Van Morrison isn’t happy about Rolling Stone’s list of the 200 greatest singers of all time

Van Morrison
(Image credit: Astrida Valigorsky/Getty Images)

We’ve been on the receiving end of enough flak for publishing ‘best of all time’ lists to know that they’re always controversial. And that’s probably fair enough: these things are subjective, and there’s nothing wrong with taking issue with someone/something’s position on a chart, or moaning that someone/something isn’t there at all.

Which brings us to Van Morrison, who has revealed in an interview with The Times (paywall) that he’s unhappy about a number of placings in Rolling Stone’s 200 Greatest Singers Of All Time chart, which was published earlier this year.

“People keep calling me to say, ‘Congratulations, you are No 37 in Rolling Stone’s 200 singers,’” Morrison explains. “Oh great, thanks very much. Who else is there? Joan Baez, one of the greatest folk singers of all time, is at 189? Solomon Burke and Bobby Bland are in the high hundreds?”

The Northern Irish singer-songwriter  goes on to say: “What the fuck? These people should be in the Top 20 at the very least. It’s nice they mention me, but let’s face it, that’s not reality.”

To be fair to Rolling Stone, its actual top 20 does contain some seriously heavy hitters. Aretha Franklin is a worthy winner, and you can’t really argue with the cultural impact that the likes of Whitney Houston, Sam Cooke, Billie Holiday, Mariah Carey, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Beyonce, Otis Redding or Al Green have had, either.

But, as we said, it’s subjective.

Another artist who’s taken issue with the list is Kiss man Gene Simmons, who told TMZ:  "How well you sing is not the most important thing. It's, ‘do you have style? Do you have a fingerprint that says, I know that voice immediately?’"

After calling it “a crime” that Ozzy Osbourne only made it to 112 on the list, Simmons was asked for his reaction to not being included at all.

“Oh, I don’t give a fuck,” he replied.

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.