"The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time" is a 2003 special issue of American magazine Rolling Stone, and a related book published in 2005. The lists were compiled based on votes from selected rock musicians, critics, and industry figures. The lists predominantly feature American and British music from the 1960s and the 1970s, topped by the Beatles’ 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, with a top 10 that featured four entries from the Beatles (#1, 3, 5 and 10), two from Bob Dylan (#4 and 9), and one each from the Beach Boys (#2), Marvin Gaye (#6), the Rolling Stones (#7) and the Clash (#8).
In 2012, Rolling Stone published a revised edition of the list drawing on the original and a later survey of albums up until the early 2000s. It was made available in "bookazine" format on newsstands in the US from April 27 to July 25. The new list contained 38 albums not present in the previous one, 16 of them released after 2003.
The first version of the list, published as a magazine in November 2003, was based on the votes of 273 rock musicians, critics, and industry figures, each of whom submitted a weighted list of 50 albums. The accounting firm Ernst & Young devised a point system to weigh votes for 1,600 submitted titles. The list includes a few compilations, and "greatest hits" collections.
The following authors contributed to the citations made of each album:
An amended list was released in book form in 2005, with an introduction written by Steven Van Zandt. As the editor's foreword explains, some compilation albums were removed, and Robert Johnson's The Complete Recordings was substituted for both of his King of the Delta Blues Singers volumes, making room for a total of eight new entries on the list. The Complete Recordings would be reinstated to the list in the 2012 edition.
Number of albums from each decade
|Decade||Number of albums||Percentage|
Artists with the most albums
- John Lennon (two solo albums and ten with the Beatles)
- Paul McCartney (one solo album, one album with Wings, and ten with the Beatles)
- George Harrison (one solo album, one with John Lennon, and ten with the Beatles)
- Ringo Starr (one with John Lennon, ten with the Beatles, and one with George Harrison)
- Bob Dylan (ten solo albums and an additional album as Bob Dylan and the Band; two in the top 10 including the #9 and #4 spots)
- The Beatles (four in the top 10 including the #10, #5, #3, and #1 spots; an additional five from their solo careers: two from John Lennon, one from George Harrison, one from Paul McCartney, and one from Wings, giving a total of 15 for the group)
- The Rolling Stones (one in the top 10 at the #7 spot)
- Bruce Springsteen
- Eric Clapton (two solo albums, three with Cream, one with Derek and the Dominos, one with the Yardbirds, and one with John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers)
- The Who
- Neil Young (three solo albums, two with Crazy Horse, one with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and another with Buffalo Springfield)
- David Bowie (one with Lou Reed and six solo albums)
- Elton John
- Lou Reed (two solo albums, four with the Velvet Underground)
- Jimmy Page (one with the Yardbirds and 5 with Led Zeppelin)
- Chris Hillman (four albums with the Byrds, one with the Flying Burrito Brothers)
- David Crosby (three albums with the Byrds, two with Crosby, Stills & Nash)
- Led Zeppelin
- Bob Marley and the Wailers
- Paul Simon (two solo albums, three with Simon and Garfunkel)
- Jerry Harrison (four albums with Talking Heads, one with Modern Lovers)
- The Byrds
- Elvis Costello (one solo album, three with the Attractions)
- Grateful Dead
- Jack Bruce (one with Lou Reed and three with Cream)
- James Brown
- Pink Floyd
- The Police
- Roxy Music
- Sly and the Family Stone
- The Smiths
- Stevie Wonder
- Talking Heads
- The Velvet Underground (one album with Nico)
- Otis Redding
- Ginger Baker (three with Cream)
- The Beach Boys (one in the top 10 at the #2 spot)
- The Jimi Hendrix Experience
- Cream (Though member of the trio have 12 in total, 7 through Clapton and one through Bruce and Baker each)
- Big Star
- Black Sabbath
- The Clash (one in the top 10 at the #8 spot)
- John Coltrane (two solo albums, one with Miles Davis)
- Marvin Gaye (one in the top 10 at the #6 spot)
- Nick Drake (in 2003 edition)
- Michael Jackson
- The Kinks
- John McVie (two with Fleetwood Mac, one with John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers)
- Elvis Presley
- Miles Davis
- Simon & Garfunkel
- Steely Dan
- Jay Z
- Stephen Stills (two with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, one with Buffalo Springfield)
- The Stooges
- Al Green
- The Doors
- Tom Waits
- Kanye West
- Eminem (in 2003 edition)
- Randy Newman
- Public Enemy (in 2003 edition)
- Gram Parsons (one with The Byrds, one with The Flying Burrito Brothers, one solo album)
- Don Henley (two with Eagles, one solo album)
- Muddy Waters
- Ray Charles
- George Clinton (two with Funkadelic, one with Parliament)
- Brian Eno (two solo albums, one with Roxy Music)
- The Band (one with Bob Dylan)
- Creedence Clearwater Revival (in 2003 edition)
- Jackson Browne
- The Red Hot Chili Peppers (In 2012 edition)
Writing in USA Today newspaper, Edna Gundersen described the list as predictable and "weighted toward testosterone-fueled vintage rock". The Rolling Stone 500 has also been criticised for being male-dominated, outmoded and almost entirely Anglo-American in focus.
Following the publicity surrounding the list, rock critic Jim DeRogatis, a former Rolling Stone editor, published Kill Your Idols: A New Generation of Rock Writers Reconsiders the Classics in 2004. This featured a number of generally younger critics arguing against the high evaluation of various "great" albums, some of which had been included in the list, including DeRogatis taking on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which had been Rolling Stone's top choice.
- NME's The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, a similar list
- All Time Top 1000 Albums, a similar list
- The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time, also from Rolling Stone magazine
- The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, also from Rolling Stone magazine
- The 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, also from Rolling Stone magazine
- 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, a similar list, ordered by time period
- List of greatest hits albums
- Levy, Joe; Van Zandt, Steven, eds. (2006) . Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (3rd ed.). London: Turnaround. ISBN 1-932958-61-4. OCLC 70672814.
Related news articles:
- "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. May 31, 2012. Retrieved 2016-10-24.
- "It's Certainly a Thrill: Sgt. Pepper Is Best Album", USA Today, November 17, 2003.
- Collett-White, Mike (April 27, 2012). "Kanye West gets 3 albums on Rolling Stone's revised 500 greatest list". msnbc.com. MSN. Archived from the original on 2012-04-29.
- Biron, Dean. 2011. Towards a Popular Music Criticism of Replenishment. Popular Music & Society, 34/5: 661–682.
- Schmutz, Vaughan. 2005. Retrospective Critical Consecration in Popular Music: Rolling Stone's Greatest Albums of All Time. American Behavioral Scientist, 48/11: 1510–1523.
- (ISBN 1-56980-276-9)
- 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, Rolling Stone