The 50 Best Lead Singers Of All Time

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BestLeadSingers The 50 Best Lead Singers Of All Time

As stupid as it may sound, given that the role generally involves copious amounts of sex and partying, being a lead singer is hard work. While the rest of your bandmates can hide behind guitars, drum kits and keyboards, you have to stand there and sing, which means figuring out something to do with your hands while singing and your whole body when not (good luck if you’re not capable of so much as a single dance move). And if you do play an instrument, you’ve got to do that and remember your lyrics simultaneously, which for some is like patting your head while rubbing your stomach. What’s more, if you write songs that mean something to you, every night is not just a gig but a long trip down memory lane, which can be emotionally draining (not much successful rock is built on pleasant life experiences).

Some made this list for their skill, some for their style, but all are worthy of going down in history among the best lead singers ever. So here we present the 50 best to step up to a mic stand.

Some ground rules:
1. No solo artists. Thus no David Bowie, Elton John, etc.
2. No people from bands in which everyone sings and there is no clear leader. Thus no members of The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Zombies, The Band…
3. No people who are mainly known for their work on instruments. Thus no Jimi Hendrix, Bill Nelson, etc.

By Daniel Margolis

Hit “next” or click the picture to read on…

  • ate

    Cedric Bixler-zavala?

  • word

    Billy Corgan??

  • http://NoCrackSmokrs.com Dude with Brain

    Your site is officially put to crap. You know nothing about music. Chris Cornell, Kurt Cobain, Henry Rollins..etc etcc. All deserve to be around 50. I guess you forget talent, impact, harmony, melody, vocal range and other aspects tha are usually the measure of a good vocalist. Get off the drugs pigeons n planes

  • Crimsonghost

    I do not agree that Chris, or Henry should be on the list. Infact no punk, hardcore, Alternitive, or metal singers should be on here. Since you did put them on, I ask you. Where is Evil Elvis( Glenn Danzig) with those deathly howls. Just listen to any Album from the early MISFITS, SAMHAIN, and the first 3 Danzig Albums.

  • Pizzaparty

    You have HR and Henry Rollins on there but not Ian Mackaye?

  • felix

    HR is justified, as anyone who has ever saw the guy backflip live on stage while raining down the mystic curse upon the babylon will testify. That guy can vocalise.

  • http://yahoo.com jiacomo

    A lot of nice singers are not in this too short list, as pointed out by AURFEE, like Karen Carpenter from the Carpenters, Bob Marley (and the Wailers), Mark Knopfler from Dire Straits, …
    Then many missing, too many that should never have been there !

  • Manguss

    LOL Kurt Cobain???????? Best what????
    Pete Doherty?????? ahahahhahahaa

    What about Corey Glover??? he can do whatever he wants with his voice.

  • danathor

    Layne Staley 42nd? My God, the man is top 5 easily.

    Patton should also be top 15 minimum

  • http://www.pigeonsandplanes.com Jon Tanners

    YES LAYNE STALEY LOVE!

  • Max Perreau

    What about Steve Perry ? Should make the to 10.

  • John Smith

    No Steve Perry? Really? One of the greatest voices ever!!

  • http://sladecove.weebly.com/ Ashley Smith

    Nice to see Noddy Holder get some recognition – Slade are a much underrated band with so many great songs of all styles throughout their long career.

  • LUCAS

    Mike Patton at 44 and Kurt Cobain at 4? Seriously?

  • scott

    I’ve always thought Burton Cummings of the Guess Who had the greatest rock voice. Give them a listen and see what you think.

  • Andrewk

    How does any knowledgeable person leave Joe Strummer off of this list? Awful.

  • http://WebTickets.com Carl White

    Interesting list, I would have included Michael Hutchence and Steve Perry and Corey Glover.

  • http://www.beyondthebits.tumblr.com Beyond The Bits

    Guys, it’s called opinion. Calm down. Why all the hate on Cobain? I’m not necessarily saying he should be Top 4 but a good lead singer is just as much about presence as it is a “voice” and Kurt Cobain definitely had that. Watch the Nirvana cover of “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” or videos of one of their earlier shows.

