Well this one will probably bend your rock and roll ticket stubs. Our 25 Best Rock Band Lead Singers Of All Time list takes a look at the rock bands that were fronted by the genres greatest lead singers. Presenting what defines a rock and roll singer as the greatest, boils down to a few categories Fist and foremost is vocals chops. If you going to be labeled as the greatest vocalist to front a rock band, one has to be able hit all the high and low notes with relative ease while reaching for the high A notes with a vocal resonance that doesn’t fall apart. That’s not easy to do. Of course not all rock singers are tenors, so it really comes down to how well one sings at the highest range of their registers. Another category is emotion. One can be a brilliant vocalist from a technical aspect, but sing with no heart. If the vocalist doesn’t move you, there are not in this list. Heart, soul, spirit, emotions all fill up the most important category.
The third category that we used in choosing our lead signers who front rock bands is style and originality. What was it about that certain lead singer that separated them from all the rest. There has to be something unique about a lead vocalist. There have been millions of rock bands in classic rock history. What separates the great ones. Of course, the songs are always at the four front. The guitars stands right up there too. However, when it comes down to it, its always about the lead singers. They are the ones that have to put the song over. The ones that carry you away. Take a look at any rock and roll audience. When the lead singer is standing at the microphone singing their guts out, all eyes are fixated on them. Yes, of course there are those that will always be watching the guitar player or drummer, but for the most part we are all staring at the lead singer.
Its very important to note that this is not a list of the best rock singers of all time. This list defines the 25 Best Rock Band Lead Singers. There is a big difference between the two. We have also left out solo artists that are defined usually with a band. Such as Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band or Elvis Costello and the Attractions just as examples. Solo artists have also been left of the lists. So legends like Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, and so forth do not quality because this one is all about the bands.
# 25 – Bon Scott and Brian Johnson – AC/DC
Theses two singers fueled the great AC/DC with such high pitched voices that made fans go crazy. It’s amazing how Brian Johnson stepped in and continued the success of the band when Bon Scott passed away. One can’t mention AC/DC without mentioning both of these legendary rock singers.
# 24 – Ronnie James Dio and Ozzy Osbourne – Black Sabbath
Two lead singers and individual stars in their own right with completely different voices that made it work so well during their individual tenures with Black Sabbath.
# 23 – Lonesome Dave Peverett and Foghat
Lonesome Dave Peverett had such a unique voice. It just oozed blues and rock and roll. One of our favorite bands of all time. If you are keeping it real, the sound of the seventies went through Foghat.
# 22 – Chris Cornell and Soundgarden
Oh man could Chris Cornell sing. We always felt he was the Robert Plant of the 1990s and beyond. He is so missed.
# 21 – Jim Morrison and The Doors
It wasn’t so much about his voice, as it was his lyrics and the way he made you believe every single one of them. One of the most mysterious and charismatic lead singers in classic rock history.
# 20 – Janis Joplin and Big Brother
One of the greats whose life was cut way too short. She did so much in such a short period of time. Janis Joplin stands as one of the most groundbreaking female vocalists of all time.
# 19 – John Fogerty and Creedence Clearwater Revival
The sound of the sixties were delivered in their most earnest fashion through the distinctive voice of John Fogerty.
# 18 – Greg Allman and the Allman Brothers Band
I can listen to the sound of that voice forever.
# 17 – Axl Rose and Guns N’ Roses
Talk about a lead vocalist who let it all get away. Axl Rose and Guns N’ Roses were on top of the world in the late 1980s and they screwed it all up. Still, there’s no denying the incredible vocal performances that Axl Rose delivered on those classic Guns N’ Roses albums Appetite for Destruction and Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II
# 16 – David Lee Roth / Sammy Hagar and Van Halen
We have gotten kind of tired at the whole David Lee Roth vs Sammy Hagar argument. Yes, its obvious that Sammy Hagar has a far superior voice form a technical aspect than David Lee Roth . And Sammy Hagar is also a great showman. But David Lee Roth killed it on those 1970’s and early 80s Van Halen albums. Those records were spectacular, and as far as showmanship, David Lee Roth wins that one easily from sort of a Hollywood perspective. In the end, it doesn’t matter who was better, they both left us with legendary albums, songs and performances.
# 15 – Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons
Before they were known as Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, they were known just as the Four Season and that is why we have included Frankie Valli on this list. As far as his voice goes, its simply a given that he is one of the greatest and most distinctive vocalists of all time. Just try singing like Frankie Valli and see what happens to your body.
# 14 – Eric Burdon and The Animals
Eric Burdon showed rock and roll fans that singing with a deep voice was cool. Especially when it exploded into a frenzied bonanza of great rock and roll music.
# 13 – Jon Anderson and Yes
Have you ever heard another singer that sounded like Jon Anderson of Yes. I don’t think so. As distinctive and brilliant as it gets.
# 12 – Mark Farner and Grand Funk
Grand Funk has not gotten the respect they deserve in the story of Classic Rock. Doesn’t anyone remember when they were the biggest rock band in the world in 1974. They sold mores tickets at Shea Stadium than The Beatles did. Listen back to all those great Grand Funk records and be blown away once gain by the incredible vocals performances of their great band leader, guitarist and lead vocalist Mark Farner.
