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Classic Rock in search of the Voice Of Rock

Terry Bezer writes in the Classic Rock Magazine blog:

Classic Rock needs your help in selecting rock’s greatest singers and best-loved voices.

Britain’s best rock magazine is putting together a list of the singers that changed our lives: the belters, the screamers, the warblers, shriekers, and crooners that helped define the music we know and love, be it prog or punk, metal or melodic rock, grunge, garage rock or plain old rawk.

Who are the singers you love? Who are the greatest at delivering live – and who are the most disappointing? Who has the greatest range, the most unique voice – who delivered rock’s greatest vocal performances and what are they?

Leave your comments below – the best may be used in the magazine and the top 5 best comments (as chosen by the magazine team) will receive a Classic Rock goody bag.

You all know what to do. If interested, leave comments in their blog. I doubt they read ours.

Thanks to Dave Hodgkinson for the info.

67 Comments to “Classic Rock in search of the Voice Of Rock”:

  1. 1
    Knut L says:

    Ian Gillan has the classic voice of rock. I bought DP in rock in 1970, since then i have been a great fan of Purple.

  2. 2
    juraj says:

    …there is plenty of singers,they unique and famouse.There is a “secret” lady singer called Jana Uriel Kratochvilova and she has a special place in my heart.Her voice range is huge,she is mysterious and to see her preforming live is unforgetible…..I vote for her.

  3. 3
    George says:

    Actually, we’ve got Ian Gillan for 3 nomination:

    1. The Best Screamer: Ian Gillan (for his outstanding scream in Made In Japan, at the end of Strange Kinf Of Woman, and of course for his unbeatable screams in Child In Time & Fighting Man)

    2. The Highest Vocal range: Ian Gillan – I’v seen Gillan/Plant/Mercury-s vocal ranges drown on the piano, and Gillan had the greatest vocal range among this GREAT TRIUMVIRAT.

    3. The Best Rock Vocal Performance: Child In Time by Ian Gillan. THERE ARE NO OTHER VOCALISTS WHO CAN DO WHAT GILLAN DID DURING CHILD IN TIME.

    Also, the man himself has sung in many other genres: Rock, Metal, Blues, Jazz, Country/folk…

    The man covered even Ray Charles, sang on Jesus Christ superstar and screamed out the whole world in the 70’s and 80’s… so let him be #1.
    Ian Gillan deserves it.

  4. 4
    Ted The Mechanic says:

    Here we go again. First it’s banjo players, now screamers. Subjective opinions, ’tis all. Blah blah blah, blah blah…..

    It’s blogs like these that make me close my eyes and feel like screaming……




  5. 5
    Crimson Ghost says:

    Jana Uriel? My goodness you’ve got to be kidding… that’s some of the most bizarre singing I’ve ever heard, downright scary.

  6. 6
    Stefan says:

    It´s a no brainer really……I´ve seen and heard them all….and the answer is Glenn Hughes!ROCK ON!

  7. 7
    Roberto says:

    The voice of rock:Gleeeeeeen Huuuuuuuughes!!!!!!

  8. 8
    Roberto says:

    I said glenn hughes beacause his surname is “the voice rock”, but if I have to vote the best singer I go for Ian Gillan
    he can reach the note D6(higher than anyone in rock and metal).but he is not the greatest only due his vocal range…

  9. 9
    Sami says:

    Stupid & unnecessary competitions again, but my top 3

    is Dio, Glenn Hughes & Gillan. RJD for No. 1, because

    he has stubbornly stuck to his niche(in a good way), plus

    his vocal delivery has yet to let anybody down…he’s

    nailing it night after night in such unbelievable

    fashion that should be impossible at his age!!

    It’s time to kill the dragon again folks, cheers

  10. 10
    Bo says:

    All of the singers in “our family” could be the greatest, BUT Ian Gillan is special. I have seen him since 1971 and he is still THE singer to me.
    Ronnie James Dio is for sure also a name to remener, but it has to be Ian.

  11. 11
    AndreA says:

    Well said Bo,
    Gillan is Special,Dio is Great.

    nothing more to say..

  12. 12
    clay says:

    I’d have to say one of the best is the guy that DP wanted after Gillan left…Paul Rodgers!!

  13. 13
    joe says:

    Yes, there are a lot of great singers and voices in Rock… Ian G. is very, very special to me and many others. I think, if you take a look at the lyrics too, there is only one man at the top ! IG ! cheers

  14. 14
    Roberto says:

    I will never understand how Paul Rodgers can be so considered…
    No wide vocal range, not great show man, not wonderful voice, not great composer…
    to me he is just a good singer that can be on the top 100 but surely not in the top 5…

    in the top 5 can’t miss Gillan, Coverdale, Dio, Mercury…

  15. 15
    Tracy Heyder aka Zero the Hero says:

    Dean Martin, Ian Gillan, Me….

    there you have it….My top 3. Not necessarily in that order.


