“OK, I quit”: Chaka Khan has some thoughts on Rolling Stone’s ‘greatest singers of all time’ list

Chaka Khan
(Image credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Gabrielle's Angel Foundation)

Van Morrison has had his say, and now Chaka Khan has offered her opinions on Rolling Stone’s 200 greatest singers of all time list. And it’s fair to say that they aren’t entirely positive.

Khan placed at number 29 on Rolling Stone’s chart, but was seemingly unaware that it even existed until Andrew Goldman - host of the Los Angeles Magazine’s The Originals podcast - congratulated her on being included.

“I didn’t even know what the hell you were talking about, so obviously this don’t mean a great deal to me,” she said. “These people don’t quantify or validate me in any way.”

Despite her ambivalence, Khan did have a few thoughts on who made the cut and in what position, though. On hearing that Joan Baez had placed at number 189, she replied: “Let’s be honest, the bitch cannot sing,” though qualified this by saying that “she was a good writer.”

This is in stark contrast to Van Morrison’s view, which is that Baez was “one of the greatest folk singers of all time” and should have placed much higher.

Back to Khan, though, whose most withering putdowns were reserved for some of the female singers who placed above her in the chart.

On learning that Adele was ranked at number 22, her response was a succinct “OK, I quit.” And she seemed even more exasperated when she discovered that Mary J Blige was at number 25: “They are blind as a motherfucking bat! They need hearing aids…These must be the children of [disability rights activist] Helen Keller!”

And there’s more: Khan speculated that Mariah Carey’s number 5 placing must be down to “payola or some shit like that,” while Ariana Grande (number 43) was criticised for not recording in the same studio as Khan on their 2019 duet Nobody, which appeared on that year’s Charlie’s Angels soundtrack.

“I would never have somebody come sing on my motherfucking project without me knowing them,” she said.

Does Khan agree with any of the rankings, though? It turns out that she’s more than happy to see Aretha Franklin at number one - “as she fucking should be” - so that’s something.

‘Greatest of all time’ lists are always contentious, but Rolling Stone’s singers chart seems to have provoked more ire than most. Songwriter Diane Warren was also critical, describing Celine Dion’s omission as “One more reason these stupid ass lists don't mean shit.”

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Gene Simmons, meanwhile, said it was "a crime" that Ozzy Osbourne was only ranked at 112, but said that he didn't "give a fuck" that he wasn't included.

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it.