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Top 10 Cities that Have Produced The Greatest Musical Acts

VO: Matt Campbell
Script written by Quinn Hough They've been born and bred to hit the Big Time. Join as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Cities That Have Produced the Greatest Musical Acts. For this list, we're focusing specifically on artists who perform music in the English language and the cities in which they grew up. Special thanks to our user Daniel Fong for submitting the idea on our Interactive Suggestion Tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Script written by Quinn Hough

Top 10 Cities that Have Produced The Greatest Musical Acts

They've been born and bred to hit the Big Time. Join as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Cities That Have Produced the Greatest Musical Acts.

For this list, we’re focusing specifically on artists who perform music in the English language and the cities in which they grew up. A city like Detroit may be known for its Motown sound, but many artists weren’t native to the region. To be clear, we’re not ranking the best musical cities, but actually the cities and their surrounding areas that have produced the greatest musical acts.

#10: San Francisco, USA

When you think of the Bay area, it’s only natural to conjure up images of free love and the counterculture movement of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Jefferson Airplane. Creedence Clearwater Revival. The music that defined an era. But with the changing of times came an evolving sound, and while San Francisco has always boasted an eclectic array of performers, it’s partly responsible for the popularity of a heavy metal act like Metallica, who moved up the coast from LA. But throughout the decades, no other San Fran bands have stood the test of time like Santana, and their musical offspring, Journey.

#9: Sheffield, England

Located in South Yorkshire, England, this city has become known for its association with ‘80s synthpop acts such as ABC and The Human League. However, a certain group of musicians set the bar in the ‘70s, most notably The Sheffield Soul Shouter himself, Joe Cocker and all of his blue-eyed soul, as well as Def Leppard, who ushered in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Given the multitude of music festivals within the city, it’s no wonder that aspiring artists continue to keep Sheffield on the map. With the emergence of the Arctic Monkeys, the city can now be referenced as the home base of perhaps the most acclaimed indie band of the modern era. Of course, Sheffield is also the city where one Bruce Dickinson, the lead singer of Iron Maiden, grew up.

#8: Memphis, USA

Let’s be clear, it’s impossible for us to rattle of each and every artist hailing from this spectacular music city. But we’ll try. Well, there’s the late B.B. King, arguably the most celebrated guitarist in music history. Oh, and how about Aretha Franklin, perhaps the greatest vocalist of the 20th century. These two performers played a heavy role in their respective genres and brought even more acclaim to their city. You get the idea. Memphis has got it like that, and with a heritage steeped in blues and soul music, the city’s sound slowly evolved into hip-hop as seen in the 2005 film, “Hustle and Flow.”

#7: Nashville, USA

Now we can’t mention Memphis without paying respect to the city 210 miles up Interstate 40 - Nashville, the home of country music. Also known as the Music City, it is typically defined by its country roots and legendary acts such as Roy Acuff, the Allman Brothers and even the Everly Brothers, Nashville has also produced modern crossover artists with Kings of Leon, Miley Cyrus, and of course, Pennsylvania-born Taylor Swift. Let’s say this – it’s the city that aspiring musicians move to in order to improve their craft, and hey, it was the adopted home of Mr. Johnny Cash amongst decades upon decades of musicians completely in love with their job. Even so, it’s the pop culture influence of its natives that keeps the city abuzz.

#6: New Orleans, USA

Located on the Mississippi River near the Gulf of Mexico, this city holds a special place in the landscape of musical history. Geographically, it naturally attracts hopeless wanderers, and the fusion of varying artistic ideals and musical influences has led to a most powerful sound, stimulated by the genres of Blues, R&B and Hip-Hop. Emerging as pop culture staples have been musicians like Louis Armstrong, Louis Prima and Lil Wayne, while a performer like Harry Connick, Jr. was educated by the city itself and the music surrounding him. There’s no other city quite like New Orleans, and the superstars that surface never fail to pay their respects.

#5: Manchester, England

With each passing decade, the sound of pop culture continues to evolve, and this city often plays a crucial role. Of course, The Stone Roses would emerge from the ‘80s Madchester scene and would subsequently inspire Oasis, arguably the most well-known act from the city. However, it’s important to draw a direct line to the ‘60s and ‘70s, as the Bee Gees and Herman’s Hermits both originated from Manchester and paved the way for a new order of music in the late ‘70s. We’re talkin’ about Joy Division, a post-punk band led by the late Ian Curtis, and a band that ultimately evolved into New Order.

#4: Los Angeles, USA

Sex, drugs and rock and roll. With all due respect to a native alternative artist like Beck, this city has long been a haven for musicians that seek fame and fortune over critical acclaim. But that’s what so incredibly unique about Los Angeles – born and bred Angelenos such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Rage Against the Machine are geographically correlated with transplants like The Doors and Guns N’ Roses. On the other hand, one can’t mention the L.A. music scene without paying due respect to N.W.A., Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, all of whom innovated West Coast G-funk sound.

#3: Seattle, USA

You know why this city made our list: Kenny G. Well, ok maybe not, but while we do respect his contributions to music, Seattle is most closely associated with the grunge movement of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden – the list goes on and on. What’s special about these collective Seattle bands is how their relationships, for better or for worse, put them on the map and defined a new genre of music. Despite the lasting legacy of Kurt Cobain, the most prominent name to come out of the city has to be Jimi Hendrix, who, fueled by his unique Pacific Northwest perspective, became an international icon during his brief 27 years.

#2: New York City, USA

While Hollywood boasts a prominent indie music scene, it’s The Big Apple that has become known for its intellectual approach towards musicalartistry. Back in the early ‘60s, a Brooklyn man named Dave Van Ronk inspired a fledgling folk scene, while bands like the Velvet Underground and their singer Lou Reed opened up the doors for the garage rock movement that would emerge in the 2000s, most notably with The Strokes. Bands like KISS and the Ramones defined the ‘70s with contrasting images, and it’s undoubtedly the New York culture exuded by native artists like Jay-Z and Alicia Keys that attracts musicians from all corners of the world.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Dublin, Ireland

Minneapolis, USA

Chicago, USA

Toronto, Canada

Birmingham, England

Austin, USA

#1: London, England

Imagine this: you’re living in 1970s London and begin the decade by following local bands like The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd before closing off the decade with the native sounds of The Clash and Queen. Those five bands alone are amongst the greatest musical acts in rock history, and they all roamed the same streets during a particular time and place. For the purposes of our list, there’s simply no other acts that have achieved both commercial and critical success like these bands, and while London remains a preeminent music city, their greatest acts have influenced music as a whole like no other.

So, do you agree with our selections? What’s your favorite city that has produced the greatest musical acts? For more mind-blowing Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to

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