  16. 16
    james jay says:

    all DP and R-bow vocalists….and yes that includes JLT.

  17. 17
    Sami says:

    Was only kidding earlier, my choice will definitely be The Satanic Bavarian Gangsta-Yodels!! Burp…

  18. 18
    davedp says:

    Gillan, Rodgers, Dio.
    The three greatest rock singers ever
    and still on top of the game.

  19. 19
    Roberto says:

    Rodgers above Mercury and Coverdale? do you really think this???

  20. 20
    davedp says:

    sure do Roberto.
    check out rodgers work all down the years.
    Free,Bad Co.,The Firm,The Law plus his solo
    career and now with Queen.

  21. 21
    Stefan says:

    Past performances or present performances?? Yes, Gillan once was top notch, today…..He´s doing OK but that´s it! The same goes for DC….barely….Dio? Still great!

    Objectively one can´t deny, Glenn Hughes is the only one in the Purple family, who actually progressed and not only maintained his vocal range and depth….despite his age!

    So if we stick to the present….the answer is obvious! ROCK ON!

  22. 22
    stoffer says:

    Right On Tracy #15…Dean Martin is awesome, drink in one hand smoke in the other and surronded by beautiful women…Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime….lol

  23. 23
    marco polo says:

    best singer ever easily steve walsh kansas, listen to his range power and depth on leftoverture/point of no return and masque..followed by dio and gillan

  24. 24
    Conny says:

    Let’s not forget Mr Dan McCafferty from Nazareth.The most underrated rocksinger there is.
    IMHO of course…

  25. 25
    elprupdeep says:

    Ian of course simply because he did his best since 40 years to entertain his fans. hopefully he will be at last recognise even if all that nomination masquerade is not for us (IAN and all the DP FANS).LONG LIVE DP.Cheers.

  26. 26
    AndreA says:

    perhaps today I’ll meet Mr.Universe on a radioFM studio here in Milano.
    He was invited to present his new solo work!
    olèeee carrramba!
    come ooooonnn!!!

  27. 27
    AndreA says:

    perhaps today I’ll meet Mr.Universe on a radioFM studio here in Milano.
    He was invited to present his new solo work!
    olèeee carrramba!
    come ooooonnn!!!

  28. 28
    Rascal says:

    Their can only be one………………

    #Now everybody’s got a crazy notion of their own. Some like to mix up with a crowd, some like to be alone. It’s no one elses’ business as far as I can see, but every time that I go out the people stare at me, with me little ukulele in me hand.#

  29. 29
    Roberto says:

    Free and Bad Comopany are nothing special.
    not original music. the songs are always mid tempo…I find them uninteresting and boring…
    Firm, I don’t even consider them…
    Queen…shame on them…
    definitely the most overrated singer of the story…

  30. 30
    Roberto says:


  31. 31
    davedp says:

    shame on you for your tunnel vision.
    Glenn Hughes HAS A CHOIR BOYS voice
    and not a rock voice.
    Gillan,Rodgers and Dio have rock voices
    with loads of power and depth and there
    are a lot more singers better than GH.

  32. 32
    Roberto says:


    I hope for you you are joking…

  33. 33
    Tracy Heyder aka Zero the Hero says:

    The thing about singers is…..They are all great in their own skin. If you can carry a tune and are able to make a name for yourself with YOUR VOICE, then you are recognized for YOUR VOICE and it YOURS. Then, if you are in a band, that is the sound associated with that band. It is your comfort zone and you don’t have to sing like anyone else. There are some folks who can sing a much broader range and emulate many different singers. That is a TRUE talent all by itself, and much more intricate. Those that are lucky enough to land in a band and sing songs in their own range, without having to stuggle and emulate a range outside their own are very lucky and are able to pave their own way. Like Barbara Streisand. She has an incredible voice……IT’S HERS. It isn’t a talent. She was born with it. Now, let’s see her sing a Janice Joplin tune……NOT. Or one of my favorite singers, Alice Cooper. He has a fair voice, but it fits his know character and therefor, for what he sings, it is PERFECT.

    I have to agree to a certain degree on the Hughes/Wonder statement. Glenn’s soul/funk addiction probably came from his voice being more adept to that style. Yes, given the right song and effort, he can pull off some good hard rock. But he keeps going back to his comfort zone……Funk/soul….it’s more natural for him. I’m not saying that he hasn’t recorded some great hard rock tunes…(My favorite is the Black Sabbath Seventh Star record), it just isn’t really his gig. He does what he has to.

