19 Of The Greatest And Most Famous Australian Musicians Of All Time

Written by Dan Farrant
Last updated

Australia has given birth to a multitude of musicians over the years. From pop to electronic, country to rock, Australian artists have contributed significantly to the global music scene.

These talented people are not just popular in their homeland. They have gone on to conquer the world with their music. In fact, many have garnered international acclaim and become household names in other countries.

Today, we will introduce you to the talents of 19 of the greatest and most famous Australian musicians of all time. In a way, this post proves that there’s more to Australia than kangaroos, unique accents, and instruments like didgeridoo. So what are you waiting for? Let’s begin!

Related: Check our list of Australian instruments here.

1. Angus Young

On the top spot of our list is the renowned Australian musician Angus Young. He is recognized globally as the co-founder and lead guitarist of the famous rock band AC/DC.

In 1973, Angus and his brother Malcolm Young founded AC/DC, which started on a high note by releasing loud, simple, and pounding music. They borrowed the band’s name from the initials on a sewing machine since the abbreviation captured their music’s electrification.

More than 20 of their songs have made their way into mainstream pop charts. Better still, they had three songs make it to the Billboard Hot 100: “You Shook Me All Night,” “Back in Black,” and “Moneytalks.”

Throughout the band’s career, it has sold more than 200 million records worldwide. That makes them one of the best-selling artists not just in the US but worldwide as well.

Young is a constant figure, songwriter, and lead guitarist in the band. The rock music world lists him among the most energetic and entertaining performers in the industry.

2. Flea

Born Michael Peter Balzary, Flea is the bassist and a founding member of the rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers (RHCP). Aside from the band’s vocalist, Flea is the only constant member of the band.

Although now an American citizen, Flea was born in Victoria, Australia. He spent the first four years of his life there. After his parents’ divorce, he spent his time between the US and Australia.

Flea adopted his professional name during his teenage years due to his fidgety traits and has been using the name ever since. He gained popularity by combining funk-style bass with punk, hard rock, and psychedelic.

Some of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ most famous hits include “Californication,” “Under the Bridge,” and “Can’t Stop.” The band is among the best-selling bands of all time, selling more than 120 million records worldwide.

3. Olivia Newton-John

Another hugely successful Australian artist is Olivia Newton-John. She became known for her gentle singing voice and her perfect tone and pitch.

She first rose to fame in the early 1970s with her hit single “Banks of the Ohio.” Since then, she had 15 Top 10 singles, five of which were #1 singles on the Hot 100. Two of her albums topped the Billboard 200.

In a career spanning more than five decades, Newton-John sold over 100 million records worldwide. Her career included being a four-time Grammy winner. She also received an ARIA Award for her contribution to Australian music.

Newton-John was also a successful actress, having starred in films such as Grease and Xanadu.

4. Michael Hutchence

The Australian singer, songwriter, and actor Michael Hutchence was born in Sydney in 1960. He rose to fame as the co-founder, lead singer, and lyricist of the rock band INXS from 1977 until his death.

This Australian band rose to worldwide popularity after their sixth studio album, Kick, was released. It topped the charts in Australia, #3 on the US Billboard 200, and #9 in the UK. Four of its singles entered the US Top 10. “Need You Tonight,” the band’s only #1 single on Billboard Hot 100, peaked at #2 on the UK charts and #3 in Australia.

INXS is one of the highest record-selling artists the continent has ever seen, selling more than 95 million records worldwide. However, Hutchence didn’t live long enough to witness the band being inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame as he died in 1997.

5. Kylie Minogue

Next, we have Kylie Minogue who is, without a doubt, one of the most famous Australian music artists in the world. She was born in Melbourne in 1968 and established herself as a pop superstar.

Minogue rose to fame in the late 1980s with her debut album Kylie, and has since sold over 80 million records worldwide. Some of her popular hits include “I Should Be So Lucky,” “Especially for You,” and “Can’t Get You out of My Head.”

Minogue is also a successful actress, having appeared in films such as The Delinquents (1989) and Moulin Rouge! (2001).

Minogue has been honored with numerous awards throughout her career, including the Grammy Award for Best International Female Artist in 2002. In 2008, Charles III invested her as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for her services to music and charity.

6. Iggy Azalea

The Australian rapper, songwriter, and model Iggy Azalea was born Amethyst Amelia Kelly in Sydney, New South Wales. She was 16 when she dropped out of school and moved to the United States to pursue music.

After years of hard work, Azalea began to reap the fruits of her labor. She gained prominence in the music scene with the release of her debut album, The New Classic. It debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200 and became the highest-charting female rap album since Nicki Minaj’s Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded.

