1. Ruth Brown
Known as the Queen of R&B, Brown is as well known for her role in fighting for artists right to royalties was as she is for her music.
2. Martha and the Vandellas
The Vandellas, formed in 1957, had a string of hits that established them as talent to watch on Motown Records, including “Jimmy Mack” and “Dancing In The Street.”
3. Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers
The Teenagers are known for being one of rock and roll’s earliest success stories and for their status as an integrated doo-wop group in the 1950s and beyond. Lead singer Franke Lymon’s soprano vocals catapulted the group to success.
4. Gladys Knight
The lead singer of Gladys Knight and The Pips, the Empress of Soul herself was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991, and her music stands as testament to her talent and success.
5. The Platters
An early rock and roll success story, The Platters stylized and smooth take on early doo-wop earned them inducted into the HOF in 1990.
6. The Shirelles
One of the first girl groups to find a huge amount of success, The Shirelles were the first African-American girl group to have a song on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. They made it into the HOF in 1996.
7. Ray Charles
A man who refused to let musical genre define his work, Ray Charles’ work in soul and country music, his work toward helping racially integrate popular music, and his status as the first African-American to have creative control of his own sound marked him as “the Genius.” He was inducted in 1986.
8. Chuck Berry
The world renowned duck-walking guitarist is credited as one of the progenitors of rock and roll, and for good reason. Songs like “Maybellene” and “Johnny B. Goode” set the groundwork for rock acts beyond his time. He was inducted in 1986.
9. Darlene Love
With powerful vocals and a breadth of gospel choir experience, Darlene Love was an integral voice in rock and roll/R&B for years. Inducted in 2011.
10. Donna Summer
Donna Summer was the Queen of Disco music, having gotten her start working with producers like Giorgio Moroder and songs like “Love To Love You Baby.” Known all over the world for her disco love songs, Summer was inducted into the HOF in 2013.
11. Grandmaster Flash
One of the first hip-hop DJs to gain mainstream success, Grandmaster Flash may be best known for his involvement with The Furious Five, the group that helped contribute to the explosion of hip-hop popularity in the early to mid 1980s. They’re also the first hip-hop group to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, landing in 2007.
12. Al Green
Soul tinged vocals and a string of singles in the 70s propelled Al Green to public importance. Inducted into the HOF in 1995.
13. George Clinton
The mastermind behind funk outfit Parliament-Funkadelic is also one of the three pivotal figures behind the prominence of the funk movement, along with James Brown and Sly Stone. Inducted in 1997.
14. Sam and Dave
The Sultans of Sweat were a soul duo whose twenty year career encompassed influence and fun. Most well known for the sing “Soul Man,” the dup was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.
15. Buddy Guy
One of the most influential blues guitarists of all time, Buddy Guy’s pure skill and appealing sound led to his induction into the HOF in 2005.
16. Michael Jackson
What is there to say about Michael Jackson that hasn’t been said already? He’s sold millions of records and inspired artists as diverse as Chris Brown, Beyoncé, Sheryl Crow, Green Day, and Janelle Monáe. Inducted in 2001.
17. Charlie Christian
A talented swing guitarist, Christian was also a pioneering member of the bebop movement. Inducted in 1990.
The multi-instrumentalist from Minnesota has lots of sway in funk, rock, and R&B, but that’s not the only thing that makes him a legend. He also have ten platinum albums and 30 Top 40 singles to his name, including Purple Rain, which went platinum 13 times over. Inducted in 2004.
19. Earth, Wind and Fire
Known for their genre-crossing songs and dynamic horns section, Earth, Wind & Fire are one of the most critically and commercially successful groups of the twentieth century. Inducted in 2000.
20. Etta James
With singles like “The Wallflower” and “At Last” and the powerful vocals to back them up, Etta James achieved massive success as a voice in the R&B movement. Inducted in 1993.
21. The Jimi Hendrix Experience
The Jimi Hendrix-fronted psychedelic rock band has had a huge influence on the progressive rock and heavy metal communities since their formation in the late 1950s. Inducted in 1992.
22. The Isley Brothers
If singles like “Work To Do,” “Who’s That Lady,” and “Twist and Shout” and a career that’s spanned six decades aren’t enough to signify the group of biological siblings, I don’t know what is. Inducted in 1992.
23. Marvin Gaye
A man with smooth soulful vocals and a penchant for concept albums, Marvin Gaye was a trailblazer in contemporary R&B. Inducted in 1987.
24. Bob Marley
Arguably the symbol for contemporary reggae, Bob Marley’s music and messages of peace and love are universally revered. Inducted in 1994.
25. Public Enemy
The politically charged lyrics of Chuck D, the cacophonous production of the Bomb Squad, and the hype man skills of Flavor Flav have helped Public Enemy draw in listening ears for decades. Inducted in 2013.
26. Jackie Wilson
Regarded as one of the best showman in rock and roll history, Jackie Wilson was instrumental in the transition from R&B to soul in the 1960s. Inducted in 1987.
27. Ike and Tina Turner
Domestic abuse controversy now withstanding, Ike and Tina Turner were a formidable R&B duo who blow the top off of the industry in the 1960s. Inducted in 1991.
