Many people’s perceptions of Rock & Roll music vary. From R&B and gospel to Folk music and Country and western, the genre’s initial origins spread out to embrace a wide range of subgenres. Rock music has given rise to a plethora of different sub-genres as it has developed, including Grunge, Heavy Metal, Punk Rock, Folk Rock, and Punk Rock, to mention a few.
As a result, a Rock song may be anything from a power ballad to an angry outburst, a thought-provoking discourse to a joyful tune you just can’t help dancing to. You’d think it could be difficult to identify what makes a great Rock singer since there isn’t one single definition of Rock & Roll. Beautiful vocals and the ability to roar out a tune have their place in most musical genres, but it takes more to be regarded as a genuinely outstanding Rock vocalist.
The message that great Rock vocalists convey to their audience helps them relate to the music. These singers’ impact on hearts and minds and the sometimes long-lasting imprint they leave are more important than the notes they sing. Therefore we present to you twenty of the greatest Rock & Roll singers of all-time highlighted in the list below in no particular order.
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20. Ozzy Osbourne
Ozzy Osbourne established himself as heavy metal’s Prince of Darkness early on as the lead singer of the genre-defining Black Sabbath, and he has since demonstrated an unbreakable fortitude by continuing to have one of metal’s most potent voices for more than 50 years while also becoming a global multimedia sensation. Ozzy Osbourne rapidly started a solo career after leaving Sabbath in 1979, tearing through the 1980s in a firestorm of controversy and drug abuse while releasing some iconic albums like 1980’s Blizzard of Ozz and 1981’s Diary of a Madman.
19. Jon Bon Jovi
Frank Sinatra’s DNA allegedly runs in the Bon Jovi family, who hail from New Jersey. Shortly after earning a recording contract in 1983, he briefly joined the rock band Scandal before starting the band Bon Jovi. With “Slippery When Wet,” their 1986 album that peaked at number one and featured the anthems “You Give Love a Bad Name” and “Livin’ on a Prayer,” Bon Jovi had a huge breakthrough. Over 130 million records have been sold globally by Bon Jovi. The single “Blaze of Glory” by Jon Bon Jovi, which peaked at number one on the American pop charts, demonstrated his solo success.
18. Steven Tyler
Steven Tyler, the lead singer for Aerosmith, lists seeing a Rolling Stones concert when he was 17 as one of his most formative experiences. In 1970, Aerosmith was founded. The group entered into a recording agreement with Columbia Records in 1972. In 1976, the group’s songs “Dream On” and “Walk This Way” both reached the Pop Top 10. Since then, thanks in large part to Steven Tyler’s shrill vocals and outlandish attire, Aerosmith has established itself as a classic rock band. Globally, the band has sold more than 150 million records.
17. Jim Morrison
Jim Morrison is one of the most renowned and significant figures in rock and roll history. He is the lead singer and lyricist for the Doors. Morrison’s lyrics are disturbing, image-rich poeticism that the Doors’ swirling, eclectic psychedelic rock perfectly supports. His love of theatrical shock techniques and nihilistic angst has also influenced countless imitators.
Morrison saw consciousness expansion as a way to reach the subconscious mind’s dark, unacknowledged urges, in contrast to other psychedelic artists who tended to emphasize whimsy or mysticism. Additionally, he was detained for indecent exposure and attempted to cause riots at a Doors concert. In March 1971, Jim Morrison passed away in Paris at the age of 27.
16. Roger Daltrey
The Who began in the middle of the 1960s, and Roger Daltrey quickly established himself as the group’s dynamic frontman. He lost some of his dominance as the band’s fame rose, sharing the limelight with guitarist and lyricist Pete Townshend. In addition to his vocal contributions to The Who, Daltrey also started an acting career and produced a number of solo albums, both of which were somewhat successful. Over 100 million records by The Who have been sold globally.
15. Kurt Cobain
Nirvana’s lead singer Kurt Cobain is remembered for being the pioneer of grunge rock, which originated in Seattle in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Cobain’s intensely emotive singing conveys the suffering and annoyance that pervaded much of his private life. 1994 saw his suicide death. Nirvana only put out three studio albums, yet they sold over 25 million copies in the United States, and in their first year as eligible, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
14. Stevie Nicks
No one anticipated the legacy that would soon take shape when Stevie Nicks and her lover Lindsey Buckingham joined the English blues-rock band Fleetwood Mac in 1975. Later on, Fleetwood Mac rose to prominence as one of the greatest pop acts ever. Stevie Nicks wrote and sang the song “Dreams,” which went on to become the group’s lone number one pop single. Stevie Nicks developed a more robust rock sound as a solo performer and found great success. Her songs “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” “Stand Back,” and “Edge of Seventeen” are regarded as rock classics, and six of her solo albums have charted in the top ten.