Since then, Azalea dropped hit songs and broke records. Some of the songs that became hits are “Black Widow,” “Fancy,” “Savior,” and “Problem.” With more than 50 million albums sold worldwide, she is one of the most successful music artists from Australia.

7. Keith Urban

Country music star Keith Urban is a four-time Grammy Award-winning artist who made music locally and internationally. Although he was born in New Zealand, his family moved to Australia where he grew up.

This legendary male country singer and musician has been at the forefront of the Australian country music scene for quite a long time. He started in Australia, but his career skyrocketed once he ventured into the American scene.

Over his 30 years of music-making, more than 30 of his songs made their way into the Hot Country Songs chart. Twenty of these went to #1, including “Start a Band” and “You Look Good in My Shirt.”

Throughout his career, Urban has sold more than 17 million records worldwide. He won 15 ACM Awards, 13 CMA Awards, and six Aria Music Awards.

8. Natalie Imbruglia

The Australian singer and actress Natalie Imbruglia is a talented artist whose roots lie deep in Sydney, Australia. She spent most of her early life in a small beach town along the New South Wales Coast.

Nobody would have thought the young surfer girl in a Japanese bubble gum commercial would go on and make a huge name for herself in the Aussie scene. Imbruglia was first an actress, starring in the soap opera Neighbours before launching a music career.

She was propelled to worldwide fame with the release of her 1997 single “Torn.” It peaked at #1 in Sweden and charted highly in other countries.

Imbruglia has sold over 10 million records worldwide and received various accolades. These include eight ARIA Awards, a Billboard Music Award, three Grammy nominations, and two Brit Awards.

9. Tina Arena

One of Australia’s most successful female artists is Filippina Lydia Arena. Known by her stage name Tina Arena, she was born and raised in the suburban part of Melbourne to Italian immigrants.

Her music career spans several decades. She started as a child television star before becoming a renowned artist with successful albums and singles. Throughout her career, she has released 13 studio albums, which include three French-language albums.

Her singing style can be described as the perfect blend between R&B and rock. Her powerful vocals and ability to evoke emotion through her music added to her appeal.

Her hard work and talent saw her become Australia’s most successful female musician by the age of 29. All in all, she has sold more than 10 million records worldwide.

10. Tones And I

Known by her stage name Tones and I, Toni Watson is a singer, producer, and songwriter. She was born and raised in the Mornington Peninsula south of Melbourne.

Tones and I made a life-changing decision in 2018 to leave her retail job and busk in Melbourn. Her unique voice was a standout, quickly catching the attention of passersby and music industry professionals.

Tones and I released her debut single in 2019 but it didn’t do well. However, she rose to fame with her breakout single “Dance Monkey.” It was a success, topping the charts in over 30 countries.

In addition, she was the most awarded at the ARIA Music Awards of 2019, winning four of eight nominations. “Dance Monkey” was later certified 19x platinum by ARIA.

11. Helen Reddy

Next on our list is the singer, songwriter, activist, and actress Helen Reddy, who was the true definition of a jack of all trades.

Born in Melbourne in 1941, she was introduced to show business early after being born in an Australian show-biz family. Her career kick-started at the tender age of 4 after landing a deal as an entertainer.

But what most people would remember about Reddy is her successful 1972 hit “I Am Woman,” which became her signature song. It became an empowering feminist anthem that has stood the test of time. From this song and many others, you can hear her melodic, warm, and crystalline tone.

Billboard ranked her the 28th adult contemporary artist of all time in 2011. Two years later, the Chicago Tribune called her the “Queen of ’70s Pop.”

12. Sia

Born in Adelaide in 1975 to a musician father, Sia is one of the most famous musicians not just in her native Australia but all over the world. Born Sia Kate Isobelle Furler, she became known for combining various musical genres such as R&B, pop, and electronic music.

Known for valuing her privacy, Sia conceals her face in most of her videos and stage performances. But not only that. She hides her face as a symbol of shunning publicity and fame.

Sia gained mainstream recognition at the release of David Guetta’s “Titanium” featuring her vocals. Soon, more successful singles followed, including “Wild Ones,” “Elastic Heart,” and “Chandelier.”

Sia is also a prolific songwriter, penning not just her songs but for other artists as well. By the end of 2021, she had more than 70 of her written songs recorded.

13. Daniel Johns

The Australian singer, songwriter, and musician Daniel Johns is known as the former frontman, guitarist, and lead songwriter of the rock band Silverchair. He was born in Newcastle, New South Wales, and found success in the world of music.

The band rose to fame in the mid-1990s with their debut album Frogstomp. The band’s sound was characterized as grunge-influenced. And Johns had a significant role in their success, with their albums reflecting his different musical tastes.

Silverchair won numerous awards throughout their career, including 21 ARIA Music Awards and six APRA Awards. All of their albums also debuted at #1 on the ARIA Albums Chart.

Johns has also had a successful solo career, releasing his debut album Talk in 2019. He won two ARIA Music Awards for his solo work.

14. Nick Cave

Singer-songwriter and musician Nick Cave was born in Warracknabeal, Victoria in 1957. He possesses a deep baritone voice and a commanding stage presence.

Most people know him as the lead singer of the rock band, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. With this band, Cave has been making significant contributions to the music industry since the late 1970s. Their music spans a variety of genres including post-punk and alternative rock.

Throughout their career, the band has released 17 studio albums. Cave won Songwriter of the Year at the 1996 APRA Music Awards and was inducted into the Aria Hall of Fame in 2007.

15. Gotye

Born Wouter André “Wally” De Backer, Gotye is a talented Australian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. He was born in Belgium but his family moved to Australia when he was two, finding a home in Montmorency, a suburb of Melbourne.

He might not have so many popular songs to his name, but Gotye has definitely left his mark on Australian music. His musical career began as a member of the Melbourne indie rock band The Basics. They have released several albums since their formation.

However, Gotye found mainstream success when he collaborated with Kimbra (from New Zealand) to record “Somebody That I Used to Know.” This song was a huge success both locally and internationally.

Different Australian bodies recognized Gotye as an influential Aussie singer. The Australian newspaper included him in its list of “top 50 most influential Australians in the arts.” In addition, Gotye won three Grammy Awards.

16. Kevin Parker

Everyone who knows Kevin Parker instantly connects him to his unique musical project, Tame Impala. A guitarist, songwriter, and record producer, the Aussie sensation was born in Sydney but spent most of his early life in Perth.

Tame Impala is a one-man band where Parker writes, produces, records, and performs his music. His work is characterized by introspective lyrics and innovative production techniques.

Since 2007, Parker has released four Tame Impala albums. He also won numerous accolades such as 13 ARIA Music Awards, a Brit Award, and four Grammy Award nominations.

Outside of Tame Impala, Parker produces albums and this brings him to work with the big names in the music industry such as Lady Gaga, Kanye West, and Rihanna.

17. Vance Joy

And now we have Vance Joy on the list, a highly acclaimed Australian singer-songwriter. He was born James Gabriel Keogh in Melbourne.

His debut EP, God Loves You When You’re Dancing, gave him his breakthrough in the music scene. The album contained the hit single “Riptide,” which propelled him to international fame.

In his native Australia, the song peaked at #6 on the ARIA Singles Chart and was certified 9x platinum.

What contributed to Vance Joy’s success is his intimate songwriting style and unique sound. His music is characterized by its indie-folk flavor, along with his unique voice and catchy melodies.

18. Tommy Emmanuel

One of the most accomplished guitarists in the world is Tommy Emmanuel. He was born in Muswellbrook, New South Wales, in 1955.

His astounding skills on the acoustic guitar and unique fingerstyle techniques have gained him fans across the globe. Additionally, his percussive effects on the guitar gained him recognition locally and internationally.

Like many musicians, Emmanuel started his music career early. He would play as a guitarist for different bands in Australia before making it on his own as a solo artist. He released tons of projects (singles and projects) that saw him receive numerous awards.

Some of his most successful music projects include “April Sun in Cuba,” “Endless Road,” and “Running Free.”

19. Courtney Barnett

Finally, we have Courtney Barnett, a celebrated Australian singer, songwriter, and musician. She is known for her distinct singing style and her witty lyrics.

Born in Sydney in 1987, Barnett first gained recognition in the indie music scene. Since then, she has stood out thanks to her conversational delivery of songs and sharp lyrics. Barnett stuck to her unique songwriting style, which often incorporates elements of humor and storytelling.

Her debut album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, was released to critical acclaim in 2015. She won numerous awards, including the Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 2016.

Summing Up Our List Of Famous Musicians From Australia

As you can see, Australia has produced some of the most famous musicians in the world. These talented people from The Land Down Under have achieved massive success and earned a place in music history.

If you’re a fan of these artists or the genres they chose, you should add these songs to your playlist. You won’t be disappointed!

And if you think we missed an Australian musician who deserves a spot on this list, let us know. We’ll add them for you!

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Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.