Rock and roll’s most electric lead singers
Think about the reasons you love your favorite band. Now think about the band’s lead singer. What makes a legendary frontman/woman? Is it their electricity? Their vigor? Their vocal talent? Their songwriting? Truth be told, one can’t be sure. The only thing to be certain of is that these frontmen/women have it. Here are some of rock ‘n’ roll’s most dominant figures. Does your favorite performer make the cut?
Led Zeppelin had all the makings to become one of the most famous rock bands of all time. They understood that it wasn’t just your sound that made you memorable, but your performance, as well as and your image, are just as important. That being said, Robert Plant had it all. He had a cosmic range, electrifying stage presence, and (not to mention) a noteworthy ‘do.
Yet, the man with such fascinating stunts humbly credits his unique grooves to other famous icons. He says, “It’s not some great work of beauty and love to be a rock and roll singer. I got a few moves from Elvis, one or two from Sonny Boy Williamson II, and Howlin’ Wolf and just threw them all together.”
Arguments often erupt when the topic of establishing who the real frontman of the Beatles was, but John Lennon’s talent and quirky stage presence set him apart. An example of Lennon’s real artistry is epitomized on their debut LP, Please Please Me.
Picture this: It’s February 1963, and the band had been working on recording the album for 12 hours straight. By the end of the day, Lennon’s voice had grown raw and raspy, but he decided to push through with recording the vocals on “Twist and Shout.” He did the song in one take, which is the growling version heard today. Lennon was innovative in the recording industry, and one of the funnier instances tell of him recording upside down to add a unique sound to his voice.
Arguably one of the most recognizable mouths in rock and roll, Mick Jagger is genuinely the human embodiment of the genre. The Rolling Stones’ lead singer is known for his eccentric moves that are impossible to replicate. (There’s a reason why there was a hit song called ‘Moves Like Jagger,’ right?) Known for his bold and adventurous attitude, Jagger has authored some of the greatest rock and roll songs for more than 60 years.
Lenny Kravitz once said of him, “His vocals are stunning, flawless in their own kind of perfection. There are certain songs where he just becomes a different person. Take ‘Angie.’ I’ve never heard that tone from him since, and it wasn’t there before.” The man is a force in the music industry, and his stage presence oozes sex, drugs, and rock and roll.
If there is something to be said about Springsteen, it’s that he knew how to draw in a crowd and keep people dancing for several hours on end.
Although many fans know the New Jersey native as a solo performer, he got his start as the frontman for the E Street Band. Since the band’s formation back in 1972, Springsteen has become a massive star that has transcended generations.
In 2018, to celebrate his Springsteen on Broadway run, he played a three-hour show in front of a crowd that housed the likes of Oprah Winfrey and company. The tickets sold for as high as $40,000 on secondary market sites and contributed to 236 sold-out performances of his play. And there are no signs of him slowing down anytime soon.
Even though Jim Morrison spent a few years fronting The Doors before his untimely death, his influence on the industry has reached across generations and genres. Known for his charisma and wild antics on stage, audiences seemed to gravitate towards “The Lizard King’s” ethereal presence.
His distinct and poetic lyrics touched on difficult subjects such as love, death, and war, which resonated with his audiences. The Doors’ psychedelic sound reached new heights, and proverbially opened new doors within the rock and roll genre with hits like “Light my Fire,” and “Hello, I Love You.” His legacy still stands as one of the greatest (and most tragic) in rock history.
When you think of Seattle, the grunge scene, and alternative rock genre as a whole, this venerable frontman probably comes to mind. Often described as an outcast and ostracized, Cobain used his lyricism to call attention to the angst and anxiety that was felt by the generation.
Cobain’s raw emotion on stage is different from many of the other frontmen mentioned on this list, and this was because Cobain shaped a new mold for his generation’s rock star. Although Cobain’s performances weren’t as showy and grandiose as the others, they were still powerful and vital to the music scene. Unfortunately, Cobain died in 1994, but Nirvana still remains as one of the most recognized bands in music.
It’s rumored that this witchy woman had an incredible career with Fleetwood Mac followed by a chart-topping solo career. The woman is an enigma, and it’s this mysterious presence that has intrigued audiences for decades. Her scarf-twirling and mystic energy put her at No. 1 on a list of the “25 Best Frontwomen of All-Time” by Paste Magazine.
