June 29

Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Country Artists of All Time

Spoilers, spoilers: Taylor Swift is included on the Rolling Stone list and some of your favorites might not be included.

Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Country Artist of All Time

On the 15th of June, Rolling Stone took it upon itself to orchestrate this 100 Greatest Country Artists of All Time list. Since we are talking about all time and as in ‘all time,’ we wanted to make sure that you also have your own evaluation whether or not the corresponding numbers to your favorite country artists are something that you can agree with.

Needless to say, the icons that we adore are definitely on the list but the questions are who’s on top and how Rolling Stone evaluated their contribution in the Nashville world. We will surely see the one and only George Strait, “Jolene” singer Dolly Parton or the crossover queens like Shania Twain and Carrie Underwood or our favorites like Miranda Lambert or Toby Keith.

[advert id=”193667″]

“There isn’t room for anyone” as Rolling Stone had put it when they deliberately removed Hank Cochran and Harlan Howard who according to them are more of song writers than artists. Rolling Stone also skipped Chet Atkins citing his ‘more of a producer’ side. Elvis Presley and Ray Charles were also omitted since they are under the umbrella of rock and roll.

Without further ado, here’s the first set from 1-10 and their snippets of country artistry evaluation according to Rolling Stone:


  1. Merle Haggard:

    Merle Haggard


His story, like his music, was as American epic, shot through with improbability, struggle, sin and redemption. His songs were about bargains with the self, a search for something better, and the price paid for both: “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive,” “Branded Man,” “Mama Tried” and “Sing Me Back Home” drew from his prison experience, but the black marks they wrestled with signified universally; and barroom anthems like “Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down” and “Swinging Doors” distilled everyday pain into something deeply lyrical.


  1. Hank Williams:

    Hank Williams


Although Hank Williams’ recorded output spanned only seven years, his influence has lasted 10 times as long, and it continues to grow. His plainspoken tales of heartbreak (“Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”); catchy, playful party tunes (“Move It on Over,” “Jambalaya [On the Bayou]”); and charming pickup lines set to music (“Hey Good Lookin’,” “Honky Tonkin'”) became a blueprint for artists like Willie Nelson and George Jones. “He had a real animal magnetism,” the Grand Ole Opry’s Minnie Pearl once said. “He destroyed the women in the audience.”

[advert id=”193669″]


  1. Johnny Cash

    Johnny Cash


Country’s self-proclaimed Man in Black embodied outlaw country’s rebel spirit. He sang about criminals (“Folsom Prison Blues”), he gigged in prisons (his At Folsom Prison and At San Quentin live LPs) and he overcame a nasty drug habit. Improbably, he even infiltrated the grunge era with a stripped-back folk-poet sound, courtesy of rock producer Rick Rubin, making rock songs, like Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt,” sound all the more cutting, thanks to his powerful baritone.


  1. Loretta Lynn

    Loretta Lyn


Lynn sang, with her crystalline mountain quiver, about veterans and scorned wives, and women who weren’t in the mood for lovin’ – as well as about those who maybe logged a little too much time between the sheets. Classics like “The Pill,” “Rated X” and “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)” are as controversial as they are legendary; and though Lynn would often avoid attaching a feminist narrative to her music, they unfolded a whole new future for women on Music Row.

[advert id=”193667″]


  1. The Carter Family

    The Carter Family


Built on Sara’s heartfelt vocals and her bandmates’ harmonies and simple song arrangements, their recordings, like “Keep on the Sunny Side” and “Wildwood Flower,” have become canon for the genre. “If you listen to the early hillbilly recordings, the singers were barely singing over the instruments,” Johnny Cash once wrote. “The Carter style was built around the vocals and incorporated them into the instrumental background, usually made up of the basic three-chord structure. In essence, the Carter Family violated the main traditions of vocal and instrumental music, but in doing so created a whole new style and a whole new sound.”


  1. Willie Nelson

    Willie Nelson


One of country’s greatest crossover artists, the Red Headed Stranger (and his distinctively nasal voice) has scored hits like “Always on My Mind,” “On the Road Again” and “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” on both the country charts and the Top 40 in the Seventies and Eighties.


  1. Waylon Jennings

Waylon Jennings

The logo of Waylon Jennings, the stylized W is shorthand for one of the most popular subgenres of country music, founded primarily by an artist who, ironically, didn’t want much to do with it. Listen to Jennings’ “Don’t You Think This Outlaw Bit’s Done Got Out of Hand,” cut in 1978 at the height of the craze, and you can hear the weariness in his voice.

