To celebrate NME’s 60th birthday, we’re on the hunt to find the ultimate musical icon from the magazine’s lifetime. We’ve launched a special poll where you can all vote for your personal favourite, and we’ve also been asking other musicians to nominate their top candidates for the ultimate icon title.
We’ve already checked in with the likes of Marina, Paul Weller, Miles Kane, Kasabian, Florence, Metronomy, Roger Daltrey, Keane and Two Door Cinema Club (you can check out their replies in the video after the jump), but here are a few more top choices from Mark Hoppus, Olly Murs, Zola Jesus and loads more. Disagree with their choices? Leave us a comment and let us know who your ultimate musical icon of the past 60 years is – and don’t forget to vote here. Plus, you can listen to our shortlist of nominees in this handy Spotify playlist.
The Cure were such a huge part of what I listened to growing up. That’s probably my favourite band of all time, and probably the biggest influence on the way that I write music. I think Robert Smith kind of is that whole genre of music. I think if you think about dark, spooky indie rock, it’s The Cure.
He’s crafted that whole genre, and done it in very different ways over his career, from early albums like ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ and ‘Three Imaginary Boys’, which was very guitar-driven, into synthy stuff, then flamenco, weird druggy music like ‘The Top’, and then the likes of ‘Disintegration’. I think he’s just very creative.
I’m going for the King of Pop because his music appeals to everyone. Everyone from tiny children to old people get it, you can dance to it, chill out to it, it hits everything really.
Without a doubt, it’s The Beatles – no question about it at all. It just doesn’t get any bigger than John Lennon does it?
She’s really fearless and she’s always made an effort to explore a different side of her creativity on each album. She’s created some of the most iconic looks in pop history.
Why Elvis? Because he made us look at a whole new side of music we didn’t even know existed until he hit it.
I’d have to say Jarvis. He retains everything about him now that I loved when I first started listening to Pulp.
Hugo White, The Macabees
If you give yourself to Dylan, then there’s so much there. There aren’t many people anywhere near the level he is lyrically. He has an amazing way of redesigning himself.
He writes some of the most immediately likeable tunes without any sense of cheesiness or cliché. It’s almost impossible to dislike the Foo Fighters – Dave’s an all-round talented and very agreeable chap!
I’ve never made it more than about two and half minutes into ‘Metal Machine Music’ and yet it represents what makes Lou so special: an uncompromising dedication to originality. He’s written some of greatest songs ever.
Robert & Lizzy Lee Vincent, Birdland
Call me crazy but I think they could have been as iconic as Joey and Johnny Ramone, or Joe Strummer and Mick Jones. From the firecracker songs that made me want to jump on my bed to the matching bleached white hair, they could have been bigger than they were, especially in the US.
All my favourite Beatles songs have his vocal on predominantly, and his solo work is really inspirational. I have been a Beatles fan since I can remember, and I was always drawn to the darker edge that Lennon had, in comparison to McCartney’s almost innocent and cherubic character. My favourite moment is when he screams in ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ – it was so visceral.
Madness were my favourite band growing up and I absolutely idolise Suggs. He’s someone I would love to meet, and I can’t wait to see him live again at V!
Jason Aalon Butler, letlive.
Marvin Berry, Marvin Berry And The Starlighters
That’s my choice. That song ‘Earth Angel’ changed my life.
His music has been massively influential on our band and it is difficult to find anyone that doesn’t like Bob Marley, regardless of class, race, music scene or gender. Plus he was cool as fuck.
One of this country’s greatest songwriters, he also gave us the rock opera, ‘Quadraphenia’ and the windmill.
Peter Liddle, Dry The River
Townes Van Zandt
Even now he continues to be something of an unsung hero – barely a week goes by when I don’t listen to one of his records. I think I’m drawn to his broken personality too – son of Texan oil millionaires, super high SAT scores and being groomed for senatorship I think is the story, but he had a problem with drink and drugs, and ended up living a kind of nomadic existence, playing dive bars and whatever. Often those kind of troubled artists seem to make very moving music, I guess.
He is the ultimate entertainer – completely self aware and willing to sacrifice pretty much anything for the good of his live performances.
I like Nico. I like how being a blonde icon babe drove her insane until she sabotaged it.
Dom Millard, Zulu Winter
There probably isn’t anyone else who has influenced as many musicians and the musical landscape as much as Mr Peel. From folk and psychedelia to punk, gabba and even a bit of grime right at the end, he left an indelible mark on it all. I’ve still got old tapes of his ‘Festive 50’ and the odd whole show. From the age of about 13 to 18 there wouldn’t be a night when I wouldn’t tune in. We needed excitement and we needed it bad and the John Peel show was the best we ever had.
If I’m having a particularly shit day, I put on Frank dead loud on my headphones. It makes me feel as though every note, every word he’s singing is to me, in my ear, and that gives me great comfort.
It’s hard to pick an icon when there are so many incredible musicians and writers in the world. I’m a huge McCartney fan but he, John and co get plenty of credit. Bowie has been inspiring people for four decades and will continue to do so for many more. I recently covered ‘Life On Mars’ and understood first-hand what a songwriting genius he is.
He is such a pioneer and fearless. Even if he changed shape so many time he was still always Bowie.
Mark Austin, The Minutes
Phil Lynott, Thin Lizzy
A true rocker, and a legendary Dubliner. Forget U2. He paved the way for young Irish lads like us who have aspirations to travel across the water and give the rock ‘n’ roll a real shot. Along with Lizzy he had a massive hand in creating some of the most memorable rock songs of the past 30 years. The man had soul and was a real proper rockstar.
I’d have to say for me it’s Buddy Holly as his is the most tragic story. A pioneering musician at the beginning of a career and a musical movement that became the foundations on which modern rock music has been built, cut down and denied the chance of fulfilling his potential.
Simply for being the ultimate Fearless Freak.
Ben Francis Leftwich
My favourite songwriter. Such an inspiration to me.