The 1960s. Yeah, the article is about the rock vocalists in the 70s but the 60s played a massive role in shaping the music of the next decade.
The 60s were dominated with wars, racial equality, sexual acceptance and struggle for peace. Music has long been being a source of output for causes. The musicians kept the tradition going. The hippie movement, advocating for ‘peace and love’ and music had a major influence on each other. This paved the way for new ideologies which influenced daily life and even questioned traditional culture. Psychedelic rock was the flavour of the decade but most of its icons, the 27 Club members Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix, were dead by the start of the 70s.
The new decade heralded music influenced by the ideological influences of its predecessor. Fifty years later the 70s music is still regarded as the source for diversifying rock music into multiple sub-genres. The work of the legends churned out then, resonates in music of today.
The greatest rock vocalists of 1970s
The 70s were not just a golden era for rock music, it is the benchmark all the great music that followed.
The decade boasts of some the of the greatest rock bands known to mankind. The prominent being Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Rainbow, The Eagles, Van Halen, AC/DC, Rainbow and the grand daddy of all Led Zeppelin.
Led Zeppelin were an English band made up of guitarist Jimmy Page, bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones, drummer John Bonham and of course Robert Plant on the vocal duty. Long blond hair, often bare-chested, with a wide and strong vocal range which is evident in his high-pitched vocals. Plant is one of the greatest if not the greatest rock vocalist to visit this planet. Plant’s singing career has spanned over 50 years even though Led Zeppelin split in 1980. As a kid, Plant would hide and imitate Elvis Presley, later rock vocalists across the globe aped him but to no avail. He remains one of the most powerful rock vocalists though many would argue otherwise.
The Prince of Darkness, Ozzy Osbourne would be a natural choice for many. Not entirely wrong even. The former Black Sabbath frontman is known not only for his vocal prowess but also his on stage persona. Biting the head off a bat, ya ya a dove or a prop or whatever, on stage to costumes and make up the man was a polarising figure.
Another name that crops up when one talks about on stage persona is the Aerosmith vocalist Steven Tyler. The father to god knows how many, Tyler would be on stage in his trade mark colourful outfits and trademark scarves hanging from his microphone stand. Apart from this, ‘Demon of Screechin’s high pitch screams, wide vocal range and high energy performances drew a legion of rock fans towards Aerosmith. Undoubtedly one of the greatest rock vocalists of all time.
When it comes to fathering a ‘love child’ Sir Mick Jagger knows a thing or two. The original bad boy of Rock’n’Roll, Jagger fronted the Rolling Stones, a band known for being outrageous and proud about it. Jagger is one of the most versatile rock vocalists. He was at ease singing the high pitched, up-tempo songs like “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” to the mellow and mushy ones like “Angie”. His on stage energy, even now, would put some of our leading sports persons to shame. One thing is for certain, no one has the moves like Jagger (I had to put that in).
Then there is the ‘Godfather of Shock Rock’, Alice Cooper. His hoarse vocals suited the bands on stage theatrics aptly. Credited as the man to get gothic imagery to rock music, his stage shows were ripe of props like dolls (not the pretty ones), reptiles laden with fake blood, a gore scene to be precise. He not only transformed the live show presentation but would effortlessly delve in various sub genres of rock et al hard, heavy, glam, industrial and even metal.
Among other rock vocalists to be inspired by Elvis Presley is Ian Gillan. The former frontman of Deep Purple, Gillian’s vocals helped propel the band as the pioneers of heavy metal. Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath were dubbed as the ‘unholy trinity of British rock and metal’ by the press.
The 70’s was not only about high pitched vocals, screeching guitars and double pedalled drumming. Bands like The Eagles and Pink Floyd stood out with their own style. Pink Floyd, arguably one of the greatest bands of all time, never had a constant vocalist. The founding member Syd Barrett would lead the vocals till he got into an asylum. David Gilmour replaced him and took over most of the vocal duties. Roger Waters would pitch in with a song that he felt suited his voice the best. While Waters practically spoke the lyrics, Gilmour was more melodic. This changing role played a key role in the bands success.
The Eagles line up featured a rare vocalist/drummer Don Henley. Inspired by rhythm and blues, Henley’s soothing voice could make many a tired bone feel at home. Be it the all-time classic ‘Hotel California’ or ‘New Kid In Town’ or the hard paced ‘Life In The Fast Lane’.
The argument about the greatest rock vocalist of the 1970’s could well go on beyond the last drop left in the pub. Brain Johnson from AC/DC, Rainbow and Dio vocalist Ronnie James Dio and Van Halen’s David Lee Roth are a few others who could sum up the list.
Leaving out one name would render the list useless. The leader of the E Street Band, Bruce Springsteen. That he is addressed to as ‘The Boss’ leaves out nothing to imagination.