Since the mid-20th century, the UK has been renowned for its rich musical history – from the British invasion bands of the 1960s to the modern grime scene that sits at the forefront of musical innovation.
And a sizeable proportion of the artists that form this impressive lineage will inevitably have been born and bred in the UK metropoles. Cities like Liverpool, Manchester and London have all raised plenty of influential musicians throughout history.
But who are the most popular musicians to hail from each UK city?
With Wembley Park being home to two of the UK’s most iconic music venues - Wembley Stadium and the OVO Arena Wembley - we sought to answer that question in the following study. Using data from Wikipedia, we discovered the view counts of each artist’s Wikipedia page from June 2020 to May 2022 and, in doing so, have been able to create rankings displaying the most-popular musicians born in each city.
So, who do you think will rank at the top?
We’ve included each city’s most searched artists below. But, if you’d like to see the full dataset with each city’s top 10 most searched musicians, click here.
Each UK City’s Most Searched Musicians
*Click the square in the top right-hand corner of each image to enlarge!
The data was gathered with the Wikipedia API, allowing us to build a list of musicians raised in each of the above cities along with the number of views on their respective Wikipedia pages. The above musicians are the most viewed residents of each city.
Unsurprisingly, the musician with the most Wiki views overall in the past two years is from the capital, London. Dua Lipa has become wildly successful since signing to Warner Bros and, in 2014, achieved platinum-certified album sales and won multiple Grammy awards. The result of her success is evident as her Wiki page has generated over 16 million views over the past few years. This trumps various other influential London-based artists such as Elton John (12 million views), David Bowie (11.9 million views) and Adele (11.2 million views).
Meanwhile, Liverpool’s most searched artist, John Lennon, was born nearly 55 years earlier than London’s. Despite his untimely death in 1980, his musical achievements (with The Beatles particularly) continue to influence music and culture to this day.
As for the rest of Liverpool’s top 10, it’s interesting that six of the 10 musicians are related to The Beatles in some way. Aside from Lennon in first and his bandmates Paul McCartney in second, George Harrison in third and Ringo Starr in fourth, Lennon’s son Julian is in fifth with over 2.5 million views, and original Beatles drummer Pete Best is in seventh with over 1.1 million views.
Manchester is another city with a strong musical heritage. Its most searched artists are the Gibb brothers (three of whom gained international fame as the Bee Gees). While Barry is in first place, Maurice in third and Robin in fourth, their younger brother Andy also achieved great success as a musician and has generated over 3.4 million views on his Wiki page in the last two years - placing him second. Other Manchester artists to reach the top 10 include the Gallagher brothers, Morrissey and Ian Curtis.
Wembley’s Most Searched Musicians
Once we discovered the most Wiki’ed artists born in the UK’s largest cities, we wanted to bring it home and discover which of Wembley’s own musicians are the most searched on Wikipedia.
Steeped in a rich musical history, Wembley Park is globally renowned as playing host to some of the greatest performers. Acts to have graced the North-West London stages include The Beatles and Rolling Stones in the 1960s, Led Zeppelin, Abba and Bowie in the 70s, Michael Jackson and Tina Turner in 1980, and more recently, Spice Girls, Take That, Coldplay and Ed Sheeran.
Many of these artists are today celebrated in Wembley Park’s Square of Fame, London’s answer to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Located outside the OVO Arena Wembley, it celebrates the most popular, well-loved performers who have made their mark on Wembley’s stages over the years, with the handprints of stars of the calibre of Madonna, Dolly Parton, George Michael and Kylie Minogue.
But while performers from near and far have left their physical mark across Wembley Park and its iconic venues, who has left concert-goers curious to learn more about them?
Well, topping the list is Riz Ahmed. Primarily known as an actor in acclaimed films like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Four Lions, Ahmed is also a highly talented musician in his own right (as seen in the 2019 movie Sound of Metal, in which he plays a drummer who loses his hearing). The actor has also created a lot of his own music through the years, both as a solo artist and as one half of hip hop duo Swet Shop Boys.
Wembley’s second and third most Wiki’ed musicians happen to have a lot in common with each other, aside from being raised in the same area: both were the drummers for legendary rock bands formed in the 60s. In second position, Charlie Watts was part of The Rolling Stones, while Keith Moon, in third place, played for The Who. Despite neither artist being alive now, they’re still both considered to be very influential drummers globally.
The above analysis only shows the top musician of each UK city (in addition to Wembley), but if you’d like to find out the top ten most searched artists of these cities, you can do so here.
The data found in this study was gathered using the Wikipedia API, based on a timeframe from June 2020 to May 2022. This allowed us to discover the number of views for every musician listed on Wikipedia's British Musicians by City category page and rank them accordingly.