Some singers have tons of attitude and little vocal ability.
Others can sing their heart out, but look as stiff as a board while they're performing.
Bon exhibited both abilities. Fiery personality that oozed out of him, coupled with a bluesy voice and awesome pitch.
While some pompous singers brag about their fictitious 4-octave range, Bon always delivered the goods with a no-nonsense approach which screamed, "I’ll kick your ass and leave you bleeding on the floor, regardless of how many octaves I have."
AND the women loved him!
Recently, when Joe Perry suggested that Aerosmith could go on without Steven after he fell off the stage and was trying to get his act together, I laughed hysterically and felt insulted at the same time.
One of the greatest singers of all time, Steven was able to bridge a Motown style with the hardest of rock, creating a sound that has been emulated numerous times by many weaker front men.
Replacing him would be impossible, as is usually the case with other irref*table legends.
The rumor I always heard about him was that Rick had only one lung, which always tripped me out considering the powerful voice that he had. Blackfoot’s sound was shaped by their Native American roots and Rick sang like he had a lot to prove; a very underrated band with an amazing singer (who also was one hell of a guitar player).
"Marauder" stands as one of my favorite hard rock albums of all time.
- 4Faith No More
I’m convinced that Mike is an alien. Most definitely not of this world.
I recently did shows with the reunited Faith No More and marveled at his incredible ability to go from screaming his brains out to crooning like an R&B singer. Using awesome dynamics and impeccable pitch, all the while leading the band like an escaped mental patient conductor.
In a league completely of his own.
When people talk about Beyonce being the greatest R&B singer, I shake my head in disgust and know they must never have heard Chaka. Pure power and soul emanates out of her with ease, leaving other female singers in the dust.
Whether with Rufus or on her solo efforts, Chaka took belting to a whole new level. Although my list is a little gender-biased, she is my lone female influence and it would have been absolutely ludicrous to omit her.
- 6(Judas Priest)
The ultimate heavy metal singer, bar none.
He motivated hundreds of would-be singers around the globe to try and hit high notes only dogs and metal heads could hear. Of course, no one came close.
Rob could weave in and out of styles and personalities, all the while singing sometimes with a super falsetto or a down-in-the-bowels low tone. Example: The Ripper.
Let’s also not forget his captivating front man abilities.
- 7(Four Tops)
Levi’s most treasured contribution to music was loyalty. For while he was either crooning a love song like "Ain’t no woman like the one I got" or using his husky muscle on a epic song like "Reach out", he never left the band for a solo career. Which he could have easily done.
A master who paved the way for just about anybody who sang R&B.
Watching Thom on stage all by himself at the Hollywood bowl, singing the intro to "Fake Plastic Trees," sent chills down my spine.
Radiohead is a band who is always pushing buttons and Thom is the leader whom so many people have tried to copy; fiercely original with passion melting out of his voice. There is not another singer who can mesmerize with a whisper or dynamically rise with sheer power like Thom does, sounding almost like his life is on the line.
- 9(Black Sabbath)
Sadly a lot of people only associate Ozzy with a pathetic reality show or his solo career. However, in his early years with Sabbath he sang with a bluesy power that is extremely underrated. Very few singers can create the fear in listeners like Ozzy did on tunes like ‘Black Sabbath’ and ‘Into the Void’.
He easily could have garnered his style from Birmingham, Alabama as easily as he did Birmingham, England. And what a showman.
- 10Lil Stevie! I don’t think I need to say much more. An extraordinary talent that simply defies logic.
He is obviously known for his soul however songs like ‘Livin in the City’ and ‘Superstition’ have strong elements of rock. Rock with a razor's edge. His voice is so warm that it works like a blanket on a frosty arctic night.
Still to this day his power is enthralling as he dishes out hit after hit after hit after…
Phil is my secret weapon. A vocalist who was the poster child for the rock singer icon of the 70’s. Word was that Phil was an accomplished boxer which explains his savvy and bravado.
‘Love to Love’ is the prototype COOL power ballad that inspired songs like Saint’s ‘Another Day’ and Metallica’s ‘Fade to Black’.
Doesn’t hurt that your co-songwriter and guitarist is Michael Schenker either.
Maurice White & Phillip Bailey of Earth, Wind & Fire(Earth Wind & Fire)
I had to include both of these men cause they were the dynamic duo. In my mind, they are the best R&B group of all time. The way they bounced off one another was pure poetry.
Phillip hitting unbelievably high notes that would shatter glass on songs like ‘Devotion’ and the silk that came out of Maurice was one of the reasons that the record ‘Gratitude’ had the same impact on me as a kid as Kiss’ "Alive" did.
As heavy metal started to become an ugly word in the early 90’s due to the rise of grunge, Chris stood out as an old school throwback. Although he'd probably hate that I'd say that.
His siren wail could flatten brick walls and the band created intricate grooving songs that also gave him the space to turn out beautifully haunting melodies. Soundgarden’s music was very special and Chris kicked it into another stratosphere with finesse and charisma.
- 15Thin Lizzy
Purveyor of cool. Mr. Lynott was it. His songwriting was as broad as the four oceans. His sincerity always delivered. To this day, Lizzy is a band that Europeans understand only just a little bit better than we do in the States. But for those who delve a bit deeper, the band is a smooth voice singing over well-crafted stories.
Live, Phil Lynott, with his signature bass, would often shine his chrome pick guard onto the audience. Aaah, what great memories.
Bohemian Rhapsody is all that needs to be said. One of the most unique musical pieces ever to be recorded in rock music.
The immense talent didn’t start or end there either.
Freddie’s incredible vocal diversity was demonstrated on every Queen record made. He covered the spectrum: Ragtime, Vaudeville, Hard rock, Soul, Classical, Piano pop. There wasn’t a single thing he couldn’t do with the utmost ability.
Live, Freddie was a Broadway performer, always keeping the audience transfixed as he dove into the bottom of our souls.
- 17(Led Zeppelin)
The golden boy!! Zeppelin’s music is so timeless that it will still be current in the year 3000. Page and Plant is the songwriting duo who literally developed hard rock music in the 70’s and it opened the door for EVERYBODY!!!
Robert’s combination of bluesy power and sexuality set the tone for a rock singer hero that completely sums up what it means to be a front man. Although live there would be inconsistencies, you never doubted that you were witnessing pure honesty. indisputably, my favorite band.
Yes, sometimes even I struggle with how Bono mixes his politics with music, but watching the band play ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’ in front of 80,000 fans at the Giants stadium where every single person is being affected? THAT, my friends, is a religious experience.
Bono’s passionate approach to writing and singing those lyrics is quite frankly second to none. From ‘Boy’ all the way to the most recent record, very few singers has shown such incredible growth. ‘Joshua Tree’ could very well be the best rock record ever made.
- 19Marvin. The MAN! There’s not a woman alive or dead who didn’t get aroused while listening to ‘Let's Get It On.’ He was velvet. He was THE crooner.
He made bold social statements ('What’s Going On') and took huge gambles in his career.
He did awesome duets with Tammi Tyrell (who was also great) that were warm and fuzzy. It’s difficult to single out the best individual R&B singer ever but if it’s not Marvin Gaye, the throne must at least be shared with him.
James is on my list for two reasons.
1) He is my true peer.
2) He mentioned me on a list he made, ha ha. But seriously he is a singer who rapidly progressed from record to record. He's developing his style and most importantly his confidence, and Metallica remains one of the biggest bands in the world. THE WORLD! Being an amazing rhythm guitar player, James Hetfield's talent as a commanding singer can sometimes be overlooked. But I’m here to remind.
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