Music Monday: A Compilation of the Best Frontmen/Lead Singers of All Time

As I was watching a Fleetwood Mac video with Stevie Nicks leading the way, I thought to myself, ‘I would pick her as the top “frontman” for a band’. Her voice, her looks, her dress, her swagger – she’s got it all. I’ll include a couple of her videos at the end.

So that got me thinking what real die-hard music people think about the best frontmen/lead singers of all time. So I went to Duck Duck Go (I’m still using it, but not much longer; I guess I’m so used to using Google that I much prefer it) and came across several such lists, and I thought I would share a few of them. It looks like a few of the sites took the term “frontmen” literally because on many of the lists there are no women mentioned.

So here we go, in no particular order. Note that the number of artists listed varies by source. And in a sign of my musical ignorance, I have put an asterisk beside the names of those artists whose names I do not recognize.

from Rock Pasta:

  1. Robert Plant
  2. Freddie Mercury
  3. Mick Jagger
  4. Axl Rose
  5. Steven Tyler
  6. Roger Daltrey
  7. Bruce Dickinson*
  8. David Lee Roth
  9. Dave Grohl
  10. Ozzy Osbourne

from TV Over Mind

  1. Freddie Mercury
  2. Robert Plant
  3. Mick Jagger
  4. Jim Morrison
  5. Jimi Hendrix
  6. Ozzy Osbourne
  7. Roger Daltrey
  8. Steven Tyler
  9. John Lennon
  10. Kurt Cobain
  11. David Lee Roth
  12. Axl Rose
  13. Bon Scott*
  14. Paul McCartney
  15. Bono
  16. Eddie Vedder
  17. Dave Grohl
  18. James Alan Hetfield*
  19. Bruce Springsteen
  20. Alice Cooper

Chillopedia

  1. Freddie Mercury
  2. Robert Plant
  3. Mick Jagger
  4. Roger Waters
  5. Elvis Presley
  6. Roger Daltrey
  7. Ozzy Osbourne
  8. Bono
  9. Jim Morrison
  10. Steven Tyler
  11. Axl Rose
  12. Paul Stanley
  13. Jon Bon Jovi
  14. Liam Gallagher*
  15. Iggy Pop

SoCurrent

  1. Freddie Mercury
  2. Mick Jagger
  3. Robert Plant
  4. Steven Tyler
  5. Roger Daltrey
  6. Jim Morrison
  7. Percy Farrell*
  8. Bono
  9. Ann Wilson
  10. Chris Robinson*

Billboard

  1. Bruce Springsteen
  2. Freddie Mercury
  3. Jimi Hendrix
  4. Elvis Presley
  5. Janis Joplin
  6. Paul McCartney
  7. Mick Jagger
  8. Chuck Berry
  9. David Bowie
  10. Patti Smith
  11. Kurt Cobain
  12. Stevie Nicks – finally!
  13. Jim Morrison
  14. Joni Mitchell
  15. Robert Plant
  16. Ozzy Osbourne
  17. Axl Rose
  18. Bob Dylan
  19. Bono
  20. Debbie Harry
  21. Laura Jane Grace*
  22. Joe Strummer
  23. Kathleen Hanna*
  24. Steven Tyler
  25. Jon Bob Jovi

Rolling Stone

  1. Robert Plant
  2. Freddie Mercury
  3. Bono
  4. Mick Jagger
  5. Jim Morrison
  6. Roger Daltrey
  7. Eddie Vedder
  8. John Lennon
  9. Chris Cornell*
  10. Kurt Cobain

Here are the three artists with the most top-five votes (out of six possible votes):

  • Freddie Mercury (6)
  • Robert Plant (5)
  • Mick Jagger (5)

Those three also happen to be the only three artists mentioned on all six lists that I included. How Roger Daltrey got left off the biggest list of 25 artists compiled by Billboard is beyond me.

I also could think of two artists missing from the lists that I might have included:

  • John Fogerty
  • Brandon Flowers

Needless to say, such lists are always debatable, and I have to admit that I did not vet the lists I included. They were simply on the first page of results from Duck Duck Go.

And as promised, here are a couple of songs featuring Stevie Nicks.

The first one is probably my favorite Fleetwood Mac song, and this 8-minute performance just gives me goosebumps:

Here’s the song that got me thinking about Stevie Nicks as one of the best, if not the best, frontman for a band. I heard it on the radio a couple of weeks ago, and then I went home and watched the video. This video was recorded 20 years after the album it was on was first released. Wow…

And one more from the old days. This is how I always picture Stevie, with those flowing sleeves:

50 thoughts on “Music Monday: A Compilation of the Best Frontmen/Lead Singers of All Time

      1. I just watched a Hendrix documentary with my aunt which was amazing!

        But they’re (glaringly) missing at least:
        Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5
        Smokey Robinson and the Miracles (the first successful act for Barry Gordy)
        Diana Ross and the Supremes
        Ben E. King and the Drifters
        Gladys Knight and the Pips
        That’s just off the top of my head. It’s glaringly obvious if you pay attention to music, and I’m surprised that none of the lists realized how the failed to mention an entire part of music history…

        Liked by 2 people

      1. Wait a second, I’m mistaken. He actually fronted the band, Oasis. The guy who wore suspenders was Robin Williams, and the guy who smashed watermelons was a comedian named Gallagher.

        Liked by 4 people

        1. Gallagher was a pretty funny comedian without the smashing of watermelons though that became his schtick. I saw him perform once in Vegas.

          Liked by 2 people

            1. No, I’m too much of a cheapskate for spending money on those tickets. It is pretty bizarre when you think about it. Paying money to get splatted by watermelons. People would come armed with plastic coverings to avoid getting hit.

              Liked by 2 people

      1. People of color have performed for a variety of labels in addition to Motown I assume. One who I don’t think made any of these lists is Prince and he even falls in the same genre as the others on the lists.

        Like

  1. I know a couple of your asterisk-marked names. Bon Scott was from AC/DC, and James Alan Hetfield is from Metallica, and Bruce Dickinson was from Iron Maiden. Those are all heavy metal bands. I’m betting that’s not your preferred genre, so you’re excused for not knowing them.😊

    I am betting you’ve seen this classic Saturday Night Live skit where Christopher Walken played Bruce Dickinson in the famous “More Cowbell” sketch. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVsQLlk-T0s

    Liked by 3 people

  2. That is the thing with lists. There is always someone we think should have made the list, or someone we think doesn’t belong. For me the top ones would be performers like Steven Tyler and Freddie Mercury, because I cannot imagine the music without them. Great post, Jim!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. The lists are interesting with a few of my favourites up front. There were a couple I know that you didn’t and vice versa. But you know, you just can’t trust favourites list. I looked up the highest earning artists a few weeks ago and it was interesting to see different names come up in different articles.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Very much a rock music list, which probably explains the lack of Motown and other pop acts. I’m surprised Bowie only got one mention and there are, for me, some notable omissions. Bryan Ferry, Neil Young, Ann Wilson of Heart, Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull spring to mind. I could fill in most of the asterisked ones but there a couple I’ve never heard of amongst them. Hardly a recommendation for them as being influential, in my view. But I would say that, wouldn’t I!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I think the lists were mostly compiled by people based in the US, who knew of some of the big names from elsewhere but not others who merited inclusion. That probably explains the names which are obscure to me, ie they front bands which aren’t well known here.

        Like

  5. Ahhh Oasis..I could say you haven’t missed anything but I may be biased as my son is a big fan and as a teenager my house rang with the sound of Oasis…Just for you their greatest hits and you can decide Jim or not x

    Liked by 1 person

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