The 50 Best Lead Singers Of All Time

Bon Scott

5. Bon Scott

Band: AC/DC Over seven albums released in just four years, AC/DC’s original frontman Bon Scott proved himself as one of the dirtiest frontmen in rock, leading the band’s churning guitar duo and thudding rhythm section through an unrelenting run of party anthems and odes to the band’s hard lifestyle, all with a fair amount of good humor (while the other members of the band sneer at the camera on the cover of Highway To Hell, Scott characteristically stands off to the side laughing). Unlike most lead singers hailing from the U.K. during the same era, who did everything they could to sound American, Scott sang with at least a hint of his accent (he was born in Scotland and raised in Australia), lending his vocals further authenticity. He also demonstrates impressive range; AC/DC never bothered with ballads, instead opting for an air of menace when it needed to slow down the tempo (“What’s Next To The Moon” is a prime example), and Scott sounds perfectly at home with both those songs and the more high-energy stuff. Scott’s life was tragically cut short – he died of alcohol poisoning in February 1980; just 33 years old – but his legacy looms large over the band. His replacement Brian Johnson has served AC/DC well for 35 years now, but it seems clear he was hired because he sings so much like Scott.

  • http://www.orangeroomband.com Jonny

    You forgot this guy:
    http://youtu.be/PXDxwaDsFpc?hd=1

  • patrick bateman

    Where is Steve Perry?

  • Rob HM

    Freddie had the greatest voice like, ever!

  • pancho

    NO ROBERT POLLARD? NO MICHAEL STIPE? and NO MARK MOTHERSBAUGH?? WEIRD…

  • AlecDawesome

    I definitely agree with #1

  • Chase

    Shocked Jim James of MMJ didn’t make the cut. Definitely one of my favorite lead singers of the past few decade.

  • Debi

    No Robert Smith of The Cure?!!? Only 30+ years strong and headlined 19-20 festivals in Europe over this Summer.

  • Skills

    Bradley Nowell? Cmon

  • Alex

    Where’s les claypool!!!!???

  • Brian

    Greg Dulli! C’mon! Bob Pollard, I will second as well.

  • terry nelson

    This list totally sucks and has no bearing on reality. Whoever put it together is full of shit, a total idiot, and has no musical taste or knowledge what so ever.

  • Ayll

    So they 1000% disclude anyone who is actually from this generation? Of course it has to be ALL groups from the 90s or earlier. Waste of my time for the most part.

  • seaburt

    No lil b?

  • Lauren

    Solid list, but I’m going to look through these slides again just in case I missed Steve Perry and James Murphy.

  • http://prime8finity.tumblr.com Hayden

    Scott Weiland

  • Birdman17

    I agree with @chase Jim James is without a doubt in my top 20, also Connor Oberst deserves to be on here. He has one of the most unique voices in music.

  • Nick

    Peter Murphy, Roger Waters, Bob Mould, Mark Sandman (Morphine)

  • pene

    Have you heard of a guy named Noel Gallagher? Biggest band of the 90s in UK? 300,000 people at 2 shows in 96? WTF

  • SKAN

    This is a very bizarre list…It makes no sense at all…It just seems like someones personal favorite list with no real criteria needed to be on it or earn a number slot…..How is the guy from weezer on here without janis joplin or bjork? There are so many people not on this list who definitely deserve to be and alot of peoplke on here who shouldnt be

  • Ash g

    No Bob Marley, but that smackhead Doherty gets in? And Jagger at No.1? I may print this list, as it will be cheaper than buying toilet roll to wipe my backside on……no Brian Johnson either!

  • Superchango

    Michael Stipe and Tim Booth might be great omissions, but I won’t get stubborn about them. What does really sound weird is the fact that Julian Casablancas is there, but you can’t find Joey Ramone anywhere. Rivers Cuomo made it, but no John Lydon? Where are Jarvis Cocker, Joe Strummer and Elvis Costello?

  • Emmanuel R.

    Where the fuck are Ian Curtis, Robert Smith and Maynard James Keenan?

  • mirko

    rubbish… a lot of girls are missing in this list, Kristin Hersh, Siouxsie Sioux, Maura Davis, Bjork, Liela Moss, Janis Joplin, Grace Slick, just to name a few…

  • http://www.facebook.com/everson.corazza?ref=tn_tnmn corazza

    I missed Michael Stipe, Marc Bolan, Bob Smith, Brett Anderson, Björk, Siouxsie Sioux, John Lydon, Joey Ramone, Ronnie Spector, Ian McCulloch, Tim Booth… Better make a “100 best”.

  • Seriously

    Where the fuck is jay kay from Jamiroquai?

  • Ray

    Ian MacKaye, Peter Murphy, Ann Wilson, Layne Staley, Harriet Wheeler.

  • Les

    Although I’m grateful that some punk bands were mentioned, I’m very disappointed that the Germs frontman Darby Crash who essentially spearheaded the hardcore punk sound in a way like no other band can. The rest of the list seemed like a who’s who of pop musicians who did well. Robin Zander, Steve Tyler, and Axel rose of all people should not have been even mentioned. If it wasn’t for the pixies being realitivly high on the list I wouldn’t have wasted my time reading this.

  • ETP

    Not to be overly harsh, but this seems like an entirely random list just culled from bands you like. And you break your own (also random) rules more than a couple times.

