I don't know why, I just intuitively feel that Ray Charles should easily be in the top 3 here.
I mean, what this man was doing stylistically was just fearless and bold, and the possibilities he introduced were endless. As I said on the other thread, he and Elvis were fusing together different stylistic elements to create something totally new and revolutionary (Ray with gospel, blues, and R&B, and Presley with...well....just about everything
He is ridiculously more influential than Bill Haley, not to mention probably everyone ahead of him except for Elvis and Chuck (and even that one is close).
Ray Charles is seen by MANY as the definitive symbol of one of the hugest genres of music there has ever been.
His Musical Impact is also off the charts.
Ray was largely the one who mixed blues and gospel together to get what would later be known as SOUL.
They called James Brown the Godfather, but Ray beat him to it (with the gospel-tinged raspy vocals and such).
Frankly I dont see how someone like Haley, as much as I like him, could beat a genius like Ray.
To be honest, Elvis and Chuck are the only ones I can see above him. Maybe
Sampson, I look forward to your response my friend.