…

Nine of Rolling Stone’s greatest music artists picks never had a top 10 hit. They are:

  • Howlin’ Wolf
  • Bo Diddley
  • Parliament-Funkadelic
  • The Velvet Underground
  • The Stooges
  • The Band
  • Hank Williams
  • Gram Parsons
  • Frank Zappa

Check it out, and enjoy the interactive infographic.


A musician, writer, and marketer, Andre Calilhanna manages and edits the Disc Makers and BookBaby Blogs. Follow Andre on Twitter @dre_cal. Email him at

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About Andre Calilhanna

Andre Calilhanna is a drummer, vocalist, writer, editor, and manager of the Disc Makers and BookBaby blogs. He's also a golf "enthusiast," pianist-in-progress, and a below-average guitarist (thanks for asking). Contact him at

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