  • Music_ologist

    first of all Mick Jagger is not a great vocalists just a front-man and to have Steve Perry Not on this list is unreal or even to have Lou gramm from foreigner on here would of been fine Without Steve Perry it’s no authentic list

  • RC Says

    1) Kurt Cobain should not be on number 4 let alone higher than Layne Staley, Eddie Vedder or Chris Cornell!!!
    2) Personally I think Layne is better than Julian Casablanca! But I like Julian too!
    3) What about Bruce Dickinson?
    4) lm sure you can find a better punk vocalist than Milo from the Descendants (again I love the Descendants too!)
    5) What the hell do you mean Punk Pretenders when referring to The Offspring? Fuck you man! And
    6) It’s Stephen Malkmus not Steve Malkmus! -__-

  • julie

    stupid list

  • zach

    dude where the hell is anthony kiedis?

  • guh

    Omg this irritates me. 1. Jack white is far more known for his guitar playing. So take him out. And this author needs to google Maynard James Keenan. The most dynamic voice in rock in last 20yrs. Amazing range. Beautiful and destructive and angelic. Jeez I went thru all 50…what a crock

  • brownhomer

    who wrote this list? They should be fired

  • Tony

    I was thinking the same about Keenan. I came here to see his name in the top 10.

  • Gabi

    I’m glad Mick was #1 but why is Jack White there and where is Anthony Kiedis?

  • MrMusic

    This list is a joke. Where’s Steve Perry, John Lennon?

  • kpw

    The most ridiculous assessment of rock’s greatest vocalists I have ever seen. The category is “Best Lead Singers” not Best Performers, Best Posers, or anything else. Many of those listed here give an entertaining performance on stage, but their vocal prowess quite simply sucks. You guys seriously need to do your homework. This exercise gets an “F”.

  • Phillip Matthew Norman

    This list completely blows. Someone explain to me how you put Mick Jagger ahead of Freddie Mercury?

  • Lawrence

    It hurts that Layne Staley is just number 42.

  • Jake

    um, Brandon Boyd anyone? Has the most control over his voice than any other rock singer EVER

  • Pablo666999

    Freddie Mercury should be No.1 no question. Rob Halford, Axl Rose & Layne should be top 10. Jack White!!?? Ozzy Osbourne!!?? You’re having a laugh, right?

  • brend

    and dave gahan?!, there should,no, there MUST be a place for him! :’( for example, i like damon albarn….but, there’s a place for him but not for dave gahan?? :/ this is wrong….

  • Farts McGillicutty

    Um…. Brandon Boyd?!?1

  • Metal Head

    Yeah mine too.His work with Tool should have put him in the top ten,but with A Perfect Circle and Puscifer puts him in the top 5

  • Metal Head

    Yeah mine too.His work with Tool should have put him in the top ten,but with A Perfect Circle and Puscifer puts him in the top 5

  • JayoftheDead

    Lennon wasn’t really THEE lead singer of The Beatles, since they didn’t really have one, and he certainly wasn’t the best singer in the band.

  • JayoftheDead

    This list is a complete and utter joke. You leave Jenny Lewis, Glenn Danzig, and Joey Ramone off a list of the 50 greatest singers of all time? Do you hate music, or just know nothing about it? What a joke. This quote from High Fidelity comes to mind… “how can someone who has no interest in music own a record store?”

  • suscurran

    Kurt Cobain is not a good singer, knowing first hand I saw them live early on and we left the show because his singing was displeasing to our ears and they creeped us out-he had a mean spirit, heart, and soul. Not to mention his horrible character, masochistic and sociopathic behaviors that destroyed those around him. He was evil.

  • suscurran

    Lovely choice.

  • Tania

    Michael Hutchence? A great great frontman.

  • nxpunk

    Freddie’s vocal are far beyond Micks, with all do respect.