13. Neil Young
The late 1960s folk-rock scene was greatly influenced by Canadian singer-songwriter Neil Young, who was a member of the bands Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Later, he started carving out his own unique route with his own band, Crazy Horse, and an instantly recognizable high tenor singing voice. Both as a solo performer and as a member of Buffalo Springfield, Neil Young has been honored with induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
12. John Lennon
John Lennon’s solo career was the most intriguing and difficult of all the Beatles. Lennon was a gifted songwriter with a passion for straight-ahead rock & roll, as well as inspired, frank confessional lyrics. However, it was the extremes in his music and life that captivated people. Lennon experimented with everything from revolutionary politics to the early ’70s television talk show circuit, while Paul McCartney was content to be a rock star. In December 1980, Lennon was tragically shot and killed outside his New York apartment building just as his career was taking off. In addition to being a musician, he also made a significant impact as a writer, actor, and activist.
Paul David Hewson, aka Bono, is the lead singer for U2. More than 150 million records have been sold globally by U2 and they have received 22 Grammy Awards. Two of their number-one U.S. singles, “With Or Without You” and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” were taken from their iconic album “Joshua Tree,” released in 1987. Beyond his great career as the front-man of one of the most well-known rock bands in the world, Bono is a well-known philanthropist who occasionally utilizes his star power to support political causes.
10. Bob Dylan
The impact of Bob Dylan on contemporary music is immeasurable. In his work as a songwriter, he established the foundations for a number of distinct schools of pop composition, from the confessional singer/songwriter to the rambling, hallucinogenic, stream-of-consciousness tale.
As a vocalist, he disproved the idea that a singer needs to have a good voice in the traditional sense in order to perform, redefining the vocalist’s function in popular music. He inspired a number of pop music subgenres, including country-rock and electrified folk-rock. His accomplishments go much beyond that. The 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature was given to Bob Dylan, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
9. David Bowie
David Bowie, one of the most influential musicians of the rock and roll period, avoided simple classification throughout his career by posing as both the most approachable performer on the fringe and the artiest rocker in the mainstream. Bowie may have traded in ideas developed in the shadows, but in terms of rock and roll, he was never really an outcast. He tried to enter the Top 40 from the beginning of his career in the 1960s while performing British blues, mod rock & roll, and ornate pop until ultimately finding success as a hippy singer/songwriter.
8. Ann Wilson
Ann Wilson, a vocalist for the sister duet that makes up the arena rock veterans, Heart, performed on a number of the biggest rock radio songs of the 1970s and 1980s, including “Barracuda,” “Crazy on You,” “What About Love?” and “Alone.” They eventually rose to prominence as one of Canada’s greatest bands. Heart, whose albums have sold over 20 million copies, was honored by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2013. Wilson has worked with bands like Cheap Trick, Loverboy, and Alice in Chains in addition to Heart.
7. Axl Rose
Axl Rose’s rocky path to success started in Indiana, where his formative years weren’t the best. He was taken into custody more than 20 times and spent time behind bars. He relocated to Los Angeles in 1982 when he was 20 years old to pursue a career in music. In 1985, he participated in the formation of Guns N’ Roses, one of the greatest rock bands in history. “Appetite For Destruction,” their debut album, is the best-selling debut album of all time with more than 30 million copies sold worldwide. Axl Rose started singing lead for AC/DC in 2016 in addition to his work with Guns N’ Roses.
6. Bruce Springsteen
Many comment on Bruce Springsteen’s notably gruff voice as having an American rock tone. The experiences of the American working class are at the heart of his songs. More than 120 million recordings have been sold globally by Bruce Springsteen. He was honored by the Kennedy Center in 2009, and in 2016 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
5. Janis Joplin
Janis Joplin was not just one of the best rock singers of the 1960s, but she was also a fantastic blues singer who gave her material a unique voice with her wailing, raspy, and very emotional performance. She first became well-known as the lead singer of the San Francisco psychedelic band Big Brother & the Holding Company, but she quit the band in the late 1960s to pursue a fleeting (but financially lucrative) solo career.
4. Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney, the last remaining member of the Beatles, by far had the most successful solo career, consistently appearing in the British and American charts during the 1970s and ’80s. Over the course of his first twelve years as a solo artist, he had nine number-one singles and seven number-one albums in America alone, and his performance in his native United Kingdom was not far behind. When McCartney left the Beatles in 1970, it marked the beginning of his groundbreaking success.
3. Mick Jagger
Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones has always valued stage presence almost as much as his distinctive voice. Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards were childhood friends, and throughout the group’s formative years, American blues and rock and roll had a big influence on him. The Rolling Stones, who debuted in 1962, have been hailed as the “World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band” and have now performed live for more than 50 years. Nine of their albums have peaked at number one in the US charts.
2. Freddie Mercury
Freddie Mercury, who was born and reared in India and Zanzibar, rose to fame as the flamboyant front man of the rock band Queen. On timeless classics like “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Are the Champions,” and “Somebody To Love,” he sang lead vocals. In 2001, Queen was recognized into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Tragically, AIDS-related complications led to Freddie Mercury’s death in 1991.
1. Robert Plant
Robert Plant impersonated Elvis Presley when he was a child growing up in England by hiding behind curtains. After trying out in front of lead guitarist Jimmy Page, he joined the band Led Zeppelin in 1968. He was widely regarded as the best rock vocalist in the world in the 1970s. Certified album sales for Led Zeppelin are over 100 million. Robert Plant launched a successful solo career after the band disbanded in 1980.