[advert id=”193669″]


  1. Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton

A global pop icon whose career as musician and actress transcends country, Parton is one of its greatest singer-songwriters, and her signatures – “Jolene,” “Coat of Many Colors” and the irrepressible “I Will Always Love You” – are among the genre’s defining classics.


  1. George Jones

    George Jones


No one sang the songs of devotion and heartbreak at the core of country’s mission – “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” “She Thinks I Still Care,” “We Must Have Been Out of Our Minds,” “We’re Gonna Hold On,” “The Grand Tour” – with more knowledge or feeling, yet Jones did rockers just as well as weepers, and early honky-tonk standouts like “Why Baby Why” and “White Lightning” could go toe-to-toe with Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley.


  1. Garth Brooks

    Garth Brooks


One of the primary drivers of country’s crossover push during the Nineties, Brooks’ pop sensibilities irked purists but made him a superstar, and songs like “Friends in Low Places” are standards around the world. While the Oklahoma native became the biggest-selling solo artist of all time, he’s also had his stumbles (Chris Gaines, Ghost Tunes) along the way.


And if you are too lazy to read more snippets and just find out how the list goes, here’s the rest of the list:


100 Greatest Country Artists


  1. Jimmie Rodgers
  2. Patsy Cline
  3. Buck Owens
  4. Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys
  5. Ray Price
  6. Tammy Wynette
  7. Glen Campbell
  8. Eddy Arnold
  9. Roger Miller
  10. George Strait


The 21-40 bracket contains Shania Twain, Tom Hall, Bill Monroe, Miranda Lambert among others:

  1. Conway Twitty                             41. Charlie Rich
  2. Lefty Frizzell                                 42. Kitty Wells
  3. Ernest Tubb                                  43. Bobby Bare
  4. The Louvin Brothers                 44. Porter Wagoner
  5. Shania Twain                               45. Dixie Chicks
  6. Tom Hall                                        46. Gary Stewart
  7. Bill Monroe                                   47. Mel Tillis
  8. Alan Jackson                                48. Tennessee Ernie Ford
  9. Kris Kristofferson                      49. Kenny Rogers
  10. Flat & Scruggs                              50. Hank Williams Jr.
  11. Charley Pride                                51. Keith Whitley
  12. Randy Travis                                 52. Don Williams
  13. Miranda Lambert                       53. Ronnie Milsap
  14. Jerry Lee Lewis                           54. Jim Reeves
  15. Stanley Brother                           55. Don Gibson
  16. Reba McEntire                            56. John Anderson
  17. Jerry Reed                                     57. Johnny Horton
  18. John Prine                                    58. Emmylou Harris
  19. Gram Parsons                             59. Hank Thompson
  20. Hank Snow                                  60. Doug Sahm
[advert id=”193667″]


  1. Webb Pierce                                76. Marty Stuart
  2. Vince Gill                                      77. Patty Loveless
  3. Faron Young                               78. Rosanne Cash
  4. Marty Robbins                           79. Alabam
  5. Billy Joe Shaver                         80. Taylor Swift
  6. Roy Acuff                                     81. Statler Brother
  7. Tanya Tucker                             82. Lynn Anderson
  8. Guy Clark                                     83. Townes Van Zandt
  9. Connie Smith                             84. Steve Earle
  10. Vern Gosdin                               85. Eric Church
  11. Dwight Yoakam                        86. Bill Anderson
  12. Jessi Colter                                 87. Jamey Johnson
  13. Merle Travis                               88. The Judds
  14. Lee Ann Womack                   89. Tim McGraw
  15. Asleep at the Wheel                90. Crystal Gayle


Surprisingly, the last 10 of the list features more popular country artists of today like Keith Urban, Alison Krauss, Carrie Underwood and Toby Keith.


  1. Lucinda Williams
  2. Chris LeDoux
  3. Jerry Jeff Walker
  4. Alison Krauss
  5. Brooks & Dunn
  6. Toby Keith
  7. Brad Paisley
  8. Keith Urban
  9. Carrie Underwood
  10. John Denver


According to Rolling Stone, the key factor that they used to sort out the list is the “originality” of every artist throughout their country career.


Do you agree or disagree? Share on the comments below!


H/T: Rolling Stone


country artists, Rolling Stone

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

You may also like

Latest Stories

Subscribe to our newsletter now!

Country Thang Daily