The Top 25 Artists with the most Tributes (Recorded Songs/Albums/Concerts)

  1. The Beatles. No surprise to anyone I am sure. There isn’t much of a question here, for those wishing to give hommage à nos héros musicaux (tribute to our musical heroes) that’s from Google Translate, probably bad French but “hommage” didn’t seem pithy enough. The Beatles offer plenty of choices to be celebrated. According to The Beatles Bible there are 41 complete discographies from around the world. Why so many? The release of singles and albums was often different from country to country so the source material varies, not to mention the language translations and artwork. Yes the songs are the same but to your average discophile it’s a dream come true. The important point here is it really shows their international reach. They appeared in five major movies, there are at least 20 documentaries, and over 40 films that were either inspired by them or have some fictional account. I read there may be over 2,000 books about them, I saw a list titled 100 Best Beatles Books of All Time, this gives you an idea as to how many might be out there. What this means is that there is a wellspring from around the world available to inspire a producer, artist or a group of artists to make a tribute song, a complete album or a concert/show dedicated to The Beatles. Not to mention the theatrical shows, Cover Bands, and Symphonic performances around the world, these numbers are untolled. In fact I had recently planned on attending one such show with some of my siblings, my health had other ideas but apparently it was magical. Recording artists as well want to sing The Beatles songs. lists 204 songs that have been covered by 9,154 artists with 21,896 covers. They are also the world’s most covered performers and individually; John (#31) and Paul (#44) are on this same tribute list. Plus they both lead all songwriters of any genre for the most covered songs. Doing a cover of an original song is a tribute of another kind. All these things offered enough incentive for the creation of a total of 801 Tributes. You can check this Wiki link for more info.
  2. Elvis Presley 383. Surprise! The King of Rock & Roll is #2. “Jailhouse Rock”, “Don’t Be Cruel”, just one example, The Embassy Records Story – A Tribute To Elvis Presley.
  3. Duke Ellington 259. A prolific composer,”It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)”
  4. George Gershwin 233. Composer of such classics as “Summertime” and “Embraceable You”
  5. Bob Dylan 229. Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016, “The Times They Are a Changin'”
  6. Cole Porter 194. American composer of “Night and Day”, “Love for Sale”, “True Love”
  7. Thelonious Monk 189. Iconic Jazz artist and the King of be-bop. “Straight No Chaser”
  8. Antônio Carlos Jobim 149. Brazilian legend, “Girl from Ipanema” and “Corcovado”
  9. Frank Sinatra 122. Because he is Frank. “Polka Dots and Moonbeams” his biggest original hit
  10. Burt Bacharach 111. So many iconic songs with lyricist Hal David, “The Look of Love”
  11. Frank Zappa 108. Experimental artist, R&R Hall of Fame, “Peaches en regalia”
  12. The Rolling Stones 107. Iconic Rock and Roll band, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”
  13. Richard Rogers 103. Influential Composer, “My Funny Valentine”, “My Favorite Things”
  14. David Bowie 109. Songwriter, performance chameleon, “Space Oddity”, “Heroes”
  15. Evert Taube 97. Sailor and Swedish Balladeer and a cultural icon.
  16. ABBA 96. Swedens biggest export and one of world’s leading groups “Dancing Queen”, “SOS”
  17. Irving Berlin 93. Born in Belarus, settled in New York, “White Christmas”, “Cheek to Cheek”
  18. Kurt Weill 91. German composer that created The Threepenny Opera and “Mack the Knife” with Bertolt Brecht who is #65 on this list with 49 Tributes.
  19. Billie Holiday 90. Iconic voice and symbol, “Strange Fruit”, “God Bless the Child”
  20. Scott Joplin 90. The son of a Slave became the King of Ragtime, “The Entertainer” from 1902.
  21. Johnny Cash 88. The man in black, “Folsom Prison Blues”, “I Walk the Line”, “Big River”
  22. Depeche Mode 88. Another export from England, Synth-Pop and Dance “Enjoy the Silence”
  23. Hank Williams 85. Country Music icon and Songwriter, “Jambalaya”, “Your Cheatin’ Heart”
  24. Queen 84. Still going strong without Freddie, “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “We are the Champions”
  25. Pink Floyd 82. One of the most influential Rock bands, “Wish You Were Here”, “Money”

There were not a lot of surprises on the list and the only name I didn’t recognize was Evert Taube who was Sweden’s foremost troubadour. If you go down to #100 on the list it is Andrew Lloyd Webber, and as the list continues you find these are all very well known artists and composers. It’s hard not to notice there are only two mentions of women on the top 25 list, one half of ABBA and Billie Holiday. Working down the list; Joni Mitchell is #35, Madonna is #50, Taylor Swift #70, Édith Piaf #81, The Carpenters (Karen) #98 and Fleetwood Mac (Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks) #99. So that’s 11 names out of 100. The next 100 has 12 women. What is unseen and often uncredited are roles women played in the success of men. One example is Helene Weigel who was a long time “silent collaborator” with Bertolt Brecht, as to what extent we do not know, later she would become his second wife but only received one writing credit that I could find. Just an observation. I mean, no one has control over this list, it is however a reflection of the historic culture that surrounds music.

Based on stats collected around April 13, 2023.

References: 1,2, 3

12 thoughts on “Tributes

  1. Interesting list for sure! I’m not absolutely clear on what the definition is though…are we talking about Tribute Albums, where others do covers of other artists’ songs? In that category I’ve had ones for The Carpenters ( excellent), the Beatles, Eagles and strangely, Kiss (of which only Gart Brooks ‘Hard Luck Woman’ sticks in my mind 20 years on, even more strangely)

    Liked by 1 person

    • It would include covers in the spirit of a tribute in that sense, not just an artist covering one song and sticking it on an album let’s say. As noted there are 21,000 odd covers of The Beatles songs and only 801 tributes.


  2. Interesting list. Personally, I can’t believe Frank Zappa comes before The Rolling Stones, though I realize it’s very close. To the casual reader seeing all these jazz artists may come as a surprise, though it does make sense to me, since jazz musicians cover each other a lot. Also, thanks for including that beautiful clip. I haven’t watched that footage in many years!

    Liked by 2 people

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