28. The Temptations
The legendary group, known for their dynamic harmonies on songs like “My Girl,” broke massive ground in the doo-wop/R&B market. Inducted in 1989.
29. The Supremes
The Supremes, led by vocalist Diana Ross, were one of the premier R&B vocal groups of their generation, male or female. Inducted in 1988.
30. Sly and the Family Stone
Pioneers of rock, funk, and soul in the 1960s and beyond, Sly and the Family Stone blazed trails with songs like “Everyday People.” Inducted in 1993.
31. Run DMC
When it comes to hip-hop, all roads lead back to Run-DMC. Beyond bringing hip-hop music into the public eye, they’re the first hip-hop group to achieve gold and platinum record sales and the first ever to be nominated for a Grammy. Inducted in 2009.
32. Otis Redding
His career may have been short, but songs like “Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay” are still a testament to the alluring power of Otis Redding’s voice. Inducted in 1989.
33. Lloyd Price
This multi-talented musician was known as “Mr. Personality” in his heyday in the Sixties and Seventies. Inducted in 1998.
34. The O’Jays
The O’Jays found success after signing with Philadelphia International in 1972, and with songs like “Back Stabber” and “Love Train,” they established themselves as soul brothers to watch. Inducted in 2005.
35. Lavern Baker
With singles like “Jim Dandy” and “I Cried A Tear,” LaVern Baker was a prominent R&B singer in the Fifties and early Sixties. Inducted in 1987, the second female solo artist after Aretha Franklin to receive the honor.
36. Clyde McPhatter
The most widely imitated R&B singer of the Fifties and Sixties, McPhatter used songs like “A Lover’s Question” to put himself ahead of the pack and become a premier voice in rock and roll and R&B. He’s the first double inductee into the HOF in history, first as a member of The Drifters and then as a solo artist.
37. Little Richard
The piano-banging musician Little Richard is regarded as a pioneer of soul, funk, rock, and pop, and graced all genres with style and showmanship. Inducted in 1986.
38. B.B King
Another elder statesman of the blues, B.B. King’s career has spanned just under seven decades and even with diabetes, he still plays shows and owns a chain of restaurants/entertainment venues. Inducted in 1987.
39. Jackson 5
The group that introduced the world to the Jacksons, particularly young Michael, spawned a string of hits that people are still losing their minds over half a century later. Inducted in 1997.
40. Isaac Hayes
Baritone legend Isaac Hayes sang his way through many a song including the theme song to blaxploitation film “Shaft.’ He was also a pioneer of rap with much of his spoken word delivery. Inducted in 2002.
41. Aretha Franklin
Most people reading this list are probably humming an Aretha Franklin song right now. Famous for songs like “Respect” and “Chain of Fools,” Franklin’s unique presence in the field of R&B, gospel, and soul is unparalleled. Inducted in 1987.
42. Miles Davis
One of the most well-known jazz artists of all time, Miles Davis was one of the genre’s boldest artists, capable of traditional jazz like “Kind of Blue” and more experimental material like “Bitches Brew.” Inducted in 2006.
43. Solomon Burke
Proclaimed the King of Rock and Soul, Burke was a larger than life personality whose music has left a larger than life influence on the world of R&B and rock and roll. Inducted in 2001.
44. James Brown
The Godfather of Soul, the man whose music is the most sampled in the world by artists of all different stripes. Need I say more? Inducted in 1986.
45. Bobby Womack
A soul and gospel artist who spent over a decade crafting music, Womack’s position as a legend and one hell of a guitar player is well established. Inducted in 2009.
46. Stevie Wonder
The man who gave the world “Songs In The Key Of Life,” whose ethereal R&B/soul/rock/pop mix has enchanted people across genres and tastes is also one of the best selling artists in history. Go Stevie. Inducted in 1989.
47. Smokey Robinson
There are few people in the field of R&B who have written as many songs as this man has. A man whose heart and soul is the Motown sound. Inducted in 1987.
48. Curtis Mayfield
Yet another inductee who’s been given the horn more than once, Curtis Mayfield made music that directly addressed Black identity and self-awareness and was world-renowned for his R&B grooves. Inducted in 1999.
49. Jimmy Cliff
Jimmy Cliff is reggae’s premier figure who isn’t Bob Marley, a man so engrained in the messages and feel-good vibe of the reggae movement that would become the genre’s trademarks. Inducted in 2010.
50. Bo Diddley
Bo Diddley broke ground in the 1950s with his unique take on rock and roll. He incorporated African rhythms and unorthodox guitar work that were unlike anything people had heard before. Inducted in 1987.
51. Sam Cooke
Considered by many to be the definitive soul singer of all time, Sam Cooke’s music, a blend of soul and gospel that didn’t lost the sensuality of the former or the spirituality of the latter, was of a particular nuance that still defines it as timeless decades later. Inducted in 1986.
52. Albert King
A man whose technical skill took him over the top, Albert King has been a huge influence on the world of rock and roll guitarists since his start in 1950s. Inducted in 2013.
53. Fats Domino
A world-class rock and roll pianist, Domino had the commercial sales to back his shocking amount of skill on the piano. Inducted in 1986.