5 Most Influential Figures in Rock History

There’s no shortage of standout artists in rock and roll. However, only a select few can truly be defined as influential figures. One of the clear indicators of an influential figure is paving the way for artists of future generations, which is true for the five artists outlined below.

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Timeless songwriting and impeccable musicianship are other factors the artists below have in common. Check out five Rock & Roll Hall of Fame members who are some of the most influential figures in rock history.

1. The Beatles

It’s hard to pick just one Beatle as an influential figure. Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr and George Harrison were a collective force that shook the world with their arrival in 1963. Rock and roll as we know it wouldn’t exist without the Beatles. McCartney and Lennon are some of the most prolific songwriting duos of all time, penning such timeless tunes as “Love Me Do,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “Elanor Rigby” and several others. As the biggest-selling music act of all time, the Beatles have created a legacy that is truly unmatched and made an immeasurable impact on music culture.

2. Chuck Berry

As the Father of Rock and Roll, Chuck Berry is a pioneer of the genre with his famous rockabilly style, as heard on such hits as “Johnny B. Goode,” “Maybellene” and “Sweet Little Sixteen.” His lively, animated guitar playing would later show up in Jimi Hendrix and Elvis Presley’s live performance styles. Berry created a domino effect in rock music with his elite musicianship and engaging showmanship that lit up audiences everywhere, establishing him as an undeniable figure in rock music history.

3. Elvis Presley

One can’t think of rock and roll without Elvis Presley coming to mind. Widely known as the King of Rock and Roll, Presley set a new precedent with his signature snarl, hip swivels and classic songs that still resonate with fans today. His mystifying live performances, coupled with hits like “Suspicious Minds,” “Jailhouse Rock” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” have made him an icon known around the world.

[RELATED: 10 Unforgettable Elvis Presley Moments]

4. Jimi Hendrix

The art of guitar playing evolved substantially when Jimi Hendrix came onto the scene in the 1960s. From his introduction at the Monterey International Pop Festival in 1967 which established his presence as a rock god, to his history-making performance at Woodstock Festival in 1969 where he shredded “The Star-Spangled Banner” on guitar, Hendrix’s name will be etched in stone as a music icon. More than 50 years after his death, Hendrix’s music is just as revered as it was when it first came out. Signature songs like “The Wind Cries Mary,” “Purple Haze” and “Hey Joe” have contributed to his everlasting legacy as an influential figure of rock music.

5. Freddie Mercury

It’s safe to say that Freddie Mercury is one of the most electrifying live performers in rock and roll history. Mercury knew how to masterfully blend his quirky persona with a commanding stage presence, making him an out-of-this-world performer. He proved that with Queen’s many live performances, particularly their set at Live Aid in 1985. He also wrote many of the band’s career-defining hits that have become timeless classics like “We Are the Champions,” “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” Mercury had a voice like no other, and a stage presence to match, making him one of the most influential figures in rock history.

(Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

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