Below is our list of the 10 greatest reggae artists of all time.
10. Garnet Silk
Had Silk not died at such a young age (28), he probably would have ranked higher amongst the greats, maybe even in the top 5. The Rastafarian artist was known for his diverse, emotive, powerful and smooth voice. During the early 1990s he was hailed as the next great talent to come out of Jamaica, however, his career was cut short by his early death.
9. Gregory Isaacs
Gregory’s moniker “The Cool Ruler” says about all you need to know about the man and his music. The New York Times referred to Gregory Isaacs as the most exquisite voice in Reggae Music.
8. Jimmy Cliff
Jimmy Cliff was the first and original pioneer to take Reggae music to all corners of the earth. He did this with the soundtrack to the movie “The harder they come”. Jimmy Cliff is the only living musician to hold the Order of Merit, the highest honor that can be granted by the Jamaican government for achievements in the arts and sciences.
7. Desmond Dekker
Desmond Dekker the king of ska is the first Jamaican artist to get a major international hit with his song “Israelites”. Other hits include “007 (Shanty Town)” (1967), “It Mek” (1969) and “You Can Get It If You Really Want” (1970).
6. Beres Hammond
When it comes to love songs, Beres Hammond is quite arguably the greatest talent Jamaica has ever known. Beres Hammond who has been awarded the Order of Jamaica (OJ) is known for his beautiful and soulful voice. While his career began in the 1970s, he reached his greatest success in the 1990s.
5. Dennis Brown
Known as the crown prince of reggae, Dennis Brown as influenced more reggae artists than anyone with the exception of Sizzla.
4. Bob Marley
He is considered one of the most influential musicians of all time and credited with popularizing reggae music around the world, as well as serving as a symbol of Jamaican culture and identity. Marley has also evolved into a global symbol, which has been endlessly merchandised through a variety of mediums. Marley was also awarded the Order of Merit (OM) by the Jamaican Government.
3. Alton Ellis
Many reggae personnel and publications consider Alton Ellis the greatest sing to ever come out of Jamaica. Ellis is one of the innovators of rocksteady and was given the title “Godfather of Rocksteady”. He was awarded the Order of Distinction (OD) by the Jamaican government and in 2006 he was inducted into the International Reggae and World Music Awards Hall Of Fame.
2. Peter Tosh
The Stepping Razor as he was also know is arguably the most militant reggae artist with only Sizzla or Capleton coming close. Peter Tosh never compromised his beliefs and what he stood for and is militancy can be heard in much of his hot songs like “Equal rights”, “Stepping Razor” and “Mystery Babylon”. Peter Tosh was awarded the Order of Merit (OM) by the Jamaican Government.
Sizzla is the most influential artist in reggae music ever. If you listen to any roots artist that came after Sizzla, you will hear his influence in their music. Sizzla is also undoubtedly the greatest songwriter Jamaica has ever produced. Critics argue that with over 100 hundred albums, Sizzla records way too much. Out of this 100 albums, however, are countless classic and hit songs. Some of his albums are also reggae classics, like “Black Woman and Child”, “Praise ye Jah” and “Da real ting”.
Let us know if you agree with our greatest reggae artists of all time. Is there any artist in the top 10 that don’t belong there? Are there any artist not on the list but should be there?