The 50 Most Influential Musicians That Never Blew Up


The most important art isn't always the most popular. Throughout the history of music, there have been artists that come around, rearrange everyone's thinking, and disappear or fade away before ever landing on the charts, radio stations, or arena stages. These 50 musicians may not have had No. 1 hits, but they influenced a lot of artists who did. When you read their stories, it's hard to not notice a trend of tragedy that runs through so many of them, but despite the struggles with drugs, mental illness, the law, and violence, these artists managed to change the direction of music forever. Here are The 50 Most Influential Bands That Never Blew Up.

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  • Jumi

    Where did I put my hipster glasses?

  • moses

    R.I.P. polly

  • Eric

    Erik Satie’s compositions are used in Being There, which is the greatest film of all time

  • PancakeMcKennz

    Lots of good music here.

  • lobtomy

    In The Cramps says Lex instead of Lux Interior.

  • Confusion

    Thanks for the heads up. Just fixed

  • Ethos

    Can you please consider adding a page that lists all of the entries with hotlinks to their individual pages? Navigating all 50 slides is a PITA on my slow laptop, and I really want to know is if Little Brother is on the list :)

  • Chase

    Glad to see nick drake, he is a very underrated musician. Also check out the classic rock band UFO. They were one of the most influential, early rock bands and have songs that are very accessible even today.

  • Confusion

    We’re working on the gallery function. It’ll get better!

  • Mikayla: LOOSE L!PS

    Not to be a troll here, but what kind of criteria are you using to base their lack of success on? American Billboard charts? VH1 Behind The Music coverage?
    Cause, for example, Gainsbourg was a huge seller in Europe, and Thelonius was on the cover of Time magazine at the height of his career. I think those are both pretty “blown up”, no?

  • BassHeadSociety

    Schooly D was the first gangster rapper, before Ice T, and NWA never was successful as his west coast counterparts and still is a relative unknown. He should be on the list instead of Max B.

  • bryck

    Holy shit what a great feature.

  • Amaan

    What a genius design! Slide clicking is time wasting.
    Do email when you guys fix this.

  • Jacob Tender

    Great list. It’s interesting how many of these bands influenced Sonic Youth.

  • MEEfO

    On The Cramps page.. It’s the legendary CBGB’s scene not CGBG’s. Embarrassing.

  • dude

    where is king’s x

  • benson

    How do you justify Gainsbourg and Kraftwerk being on the list?
    Huge successful careers including number one singles and european song contest wins…

  • SK

    Late to the party here on this one, but I think that Thelonius Monk is well enough known to not be on the list

  • jujujujuj

    actually max b really influenced a lot of the “very important” new rappers now like asap rocky, drake, wiz khalifa to name a few, his singing / rapping style was different from all of hip-hop’s and him and french montana who was like his best friend doing mixtapes together were suppose to be the next big thing for new york and bring ny rap back.

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