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Rolling Stone Best Lead Singers of All Time

Updated: Mar 17, 2022

Rolling Stone Best Lead Singers of All Time Show Transcript:

Alright, David Bozell ForAmerica, your conductor for today. Rolling Stone readers, yesterday, March 14th, picked the best lead singers of all time. It's not a bad list. This is the top 10. I'll go from number 10 on up. And if you're generation X like me, you're pretty well-represented here.

Number 10, Kurt Cobain, which there's not a huge quality of live recordings from original Nirvana, other than probably the best live album of all time, which is their Unplugged effort. According to Rolling Stone readers, he's the number 10 best lead singer of all time.

Chris Cornell, from Soundgarden, I think he's underrated, but perhaps not underrated on this list. But they have it right, he's a better lead singer than Cobain.

Number eight is Lennon. I think John Lennon is probably the best voice in all of rock and roll history and the best singer. He never did much in concert, because the Beatles were so bloody popular and they kind of just stopped touring. So, there's not a lot of recordings from, I don't know 1969 on, that are live.

This is number seven, Eddie Vedder. I would never put him ahead of John Lennon. I don't think Eddie Vedder would put Eddie Vedder in front of John Lennon.

Number six, Roger Daltrey. Alright, he had the best lead singer move in rock history with the mic twirl. You can't beat that.

Five, Jim Morrison. He spoke more written poetry than actually singing, though, the catalog is so underrated. I was a huge, huge, huge Doors fan in college. I'm still a Doors fan. The Soft Parade, Love Her Madly, the entire L.A. Woman album is excellent. I would have loved to have seen the Doors play L.A. Woman, the song live, but I think he died just a couple months after that album was released, in 1971.

Number four, Mick Jagger. Now, I would bump him up. He'd be at top two or three for me. I've seen the Stones three times, three times-four times. The guy runs back and forth. If anyone has seen the Stones, the guy runs back and forth across the biggest rock stages that you've ever seen created for two and a half hours. He just zig-zags. Nobody on this list can do that and has the stamina for that. So, nobody puts on a better professional show than Jagger in the Stones.

Lynn Goldsmith, Mick Taylor, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones in 1972

Number three is, and I would kick him off this list entirely, Bono. Kind of a unique voice, I guess. I'm trying to think that one through. There's just nothing about Bono's presentation that I feel is worthy of being top 10.

Number two, Freddie Mercury. Absolutely needs to be top on this list for sure. Queen live in their prime would be a show. I would spend $200 a ticket to stand out in the rain for sure.

And number one is Robert Plant. I actually saw something called Classic Albums Live. It's a bunch of session musicians trying to play supplement all the way through. It was cool show. This was sort of right at the tail end of COVID, so there wasn't a lot of people there. And I was just excited about seeing some live music. First concert that I had seen all COVID long. They had to have two different women and another guy sing the Robert Plant parts, which just goes to show you how uniquely talented and sickly talented Robert Plant really was. No one could carry notes as high as he could.

Now, there's two people here that I would have loved to see on this list. I think I'd definitely boot out Bono at three. I think Daltrey and Vedder are kind of the same. The Pearl Jam will play some Who songs, so I think you could probably ditch that one.

I would put James Hetfield from Metallica up there, for sure. Writes his own stuff, plays guitar, multiple guitars, throughout the whole stuff.

Trying to think, Robert Plant barely plays any guitar. Mercury plays a little piano, a little guitar. Bono, a little guitar. Jagger a little guitar. Morrison no. Daltrey, I don't think plays any instruments. Vedder, one or two songs he'll play guitar. Obviously, John Lennon can play guitar, Chris Cornell, and Kurt Cobain. All of those guys don't play lead or rhythm guitar in any of their shows for very long, but James Hetfield can and does it for two and a half hours. That's badass in my opinion.

Metallica: Whiplash (Live at The Metro - 1983), Metallica YouTube April 7, 2016

I would definitely put Justin Hawkins from the Darkness in there. There's no better live show than the Darkness. Go see those guys. They're a load of fun.

Ranking my own, I would do Jagger as number one for professional, longevity, and showmanship.

Freddie Mercury, I would keep number two.

Robert Plant at number three.

Hatfield at number four.

Lennon would be five.

Hawkins six.

I'm going to put Morrison back in there. I want to put Morrison at seven.

I am bumping Daltrey and Vedder down. I think Chris Cornell has got a terrific voice for rock and roll, terrific. Who is the lead singer for Smashing Pumpkins? What's his name? Yeah, Billy Corgan. Corgan's got a unique sound too.

Gen X grunge music was so much better than people realize. It was so good. I saw a list of albums that were put out in 1992 on Twitter. It must've been 30th anniversary of those albums. I mean, everything from Dr. Dre to, I guess, the next Nirvana follow-up. Everything in between was so good, so many good records.

I'm looking for unique, right. Sounds that I know are uniquely there. I can't stand as politics, but uh, who's the R.E.M. singer, Stipe, Michael Stipe. He's a terrific lead singer, terrific. He's got a unique sound, unique moves on stage, carries a show. I think they retired too early. I wish they'd make a little bit of a comeback, but I always dug R.E.M. Even though I can't stand their politics, but who cares?

If I only approved my music based on politics, I'd listen to such few good musicians. Springsteen has a pretty unique voice, though. I'd consider putting him in here on the strength of Backstreets alone, he carries Backstreets. I just think that's his best sung song, but I guess he can't match up to these guys.

Anyway, what did I have as number one, Jagger, just for longevity and Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, and Exile Main Street, all four albums in a row. That's the sickest four album stretch of any band ever. You just can't beat that. So, I'll put Mick Jagger number one, but man, I would have loved to have seen Freddie Mercury live.

The Rolling Stones - Gimme Shelter (Official Lyric Video), ABKCOVEVO May 16, 2016

I've seen Daltrey and Vetter live. I probably would boot them from this list, because they're kind of so similar. I'd give you James Hatfield, who I just saw recently in Vegas, Metallica. And give me Justin Hawkins from the Darkness.


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