Fleetwood Mac’s most famous album was Rumours, which was impressive seeing as the band made the album while not even on speaking terms with each other. On performing live, Nicks said: “You know, when I walk out on the stage it’s like that’s when I’m really me…People say to me there’s never a look on your face like there is the look that is on your face when you’re on that stage.”
The enduring power of her presence and music speaks for itself.
The ’70s were filled with flamboyant frontmen, but no one can hold a candle to Tyler’s eccentricity. It seems that there were very few artists who fully adhered to the sex, drugs, and rock and roll thing, but Tyler was undoubtedly one of them. Known for fronting the band Aerosmith, Tyler is famous for his outrageous escapades and vocal talent which was often described as other-worldly. His showmanship is superior, and he was given the nickname the “Demon of Screamin’” for a reason.
Screaming at an uncomfortably high pitch is a signature of his performance, and although many experts claim that doing this for years is bound to change one’s vocal cords, Tyler’s been doing it since the ’70s and still sounds eerily the same.
Would Blondie be Blondie if they didn’t have their visually-striking blonde frontwoman with her enthusiastic facial expressions and quirky persona? Most likely not. Although Harry liked to remind fans that Blondie was, in fact, the band’s name and not hers, fans didn’t really care to make the distinction.
The band’s hits “Heart of Glass,” “Call Me,” and “One Way or Another” are still promised to blow the roof off of establishments holding groups of people. Debbie Harry solidified a new kind of frontwoman with Marilyn Monroe-esque looks, but a punk and chic attitude that hasn’t changed since. Back in 2017, she performed in a dress that read, “Stop f***ing up the planet,” proving she’s no less punk than she was in the ’70s.
Bono makes the list for his strong beliefs and powerful stance on making a change. U2 holds an exceptional place in rock history, as does frontman, Bono. Hell-bent against pigeonholing himself as solely a musician, Bono has used this platform to speak out against the horrors of war and has raised money for necessary causes, all while delivering a powerful performance on stage.
Bono’s voice transcends across multiple platforms, including opera, gospel, blues, and even country. Billie Joe Armstrong once raved in Rolling Stone that “He gets lost in the melodic moment. He goes to a place outside himself, especially in front of an audience, when he hits those high notes. That’s where his real power comes from – the pure, unadulterated Bono.”
Although his counterpart, John Lennon, is also on this list, Paul McCartney’s frontman style is still noteworthy. McCartney has since gained notoriety for marathoning through prolonged concerts, which is no easy feat (especially in your 70s). McCartney has succeeded in effortlessly playing Beatles, Wings, and other solo compositions at his concerts without skipping a beat or lacking in energy.
When Beatles drummer, Ringo Starr, quit the band during The White Album years, McCartney lent his talents to the album, playing numerous instruments. He played drums on several tracks while Starr was out of the lineup, and continued to do so on his first solo album (and a multitude of Wings albums). When he wasn’t sitting in on the drums, he was formulating melodies on the piano, as well as the keyboard, mellotron, and synthesizer. When not behind a keyboard, you could find him ripping up a performance behind on guitar or howling on the mic.
It was hard to look away from Bob Marley when he performed. Being in his presence was enough to feel the positive energy that radiated from every pore of his being. He inspired and hypnotized audiences with his songs of peace, love, and understanding. Marley sang with a notorious moral authority that forced viewers to look at the greed and injustice going on in their communities.
One of the more essential messages he stood behind was getting others to realize the commonalities of the human race, and uniting people. He fought against oppression using his pen, and his stardom took the message across the music industry and the globe. To this day, he is a symbol of freedom and peace.
Iggy Pop was punk before it was on anyone’s radar. Just look up “Iggy Pop Onstage” and hundreds of articles and videos will prove he is one of a kind. There’s extreme, and then there’s Iggy Pop. During the late ’70s and early ’80s, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, and Lou Reed could be found mixing it up in Berlin.
Self-mutilation and violence were only some of the extremes that reared their heads in Iggy’s on-stage performance. There was one rumor that began circulating in the early ’70s, that suggested Iggy was asking a New York promoter for a million dollar fee to commit suicide at Madison Square Garden during a show. His insanity knew no bounds, so much so that the most absurd rumors about him seemed credible. There was a frightened excitement going to his shows, as fans never knew what he would do next.
