This list has been updated several times, most recently in 2012. I’m the first to admit it still has flaws. Best-of-all-time lists notoriously focus on the rock era and not all time, so if you had a career prior to 1955, good luck making this list. Crooners like Bing Crosby and Perry Como are out of luck. Still, greats like Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, and Nat “King” Cole manage to fight their way onto a mostly rock-and-roll list. These lists also favor white men who fronted rock bands in the 1960s and ‘70s so kudos to Aretha Franklin, Hank Williams, Bob Marley, Patsy Cline, Howlin’ Wolf and others who are talents so massive they couldn’t be ignored. Anyway, here’s the list:
Queen’s Freddie Mercury, image from telegraph.co.uk
Even though the sources behind this list heavily favor white male singers who front rock bands, the list makers still showed “Respect” to Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul. Image from ugospel.com.
Hey, list makers! How about a little more love for The King of Rock and Roll? Many of the names on this list wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for him. Image from fanpop.com.
Howlin’ Wolf makes the list, but where’s all the other blues greats? Come on, list makers! Image from worldofarmonica.blogspot.com.
World music gets almost no love from the list makers, but at least Jamaican reggae star Bob Marley and Pakistan’s Qawwali singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan make the list. Image from aarkangel.wordpress.com.
Despite the shortcomings of lists such as these, don’t let that take away from rock gods like Robert Plant, Jim Morrison, and Mick Jagger who absolutely belong on this list. Image from thehelplessdancer.wordpress.com.
Resources and Related Links:
- DMDB Facebook post: “The Best Frontmen and Women of All Time” (13 May 2010).
This Facebook post presented the May 2010 list of “The Greatest Frontmen” as determined by Q magazine and then presented the DMDB’s version of the list. The Q list was also presented on the DMDB blog.
- DMDB Facebook post: The Best Frontmen and Women of All Time (7/2/11)
This top 100 list is an aggregate of 25 of the lists below.
- Amazon.com (7/17/03). The 20 Greatest Vocalists of All Time
A personal top-20 ranked list from tmabel1.
- AskMen.com (2007?). Top 10 Crooners All Time by Matthew Simpson
- Associated Content (7/24/09). Best Singers and Vocalists of All Time
List of 10 singers with commentary.
- BBC News (7/10/05). Zeppelin voted ‘ideal supergroup’
Roughly 3500 music fans were polled at Planet Rock Radio for best singer, guitarist, bassist, and drummer. The top 10 of each are listed.
- Destican.com (6/26/09). Top Ten: Best Female Singers of All Time
Unranked list with commentary.
- Entertainment Weekly (11/07). Rock’s All Time Best Frontmen and Women
Unranked list of 31 performers. Commentary on each.
- HolinessReeducation.com (7/12/06). Greatest Lead Singers in Rock History
This blog, by a pastor who identifies himself only as Greg, spotlights 15 singers who meet his criteria for stage presence, rock arrogance, a uniquely rock voice, staying power, and great band.
- Kerrang! (7/12). “20 Greatest Rock Stars Ever”
- Metro News (3/19/10). The Best Singers Ever – Part 1 (3/15/10) and The Best Singers Ever – Part 2 by Mike Benhaim.
An unranked list, with commentary, of singers as determined by vocal skill and unique vocal style and performance.
- Mojo (10/98). 100 Greatest Singers of All Time
Ranked list put together by Mojo from a panel of 175 singers.
- Music Radar (12/7/10). The 30 greatest lead singers of all time
Ranked list with commentary. Determined by reader votes.
- MyMusicLists.com (2006?). Best Singer of All Time
Ranked list of 99 singers. No commentary other than comments from site visitors.
- New Musical Express (NME) (5/25/11). The greatest singers ever – as voted by you
Ranked top-20 list with commentary. Determined by reader votes.
- New Musical Express (NME) (3/10/12). Liam Gallagher voted greatest frontman of all time”
- NPR (3/8/11). 50 Great Voices
Unranked list with commentary. Weekly series with a focus on a different singer each week. Last post: 3/8/11.
- Q Magazine (4/07). 100 Greatest Singers
- Q Magazine (5/10). 100 Greatest Frontmen
Ranked list with commentary. Based on votes from readers (?).
- Ranker (4/8/11). Greatest vocalists of all time by Harold Dickinson
Top-20 ranked list. No commentary.
- Ranker (7/17/12). Best Rock Vocalists by rockboy
Ranked list which viewers can vote on. 92 singers listed as of 7/17/12.
- Rolling Stone (2008). 100 Greatest Singers of All Time
Reposted ranked list. Don’t know specifics of original.
- Rolling Stone (4/11). Rolling Stone Readers Pick the Best Lead Singers of All Time
Ranked top-ten list with commentary. Determined by reader votes.
- Piero Scaruffi (1999). Greatest Rock Female Singers of All Times
Personal list. 19 singers ranked followed by multiple unranked entries. No commentary.
- Piero Scaruffi (1999). Greatest Rock Male Singers of All Times
Personal list. 28 singers ranked followed by multiple unranked entries. No commentary.
- SurvivorSucks.com (5/11/10). The Top 30 Greatest Vocalists of All Time
Personal list. Ranked list. No commentary.
- Turkku.com (?). Top 25: Male Vocalists/Top 25: Female Vocalists
Two separate ranked lists featured in a sidebar. No commentary.
- Ugo.com (9/10/08). Best Singers of All Time by K. Thor Jensen.
A ranked list of the top 50 most influential singers of all time. Includes commentary.