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Top 20 Musicians of All Time, in Any Genre: The Complete List

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Fri, Jan 13, 2012 at 3:30 AM

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Yeah, yeah, we know. The top 20 greatest musicians of all time, in any genre. Where do we get off? Well, we'll tell you where we get off -- at Accuracy Station. Our team of writers listened to thousands and thousands of hours of music for this list, digging deep into the annals of history and exploring the sounds of the entire globe. We painstakingly researched the shit out of practically all music ever made, modern and classical, popular and experimental, chart-topping and obscure. You may not agree with every artist on this list, but one thing is for certain: You're going to respect the hell out of it. -Ben Westhoff

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20. Johannes Sebastian Bach

Bach was a total badass. His name is practically synonymous with Baroque music, and by the turn of the 18th century he had become its master composer. His choir, instrument, and orchestral arrangements are painstakingly technical and well-organized, and he was a compositional powerhouse. Over his lifetime, he produced over 200 cantatas, concertos, and suites, which are still considered among the most beautifully arranged pieces of all time. Not exactly a lightweight. -Chris Walker

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19. The Rolling Stones

They may have claimed "It's only rock n' roll," but the music of the Rolling Stones helped define a generation. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and the crew came to represent the edgier side of the British Invasion, serving as countercultural symbols of youthful rebellion and sexual liberation during a time of sweeping social change. By 1965 the Stones were dominating charts around the world. We owe much of today's pop-rock structures to the music they pioneered. -Chris Walker

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18. Xian Xinghai

Chinese composer Xian Xinghai's 1939 epic Yellow River Cantata was written as a protest against the Japanese occupation of Manchuria. His seminal composition, it is a moving and patriotic call for solidarity. But Xinghai's legacy also includes over 300 other works, and his unique perspective on western classical traditions challenged his contemporaries to move beyond imitating European composers. In the process, he gave form to a distinctive Chinese art form that has guided generations of Eastern musicians. -Chris Walker

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