Although Hendrix spent the early years of his career as a sideman for Little Richard, it was pretty evident that he had the energy and the workings of an iconic frontman. When he was fired by Little Richard’s manager, he concocted his own trio that would go on to make history.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience assisted in bringing psychedelic rock to the forefront of the rock genre and launched Hendrix to icon status. Hendrix had an undeniable charisma, and a voice audiences hadn’t heard before, which solidifies him a place on this list. Released in 1967, Are You Experienced is considered to be one of the greatest debut albums in rock and roll history.
Osbourne’s violent on-stage behavior is what earns him a reputable spot in rock and roll history. He unleashed heavy metal upon listening ears as the vocalist of Black Sabbath, and he released solo hits during the 1980s and 1990s. With a career filled with highs and lows, it’s amazing that Ozzy is still performing to this day.
Deemed “The Prince of Darkness,” there’s a good reason behind this nickname, and the reason is dark indeed. You’ve probably heard of his bat-biting incident, which has loomed in rock and roll archives for decades. In 1982, Osbourne bit the head off of a bat during a concert, claiming that he “thought it was a toy.” To be honest, does this seem unlikely for a man who did the same to a dove during a meeting with a record company?
When Patti Smith released her debut album, Horses, in 1975, she brought an artistic perspective to the punk-rock scene that hadn’t existed prior. Her lyrics channeled the Beat Generation and the poets she surrounded herself with. Hailed in the same class as versifier Jim Morrison, Smith gave rock a raw edge with her garage-band aesthetic.
Smith had a distinct history as a writer during her time in New York in 1967, where she lived as a poet and hung around in the art scene. She has since said that her intention in adding a poetic flair to the dirty rock and roll scene was to save it. “My design was to shake things up, to motivate people and bring a different type of work ethic back to rock and roll,” Smith once said.
Bowie was a vision when he stepped up on the stage, and he took extra steps to satisfy all of his audience’s senses. His audience was full of obscure kids who he took extra care in assuring they weren’t alone. Half human, half alien, Bowie was on a different wavelength than the other performers of his time. He was a chameleon man, changing and shedding his skin to reveal a new figure that somehow, perfectly fit the times.
When Bowie appeared on the scene, he was the only one of his kind. He was bold and unapologetic, and assumed a gender-bending persona, ultimately rewriting the guidelines for what a rock star should look and act like. His legacy has stood the test of time and has played an integral part in the music industry for decades to come.
Money is well known for hits such as “Two Tickets to Paradise” and “Take Me Home Tonight”. He was a popular singer especially in the late 80s, but his work easily lands him on this list for his instant classics and illustrious career.
“I thought I was just going in to get a checkup and [the doctor] told me that I got cancer,” Money said in a clip from season two of his reality show Real Money. Eighties hitmaker Eddie Money died on Friday, September 13th, 2019, following complications from stage 4 esophageal cancer. He was 70 years old.
If there’s one thing to be said about Joplin, it’s that she pulled back her skin to bare her soul to her audiences. Like Hendrix, Joplin was a co-contributor to the psychedelic rock era. Growing up with blues artists like Bessie Smith and Lead Belly, Janis incorporated these roots into her own songs and became a frontwoman for “hippie culture.”
To this day, there has yet to be a talent comparable to that of Joplin’s. Her scratchy growls and raw sound left audiences unable to look away and unable to break the spell she kept them under. Unfortunately, Joplin earned a spot in the “27 Club,” when she passed due to an accidental heroin overdose.
Joan Jett is one of the original rock and roll icons. She got her start with The Runaways, an all-girl rock and roll band that lasted up until the late ’70s. The girl band rejected the typical female stereotype and embraced sexuality and controversy.
Jett is known for her f*** you attitude, raspy vocals, and for letting go on stage. Unafraid of being deemed as unlady-like, the Godmother of Punk is the “bad girl” that’s done more good than bad. Jett has become a cultural icon and a significant figure in the feminist movement. Nearing 60 years old, she’s still the bada** that parents want their kids to look up to.
Oh, you thought The King would be left off this list? The music world was changed forever when he took the stage and swung his hips for the first time to the delight of thousands of teeny boppers. He filled the stage with a fusion of blues, country, and bluegrass tunes that created a unique sound.
