Tuesday, November 20, 2007

MY list of greatest front figures in rock

Not to be confused with the list presented in Anders' post from Dagbladet. Y'all probably won't agree with my list, and the bands represented here might not have sold as much as some of the candidates on that other list, but in terms of pure front figure charisma and influence on contemporary and subsequent artists, this is THE list according to me. Note that I have not included bands which are solely associated with the front figure (like Hendrix), and it's a list of front figures in rock, not pop (which means that Gwen Stefani shouldn't have been on the other one anyways, as ska ain't rock. Ditto Michael Jackson). Here we go - in stream-of-consciousness order:
  1. Steven Tyler (Aerosmith). There's no getting around Steven, who is one of the most charismatic frontmen ever. Like some of the others on this list, he has that elusive quality that makes him three-dimensional when you watch him on TV or whatever. Dude also has the ability to convey the content of whatever song he's doing.
  2. David Lee Roth (Van Halen). Nobody, but nobody is more charismatic and energetic on stage than Diamond Dave ca. 1984. The video to "Jump" is in my opinion one of the most impressive ever due to it solely focusing on Dave and the band on stage, and how easily they pull it off. With Roth, it's always just a question of pushing "Play". Plus; he's one of the best meta-talkers in the bidness.
  3. David Coverdale (Whitesnake, Deep Purple). Like the two previous on the list, David Coverdale has that quality which makes everything but him disappear from the screen. Plus that voice is so freakin' big...
  4. Mick Jagger (Stones). I think their music freakin' sucks, and that they'd never get a record deal if they rolled up with their out-of tune, three-chord songs in a period where the only two recording acts were themselves and The Beatles, but the Jagger strut and overall demeanor screams rock star.
  5. Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin). The archetypal heavy metal singer, and the blueprint for David Coverdale.
  6. Ronnie James Dio (Black Sabbath, Rainbow). Talk about big voice and presence from such a small dude. Also made it OK to combine D&D/horror lyrics with musical proficiency, unlike his predecessors.
  7. Jon Bon Jovi (Bon Jovi). THE flagbearer for stadium heavy metal in the 80's and 90's. There's no taking that away from them.
  8. Freddie Mercury (Queen). Talk about superstar persona with a flair for the dramatical.
  9. Bruce Springsteen (Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band). Working-class folk-rocker who made a successful transition to stadium rock. I actually wasn't sure about whether to include The Boss, as he has gotten equal success with several backing bands, but still..
  10. Rob Halford (Judas Priest). Besides being the voice and the design from the British metal masters, he actually came out as a homosexual while Priest were in their prime. In the very macho subculture of heavy metal, that takes great strength of character. MUCHO props.
  11. Joan Jett (The Runaways). One of the true pioneers of rock, regardless of gender.
  12. Doro Pesch (Warlock). Another true pioneer who managed to gain widespread credibility in the heavy metal culture way back in the mid-80's. She is an icon of heavy metal, although her solo project is the more well-known band.
  13. Joe Elliot (Def Leppard). Talk about being the lead singer of one of the most influential bands to ever hit the rock scene. Before DL, nobody took the time to lay down 48 rhytm guitar tracks to get a wall of sound. Plus they made it ok to include synth drums in rock. Whether that's a good thing is another discussion, but the influence remains.
  14. Ian Gillan (Deep Purple). No list of this sort is complete without Gillan. Period. Unless you discount the influence of Purple on the development of heavy rock and metal....
  15. Phil Lynott (Thin Lizzy). Together with Wishbone Ash, they pioneered the use of twin guitars in the 70's. Also one of the most cited influences of heavy metal musicians.
  16. Gene Simmons/Paul Stanley (KISS). Difficult to figure out which one of these is the front figure, but they still should get mentioned, as they are THE most influential band for extreme metal, and because they're the greediest bunch of people to hit the music scene in the history of mankind.
  17. Kurt Cobain (Nirvana). Absolutely hate his "music", but you can't deny the influence he had over a million Nirvana spawns.
  18. Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins). Same thing here - I loathe the music he has put out, but the influence is close to impossible to discount.
  19. James Hetfield (Metallica). Metallica was and still is one of the biggest bands ever. Plus, they managed to get to their status mostly via hard work and little to no reliance on MTV. before they sold out, that is.
  20. Nancy Wilson (Heart). This pioneering Seattle AOR band, fronted by the sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson, was consistently among the biggest bands in the world in the late 80's/early 90's. They even made the transition from being members of a flower-power band to fronting their own and negtiating a new record deal, which is awesome.
  21. Debbie Harry (Blondie). Mostly for pioneer reasons...
  22. Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden). The front man for the biggest NWOBHM band. Of freakin' course he has a place here.
  23. Anthony Kiedis (Red Hot Chili Peppers). Two words: Funk Rock
  24. Zach De La Rocha (Rage Against The Machine). Provided the template for nu-metal and most of the industrial rock. Sad but true.
  25. Bono (U2). Yeah, yeah. I guess........
  26. Noel Gallager (Oasis). Same thing - if you count Britpop as rock, that is...
  27. Axl Rose (Guns N' Roses). Also the biggest band on earth before Metallica overtook their momentum.
  28. Vince Neil (Mötley Crüe). Love'em or hate'm - you can't discount the influence MC and Neil has had on 80's hair bands.
  29. Shagrath (Dimmu Borgir). Because he managed to bring black metal to the Billboard list and actually make it ok to advertise for black metal on prime-time TV. That's an extreme accomplishments in and of itself, plus the fact that he has influenced way too many bm "singers".

People I would have loved to include but had to give way due to greater influence by other people: Roy Khan (Kamelot), Robert Smith (The Cure), Sammy Hagar (Van Halen). I'd also like to include Annie Lennox of Eurythmics, but I count Eurythmics as a pop band. So there.

Now to the reasons some of the people on dagbladet's list ain't there:

Michael Hutchence: INXS wouldn't have had lasting fame if the singer hadn't killed himself. I challenge you to point to two major bands that cite INXS as an influence.

Paul McCartney/John Lennon: Beatles never were rock.

Ozzy Osbourne (Black Sabbath): Never a good singer, and people would come to see him do some crazy $hit, not because he was a great frontman. More of a sideshow.

Michael Stipe (REM). Why would I include him?

Jim Morrison (The Doors). In what universe were they a rock band?

Iggy Pop (The Stooges). When dude tours it says Iggy Pop and the Stooges. Dude's damn near a solo artist

Gwen Stefani: Pop artist, never rock

Michael Jackson: Solo artist, and also the King of POP.

Janis Joplin: Solo artist

Chuck D: Public Enemy is one of the first major rap acts - not rock. If you even try to argue this point, then I suggest you name the guitar player or the drummer of PE. ...and there was silence

Johnny Rotten (Sex Pistols). Punk rock came waaaaay after punk. Not the same thing, and a genre onto itself.

Roger Daltrey (The Who). Quick - name one band that claims to be influenced by The Who outside of their guitar style....

Perry Farrel (Jane's Addiction). Corgan is way more influential, bro

Steven Patrick (Morissey). Another band that people love to cite as an influence, but is impossible to trace the influence of. Just like the New York Dolls. Nobody outside of journalists cite Morissey as an influence.

Björk. Solo artist plus ARE Y A FREAKIN KIDDDIN' ME?

Shirley Manson (Garbage). Pathetic attempt to include female front figures so as not to appear biased on dagbladet's part.

Karen O (Yeah Yeah Yeah's). Whuut?

Ian Curtis. Who?

EDIT: After Pigeon frenched and complained and even sent me Wikipedia links (of all unreliable things) to back up his cliam that The Police were a rock act and Roxette isn't, I replaced Roxette with Heart.


Pigeon said...

So let's comment that list.
First I agree that we're talking about front figures in rock, which means that they have to be in a band

-Steven Tyler : No discussion
-David Lee Roth (Van Halen) : if you say so ...
-David Coverdale (Whitesnake, Deep Purple): Big I have to admit
-Mick Jagger (Stones): No discussion
-Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin): Idem
-James Dio (Black Sabbath, Rainbow): Now we're not on the same page, this guy is famous in his building
-Jon Bon Jovi (Bon Jovi): OK
-Freddie Mercury (Queen): Of course
-Bruce Springsteen (Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band): You excuse for Iggy pop rules here so NO
-Rob Halford (Judas Priest): NO
-Joan Jett (The Blackhearts): NO You're not a pionneer of rock when you start your career in 82 and you have basically two singles : NOOOO
-Doro Pesch (Warlock) : Who ?
-Joe Elliot (Def Leppard): Of course
-Ian Gillan (Deep Purple): Him or the other one but just one so NO
-Phil Lynott (Thin Lizzy): Who ? Come on !!!!
-Gene Simmons/Paul Stanley (KISS): Yes of course
-Kurt Cobain (Nirvana): YES
-Billy Corgan: YES
-James Hetfield (Metallica): YES
-Marie Fredriksson (Roxette): NO, that's a soft pop band, not rock
-Debbie Harry (Blondie): YES
-Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden): YES
-Anthony Kiedis (Red Hot Chili Peppers): YES
-Zach de la Rocha : YES
-Bono : YES
-Axl Rose : YES
-Vince Neil :Yes
-Shagrath (Dimmu Borgir): Who ?