    You either like how a singer sings or not…..That doesn’t mean he or she isn’t a good singer, they either sing the way you like or not..


  34. 34
    davedp says:

    Take note ,Roberto of Tracy Heyder, No 33, theres a bit
    of sense for you.

  35. 35
    Jeffs says:

    This of course relates to Classic rock voices, which in itself puts limitations on the choice of vocalists. As we all know, Purple has featured at least 3 of the greatest “Classic rock” voices. One however helped define the genre and still has the flexibility, intelligence, range, power and sensitivity to sing outside of the “Classic rock” limitation. Ian Gillan is my choice…

  36. 36
    Rascal says:

    Dolly Parton does it for me…………

    Scientists now believe that the primary biological function of breasts is to make males stupid…………..

  37. 37
    Roberto says:

    what Trecy said doesn’t concern the meaning of my reply on what you said…

  38. 38
    SteveC says:

    To all you people who have dismissed the great Glenn Hughes, to quote Paul Rodgers when asked to join DP, ‘You already have the best voice with GH, what do you need me for?’ My top 3 are Glenn Hughes, Roger Daltrey(The Who) & David Coverdale with Mr.Gillan a very close 4th……..

  39. 39
    AndreA says:

    Tracy Heyder aka Zero the Hero #33

    me too!
    my favourite GH performing is on THE 7th STAR!!!

  40. 40
    AndreA says:

    ..but also on John Norum’s FACE THE TRUTH (1992)
    very cool.

  41. 41
    Dino says:

    At number five, I would place U2’s Bono. At four, Journey’s Steve Perry. At three, Free’s and Bad Company’s Paul Rodgers. At number two, someone who, quite surprisingly, has yet to be mentioned: Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant.

    And at number one, without a doubt, Ian Gillan.

    Perry and Bono are not pure rock and roll singers, but they do make rock music and they do have extraordinary voices. All of the top three are classic, quintessential rock vocalists. Rodgers is the only one whose voice has yet to feel the limitations of age (as is the case with Ronnie James Dio). Plant was spectacular in his own right, but what makes Ian a cut above the rest is his range, his style, his incomparable scream, and the wonderful tone of his voice.

  42. 42
    purplepriest1965 says:

    I LOVE Paul Rodgers AND QUEEN both seperately but really disapprove their current affair

  43. 43
    davedp says:

    Having watched 2 live dvds and listened to their new cd
    I think Queen and Paul Rodgers aer very good. They will never be Queen but they are not trying to be.Neither will they be Free or Bad Co. They play all 3 bands music
    and their new stuff and do make very good job of it.
    Brian May, Roger Taylor and Paul Rodgers took a hugh gamble with this project and a lot of people are glad they did. Its all for the music. Long live ROCK N ROLL.

  44. 44
    Rascal says:

    Unfortunately Queen can only be Queen with Freddie………sad but true….

    A contender or a pretender?

  45. 45
    Rascal says:

    Unfortunately Queen can only be Queen with Freddie………sad but true….

    A contender or a pretender?

  46. 46
    Rascal says:

    Unfortunately Queen can only be Queen with Freddie………sad but true….

    A contender or a pretender?

  47. 47
    deep lavender says:

    Is Graham Bonnet still singing? I liked his work during his short stint with Rainbow.

  48. 48
    AndreA says:


    I have never been fan of Queen Band,it is true that I appreciate something of them during his career with Freddy M. but i have to say that if i don’t like P.Rodgers and Queen together,I liked to see and to listen George Micheal with the Band on Stage at Wembley Stadium of London many years ago..

    George Micheal was great that day.


  49. 49
    Roberto says:

    they are trying to be…in fact they use the name Queen…they are ridiculos and Rodgers is so overrated…
    Bono is horrible…

  50. 50
    purplepriest1965 says:

    Rodgers cant be overrated and that same counts for GRAHAM BONNET.


    Where have you been? In a cave?

    He made lots of great records and still owns a mighty voice.
    He fronts an new line up of ALCATRAZZ nowadays and is guestsinging all over the place for others as well.

  51. 51
    davedp says:

    Roberto aka broken record

  52. 52
    HINH says:

    No disrespect to Gillan, Ozzy and Plant – But the greatest singers are David Coverdale, Glenn Hughes, Dio and Tony Martin

  53. 53
    Roberto says:

    play drums and has over 1200 records…
    about Queen and paul rodgers I found only 2 or 3 good review for what they are doing…

  54. 54
    Annemie says:

    Mercury, Gillan, Dio, Coverdale …
    For me it matters also how they adapt and use their voices expressing the moods….I mean how much soul of them can move me…
    For blues Coverdale is top for me…
    Gillan possess the art laying all his power and emotion in a great diversity…his vocal range, his power and improvisation, his thin voice….
    I alway think while listening to Dio how much breath he has and how a perfect reliable performer he is…
    Mercury just makes me full of emotion and is so impressive…for me more disciplined in performing as Gillan…
    I love them all…with a warm heart and respect! 🙂

  55. 55
    james jay says:

    #47 right on—good raw singer. loved the Down to Earth album.