It’s pretty safe to say that Presley was Rock ‘n’ Rolls’ first colossal star, as teens everywhere were entranced by the raven-haired king and adults were absolutely horrified. Presley challenged the people’s good Christian values with his hypnotic stage presence, forging the rock and roll style that would be copied for decades to come.
There’s no doubting that Pat Benatar had some incredible mega-hits. Almost everyone is familiar with “Hit Me With your Best Shot” and “Love is a Battlefield.” Benatar has had quite an extensive career, and holds the honor of being the second music video aired on MTV, after the Buggles song “Video Killed the Radio Star.”
During her career, Benatar has released two multi-platinum albums, five platinum albums, and three additional gold albums in the United States. As if that isn’t impressive enough, Benatar is the holder of 17 top 40 singles and four top 10 hits. Benatar is a solid female pop-rock artist with a handful of wins under her belt. So, the question that stands is, why hasn’t this illustrious lady been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame yet?
Jon Bon Jovi
Very few can bring down the arena like Bon Jovi. The animated rocker still manages to sell-out concerts without even trying. Bon Jovi has gathered quite a number of accomplishments over the course of his fulfilling career. In 2009, Jon Bon Jovi was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and in 2012, he was ranked No. 50 on the list of Billboard Magazine’s “Power 100,” which ranked “The Most Powerful and Influential People In The Music Business.”
Jon Bon Jovi has had a mostly quiet life in the limelight, but that doesn’t diminish his star quality. Eventually, Bon Jovi hit the silver screen, channeling his talents to a different outlet. Perhaps it’s his acting chops that make him so enthusiastic and believable on stage? Regardless, his talent cannot be denied. “Livin’ On a Prayer”? More like living the dream!
Axl Rose was a force on and off the stage. Fans went crazy for him when he stepped up in front of them, and he seemed to have a never-ending flow of energy. The formation of Guns ‘N’ Roses launched the Indiana native to glory. Even more impressive, (for you big rock and roll fans, you probably already knew this), Rose went on to front not only Guns ‘N’ Roses but AC/DC in 2016.
His seemingly-impossible vocals and theatrical performance on stage have given him the title of one of the greatest performers of all time. With the controversy that surrounded Rose’s personal life, fans were obsessed with the man whose life was speckled with the classic bad-boy antics that plagued many rockstars at the time.
Joni Mitchell may not have been a rock star defined by usual standards, but she was certainly an important figure in the music industry. Mitchell was a singer-songwriter during a time when women were not recognized as strong songwriters. Hailing from a small, Canadian town, Mitchell opened the floodgates for people of her caliber.
Mitchell’s poetic lyricism and involvement of folk and orchestral arrangements into pop music show a different kind of artistry. She didn’t feed into the music machine and has continued to reject the stereotypes that come with being a big star. When she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997, she decided to skip out on the ceremony. She has long coined the phrase, “outside looking in,” and has created a lasting legacy.
David Lee Roth
David Lee Roth is described as a must-see performer, and there’s no denying he puts on one hell of a show. With his hectic on-stage high jinks and his famous karate kicks, fans always knew that they would be in for a fantastic time, (and probably leave feeling dizzy).
The band’s music was loud and flamboyant, just like they were, and once you were sucked into their sound, you stayed there. Unfortunately, after a successful career with the band, David Lee Roth shocked rock fans everywhere when he announced he was leaving Van Halen to go solo. David Lee Roth found success going solo, (which is rare), and he found his peak at the height of music’s glam/hard rock era.
Bob Dylan, a tremendous figure on the folk scene was known by the media as the “spokesman of a generation.” When he performed, it was a simple stage filled with Dylan, his harmonica, and his guitar. However, during the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, Dylan decided to give into his electric desires and fans were not happy.
As Dylan played away, ringing electric notes throughout the venue, many fans cheered, and many fans booed. One fan, in particular, shouted “Judas!” at the musical artist. Dylan then proceeded with what a real frontman would do. He paused, and then shouted back, “I don’t believe you. You’re a liar!” He then hollered to the Hawks (The Band) playing behind him, “Play it f***ing loud!” What followed was an electric and hard-hitting version of Dylan’s famous “Like a Rolling Stone.”
The Man in Black, Johnny Cash was one of the most legendary performers of all time. Cash not only left a legacy in music, but he left a lasting impact on social justice as the time, using his platform to bring awareness to the various issues that were harboring society.
