Favorite band or artist of all time?

1st of all Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone at Audiogon!
I've Have been thinking about it(hundreds of choices)and lately  just wondering, If you had to pick just one, what would be your favorite band or artist of all time???
 Extremely hard decision!, but Mine would be Elton John.
(deeply rooted since I was 10 or 11) Old fart now😎
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J.S. Bach, the father of Western music. Not as good a hairdo as George Gobel, though, or early Buck Owens. Flat top with fenders.
I listened to a live video of the Jimi Hendrix Experience on NY Eve. 
Bach is a g_d of composition of course. John Coltrane opened my eyes to jazz (a pathetic word for an undefinable type of modern music).
But Jimi had something that completely blows me away. Three guys-
that's all it took. Usually it takes a whole bunch of guys playing together,
but not the "Experience". They take me through a "worm hole" like in the movie "Contact". Past the speed of light. Maybe Elvis is still alive somewhere, but I am SURE that Jimi is still very much alive. 

I saw Jimi, Noel, and Mitch live twice. I know a lot of ya’ll really love them, but I found "the middle" of the music missing in what they did. To speak in analogies, what they played created a "sphere" of music, with a hollow center. It’s like they are playing "around" where the music would normally be found, but is completely missing in theirs.

With only a single guitar (yes, played by a very creative one), a mediocre bassist (Noel was a guitarist, not a bassist) who contributed little MUSICALLY, and a drumset (played by a real fine player)---no harmony singing (and lyrics of little interest), no instrument(s) playing chords and supportive parts, and, imo, rather pedestrian chord progressions and melodies---the resulting music I find very 1-dimensional (I can hear the howls of outrage from here ;-). But what I listen for in music is particular to me, as it is for everyone.

@french_fries, as you like John Coltrane, give a listen to Ornette Coleman, another genius. Rock ’n’ Roll band NRBQ did some collaborations with another great, Sun Ra. Now THERE was a great band!

BDP24, I agree with what you like, too. A lot. But... well my connection to the JHE was immediate and like a force of nature (so to speak).  I have never tired of listening to them- like great jazz or Mozart my appreciation just gets better all the time.  Some like fireworks (I do too), but I can "hear" the lights and the colors when I listen to those live concert tapes. 
And a lot more. P.S.- The Beatles were "okay" too!
So often you contribute much by way of informed music criticism and great knowledge of popular music history. There are just sometimes, however, a point you make has to be contested; in this case, "...lyrics of little interest". If these below were all he he ever wrote, it would be enough for me. If you don’t recognize the unique beauty here, probably best to stick to playing drums and forget the second career as literary critic! :-)

The Wind Cries Mary
Jimi Hendrix
After all jacks are in their boxes
And the clowns have all gone to bed
You can hear happiness staggering on down the street
Footprints dressed in red
And the wind whispers Mary

A broom is drearily sweeping
Up the broken pieces of yesterday’s life
Somewhere a queen is weeping
Somewhere a king has no wife
And the wind, it cries Mary

The traffic lights they turn a blue tomorrow
And shine their emptiness down on my bed
The tiny island sags downstream
’Cause the life that they lived is dead
And the wind screams Mary

Will the wind ever remember?
The names it has blown in the past
And with its crutch, its old age and its wisdom
It whispers "no, this will be the last"
And the wind cries Mary

I'll agree with a couple previous posts. Favorites can definitely vary  By mood and/or day of the week. I have hundreds of favorites if not thousands.
But I've thought it through and over all I will stand with the music of Elton John and Bernie Taupin😎
I can't take seriously anyone who writes a song entitled "Foxy Lady". But then I have a low tolerance for corniness. At the time the lyrics to that song were being written, Van Dyke Parks was providing Brian Wilson with the lyrics for his Smile album.
Favorite Rock ’n’ Roller Dave Edmunds. Favorite songwriter Brian Wilson and Iris Dement. Favorite band The Band. Favorite singer George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Iris Dement, Emmylou Harris, Richard Manuel, Brenda Lee, Big Joe Turner, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Richard. Favorite drummer Roger Hawkins, Jim Gordon, Levon Helm, Richard Manuel. Favorite guitarist Dave Edmunds, Chuck Berry, Danny Gatton, Albert Lee, Steve Cropper, James Burton. Favorite bassist James Jamerson. Favorite composer JSB.
"I can't take seriously anyone who writes a song entitled "Foxy Lady"

If that's the basis for your broad-brush, "lyrics of little interest" comment, you'll certainly understand why I don't take seriously your literary O-pinions (other insightful musical comments not withstanding).  
I just guessing here, but I have a feeling he has a low tolerance of people who set their guitars on fire, too. 🔥
There are no such lyrics on Smile or Smiley Smile with the exception of Surf's Up which has a brief reference.  It's not a song about surfing.  This stuff is more...I don't know, avant-garde?  Not your Surfin' USA/I Get Around Beach Boys.

