Law Religion Culture Review

Exploring the intersections of law, religion and culture. Copyright by Richard J. Radcliffe. All rights reserved.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Rock and Religion. has created a list of the top 100 rock acts. While the list is arguable, I am more intrigued by their characterization of many groups' religious affiliations. Here is their list, and my commentary is at the end.

"1 Beatles: Anglican/Catholic (John Lennon); Catholic (Paul McCartney); Catholic/Hindu (George Harrison); Transcendental Meditation, etc.
2 Elvis Presley: Assemblies of God
3 James Brown: Protestant
4 Rolling Stones: Catholic (Mick Jagger); Charlie Watts (Jewish)
5 Bob Dylan: Jewish; temporarily "born-agan Christian"
6 Chuck Berry: Baptist (lapsed)
7 The Who
8 Led Zeppelin
9 Stevie Wonder
10 Jimi Hendrix
11 Ray Charles
12 The Beach Boys
13 Pink Floyd: atheist (Nick Mason)
14 Aretha Franklin: Baptist
15 Little Richard: Seventh-day Adventist
16 Marvin Gaye
17 Bruce Springsteen: Catholic
18 David Bowie: Buddhist
19 Fats Domino
20 Black Sabbath: Seventh-day Adventists
21 Queen: mostly non-religious (Brian May); Zoroastrian (Freddie Mercury)
22 Buddy Holly: Baptist (lapsed)
23 Bob Marley: Rastafarian
24 Sam Cooke: Baptist (lapsed)
25 Elton John
26 Neil Young
27 U2: Anglican and reportedly "born-again Christian" (Bono); "born-again Christian" (Adam Clayton); Catholic/"born-again Christian" (Larry Mullen Jr.)
28 The Doors: Jewish (Robby Krieger); spiritual (Jim Morrison); spiritual (Ray Manzarek)
29 Run-DMC: Christianity
30 Bo Diddley
31 Jerry Lee Lewis: Assemblies of God (lapsed)
32 BB King
33 Sly & The Family Stone: Jehovah's Witness (Larry Graham)
34 The Clash: Jewish (Mick Jones)
35 Prince: Seventh-day Adventist; Jehovah's Witness
36 The Grateful Dead: Episcopalian/Catholic/Urantian (Jerry Garcia); Jewish (Mickey Hart)
37 The Velvet Underground: Jewish (Lou Read)
38 Nirvana: Catholic (Dave Grohl); Jewish (Pat Smear)
39 Michael Jackson: Jehovah's Witness; Nation of Islam
40 The Supremes: Baptist (Diana Ross)
41 The Temptations: Baptist (David Ruffin)
42 Madonna: Catholic; Kabbalah
43 Public Enemy
44 The Kinks: Catholic (Ray and Dave Davies)
45 Otis Redding: Baptist
46 The Everly Brothers
47 Van Halen: Catholic (Alex and Eddie Van Halen); Jewish (David Lee Roth)
48 Elvis Costello: Catholic
49 Simon & Garfunkel: Jewish (Paul Simon); Jewish (Art Garfunkel)
50 Cream
51 Frank Zappa: Catholic; Reichian
52 Roy Orbison: Church of Christ (Stone-Campbell); Baptist
53 Eric Clapton
54 George Clinton & Parliament/Funkadelic
55 The Allman Brothers Band
56 Janis Joplin: Church of Christ (Stone-Campbell)
57 The Ramones: Jewish (Joey Ramone, Tommy Ramone)
58 Crosby, Stills, & Nash (& Young)
59 Fleetwood Mac: Jewish (Peter Green)
60 AC/DC
61 The Byrds: "born-again Christian" (Roger McGuinn)
62 Joni Mitchell
63 The Eagles
64 Smokey Robinson & The Miracles: Christianity
65 R.E.M.: Buddhist (Michael Stipe); atheist (Mike Mills, Peter Buck)
66 Creedence Clearwater Revival
67 Johnny Cash: Baptist
68 Van Morrison: atheist father; eclectic mother; nominal Anglican; Scientologist (lapsed)
69 Aerosmith: Jewish (Joey Kramer); Steven Tyler (Catholic)
70 Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions
71 The Drifters
72 The Police
73 Metallica: Buddhist (Kirk Hammett); "born-again Christian" (Dave Mustaine)
74 Pearl Jam: atheist (Eddie Vedder)
75 Deep Purple
76 Bill Haley & His Comets: lapsed Baptist (Bill Haley)
77 The Band: Jewish (Robbie Robertson)
78 Santana: Hinduism/Sri Chinmoy Fellowship (Carlos Santana)
79 Yes: Jewish (Trevor Rabin and manager Brian Lane); Baptist (Rick Wakeman)
80 Jefferson Airplane: Jewish (Spencer Dryden, Marty Balin, Jorma Kaukonen)
81 King Crimson
82 Al Green: Baptist
83 The Isley Brothers: Seventh-day Adventists
84 The Moody Blues: Urantian
85 The Sex Pistols: Catholic (Johnny Rotten)
86 N.W.A.: Islam (MC Ren)
87 Talking Heads: Quaker (David Byrne)
88 Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers: Jewish (Stan Lynch, Howie Epstein)
89 Billy Joel: Jewish Catholic atheist
90 The Bee Gees: Vegan (Robin Gibb)
91 The Yardbirds
92 The Four Tops
93 Radiohead: Vegan (Thom Yorke)
94 Patti Smith: Buddhist
95 Guns 'N' Roses
96 Chicago
97 Rush: Jewish (Geddy Lee); Objectivist (Neil Peart)
98 Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band
99 Rick Nelson
100 Earth, Wind, & Fire: Christianity (Philip Bailey)."

Some reflections (feel free to add yours in the comments):

1. Why are some called "lapsed" and others are not? (so, Johnny Rotten formerly of the Sex Pistols is a practicing Catholic? [no. 85]);
2. Black Sabbath are "Seventh Day Adventists" (nonlapsed, even)--not like any I know--is this a new offshoot?;
3. David Byrne is a Quaker--after seeing that video from a few years back with him in the oversized suit, I have no trouble believing he can quake with the best of them;
4. "Vegan" is a religion (nos. 90 and 93)?; and
5. What pray-tell is a Reichian? (no. 51).

(via:; link: