Eric’s All Time Favorite Vocalists / Frontmen
Being both a huge fan of music and a drummer, it is quite often that I get asked the question “Who is your favorite drummer of all time?” The answer to that question is quite easy…….ME! In all seriousness, the answer is quite hard.
I typically am more critical of whomever is pounding the skins than the rest of the members of a band. It seems like it should be easy for me to come up with an answer but it is not. So for the time being I will think about drummers a bit more and instead answer over the next few months, who are my favorite lead vocalists, guitarists, and bassists. This month lets start with the guy in the band that gets the most attention anyway….the frontman. Here are my top 5 lead vocalists / frontmen of all time!
#5 Chris Robinson
As you will see as you make your way through my list, you will see a recurring theme in my favorite singers. Skinny, white boys with soulful raspy voices. Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes has learned quite a few lessons from each of them and has stood right up there with the rest of them as a true rockstar. With a career going back 20 years now, he has mastered the art of being able to lead his band through lenghthy sets of music that cover a wide range of feel. Bluesy boozy ballads, soulful funk rock, folky roots rock, to straight up kick you in the gut rock & roll. He does it all.
Through the years I have seen Chris Robinson either with the Black Crowes, his solo band New Earth Mud, or as a special guest singer with other acts at least 50 times and I never walk away dissappointed. His on stage presence is very animated and makes him almost as much fun to watch as he is to listen to.
Career vocal highlights for me include “No Speak No Slave” & “My Morning Song” from Southern Harmony & Musical Companion, “Cursed Diamond” & “Ballad in Urgency” from Amorica and “Girl From a Pawnshop” from Three Snakes and One Charm.
The Black Crowes will be making a two night stand at the Tabernacle here in Atlanta on November 19th & 20th as part of what could be their farewell tour, having announced an indefinite hiatus at the end of this year. Put it on your calendar and I can assure you that you will see me there.
#4 Steve Marriott
Here’s one is with I would have been turned on to earlier in my life. Steve Marriott was the voice of the Small Faces and then went on to form Humble Pie with Peter Frampton, which is probably one of the most underrated rock & roll bands of all time.
If you have heard Steve sing Humble Pie’s “30 Days in The Hole”, and have never seen what he looks like, you are probably shocked at his picture here. He sounds more like Aretha Franklin than the scrawny kid you see here.
Steve is long gone, so I will never have the pleasure to get to see him perform live, but Humble Pie gets plenty of playing time on my system at home. My advice to you if you don’t know Steve & the Pie is to immediatly go buy these albums. “Smokin”, and “Performance – Rockin the Fillmore”. These two discs will showcase what Marriott can do in both the studio and live.
#3 Robert Plant
Robert Plant is the voice of Led Zeppelin, the band that created the blueprint for hard rock and heavy metal. I still clearly remember the day that my father placed Led Zeppelin III on the turntable at our house, and changed the way that I would listen to music the rest of my life. The power of Robert Plants vocal on “Immigrant Song” was just incredible.
Listening back now to Zeppelin’s early albums, it is amazing to think about what it would have been like to hear that music for the first time in the late 60′s. They took the British trend of white boys playing American black man’s blues, and put their own spin on it creating a heavy, dark, and mysterious blues rock sound like no other. (listening to Dazed and Confused now)
After Zeppelin, Robert Plant enjoyed a very successful solo career, joined Zep guitarist Jimmy Page for project and here recently has teamed up with blugrass superstar Allison Krauss. The album “Raising Sand” with Krauss earned the two of them a total of 5 Grammy awards.
I am still hopeful that Robert Plant will warm up to the idea of a full on Led Zeppelin reunion tour, as both Jimmy Page & John Paul Jones seem up for the task. It would be the concert of a lifetime for sure.
#2 Mick Jagger
With swagger and stage presence like no other, Mick Jagger has kept the Rolling Stones at the top of their game for well over 40 years.
There is heavy blues in Mick’s vocals, as he and the rest of the Stones were influenced early by legandary American blues artists like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Little Richard. The Rolling Stones were actually rhythm & blues cover band in the beginning, but as they got to the late 60′s and into the 70′s, the band and Mick’s vocals developed a unique personality of their own. Somehow, Mick even makes singing in a falsetto pitch sound cool.
To hear Mick at his finest, be sure to pick up the soon to be re-released “Exile on Mainstreet”. The Stones classic will be available with 10 never before heard tunes! The collectors edition will include CD, LP set, and DVD.
#1 Rod Stewart
Although the latter part of his career has been a string of releases of old crooner cover tunes, it’s the early days of Rod’s career that has earned his the top spot in my list. Just as I love a crunchy sound of a guitar, his gritty, raspy, just smoked 3 packs of cigarettes sound has got me hooked.
Any fans of early Jeff Beck Group albums will certainly know what I’m talking about. Rod was just a young lad back then but sang with power and conviction, and had some fantastic talent backing him up. Beck on guitar, Ronnie Wood on bass, Nicky Hopkins on piano and Micky Waller on drums. To hear this classic lineup, check out the albums “Truth”, and” Beck-Ola”.
It was his days being the frontman for the Faces though that initially got me hooked on Rod. The Faces had everything I would ever want in a band of my own. They had the sound, the look, the attitude, and of course knew how to party and have a good time. Having left the Jeff Beck Group with Ronnie Wood to team up with the remaining members of the Small Faces, which Steve Marriott just left to form Humble Pie, the Faces left an impact on rock and roll that would inspire such acts as the Black Crowes, Guns & Roses and Lenny Kravitz to name a few.
Unfortunately their time as a band was too short lived, as Rod’s solo career took off and the Faces became more of a backing band for him. With Ronnie Woods departure to join the Rolling Stones fulltime, the Faces were done.
Rod’s early solo recordings still have that same feel that I loved from the Jeff Beck Group and the Faces. His albums “Every Picture Tells a Story” and “Gasoline Alley” are my favorites.
Hope you enjoyed this list, now GO SPIN SOME TUNES!