I agree with 19
Let's try to find 10 to make the perfect list

Chris Cornel has to be on the list: Singer of two major bands : Soundgarden and Audioslve

Sting : Yes , Police is a rock band

Bon Scott : ACDC not on the list, Come on !!!!!!

Eric Clapton : Let's talk about influencial band : Cream

Tom Yorke : Radiohead is so much more than a brit band. People who say so never listen any album

Michael Stipe: Of course he's on that list

Jim Morrison : Of course

Chester Bennington: Cause unfortunately Linkin Park is the biggest rock band now

Paul Mc cCartney : Cause yes the beatle swere a rock band too

Pigeon said...

Of course Lou Reed for the Velvet Underground should also be on the list

Wilhelm said...

Dude; you're saying that Dio ain't famous? One of us is severely out of touch, and considering that you didn't know the lead singer of Purple....

Bruce Springsteen might be out for the same reason than IP, that's arguable - sure.

Why not Judas Priest? 'Cause they're not a boy-band?

I screwed up with Joan jett - the band should of course be "Runaway". And RE your comment that you can't be a pioneer when you start in 82 and have two singles, I'd again like to point out that you were unable to list more than one Deep Purple song, so if I were you...

And you've never heard of Thin Lizzy......

But your major problem is that you can't introduce new bands without removing some, so the question becomes: If you were to include Bon Scott, for example - who is out? And don't touch MY list, ya beret-wearing, baguette-eating, striped sweater with collar popped-sporting, anti-freeze-drinking heavy metal ignoramus.

Wilhelm said...

Happy now, Pigeon?

Anders said...

Well, we have a slight disagreement here of "what is rock". My list includes "pop", rap and hip-hop as part of Rock.

Also, I really would like to say that the only two really, really great front figures on our list is David Lee Roth and Freddie Mercury, if I'm going to use my definition of a great frontman.

Pigeon said...

Zach de la Rocha in his style is a fantastic front man

Same thing with Mick Jagger

Wilhelm said...

You included rap? Didn't notice. As in "kept Chuck D"?

yeah; between rock and pop, it's shades of grey.

I actually have to admit that P-loc has a point with Bon Scott and Eric Clapton (for Cream), though.

What I ought to do is make a separate webpage where Roxette is listed as a rock band and where all MY favorite singers (i.e. not necessarily the ones i listed here) are listed as "Singers for the best rock bands in the world". That way, I could make my favorite list AND have the backup of Pigeon, since he apparently believes any damn thing as long as it's on da intanet

Anders said...

Actually, I'm one of those who think Bon Scott doesn't belong on the list. In my definition, the front figure does not need to be the vocalist. And the figure that people remember from AC/DC is the nuthead in a school uniform with a Gibson SG: Angus Young. If AC/DC should be on the list, it's Angus all the way for me.

Eric Clapton, yes, he might be on the list (for Cream, Yardbirds or The Bluesbreakers, actually). But, even though he was a great influence in rock, I've never considered him a charismatic front figure. Granted he has been and still is, a very popular musican, but he does not have the charisma of, say, Steven Tyler og Mick Jagger. Not on stage nor in interviews, etc.

You included rap? Didn't notice. As in "kept Chuck D"?

Yes, I admit I haven't included many rappers. Could be because I don't like rap, so I'm not familiar with that many artist. But then again, the big stars of rap are very often solo artist or do a better job as producers (i.e. Dr. Dre)

Wilhelm said...

Bon Scott was really charismatic, though.

Good point about clapton (although I'll take anything that miht justify my berating him)

Pigeon said...

Bon Scott was really charismatic, though.

Brian Johnson too