# 11 – Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac
No one performer or singer has had the power to mesmerize an audience like Stevie Nicks has. Stevie Nicks vocal performance both in record and the concert stage are unlike anyone else. Her vocal sound is simply to die for. Her spirit, her persona, and most of all her music as part of Fleetwood Mac is one of legend.
# 10 – John Lennon & Paul McCartney and the Beatles
It’s hard to place John Lennon and Paul McCartney on any list because they pretty much deserve their own categories across the board. We listed them together on this list because so much of the material they recorded was done in harmony, especially the earlier stuff. Their catalog has completely overshadowed their vocal performances. Yet, we can’t ignore just how wonderful their vocal performances were. Just take a listen to this one.
# 9 – Roger Daltrey and The Who
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss stands as one of the greatest lines in rock and roll history . No one could have pulled it off better than Roger Daltrey. The man had a killer rock and roll attitude in every line he sang. One of the most underrated vocalists of all time.
# 8 – Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones
Mick Jagger has probably never been giving the credit he’s due to his vocal skills and talents. His high octane on stage performances have at times overshadowed his skills as a singer. How many times have you heard people talk about Mick Jagger and how we wish we could it’s active as he is at his age. Nonetheless, that great catalog of Rolling Stones songs have been fueled by an incredible body of vocal performances that defined one of the most iconic voices of our time.
# 7 – Ann Wilson and Heart
Ann Wilson’s singing performances have always left us breathless. Since we first heard her sing “Magic Man,” she has always topped the list of our favorite singers. Heart has always been defined as a band even though they changed lineups many times over the years. Yes we know Heart comes down to Ann and Nancy Wilson, but there still a a band and Ann Wilson will always be know as one or the best Rock Band Lead Vocalists of all time.
# 6 – Paul Rodgers and Bad Company / Free
The great Paul Rodgers has one of he most distinctive voices in rock and roll history. Somewhat of a journey man because of all the groups he has worked with, his biggest contributions were with Free and Bad Company. He was originally left of this list because we had created a large article dedicated just to him. However we had a rebellion like we have never seen before, so we have added him to keep the peace.
# 5 – Ian Gillan and Deep Purple
We missed this one on our first release of the list. Simply because we screwed up. We have fixed it. Ian Gillan was one of the greatest rock and roll vocalists of all time in one of the greatest rock bands in history. Simple as that.
# 4 – Steven Tyler and Aerosmith
Can anyone dress any cooler, look any cooler and sing as great as Steven Tyler. This man has chops to die for. No one could scream at the top of their lungs and still maintain a sense of melodic beauty like Steven Tyler could. The man is also one of the best rock singers at putting across a a rock and roll ballad in the business. Aerosmith is probably the greatest American rock band of all time and its because they had the great Steven Tyler standing at that lead vocal mic.
# 3 – Steve Perry and Journey
Have you ever heard a great Journey song on the radio without Steve Perry as the lead vocalist? Nope. One of the greatest ever. Steve Perry’s high notes went right through you. Interestingly, on his solo albums, at times he sang in a low voice that we never knew he had. He was always singing pretty high with Journey and we loved every minute of it.
# 2 – Freddie Mercury and Queen
Freddie Mercury sold flamboyance in rock and roll like no other singer in history. Their were multiple reasons why he sold it so well. Standing at the top of those reasons was his vocal ability. Talk about a trained singer. Freddie Mercury’s technical skills were off the charts. He probably hit the high notes with more expertise and skill than any other rock singer in history. However within his resonance he was able to summon that angry rebellious voice that fueled great rock and roll. From the artists very Classical English vocal styles of “Somebody to Love,” and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” to the angry infused vocal performance of “Death on Two Legs,” or the sexually filled spirit of “Tie Your Mother Down,” Freddie Mercury sang and performed like no other.
Queen would have never have the success again that they had with Freddie Mercury. The band has tried to continued without him. They toured and recorded with Paul Rogers who is a legendary singer that we love. They now work with Adam Lambert. However without Freddie, it’s not Queen.
# 1 – Robert Plant and Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin is the greatest rock band of all time. There are so many reasons to make that argument. Not everyone agrees with that assessment, but there are probably more that do. There are five main reasons why there are the greatest of all time. The first will always be the songs as it is with every other band. The next fours reasons are the musicians, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Bonham and John Paul Jones. They were all indispensable as a unit. When Bonham died that was the end. They all knew it, but it seemed only Robert Plant made sure they believed it. Which brings us to Robert Plant. While the sound of Led Zeppelin’s iconic guitar riffs will always be credited to Jimmy Page, it was because of Robert Plant’s vocal ability and persona that fans fell in love with the group. All one has to do is look at the solo projects Jimmy Page created in the post Led Zeppelin days to see how important Robert Plant was to the success of Led Zeppelin.
Listen to all those great Led Zeppelin records and those amazing Robert Plant vocals. No one sang like Robert Plant. His vocal performances on record defined all their is about singing rock and roll. Robert Plant fused all elements of music into his vocals. At the heart of his singing lay a deep understanding of the blues mixed with an English background. Technique and emotion, skill and heart, talent and desire. Robert Plant had it all. And of course we cant ignore his persona on stage. If there ever was a symbol for rock god, it was Robert Plant. The man had it all and with Jimmy standing to his right, John Paul Jones to his left and Jon Bonham right behind. Robert Plant fronted the greatest rock band of all time as he stood in front of the microphone as the greatest front man in rock and roll history.