Controversy was not new to Cash, and he embraced it with open arms. His famous prison tour caused a media hell-storm as he performed for inmates all over the United States, for free. One of his more famous politically-charged songs was “Bitter Tears.” Riding on the fame of “Ring of Fire,” Cash decided to use his fame to bring awareness to Native American rights. Dennis Banks, co-founder of the American Indian Movement said of Cash’s album, “It’s the earliest and most significant statement on behalf of Native people and our issues.”
In the wake of Kurt Cobain’s death, Grohl decided to make a decision that would put him at the top of the music charts. When Grohl first appeared on the scene, he was a grungy, heavy-hitting drummer alongside the quiet and cardigan-wearing Cobain.
Forced to recreate himself, Grohl decided to stand front and center, creating a legacy himself. Starting the Foo Fighters turned out to be the best career move Grohl could make, and it was one made out of desperation. He’s since become a torch holder for the original rock and roll values, a true lover of things fast and loud. The Foo Fighters and Grohl have sold tens of millions of records, and have won 13 Grammy Awards.
Sting, the spiky-haired Brit that managed to make a haunting song like “Every Breath You Take” sound like a sweet love song. His career has lasted over three decades and his impeccable work has earned him 17 Grammy Awards. Factor in his health regimen, and it’s no surprise that he’s still rocking live shows on the regular.
He gifted us with memorable songs like “Roxanne,” and “Message in a Bottle.” Of course, he has taken some odd career turns, such as leaving the Police after they achieved their greatest commercial success. In his 2007 book Lyrics, he explained that he believed, “that the momentum of the band had been such that people would at least be curious about what I was up too.” And curious they were.
Vince Neil is known for fronting 80s band Mötley Crüe and for his turbulent personal life which consists of arrests and convictions. One of the more severe convictions he faced in his past was for vehicular manslaughter to which he pleaded guilty. The band released a string of hits through the 80s, and they quickly became one of the biggest hard rock bands of the decade.
Band member Nikki Sixx dictates that, “I really feel he’s one of the greatest frontmen of all time and has such a unique sound, and I feel so blessed to have him in my life.” Neil was a force in the band, and would pair his unique moves with his distinctive leather outfits. Being the only blonde in a group full of raven-haired rockers, Neil obviously stood out from the rest and we can’t help but feel like that’s exactly what he wanted.
Gene Simmons, the frontman for Kiss, can be pinpointed by his outrageous demonic makeup and freakishly long tongue. There has always been controversy when deciding who the real frontman is in the band, as credit is usually given to Paul Stanley. Like McCartney and Lennon fashion, both Simmons and Stanley created the group, but it was Simmons who suggested donning the black makeup and all-black clothing.
Simmons was known for living the rock and roll lifestyle, but fans may find it hard to believe that he’s never had a drink or done drugs. It just goes to show that your on-stage persona isn’t a true reflection of your real one.
Gene Simmons is a different man when the spotlight hits, and that’s what makes him a true rockstar.
True rock and roll fans will say that ACDC’s best era is the Bon Scott era. From 1974 to 1980, Bon Scott was the alcohol powered, dirty powerhouse that stood at the front of the band and led with mighty vocals. He helped lead the group to success with albums like High Voltage, Let There Be Rock, and Highway To Hell.
He was a fantastic lyricist graced with a high register and fantastic range. Scott was able to captivate audiences and keep their attention with his gritty persona.
Unfortunately, Brian Johnson walked into one of the saddest instances in rock and roll after Bon Scott’s death. Though he still managed to lead the band to international fame, Johnson has always stood in the shadow of Scott’s legacy.
Roger Daltrey is known for fronting The Who, who shot to fame during the mid-1960s, and continued throughout the 70s and 80s. Daltrey was a charismatic guy both on and off the stage and has been applauded for his fantastic showmanship and solid vocals. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. He was also honored at the Kennedy Center Honor ceremony along with band member Pete Townsend in 2008.
The Who was often known for sparking the destructive art movement by destroying guitars and drum sets on stage. The band has contributed significantly to rock music through the development of the Marshall stack, large PA systems, use of the synthesizer, and Townshend’s feedback and power chord guitar technique,
Alice Cooper is nicknamed “The Godfather of Shock Rock” for a reason. His shocking performances always left audiences on their toes, and involved frightening stunts that could only be compared to a horror skit. With tracks like “Eighteen” and “Welcome to My Nightmare,” Cooper has definitely captured the angst and rebellion in his listeners.