I know, but some lyricists advance in their years of writing. Like Brian and Jimi.
Actually, I think "All Along the Watchtower", "Crosstown Traffic" and "Castles Made of Sand" are also among his finest. Very good stuff.
I think the lyrics of Dylan, especially early Dylan, has to be included.  As bdp24 mentioned George Jones, have been listening to one of his CDs lately.
You'll laugh, but number one all time favorite song is/was, drum rolllllll, "96 Tears" by Question (?) Mark & the Mysterians. Can't tell you exactly why, but I love that song.
I love that song too! Actually, that whole album is good and filled with that "cheesy" Farfisa sound.

Damn, I shoulda waited ’til I was more awake. Can’t be without Hank Williams (writing, singing), Buddy Miller (singing, guitar playing, producing, arranging), Ry Cooder (guitar, musicology), The Swampers (Fame Studios house band in Muscle Shoals), The Everly Brothers (everything), Felice & Boudleaux Bryant (songwriting), Rockpile (a super group that actually WAS super), and NRBQ and it’s fantastic bassist Joey Spaminato. I could go on for quite a while, much to the chagrin of some.

One more comment on Saint Jimi: He had perhaps the worst guitar tone (aside from Erik Brann of Iron Butterfly; talk about corny!) I’ve ever heard. It sounded like barbed wire being played with a metal pick, and what it feels like to chew aluminum foil.

Fans of Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin, in particular, are very protective of them, moreso than any other artists I can think of. There was a period (the dreaded late-60’s/early-70’s hippie era) when I couldn’t get any musicians I knew to take The Beach Boys seriously, even after playing them the amazing Smiley Smile album. Until, that is, The Grateful Dead toured with them. Suddenly, instant and uncritical acceptance. It wasn’t them I liked so much, but rather of course Brian Wilson. He was still perceived as the Surf, Cars, and Girls guy. As if "Don’t Worry Baby" and "God Only Knows" weren’t masterpieces!

"Foxy Lady" was intended as a joke. Of course a single song does not define one, but even "The Wind Cries Mary" rings hollow to me, just as does Jimi's music. Perhaps I'm just too shallow.

See bdp24, The Grateful Dead was good for something (LOL). On another note, I put the Band's cd on last night (The brown one with a picture of them on the cover) & it is an absolute masterpiece. Picked it up used, very good SQ as well. They really knew when a song was finished, which is something lacking with many musicians. 
You are SO right, boxer. That album was a desperately-needed relief from what everyone was listening to (Jimi, Cream, The Dead---another band with fierce defenders, Zeppelin of course---who ended up being perhaps the most influential band of all time, for reasons which escape me). I love it's home-made, unprocessed sound. Speaking of a song being finished, The Band were really good at coming up song beginnings and endings, a talent not shared by many other bands. One big reason the album is as good as it is, is the production and arranging of John Simon, whom I have called their sixth member.
Re Jimi:
He tried to mimic his idol (Dylan) in lyric writing. Sometimes very good, other times painfully derivative and amateurish. Oh, but his guitar playing--still wow.
For me, it will always be the Allman Bros. Band with Duane Allman.  Saw him live in 71, he had The Touch on slide and the band was tight.  I still think Live at the Fillmore is the best kive album of all time.

Just one old guys view.  Cream would be second on my list for many reasons.
I'd have to say War.  Greatest funk band ever and their recordings are pretty darn good.
Emerson Lake & Palmer AND of course, Tiny Tim … "Tiptoe Through The Tulips!!!

Atlantic Records in-house producer Jerry Wexler was given Wilson Pickett as a project by the label's president Ahmet Ertegun. When Wexler told Pickett they were going down to Muscle Shoals, Alabama to record, he recoiled in horror. Wilson, like many southern blacks, had fled the south to escape it's brutal racism. Wexler prevailed, and Wilson says when he entered Fame studios his worst fears were realized. Sitting around the studio were a group of "crackers"---chubby white guys with stogies in their mouths, hats pushed back on their heads. You can picture them, right?

Wilson's fear dissolved when the group of crackers commenced playing; he says it was the funkiest band he had ever heard in his life! Bob Dylan knew before anyone else what those southern players had to offer; he had been going there to record since early-'65. Many others have gone their since, including Eric Clapton, The Stones, and on and on.

Speaking of Clapton and Ertegun, here's how the latter characterized the Disraeli Gears album tapes the former turned over to Atlantic: "Psychedelic horsesh*t". Sound like any other recently-mentioned guitarist? Clapton soon thereafter saw the wisdom of that statement when George Harrison played him the Music From Big Pink album. That was the end of Cream (thank God ;-) .