Ten of the Greatest... British musicians

The UK has been a trailblazer in the history of music, producing some of the most influential bands and artists of all time. Through the Don’t Stop The Music’s campaign, we're calling for every child in England to have the opportunity to learn an instrument – and so continue our country’s fantastic music legacy.

By no means a comprehensive list, here are ten of the UK’s most influential musicians to date…

10. Amy Winehouse

A decade ago, the late queen of neo-soul and jazz came crashing onto the music scene. Her arresting vocals and memorable style helped bring female singer-songwriters back into the spotlight. Her legacy was recently cemented with a statue in Camden Stables Market.

9. Nigel Kennedy

Described as the ‘enfant terrible’ of the classical music world, the outspoken violinist from Brighton is as famous for his punk rocker hairdo as he is for his music. His version of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons was one of the most successful classical music albums of all time.

8. Goldie

Hailing from the Midlands, Goldie helped establish the drum 'n' bass genre in the early 90s with hits such as Inner City Life. In 2008, he appeared in the reality competition show Maestro, where he learned to conduct a classical orchestra.

7. Annie Lennox

Aberdeen-born Lennox was one half of 80s synth-pop sensations The Eurythmics before going on to establish a successful solo career. Known for her haunting vocals, she also plays various instruments including the piano, harmonium and flute.

6. John Lennon

No list would be complete without mentioning the legend that is John Lennon, who along with Paul, George and Ringo created the most successful band of all time, The Beatles. Even today, his influence in the music world and pop culture is still apparent.

5. Jacqueline du Pré

The British cellist shook up the classical music scene in the 1960s, touring the world and astounding audiences with her intense performances. She is best known for Elgar's Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85, a piece that features prominently throughout the controversial film about her life Hilary and Jackie.

4. Sade Adu

The beautiful Londoner shot to fame in the 1980s with her soul band Sade, whose first album reached No.1 in the UK and the US. They are best known for classic hits such as Smooth Operator and No Ordinary Love. She received an OBE in 2002 for her services to music.

3. Kate Bush

Recently in the spotlight for her sell-out comeback shows, Bush is famed for her striking originality and eccentric performance style, most famously showcased in her 1970s hit Wuthering Heights. Together with her trademark high-pitched vocals, Bush plays several instruments including the piano and violin.

2. Sir Elton John

With his formidable piano playing and oversized star-shaped specs, this world-renowned glam rocker has been going strong since the 1960s. Bands he has collaborated have ranged from boy band Blue to indie rockers Queens of the Stone Age. He famously sang at the funeral of Princess Diana.

1. David Bowie

An icon of both rock music and fashion, Bowie was a true innovator, with several on-stage ‘alteregos’ including Ziggy Stardust. The famous photo of him on the 1973 album Aladdin Sane (where his face is painted with a lightening bolt) made him a cultural icon overnight and he’s been revered by music fans ever since. The V&A museum recently held a retrospective exhibition in his honour.


Ten of the Greatest... British musicians
Credit: Vaughan Leiberum via Wikimedia Commons
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