500 Greatest Albums of All Time + 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die = 315 (or 1185)

There are the “Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums of All Time” and the “1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die”.

These two lists have several differences beyond their size (authors, methodology and criteria) but both share a focus on the pop/rock production from the past 50 years or so.  So it will be interesting to compare them and see what they have in common.

In order to do so, I merged the two lists on a single spreadsheet and harmonized the presentation of data (“&” vs. “And”; “Notorious BIG” vs. “The Notorious B.I.G.” etc.) to run Excel calculations.

(Update: in this link, please find a Google Docs spreadsheet will all the albums. A explanation is here)

I have found out that:

  • 315 albums appears on both lists
  • Of the 185 albums exclusive to the RS list, 46 are compilations/greatest hits, a category excluded from the AYMHBYD list. So there are 139 albums exclusive to RS list, or 31% of its total (excluding compilations)
  • The AYMHBYD list has 685 exclusive entries
  • There are 1185 albums in the combined list

Who are the artists behind these albums?

  • 732 artists show on both lists (Actually 731 plus “Various Artists” with 4 albums on RS list)
  • 199 artists have the same album on both lists (and 93 artists have different albums on each list)
  • 468 artists only have albums on AYMHBYD.
  • 44 artists are exclusive to the RS lists.
  • 21 artists appear on both lists only with different albums

The 732 artists present in both lists are so ranked:

  • 11 albums: 2 artists (Beatles and Rolling Stones)
  • 10 albums: 1 artist (Bob Dylan)
  • 9 albums: 1 artist (Bruce Springsteen)
  • 8 albums: 2 artists (David Bowie, The Who)
  • 7 albums: 4 artists (Neil Young,  Led Zeppelin, Tom Waits, Elton John)
  • 6 albums: 3 artists (Elvis Costello, The Byrds, Iggy Pop)
  • 5 albums: 13 artists (U2, Radiohead, Stevie Wonder, Talking Heads, Bob Marley & The Wailers, Brian Eno, Miles Davis, The Kinks, Roxy Music, Simon & Garfunkel, The Smiths, Sonic Youth, Otis Redding)
  • 4 albums: 31 artists
  • 3 albums: 40 artists
  • 2 albums: 139 artists
  • 1 album: 496 artists

The ranking for the 199 artists with albums that appear on both two lists:

  • 7 albums: 1 artist (The Beatles)
  • 6 albums: 1 artist (Bob Dylan)
  • 5 albums: 3 artists (The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Neil Young)
  • 4 albums: 6 artists (Bruce Springsteen, The Who, Elvis Costello, The Byrds, U2, Pink Floyd)
  • 3 albums: 14 artists
  • 2 albums: 4 artists
  • 1 album: 127 artists

Artists that got most mentions in the AYMHBYD and zero in RS:

  • 4 albums: 3 artists (Leonard Cohen, Morrissey, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds)
  • 3 albums: 10 artists (Deep Purple, Dexys Midnight Runners, Emmylou Harris, Kate Bush, Pet Shop Boys, The Fall, Tim Buckley, Wilco, Yes)
  • 2 albums: 59 artists
  • 1 album: 396 artists

Artists that got at least two mentions in RS and zero in the AYMHBYD: Jackson Browne (the only with 3 albums), Hank Williams, Howlin’ Wolf, Linda Ronstadt, No Doubt, Robert Johnson, The Meters (all with 2).


  1. RS has an updated 500 List (April 2012). I looked over its list of Voters (including such luminaries as Britney Spears), and found that only 1 in 7 are women. So, that tells you a lot. And, if you look down the combined list from RS and AYMHBYD, you’ll find (for example) that there are very few women artists or groups with at least one woman member (e.g. Sonic Youth). Both lists must be taken with a huge grain of salt. I’d prefer to see albums not be eligible until ten years after release (at least) — something similar to eligibility into the R&R Hall of Fame. It’s just not possible to have enough perspective before at least ten years’ time.

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