Biggest Musician of Each Decade From 1950s to 2000s


(Image via USA Today)

Jelani Dupon, Writer

Music is a big part of most peoples’ lives. Whether you listen to it on your phone, the radio, or even CDs, music is everywhere, and with that certain people stand out from the rest. Every decade has a universally popular artist, here are those people.

The 1950s had artist Elvis Presley. Born in Mississippi, Elvis started his career in 1954, at the age of 19. He doesn’t need any explaining, he was and still is one of the faces of rock and roll music, even labeled the “king of rock and roll”, has sold over 140 million records in the U.S alone, and has sold more than a billion records worldwide, which makes him the best selling solo artist of all time. Elvis’ career came to a sudden end in 1977 when he passed away in his home, he was only 42 years old.

The 1960s had The Beatles. The band was created in the United Kingdom in 1957, with group members John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. The Beatles have sold 177 million albums in the United States alone, and have a record of 21 singles to reach number one on “Billboard Hot 100”, the most of any band. They also have some of the most iconic albums of all time, such as “Abbey Road” and “Yellow Submarine”. The Beatles came to an end in 1975, and since then two members have passed away, John Lennon who was assassinated in 1980, and George Harrison who died of lung cancer in 2001. 

The 1970s had many popular artists, but the biggest was Elton John. Born March 25, 1947, in the United Kingdom, he got his career start in 1969. He has since sold over 300 million albums worldwide and has influenced the pop-rock world greatly. 

The 1980s had Michael Jackson. Born August 29th, 1958, in Gary Indiana, Jackson got his career start at the very young age of five, however, his solo career started in 1979, when his first album Off the Wall came out. He is dubbed the “King of Pop” for a reason, his second studio album, Thriller, has over 100 million sales worldwide and is the best selling solo album of all time, and second best selling of all time counting bands. He also broke the color barrier of MTV when his music video for the single “Beat It”  premiered –  prior to that no black artists’ music video had been played by MTV. Jackson has over one billion sales like Elvis and is arguably the most recognizable celebrity and musician of all time. His career ended in the late 90s, and Michael passed away in a hotel in 2009.

The 1990s had many great artists that were very popular, like the Beastie Boys, but the most remembered was Nirvana and 2Pac. Nirvana was a band founded in 1987 in Washington by lead singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain. They sold 75 million records, making them one of the best selling bands of all time, and they are mostly known musically for their song “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. The band sadly came to an end in 1994 when member Kurt Cobain was found in his house, he committed suicide and was only 27 years old. The 90s also had rapper 2Pac. Tupac was born in 1971 in New York. Tupac started his career with acting and then ventured into music. In 1991 he released his first album and made four more in just five years. He has sold over 75 million copies worldwide. He was in seven movies and his music career only lasted five years, as Tupac was killed in September of 1996, after surviving a prior murder attempt in 1994. Tupac is known to most people as one of the most significant rappers of all time. 

The 2000s had Usher. Usher was born in 1978 in Texas. He got his career start in 1997 with his album My Way. Usher has eight R&B songs that hit number one on the “Billboard Top !00” and his album Confessions sold 20 million records worldwide. He has released eight studio albums, ten compilation albums, eight extended plays, and 74 singles. He is considered a pioneer of modern R&B and rap music, and his career came to an end in the latter part of the 2000s.