Many British music artists get overlooked for their contributions to modern rock and pop because of the overwhelming celebrity of the UK’s megastars. Artists like the members of Queen, the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones and solo superstars like David Bowie have decades of hits to prove their dominance. However, many others have contributed equally in how they inspire future artists and help to create singles that stay relevant 40-50 years later.
Formed in 1972, The Jam lured in audiences with their angry, defiant punk sound. The band did not receive the media attention given to other punk bands. Luckily, they were not on stage for the media but their broad and appreciative audience. The Jam released, in just five years, 18 consecutive Top 40 singles in the UK. A lifetime achievement award in 2006 helped to reawaken the influence and meaning The Jam still had over their audience.
Singer-songwriter Bryan Ferry and bass guitarist Graham Simpson teamed up to create Roxy Music in 1970. A mixture of glam and punk, the band sold millions of albums around the world. The Ferry would become a style icon for many. Simpson, Ferry, and bandmate Brian Eno went on to have successful solo careers. Simpson was active in music until passing away in 2012, while Ferry and Eno continue to record. In 2019, Roxy Music was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Sir Cliff Richard OBE dominated the rock scene in Britain before the Beatles arrived. His achievements are many, including more than 130 singles, EPs, and albums in the Top 20 in the UK and selling more than 250 million records worldwide. Richard also uniquely transitioned to contemporary Christian music while still enjoying a career in pop and rock music. Other achievements of his include 14 number-one singles in the UK and being the only UK singer to have a number-one song in five consecutive decades. Richard is the only act to make it onto the singles charts in the UK every decade during the first six decades the list existed.
It is an impossible task to list every influential British music artist as more continue to arrive on the music scene each year. The musicians and singers listed here are examples of some of the talents that get less attention but have contributed equally to the shaping of popular modern music.