There are many great R&B artists that could be added to this short list, but here are our picks for the top male R&B artists of all time.
Michael Jackson – How could you have an R&B top 5 list without including this dynamic artist. There aren’t many artists that have been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame twice, but MJ is one of them, and deservedly so. His Thriller album, created back in 1982, has sold over 65 million units and is the best selling album of all time. He also had 13 number one hits on the Billboard 100, which is more than any other solo music artist. He holds so many records he may even hold the record for the most records….who knows?
Stevie Wonder – As the winner of 22 Grammy’s, Stevie holds the record for solo artists. At age 13 he became the youngest person to ever hit number one on Billboard’s 100. He has sold over 100 million records, an amazing accomplishment, with 10 number one hits on Billboard’s Hot 100 and 20 R&B number one hits. He was the recipient of the Billboard Century Award and the Songwriters Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award. He was also voted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
James Brown – Often called the “Godfather of Soul,” he was always an incredible performer and certainly one of the most influential music artists of all time. As with others in our list, James was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, and received the Grammy and BET Lifetime Achievement Award. He was a workhorse, recording an amazing 71 studio albums, 14 live albums, and an astounding 144 singles. He was often called the hardest working man in the music business and his efforts paid off with 16 number one R&B hits. But R&B was not the only genre he excelled in. He basically defined the style of funk music.
Marvin Gaye – His album “What’s Going On” is considered by many in the music business to be one of the all-time greatest albums. With thirteen number one hits, seven number one albums, he contributed a lot toward the popularity of R&B music in his day. Marvin was always recognized as the consummate performer. He was in big demand by other top artists and recorded duet albums with Diana Ross, Mary Wells, and others. His has received many prestigious awards and honors including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. He was also inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Ray Charles – Ray Charles was a recording artist that had hits in many genres, such as gospel, blues, rock & roll, country, and pop, but his specialty was R&B. He was the winner of an astonishing 17 Grammys and had 14 number one hits on the Billboard charts. As with the other top artists on this list, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Plus, not surprisingly he was also a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner.