15 Of The Greatest And Most Famous German Musicians Of All Time

Written by Dan Farrant
Last updated

Germans are famous for a number of things like Pretzels, sausages, beer, and Octoberfest. But they’re perhaps lesser-known for the incredibly talented musicians that they produce. 

Some of the most famous Billboard-topping songs came from German musicians, whether as solo artists or part of successful bands. From electronica to soft rock, German musicians represent a wide range of genres and contribute music to the music and film world. Some of your favorite songs were likely created by a German musician

To get an idea of how much legendary music has come from people in Germany, in this post, we’re going to take a look at the lives and careers of 15 of the greatest and most famous German musicians, whether they were born in Germany or have German blood in them.

1. Tré Cool (Green Day)

Born in 1972 in Frankfurt, West Germany, Frank Edwin Wright III, who is better known by his stage name Tré Cool, is the drummer for the popular alternative rock band Green Day.

Despite being born in Frankfurt, Cool moved with his family to California for most of his childhood. He adopted the stage name Tré Cool in 1984 when his career began to take off. 

His main passion is for the drums, but he has quite a musical range. In many Green Day songs, he is featured singing or playing the guitar, accordion, or other percussion instruments. 

2. Zedd (Anton Zaslavski)

Popular DJ Zedd was born Anton Igorevich Zaslavski in Saratov, Russia, in 1989 when it was still known as the Soviet Union.

He grew up in Kaiserslautern, Germany, where he found his love of music and began his successful career. 

Zedd is known for stellar features on his songs like Hayley Williams, Foxes, Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande, Troye Sivan, and more. Songs such as “Clarity,” “Stay The Night,” and “I Want You To Know” became huge hits.

For a while, after the success of his two albums, he headlined popular music festivals around the world. 

Currently, Zedd is working on his third studio album, which fans are eagerly anticipating. His mix of electronica and pop continues to top the charts and become classics in rave scenes. 

3. Natalie Horler (Cascada)

Singer Natalie Horder was born in 1981 in Bonn, Germany, to English parents.

She had an interest in music at a young age, and by the time she was 18, she had already been working with different DJs, including her future bandmates DJ Manian and Yanou.

Not soon after, the trio formed the band Cascada in 2014. Two years after the group formed, they released the hit song “Everytime We Touch.” The song became a wildly popular classic in electronica and pop music.

Horler is a mezzo-soprano known for her ethereal yet powerful vocals that make her covers just as original-sounding as her own songs. 

4. Sarah Connor

Sarah Marianne Corina Lewe, popularly known as Sarah Connor, is a singer born in Delmenhorst, Germany, in 1980.

She has released a whopping ten studio albums in just 18 years, offering classics like “From Sarah With Love” and “Just One Last Dance.”

The vocalist had a brief stint on reality TV with her husband, pop singer Marc Terenzi, but the couple soon split up.

In recent years, she has pivoted away from English music and begun songwriting and creating music in her native language of German. 

She was a judge on “X-Factor Germany” for about two years before taking a hiatus from the public eye. 

5. Clemens Rehbein (Milky Chance)

Musician Clemens Rehbein is best known as the vocalist and guitarist in the successful musical duo Milky Chance. Both Rehbein and the other half of the duo, Philipp Dausch, were born in Kassel, Germany.

The two German musicians met in school and have been creating music together ever since. 

Their genre of music is mainly electronic with a folksy vibe, paired with indie lyrics. Their career took off with their immensely successful song “Stolen Dance” in April of 2013.

Since the success of their first studio album, Sadnecessary, they have toured around the world and played at famous music festivals like Coachella. 

6. Lou Bega

Born David Lubega Balemezi, Lou Bega is best known for his hit “Mambo No. 5,” which everyone has likely heard at some point in their life. 

He was born in 1975 in Munich, Germany, where he lived for most of his childhood before visiting the States as a teenager.

His music combines hip hop with Latin pop and ska music. Bega is known for his warm and powerful voice, and he has been called upon to create theme songs for children’s shows.

However, nothing he has done has been as successful as “Mambo No. 5.”

7. Billy (Tokio Hotel)

Bill Kaulitz, popularly known as Billy, is the lead guitarist of rock band Tokio Hotel. Kaulitz is a German musician born in Leipzig in 1989.

He has released some music as a solo artist under the name Billy, but most of his success comes from his band Tokio Hotel.

Kaulitz’s sound falls into the pop-punk or electropop categories, combining rebellious lyrics with intense songs. His style is very distinct, taking inspiration from 90s alternative rock groups. 

Kaulitz has recently begun making music soundtracks for popular movies, like remakes of Alice in Wonderland, but hasn’t released an album since 2017. 

8. Robin Schulz

German musician and DJ Robin Schulz is best known for his song “Waves.”

“Waves” topped the charts and played on every radio station in 2014. The song was an ingenious remix to Dutch hip hop artist Mr. Probz’s song, also titled “Waves.”

He currently has four studio albums, all with different levels of success. However, nothing is as popular as his remixes of popular songs, inserting upbeat tempos and synthesizer sounds. 

Schulz is mainly known in Europe but continues to have hits that make it to the US charts. 

9. Kim Petras

Transsexual singer Kim Petras was born in Cologne, Germany, 1992.

She has some experience with the flute and drums but is mainly a vocalist and music mixer. Petras has been recording music since she was a teenager, and for years, she released music as an independent artist with no label.

She released the song “Feeling Of Falling” with the group Cheat Codes in 2017, which put her name on the map. 

She is known for her distinct music, ranging from bubblegum pop to electronic dance music (EDM), and is mainly inspired by the late 1990s and early 2000s music.

10. André Tanneberger (DJ ATB)

Born André Tanneberger, DJ ATB was born in Freiberg, Germany 1973, and is best known for creating electronic trance-like music popular in European countries.

Tanneberger began his music career in 1994 as part of Sequential One, a German dance music group. He was with the group for years until their popularity waned off.

His first hit solo single was “9 PM (Till I Come)” released in 1998. A year later, the group disbanded, paving the way for Tannerberger to focus on his own craft. His career took off after, and he created other hits such as “Don’t Stop!” and “Killer.”

In 2015, DJ Magazine named him the #9 DJ in the world in 2005. Although this was his highest ranking, he has been on their top 100 DJs list every year from 2003 to 2021. 

He recently recreated his first hit single and titled it “Your Love (9PM),” which topped the charts in Germany and Europe. 

11. Johann Sebastian Bach

The great classical musician and composer Johann Sebastian Bach was born in Germany in 1685, dying at the age of 65 because of complications from an unsuccessful eye surgery to correct his blindness.

Over his lifetime, Bach produced more than 1,000 pieces of music, his most famous of which include “Brandenburg Concertos,” “The Well-Tempered Clavier,” and the “Mass In B Minor.”

Bach is known as one of the most revolutionary composers, representing some of the best music from the Baroque era.

12. Hans Zimmer

Born in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1957, Hans Zimmer is a well-known music composer who has worked with and helped many movies become famous for their music.

He is a multi-talented musician, playing the piano, synthesizer, guitar, banjo, and keyboards. 

He is responsible for many memorable tunes from childhood movies like The Lion King and Pirates of the Caribbean and movies like Inception and Gladiator. So many classic movie scores that make a film memorable can be attributed to Zimmer. 

Zimmer is currently the head of the film music division at DreamWorks studios and continues to score films with music that will become legendary. 

13. Peter Kraus

German-Austrian singer and actor Peter Kraus is born in 1939 in Munich, Germany.

In 1956, he recorded a German cover of Little Richard’s popular song “Tutti Frutti.”

The guitar player spent the better part of the late 50s creating music and topping the German charts. 

Kraus is known for his sharp wit and appreciation of comedy, one of the main reasons he opted to pursue an acting career over a musical one.

Nevertheless, his musical prowess is undeniable. 

14. Rob Thomas (Matchbox Twenty)

Next, we have Rob Thomas who is the lead singer of the well-known soft rock band Matchbox Twenty.

Although not German, he was born in Landstuhl, Germany, in 1972 but returned to America with his family when he was just six months old. 

He is known for his beautiful crooning of songs like “Lonely No More” and “3AM.” But aside from his remarkable vocals, he is also a master at the piano and guitar.

He has had a successful career with Matchbox Twenty ever since the early 1990s until now, plus a solo career. 

Beyond performing, Thomas is also a well-credited songwriter for famous musicians like Willie Nelson, Mick Jagger, Chris Daughtry, and more. 

15. J. Cole

Jermaine Lamarr Cole, known popularly as J. Cole, is one of the most successful contemporary rappers and singers of our day.

Cole is American but was born on a German military base in Frankfurt, Germany in 1985. He is a self-taught musician who learned to play the keyboard, which contributes to many of his soft beats and powerful intros. 

Since 2007, Cole has been a force in the hip-hop and rap world, having features with many famous musicians like Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, and many more.

His album Forest Hills Drive topped the charts for weeks after its release in 2014, showcasing deep emotional lyrics and themes paired with smooth flows and clever wordplay. 

Wrapping Up Our List Of Popular German Musicians

You’re probably surprised by all of the latent that has come out of Germany. They produced some of the most incredible composers of the Baroque era and continue to create incredible music for the world to enjoy until today. 

So no matter what genre you like to jam out to, there is a German musician out there creating music that you will fall in love with!

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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.