Whenever one sets out on a journey to come up with a list of the “top” anything or anyone…there is always a matter of opinion that goes along with it. This opinion may be based on biased stereotypes or ones own passion and favorites. Embarking on any of these Top Lists takes a lot of research and knowledge. It also takes a keen ear and eye. In this post I will attempt to give you my Top 50 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Vocalists of all time.
In order to make this list, the vocalist must be multi talented as well as full of ambition on the stage. These vocalists are above the normal singer that just walks the stage. These front men are confident. These singers are dangerous, loud, hit all ranges, are able to sing melody as well as scream, and share many other qualities. Without further a due…let us get to my Top 50 Vocalists of all time. As I said…these lists are always a matter of interpretation and there may be those people who disagree. Feel free to give your feedback.
1) Rob Halford- The famous front man for Judas Priest as well as Fight and even his own solo gig. Rob Halford not only plays the “Bad Ass”, but he backs it up with his voice. He probably has the greatest range in Metal as far as singing deep and also screaming vengeance
2) Robert Plant- Plant was the prototype lead singer and front man for Led Zeppelin and will always be at the top of any Top Vocalist list wether all time or hard rock or metal or just in general. Plant can hit just about every range and does it easily.
3) Ronnie James Dio- Dio started with Elf…then Rainbow…then Black Sabbath and then solo. No matter what lineup he was in or who his band mates were, Dio was always one of if not the best vocalists of all time. Dio could hit every note as well.
4) Bruce Dickinson- Bruce Has been the unquestioned leader of Iron Maiden since its inception in the early eighties…Dickinson has also done a few solo projects. Bruce can sing with the best of them and he also can put on a show. He may have one of the best stage presences in Metal.
5) Freddy Mercury- Queen was a huge success in the seventies and eighties. Much of this success was due to Mercury and his ability to rock the house and get the crowd going. Freddy had no problem hitting all those high notes and made it look easy.
6) Axl Rose- Axl could have been so much more. Guns N Roses had a short lives career, I mean the original Guns…and Axl played the BAD Ass and he backed it up on the microphone. Axl was always using controversial language and could also hit every note.
7) Sebastian Bach- Sebass was the lead vocalist for Skid Row and now has his own solo gig. Sebastian has an extraordinary voice and can sing the ballads as well as scream the heavy thrash tone. He could probably be higher on the list but he has not had the years or the experience that these other vocalists have had.
8) Steven Tyler- Tyler does not have the voice he once had. However, in his prime Tyler was at the top of the vocalist pedestal. Aerosmith was and still is one of the Top Hard Rock bands of its time and Tyler was the driving force.
9) Michael Sweet- Yes…We are counting Christian Metal on this list. This is a list of all Hard Rock and Metal. Michael Sweet is extremely underrated as a musician and is even more underrated as a vocalist. Stryper was never an extremely popular metal band but Sweet could sing with the best of them.
10) Chris Cornell- Some people may be surprised to see Cornell in the Top 10, but not anyone who was a fan of Sound-garden or Audioslave. Cornell has an extremely melodic tone and can scream or sing harmony and change on a dime. Cornell will always be at the top of my list.
11) David Lee Roth- David was the first frontman of Van Halen who are one of the Godfathers of Metal. Roth can hit every note and he has that famous Roth snarl. David still hits those high notes like he is 21 again.
12) Paul Rodgers- Bad Company is in Good Company here. Rodgers has a tremendous voice and would be a great singer on any band.
13) David Coverdale- Coverdale has always been at the top of his game when it comes to pounding out lyrics. From Deep Purple to WhiteSnake. Coverdale was even recruited by Jimmy Page to do a solo album. Coverdale sounds almost like Robert Plant…like a spitten image. If you ever want to hear a great song with awesome range listen to In The Still of The Night.
14) Geddy Lee- Lee is most noted for his empiracle lyrics for RUSH. Lee sometimes even sounds like a woman when he sings…he can hit the highest notes with ease.
15) Geoff Tate- Tate is the Front Man for Queensryche. Tate has a very powerful voice and can also sing ballads like he is in a choir. Case in point Silent Lucidity.
16) Mick Jagger- The Rolling Stones front man can still hit those high notes all these years later. Jagger is one of those singers that you look at and wonder where he gets his voice at. If you could judge a book by its cover, Jagger would not make this list.
17) Steve Perry- Perry was the face of Journey. Journey was known for their Rock Ballads but Perry could sing those faster heavier tones when required to do so and could also change on a dime.
18) Sammy Hagar- Sammy was the second front man for Van Halen. One could say that VH did not miss a beat as far as vocals when Hagar replaced Roth. Hagar may not have the same stage presence of Roth but he can sing his ass off.
19) Paul Stanley- Stanley is KISS. Well he is just one part of KISS but probably the most integral part to the band. He has a distinct voice and can hit every note and chord.
20) Maynard- The lead singer of TOOL. Maynard could very easily be in the Top 10. Part of my list is based on the popularity of the band but I also tried to rank them by voice talent and potential. The sky is the limit for Maynard.
21) Eddie Vedder- Eddie has one of those voices that is underrated. Until you hear him really sing you may not see him for the real him. Listen to some of those early songs and lyrics from Pearl Jams first album.
22) Don Dokken- Don could hit the ballads and the hard stuff as well.
23) Corey Taylor- Taylor is the lead singer for Slipknot and Stone Sour. Taylor has the voice that can rattle every fan. Listen to the difference between Slipknot and Stone Sour. Some people may say this is too high but I believe he has one of those master sounds.
24) Joe Elliot- Today Elliot cannot hit those ranges he used to hit on High and Dry, Pyromania, and Hysteria but Elliot remains one of the Top vocalists of all time. When he was in his prime he may have been in the top 10.
25) John Bon Jovi- John Bon Jovi has a magical voice. He can sing the high ranges like on Bad Medicine and then hit the low ones like on Wanted Dead or Alive.
26) Alice Cooper- Cooper is very underrated as a singer. I think he got better with age as he learned to be more melodic and symphonic.
27) Layne Staley (Alice In Chains)
28) Roger Daltrey (Pink Floyd)
29) Tommy Keifer (Cinderella)
30) Vince Neil (Mötley Crüe)
31) Jimi Hendrix (Same)
32) David Wayne (Metal Church)
33) Blackie Lawless (WASP)
34) Stephen Pearcy (RATT)
35) Brett Michaels (Poison)
36) Klaus Meine (Scorpions)
37) Steve Marriott (Humble Pie)
38) Brian Johnson (AC/DC)
39) Ian Gillan (Deep Purple)
40) Philip Anselmo (Pantera)
41) Ozzy Osbourne (Black Sabbath)- this may seem very low but Ozzy never had a stellar voice.
42) Scott Stapp (Creed)
43) Anthony Keidis (Red Hot Chili Pepper)
44) Joey Belladonna (Anthrax)
45) Serj Tankian (System of a Down)
46) Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails)
47) James Herfield (Metallica)
48) David Bowie
49) Rod Stewart
50) Marilyn Manson
Ok…that’s my Top 50. Not an easy list and I’m very sure I missed some. Feel free to add to the list.