Rolling Stone Reader’s Top Ten Lead Singers of All Time
Ah, a great list. Robert Plant is by far the singer with the most range, the most angst, and the most reach. Jim Morrison is a god. Not one of the best singers, necessarily, but an important one with an unbelievable and unmistakable stage presence that can still be felt decades after his death. And Roger Daltry. Good god, Pink Floyd is amazing. Freddie Mercury-one of the most stand-out performers of all time. And I have had a love affair with John Lennon for at least half my life. Not surprised to see Chris Cornell on the list, but I still don’t really understand the draw of Kurt Cobain. What I would give to be a groupie!
As this is a topic that I feel myself to be well versed, I would like to share my personal top 10. That is, if I can.
10. Maynard James Keenan (Perfect Circle and Tool)– I love the sound of this man’s voice. He just flat does it for me.
9. Zack de la Rocha (Rage Against the Machine)– The song “Killing in the Name of” will always hold a special place in my heart. I love his stylized intensity.
8. Freddie Mercury– One of my first loves, my mom introduced me to Queen probably in my infancy. I don’t think any one can top his sometimes outlandish performances except maybe Elton John.
7. Mick Jagger– I sometimes struggle with this icon. But I can’t deny him when Jumping Jack Flash is blaring, or any of the band’s other iconic songs.
6. Dave Matthews– Ah, a very personal love of mine. I’m sure that there are many who disagree with this choice, but this man and his band has had me at their mercy for a very long time. No one puts on a better live show and no one can so effortlessly bring out so much talent in others. And when he starts jamming, I just don’t want him to stop. I have an absolutely ridiculous love for this man.
5. Pete Townshend– My Generation. Pinball Wizard. Tommy. Need I say more? I’ll never forget the day a friend of ours asked me, shortly after Rockband and Guitar Hero came out, if I had ever really listened to the words to Pinball Wizard. Did I know how weird it was? My reply: Have you ever seen the rock opera Tommy? Seriously.
4. Roger Daltry– In high school I went to a party where we watched the Wizard of Oz while listening to Dark Side of the Moon and it blew my mind. And that was before any experience I may or may not have had with mind-altering substances. Pink Floyd has a sound that can only ever be theirs.
3. John Lennon and Paul McCartney– Yeah, I’m kind of cheating here, but I really can’t list one without the other. Their songs are part of the foundation from which all good rock-and-roll emerges.
2. Jim Morrison– My love affair with Jim Morrison started when I was in grade school. I remember sitting in my room and listening to Riders on the Storm, When the Music’s Over, L’America, L.A. Woman, Back-Door Man, good grief, I could go on and on and on. He was the first to fully transport me in a way that can only be described as drug-induced without any drugs. I fell, and I fell hard. I once had an entire relationship with a guy using only Morrison’s lyrics. I stick by my previous comment about how his voice may not be the very best. I don’t think he would’ve made it very far on American Idol. But his persona and his stage presence far surpasses most other singers.
1. Robert Plant– I challenge anyone to argue against his talent. I don’t think its possible. He has the presence, he has the angst, he has the chops, and he always delivers. Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham (requiescat in pace) define rock royalty.
Just my opinion. Got to be passionate about something, right? 🙂