Thanks for sharing which female vocalists you hold in highest regard back when.
Male vocalists today, please – King of Soul, Otis Redding’s birthday.
Of course, it goes without saying that there are too many to list, singing in different styles, their music often specific to a certain genre or two, making each artist incomparable. And this is a catch-all list of your favourites, not necessarily – but always quite welcome to turn into – a disagreement over who’s best.
The deliciously-contentious and never boring Rolling Stone carried out a Greatest Singers of All Time poll (with ‘from the rock era’ hidden in the small print) last year, and I partially agree with Neil McCormick’s view of it. Both links may help you remember someone you’ll want to kick yourself for forgetting and, if you do read McCormick’s piece, perhaps you’ll also find it interesting that the most loudly-hailed singers tend to almost always hail from the USA; as demonstrated not only by the Rolling Stone list but, I’d guess, probably yours, too.
David Crosby (there’s our first American, from California) and Graham Nash, who, with and without Messrs Stills (Stephen’s from Texas) and Young, have created some very pleasing harmonies. Similarly, anyone who’s seen the Eagles on tour in recent years (there are four Eagles these days, so that’s another shout-out to Texas and California, plus one each for Michigan and Ohio) has to acknowledge their incredible combined vocal range; Don Henley’s being particularly impressive.
I can temporarily balance things out with the introduction of Robert Plant, Roger Daltrey, Paul Rodgers, Rod Stewart, Joe Cocker and Steve Winwood, to give the most obvious examples of vocal prowess.
But then there’s Roy Orbison (Texas again), Nat King Cole (Alabama), Ray Charles (Georgia), Sam Cooke (Mississippi), Jackie Wilson (Michigan), James Brown (South Carolina… is that 12 Americans so far?), Axl Rose (although I personally prefer Blind Melon’s tragic Shannon Hoon, like Axl, from Indiana)…
I’ll stop now that I’ve chosen my 18 from the above, keeping slots for the two I have yet to mention, and emphatically dismissed the silly ‘rock era’ concept in the process – as I hope you will.
The Rolling Stone ballot papers had space for 20 names. Each voter (you can see who completed one here) listed 20 singers in order of their importance. Have a look at David Crosby’s and note the modesty of some of the others balloted.
A near-impossible task, ranking 20 singers in order of their importance, surely.
Although he’ll never win any awards for being the greatest singer, Bob Dylan (from Minnesota and very highly-placed, you’ll notice) sings arguably the greatest songs that have ever been written (instantly recognisable, mostly without adornment), and he wrote them so he believes them. That’s good enough for me. Case closed.
However, the one that stands head and shoulders above all others whenever there is even idle mention of singers of any period, sex or level of ability, is this man: Frank Sinatra (from New Jersey). They didn’t call him ‘The Voice’ for nothing. For me, he’s the Greatest Singer of All Time and my hat is off in respect to B.B. King for including Ol’ Blue Eyes on his ballot paper even when he shouldn’t have.
So, forgetting any mind-boggling order of preference, importance, significance or anything else, please could you share your favourite male vocalists – from any era or genre? As always, David’s a given, so you need not list him.
I’ve got to ask… All in all, has the USA produced the most talented crop of singers?
Otis Redding, by the way, was born in Georgia.