    While you have qualified the criteria for making this list, I think it’s still misleading to call it a greatest “lead singers” list. Some of those you have included here, quite a few actually, have voices for crap.

    I’d suggest calling it the “50 greatest front men/women.” I think that’s more accurate for what you are trying to convey.

    Anyway, just an opinion. Everyone’s got one. Nice work.

  • fernando

    the gallaghers and robert smith!

  • Roberto

    Where the F is Joey Ramone?

  • Jamie

    The most blatant and obvious omission: Joey Ramone!!

  • Chris

    So many disagreements…I think the only thing that I would change is replace Chris Cornell with Michael Stipe…also Jim James would be a good addition…overall very solid list tho!

  • William

    You have ass shit singers from nobody bands like damon Albarn and Mary Timony…And no Johnathan Davis?

  • Diego

    I would add Ian Curtis, Joey Ramone, Johnny Rotten, Mark Mothersbaugh, Zach de la Rocha, Lou Reed, Michael Stipe and Lux Interior and take out Steven Tyler, Julian Casablancas, Rod Stewart and Pete Doherty. Seeing Black Francis and David Byrne in the top 20 was great.

  • Rory

    I liked some of the choices on this list…but wow…Mick Jagger in the #1 spot. Devastatingly incorrect.

  • igmundy

    HR definately # 1

  • Anthony

    Agreeing with Skills.. No Bradley Nowell?

  • kingwilly

    I guess you never saw the Dead Kennedys

  • mike s

    this i think, is a list of the “authors favorites as taken from his personal collection”

    where in the hell is Tom Araya, who has more vocal range than 2/3 of this list, and of course, Glenn Danzig. are you kidding us?

  • Jack

    Mostly good list, but no Bruce Dickinson? For shame.

    Seriously, Bruce Dickinson.

  • bedwards

    WHERE THE BEJESUS IS JAMES DEAN BRADFIELD OF THE MANIC STREET PREACHERS?!?

  • Mike F.

    Uh…Excuse me but where in the hell is Maynard Keenan from TOOL? He should be number one.

  • Mike F.

    Oh, and H.R. should be number 2.

  • Mr.Bungle

    some Really great Singers are missing here…

    Phil Anselmo
    Mark Lanegan
    Jeffrey Lee Pierce
    Perry Farrell
    Scott Weiland
    Shannon Hoon
    PJ Harvey
    Liam Gallagher
    John Lydon
    Dave Vanian
    Joe Strummer
    Joey Ramone
    Mark Arm
    Whitfield Crane

    all of them much better than Casablancas, Cuomo, Doherty etc…

  • Erlioth

    Rivers is the best

  • http://www.vibezart.com polar vibez

    Where is Jimi Hendrix? He more than qualifies for this list. He fronted a band after,all The Jimi Hendrix Experience. People seem to autumatically catergoroze him as a solo artist which is erroneous. I can’t think of any other reason why a man who was an explosive performer, brilliant songwriter,pretty good vocalist and arguably the greatest guitarist of all time would be excluded from this list. As a geek of all things musical I can appreciate the bios but the list is extremely flawed. For instance, how does Julian Casablancas rank higher than HR? I mean seriously,Stop playing with our emotions.

  • Bientjes

    How about Joey Ramone?

  • Wasabitobiko

    James Hetfield over Rob Halford uhhh NO.

  • Wasabitobiko

    DLR, Ozzy and Axl over Halford. Anyone who knows, knows this is crap. COME ON!

  • rob

    #15 is Iggy Pop, not “Iggy Stooge”

  • 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.

  • The white man

    Why isn’t Paul McCartney in this bullshit list. He was the lead in Paul McCartney and the Wings.

  • Herschel

    I would say you probably missed a couple. The biggest, most glaring omission on this list is most certainly Michael Stipe. R.E.M. and he, as a singer, were more important to modern rock and indie rock than pretty much any other band. His lyricism, to me, may actually be unmatched by anyone. Not only does he deserve to be on this list, but he definitely deserves to be in the top 10 if not the top 5. I also don’t think the rest of these commenters quite know what they are talking about.

  • Ashely

    Freddie Mercury is DEFINITELY NOT the best singer no offense

  • Ashely

    Agree!

  • Ashely

    I agree

  • Ashely
  • Ian Scott Thomas

    where the FUCK is Maynard James Keenan!

  • MaxB5100

    How about you replace Jack White with his Garage Rock rival, Dan Auerbach who has a way better voice. Just listen to “10 AM Automatic” and “Your Touch.”

  • Jack Package

    Liam Gallagher

  • Zeratul

    Freddie Mercury is the better!!! is a god :)

  • Pablo Guerrero Aizaga

    You’re right. For me, Paul McCartney was the best among the Fav Four. Paul has the widest vocal range of any rock singer. His voice can vary from a deep bass like in “Why don’t we do it in the road” and rise to an incredible high pitch, like in “Oh! Darling” or “Birthday”

  • Darren Snakeman

    I agree with this list that puts Freddie on top.

  • Cito Kurrukan

    Freddie’s always been great. But how about guys like Peter Murphy, David Gahan, Paul Simpson and even Chrissie Hynde?

  • Dave Angeletti

    how in the WIDE WORLD OF SPORTS is Freddie THE GOD Mercury not number one, Mick jagger? MICK JAGGER, thats STUPID

  • Dave Angeletti

    he absolutely is the greatest frontman in rock history with some of the greatest vocals of any singer of all time, man or women