  56. 56
    Al Cornish says:

    The voice of classic rock is Zibignew Coskochekowitz….of “Johnnie Turd and the Boneheads.”

  57. 57
    Kramo says:

    Ian Gillan- Jimmy Dewar- Paul McCartney

  58. 58
    Tracy Heyder aka Zero the Hero says:

    Roberto #37….It had every meaning based on what I responded to….I only responded to what you wrote. What you write though, is not what I believe you are trying to say…..English is probably not your best language, and a lot get’s lost in the translation. It isn’t your fault, just a handicap……If you wouldn’t be so redundant in your position, it would be of great help to your points.


  59. 59
    tono toraja( indonesia) says:

    so must elvis, ian gillan, plant, mercury, coverdale and,,, rodges i thing we mus thing againg i don’t know how way until rolling stone magazine choose rodgers one of the best singers in the world

  60. 60
    deep lavender says:

    Kramo #57: Thanks for mentioning Dewar. A very smooth singer.
    Also Derek St. Holmes.

  61. 61
    dpprpl says:

    Tom Jones
    Anderson, Anderson and Lee (if only because of the great music of their bands and that they are unique -also they are acquired tastes)
    CANDICE NIGHT, she’s hot and that makes 5 among the great voices discovered and promoted by the greatest patron of singers in rock: Ritchie Blackmore (haha, I managed to get the bugger in this blog), ah and make that 7 if you count Bonnett and Turner, 8 for those who like Doogie.


  62. 62
    Conny says:

    Just to get the last word:)

    All hail Dan McCafferty!!!!

    I cannot believe nobody but me mentions him in this thread.

  63. 63
    Ouwe kakker says:

    I think that Ian Gillan was great singer about 40 years ago. Hi was ever the best guy in the rock and roll. Butt…I wil newer understand why is he going to scream and only scream. I think than nowadays he dont have a vocal ability at all. He is dead but still he refuses to go to pension.

  64. 64
    Jeff Summers says:

    If you are talking about Influence, range, power, subtlety, phrasing, individuality, tone and inspiration, it has to be the young Gillan 1969 – 1973.

  65. 65
    Jeff Summers says:

    @ Roberto. without Rodgers you would have no Coverdale or Hughes. He was a huge inspiration to both and the first blue eyed soul, rock singer along with Steve Marriot. The three most important singers in Rock are the ones who founded the styles and inspired a generation Gillan. Plant and Rodgers. Love them or hate them, your favourite rock singer outside of them was definitely inspired by them 🙂

  66. 66
    purrfect stranger says:

    I have been singing Hard Rock and Blues Vocals since 1970. The top vocalists in order are Gillan for the entire catalog of his work, Purple, Sabbath and his incredible solo work. Second, Edgar Winter the guy wipes the floor with just about everybody hands down. His range and skill are unbelievable. For everyone that forgot about Little Richard, there is another musician that has been overlooked for years. The Beatles knew how good he was. His phrasings are all over their earlier albums. I would put Dio next. The man did so much for hard rock and his loss was a tragedy. I got to put Elvis next. Without him Rock would be a shadow of what it is today. He influenced everybody. Next I would put Jim Morrison although he died young his songs are still everywhere, his abilities were rare and the sensuality he put INTO his songs are second to none. Steven Tyler should be next he kicks ass all over the place. Another under rated guy is DLR he deserves to be in the top ten, he had incredible range at one time just like Gillan and because of Dave, Van Halen is without question one of the top ten groups EVER. Jagger, McCartney, Klaus Meine, Steve Perry, and Lennon are also close to the top. I like Plant in the studio but his live performances are somewhat weak. Bruce Dickinson, Vince Neill and Jeff Scott Soto are all lurking nearby as well. That fellow from Judas Priest Rob Halford is easily in the top fifteen as well.

  67. 67
    SteveM says:

    Top 3 are Gillan, Dio and Mercury. I put Gillan as #1. If not for anything else, as a forty year listener, a lot of my best memories have a DP song associated with them. Dio was a much different singer so it’s hard to compare his work to that of Gillan’s. Sorry, Robert Plant, but I put a lot of your singing in the gimmick category – along with that of Rush and AC/DC. Not that is not good, but it’s not pure.

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