We all know about the best rock singers of all time. The ones who other rock singers idolize. The staples who make it onto every list that’s ever published on the subject. The Robert Plants. The Freddie Mercurys. The Mick Jaggers. But what about all the other amazing singers that came through once The Beatles knocked down the doors for classic rock ’n’ roll? Surely there are others that slip through the cracks and get overlooked on these lists? What are they, chopped liver? Far from it, and it’s time that we give these singers their due (so everyone can stop referring to them as “the singer from ____”).
Sure, they’re not all flashy frontmen and perhaps not all of them have 40-octave ranges. But from Geddy Lee to Robin Zander to Jack Bruce, they each have a distinct, unconventional and memorable vocal tone that sets them apart from their peers. Here’s a list of the 10 Most Underrated Classic Rock Singers who we refuse to let history forget. Let the wailing commence.
10. Geddy Lee
Love or hate it, the prog rock frontman’s high, piercing voice is part of what makes Rush a legendary group. The bassist/singer’s voice often gets overlooked due to the tightness of the band as a whole, but it’s hard to imagine anyone else belting out classic cuts like “Tom Sawyer,” “Fly by Night” or “2112.”
9. Jeff Lynne
Perhaps because of his multitude of talents (including composing, producing and arranging), his voice often gets overshadowed. But the singer has great versatility and range, as can be heard on ELO hits like “Evil Woman”, “Livin’ Thing” and “Mr. Blue Sky.”
8. Robin Zander
The Cheap Trick singer has range, style and attitude as can be heard on hits like “Surrender” and “I Want You To Want Me”, but Zander is not often mentioned as one of the top rock vocalists as he deserves to be.
7. Phil Mogg
Though UFO has gone through many lineup changes over the years, the voice of Phil Mogg has remained a consistent and powerful force for the hard rock/metal band, as heard on cuts like “Mother Mary” and “Space Child.”
6. Burton Cummings
From tracks like “These Eyes” to “American Woman” to “Hang On To Your Life,” the former The Guess Who frontman showed incredible vocal range and versatility, going from softer and gentler to edgier and grittier rock tones sometimes within a single song.
5. Glenn Hughes
Part of the Mark III and IV line-ups of Deep Purple’s history, Glenn lent his lead vocal talent to classic tracks like Stormbringer’s “Holy Man” as well as to the tracks on the supergroup Black Country Communion’s catalogue.
4. James Dewar
Widely-regarded as one of the most underrated rock vocalists, the late singer for The Robin Trower Band had a rich, soulful and resonating voice as can be heard on tracks like “Bridge of Sighs.”
3. Jack Bruce
The vocalist for the legendary 60s blues-psych power trio often gets overlooked for his vocals, possibly due to his tremendous bass playing ability. However, his unique and commanding vocal tone was an enormous part of the Cream sound – as can be heard on classic tracks like “White Room” and “Sunshine of your Love.”
2. Steve Walsh
The Kansas frontman is rarely mentioned among the greatest rock vocalists, though he has a very distinct voice and incredible range and control. Perhaps it’s due to the heavy-handed, earnest nature of some of the band’s biggest songs – but if we’re going with pure vocal ability, few come close to the singer in the versatility department as heard on hits from “Carry On Wayward Son” to “Dust in the Wind.”
1. Brad Delp
As massive as the band’s hits are, few people mention the former Boston frontman when compiling lists of the greatest rock vocalists. It’s a shame too, as he displays incredible range, control and power on classic songs like “More Than A Feeling,” “Peace of Mind” and “Foreplay/Long Time.”
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