He would use fake blood, electric chairs, guillotines, snakes, and other horrible stage props to mock death. He was also known for the markings he would draw on his face that were described as demonic and ghoulish. What makes Alice Cooper such a great frontman is that he incorporated theatrics and showmanship into his concerts, which would draw in an obscene amount of fans.
Eric Clapton was born in Surrey, England on March 30, 1945. Clapton used simple notes and smooth, basic sounds to produce unforgettable melodies. The greatest guitar players either trained in blues, or adopted blues style to rock ‘n’ roll, and Clapton is a perfect fusion of both.
In his early days with Cream, he played with two other jazz guitarists, and later said he was, “just trying to keep up.” He produced a groundbreaking sound, and it was only the beginning of his odyssey with the guitar. He’s best known for his songs “Bell Bottom Blues,” “Crossroads” and “White Room.”
Willie Nelson was born in Abbot, Texas on April 29, 1933. Nelson has come a long way since his days as a cotton picker and bible salesman, as his music career has spanned over 60 years. In all of that time he’s used the same guitar, “Trigger,” which can be seen in the photograph below.
Trigger has been patched up along the way, but has been the perfect companion for Nelson’s laid back style that has hints of rock, blues, country, and even gypsy jazz. He’s best known for songs such as “Whiskey River” and “Night Life.” Even though he’s 86 years young, he still rocks it to this very day.
McKinley Morganfield, better known as “Muddy Waters,” was born in Issaquena County, Mississippi on April 4, 1913. When he was in his mid-20s, he moved to Chicago, where he brought his southern-blues style to the Midwest scene. It would be this blend that came to define the “Chess Records sound.”
The Rolling Stones named themselves after Waters’ 1950 song “Rollin’ Stone.” He played in bands that also included legendary guitarist Buddy Guy, and it’s said that he was a major influence on Jimi Hendrix. Though his popularity faded in the 1960s, he experienced a resurgence in the early 70s that lasted until his death.
Tom Petty was born in Gainesville, Florida on October 20, 1950. He’s obviously the lead the man of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, but we couldn’t include him on this list without mentioning the lead guitarist of the group, Mike Campbell. Campbell is best known for his simplistic style with the guitar, never using 10 notes if two will suffice.
As for Petty, who embraced heartland, or Southern rock, always did best when he had a great guitarist next to him. When he released his first solo album Full Moon Fever, Cambpell did most of the solos. They’re best known for songs such as “Breakdown” and “You Got Lucky.”
Billy Gibbons was born in Houston, Texas on December 16, 1949. It’s no wonder that the six-stringed rock ‘n roller of ZZ Top fame became a musician, as his father was a maestro. His parents supported his musical prowess and took him to see Elvis in concert, and BB King in the studio. He even enjoyed a brief friendship with Jimi Hendrix before he passed.
With all that knowledge hardwired into his brain Gibbons he helped form ZZ Top by the time he was 20 years old. You’ll remember songs of his like “Tush,” and “Gimme your Lovin,” and if you’ve ever felt his steady rhythm get slapped and turned on it’s head by Gibbons’ guitar in “La Grange” then you’re probably a fan of ZZ Top.
Neil Young was born in Toronto, Canada on Nov. 12, 1945. Young was a prodigy early on, and even though he was diagnosed with epilepsy during his Buffalo Springfield days, it didn’t seem to faze him. Whether he was in a band or rolling solo, Neil Young is exceptional with every note of music he creates.
Young is known for his songs with Buffalo Springfield, “For What it’s Worth” and “Mr. Soul.” However, his solo song “Down by the River” was described by Trey Anastasio this way: “It’s one note, but it’s so melodic, and it just snarls with attitude and anger. It’s like he desperately wants to connect.”
Joe Walsh was born in Wichita, Kansas on November 20, 1947. It’s no wonder he became a guitar player — would you believe that his middle name is Fiddler? Regardless of whether you do or not you’ve probably moved once or twice to his rhythm-and-bass style that combines with a wild side. Walsh had success in multiple bands, including one of the most successful of all time, the Eagles.
