Initials don’t make the musician, but we couldn’t help noticing an odd trend in legendary performers whose first names start with ‘J’ and last names with ‘B’.
We found 13 (that’s right, 13!) hall of famers and current stars. From Jeff Buckley to Justin Bieber, here’s our ranking of the greatest artists with the initials J.B.
14. James Blake
A relative newcomer to the music circuit, Blake’s lack of experience places him at the start of this list. But anyone who’s seen the English performer live knows why he’s already received Grammy and Brit Award nominations.
James Blake is already a master of the piano and has a voice that casts silence over a crowd of thousands. However, his current recordings don’t challenge the industry like some other names on this list, but rather stick to the popular falsetto rhythm-and-groove format that has helped many new modern artists find success.
13. Jake Bugg
Jake Bugg’s upbringing amongst poverty helped produce some of his most memorable songs. His self-titled debut was filled with heartfelt autobiographical tracks including ‘Two Fingers’ and ‘Broken’, which helped it reach double platinum.
Unfortunately, Bugg’s latest work has lacked his original depth. His follow-up album, Shangri-La, only reached gold certification and his 2016 release, On My One, stalled at number 4 in the UK. The young Brit is still an incredible musician with a penchant for writing emotive lyrics and an unmistakable voice.
12. Jack Black
One half of the comedy rock group, Tenacious D, Jack Black’s acting career and antics often distract from his tremendous voice. The guy clearly has range as evident in the band’s Grammy-winning cover of Dio’s ‘The Last In Line’.
JB’s skills on the guitar and keyboard have also helped Tenacious D achieve two number one albums and a double platinum record. This keeps the band out of one-hit wonder discussions even though ‘Tribute’ remains its only true top-10 hit.
There’s a chance Jack Black will eventually be overtaken by the musicians below him on this list, but he’ll always be a unique multifaceted talent who forged the way for comedic musicians with his incredible voice and entertaining stage presence.
11. James Bay
At only 25 years old, James Bay already has two platinum singles (‘Hold Back the River’ and ‘Let It Go’) and a number one album in the UK (Chaos and the Calm). The talented English musician has also received two Brit Awards and three Grammy nominations.
Bay is very open about “trying to make songs that make people feel something … even move them.” With a voice that carries his soul and an ability to conjure lyrics we’ll never forget (From throwing clothes across the floor/To teeth and claws and slamming doors at you), Bay has the potential to establish himself as not only a household artist, but one with substance as well.
10. Justin Bieber
Some of you will argue that Justin Bieber shouldn’t be on this list, let alone above three other exceptional musicians. Lord knows he deserves all the scrutiny for his spoiled punk image, but we can’t let his actions blind us from true musical talent.
The range of Justin’s voice exceeds his control, but he consistently stuns audiences with his prowess on the guitar, drums and piano. Even without the Grammy award and three triple-platinum albums, Bieber is a rare performer.
Whether you consider him a jack-of-all-trades or simply a jackass, Bieber is only a decent songwriter and producer away from reaching his potential.
9. James Blunt
James Blunt has never replicated the success of his debut album, Back to Bedlam. Two singles on that record, ‘You’re Beautiful’ and ‘Goodbye My Lover’, have practically outperformed all his other songs combined.
Yet at his peak, Blunt was one of the world’s most influential recording artists, topping the charts in more than a dozen countries. During that time he racked up two Brit Awards, two VMAs and five Grammy nominations.
A gifted instrumentalist as well as vocalist, Blunt can play the piano, guitar, violin, drums and more.
8. Joe Bonamassa
Joe Bonamassa is the Stephen King of modern blues rock. He started younger than almost anyone, opening for blues legend B.B. King when he was only 12 years old. He’s since released 15 solo albums in 13 years, 11 of which have reached number one.
If you aren’t acquainted with Bonamassa, give ‘Blue and Evil’, ‘Woke Up Dreaming’ and ‘Mountain Time’ (live version) a listen. All three tracks show off his guitar wizardry worthy of a Jimmy Page comparison. He also slays it on the mandolin, dobro and banjo. Oh, and he’s been nominated for a Grammy too, in case anyone was asking.
7. John Butler
The Australian singer-songwriter has seen his share of domestic success, topping the ARIA charts with three albums while also receiving five APRA Awards, one ARIA and numerous nominations. John Butler also produces many of his songs and it’s this remarkable touch with composing that may be his ultimate gift.
Butler’s lyrics are fearless, his instrumentals breathtaking and anyone who has seen him perform ‘Ocean’ live will attest to the overwhelming emotion every chord imparts. Those unfamiliar with the John Butler Trio should first listen to the Live at Red Rocks recording.
6. Jeff Buckley
Jeff Buckley would be higher on this list had he not become another musician to die under mysterious circumstances. Taken too soon, Buckley’s falsetto voice impacted the rock music world like few other artists before and after him.
Buckley is listed at 39 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s 100 Greatest Singers list, an incredible feat considering he only released one album. Many of Buckley’s accolades came posthumously, including a Grammy and VMA nomination. His legacy continues to influence major players in the music industry including Robert Plant, Jeff Beck and Adele.
5. Jackson Browne
When it comes to musical genius, few singer-songwriters can surpass Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Jackson Browne. Some of the 20th century’s greatest hits were either written or co-written by Browne, including ‘Take It Easy’ and ‘These Days’, made famous by The Eagles and Greg Allman, respectively.
Not all of Jackson’s songs were performed better by other musicians. ‘Running on Empty’ is still one of his signature songs and was included in Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Jackson was also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2007.
4. Jimmy Buffett
Jimmy Buffett describes his music better than anyone: “drunken Caribbean rock ‘n’ roll”. The beloved country singer is all about the good times and is known best for his song ‘Margaritaville’.
Not only has Jimmy managed to influence multiple generations of music listeners, he has also released six platinum and three multi-platinum albums, along with winning two CMA awards for ‘It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere’ and ‘Hey Good Lookin’.
3. John Bonham
It makes sense that one of the world’s greatest bands featured an all-time great guitarist, singer-songwriter and drummer. John Bonham was the latter of the three.
It wasn’t just Bonham’s power and speed with the drums, but also his ethereal instinct for a groove that was his own. For almost 12 years, until his unfortunate death, Bonham helped Led Zeppelin scale the charts and cement its place in both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the UK Music Hall of Fame.
John Bonham is still considered the greatest drummer in history by his critics, fans and peers, but if you need to justify your love affair, simply play his 18-minute solo on Zeppelin’s ‘Moby Dick’.
2. Jeff Beck
An eight-time Grammy Award winner who’s been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, Jeff Beck has already created an exceptional legacy.
Although his solo career hasn’t enjoyed as much success as bands he’s supported, Beck remains a top-five guitarist in most circles. Listen to ‘Freeway Jam’ for a better idea of Beck’s guitar work. He’s also played on albums by Jon Bon Jovi, Stevie Wonder, Mick Jagger and more revered artists.
1. James Brown
The Godfather of Soul spent almost 60 years entertaining, inspiring and quite likely arousing generations of fans. But James Brown’s legacy is his founding of funk music, a genre that might have never achieved such prominence without his influence.
Such hits as ‘Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag’, ‘Get Up Offa That Thing’ and ‘Get Up (I Feel Like Being) A Sex Machine’ will outlive even the youngest artists on this list.
James Brown’s immortality is a thing granted only to music legends. He is considered one of the top 10 greatest artists of all time, received two Lifetime Achievement Awards and resides in numerous music hall of fames.