Walsh was a latecomer to the band but their greatest hit — “Hotel California” — was made in 1975, which was the same year he joined the band, and features one of the best guitar solos of all time. Other than that, he’s best known for songs such as, “Rocky Mountain Way” and “Funk #49.”
Prince was the real deal, he could sing, dance, play guitar, while still holding the audience in the palm of his hand. Plain and simple, there will never be another like Prince. While many other frontmen were merely just “frontmen,” Prince was a performer and he always made sure to include theatrics into his shows.
His showmanship went past guitar work, and Prince had a way of reaching his audience beyond music. Was it his unexplainable range or his never-ending energy? Regardless, Prince had a certain kind of magic that allowed him to transcend through his performances and is often referred to as one of the best “frontman” of all time.
Stevie Ray Vaughan
Stevie Ray Vaughan (his actual name) was born in Dallas, Texas on Oct. 3, 1954. He may look like he’s sucking on a lemon while playing his guitar behind his back, but there was nothing that sucked about his music.
Vaughan may have integrated a mix of jazz and rockabilly, but he was heavily influenced by Jimi Hendrix, B. B. King, and Eric Clapton. He is best known for his songs “Love Struck Baby,” “Cold Shot” and “Look at Little Sister,” and if it hadn’t been for a tragic helicopter crash in 1990 that resulted in his passing, he would’ve had several more hits to his name.
When watching performances of Freddie, it is obvious to see that it’s the audience’s energy surging through him that powers his electrifying performances.
Freddie was a performer of a different caliber, and even other big-name artists were aware of that. Kurt Cobain mentioned Freddie’s talents in his last written testament before his death.
Cobain’s suicide letter read, “When we’re backstage, and the lights go out, and the manic roar of the crowds begins it doesn’t affect me the way in which it did for Freddie Mercury. [He] seemed to love, relish in the love and adoration from the crowd, which is something I totally admire and envy.”
Surely, Freddie’s talent and vigor was a one-of-a-kind occurrence.
As the story goes, in 1990, a young Eddie Vedder was working at the gas station, just like any other day, when his friend, Jack Irons presented him with a demo tape of a Seattle band that was on the lookout for a new singer. While out surfing, Vedder came up with lyrics in his head for the three songs and sent the tape back to the band with his lyrics.
Soon enough, Vedder was asked to be in the band that became Pearl Jam. One of the songs that were featured on the tape was “Alive,” which became a hit across the country. Although many artists and singers have tried to match Vedder’s sound, nobody can come close to his ravenous vocals that blow everyone away upon listening.
Any rock and roll artist that has outrageously strutted across the stage, owes it to Chuck Berry. Berry was one of the firsts artists who began showing off traits that would mold the rock and roll form. He was one of the first to feature his own electric guitar in his music to drive the tune, and he wrote and sang all of his material.
There was a certain depth about Berry’s lyrics that hit home for audiences, and instead of touching on love, he touched on youth culture and society. Some of his biggest hits were “Roll Over, Beethoven” which was famously covered by The Beatles, and “Rock ‘n Roll Music.”
In fact, his songs were covered by many famous artists through the years such as Buddy Holly, the Rolling Stones, the Grateful Dead, and the Beach Boys.
Carlos Santana may be a frontman, but unlike the others on this list, he is not a lead vocalist. Santana is a soulful entertainer that has collaborated with dozens of artists from different genres. Santana has managed to reach audiences with his psychedelic guitar solos and rock and Latin fusion riffs.
Santana is a pioneer in the music ‘biz, crossing boundaries with a blend of Latin, Afro, blues, jazz, salsa, and rock music. Santana’s father, who was a mariachi musician, began teaching his son violin at age 5 and guitar from age eight. In August 1969, Santana and his band performed at Woodstock festival, where he hypnotized fans and has continued to do so since.
The Oasis singer recently won a poll voted for by listeners of XFM, where he was named the greatest frontman of all time. In a very modest manner, Gallagher replied to this news by saying, “Greatest frontman? I knew that anyway! There’s not many of us about. There are a lot of pretenders out there. But I’d like to thank everybody for voting and stuff. Nice one.”
Gallagher also admitted that he was too handsome to have not been the frontman for the band. Although the singer now performs with Beady Eye, he has admitted he does miss Oasis, saying “Oasis was my life.”