The Best Male Singers [of the 70’s]
Growing up on a steady diet of 1970’s hits care of my country-folk parents, I’ve always had an affinity for the great singers this spectaculary stylish generation released on the world. From John Fogerty to Paul Rodgers and basically every member of the Eagles, the 70’s was a special time of gifted singers, even more gifted songwriters and the release of some of the greatest albums of all time.
I recently detailed the best Male Singers of the 90’s and saw fit to delve into my love of 70’s rock and the many singers than made my childhood such a magical and musical time. Lets look at the best male singers of the 1970’s and discuss how you can approach their vocal technique!
No 70’s list, whether talking about singers or otherwise, would be complete without Robert Plant, the golden god. With a wicked range and devilish shreik, Plant’s dubious vocal technique gave way to a natural talent for a high Tenor range and girtty blues delivery. One of the most important elements of Robert’s voice is the fact that he was light and elf-like, just like most of the characters he wrote about in ‘Zeppelin songs – pulling chest and singing with a masculine belt won’t get you even half way towards Robert Plant’s voice. The first place ot start is connecting chest and head voice and developing efficient resonance. Remember, singing is an act of balance, not one of muscular force…
If this was a list about singers with vocal longevity, Glenn Hughes would be at the very top, and then some. With his range still in tact as he approaches his 70th year, and not just as a singer from the 70’s, I first heard Glenn’s voice as the duelling frontman for Coverdale/Hughes era Deep Purple, and later came across the gem that is Medusa by Trapeze prior to his success as Deep Purple’s bassist and vocal foil for Coverdale’s dramatic baritone. Glenn Hughes actually has more range NOW than he did in the 70’s as a young man – the sign of a great singer is how well their voice ages, and Glenn’s voice has aged aplomb. If you wish to sing like Glenn Hughes, range is the name of the game, so you’d better work on your resonant space, vowel shaping and register connection asap.
Now we’re talking. All the range in the world couldn’t compete with the sheer prowess with which Paul Rodgers sang (and still sings) in his natural range as a high baritone. Tone and delivery were the name of Paul’s game, and BOY was he at the top of his game. One of my favourite bands on the planet is FREE, and one of my favourite albums ever is the first Bad Company, both of which feature Paul Rodgers at his youthful best, all gusto and lady-killer slink, with just enough range to think he MIGHT just be a better sing than he’s letting you know, and definitely a singer who’s voice other famous singers and bands lusted after, Rod Stewart, The Doors, The Rolling Stones and David Coverdale just to name a few.
It’s said that Paul Rodgers never took a singing lesson himself, but the amount of lessons we can all learn from his sheer ability and gift as a singer is limitless. Paul Rodgers might just be the greatest rock singer of all time…
Sadly lost in time to many people who weren’t raised on the same diet of 1970’s hits and odd-bods like I was, Steve Marriott and Humble Pie were the main inspiration for bands like The Black Crowes and Cry of Love from the 90’s, and so many other inspired bands across the years – it’s just that few would admit it. I won’t elaborate, but if you want to know the reason why I think Steve should be at the top of EVERY best rock singer list, just check out Humble Pie’s live rendition of “Black Coffee” and just look at the reaction he gets from the backup singer girls – even they lusted after his velvet tone and naturally high reach.
More a fixture of the late 60’s than the 70’s per-se, John Fogerty was not only the voice of the 70’s for me, he inadvertently became the voice of the vietnam war. I honestly thought that Creedence Clearwater was the name of a black Woman of whom the whole band was named after, namely because of the way John Fogerty sang and his incredible vocal tone that could have made a swamp bubble, a hurricane roar or the bayou…. do whatever a bayou does. If you want to sing like John Fogerty, you need to first realise that his tone didn’t come from a pushed chest voice, but from a strong balance between the registers known as MIX, or middle voice, that features a blend of resonance resulting in the POWERFUL tone that you hear when a guy like John Fogerty or Chris Cornell sings. You seriously need to ask yourself, are you balancing your voice in the middle, or singing with muscular force?
Ooh-Wee are we talking singers with range in this tutorial, and Mark Farner had one of the most natural and gifted vocal ranges of the 1970’s. As Grand Funk’s grand leader in the early 70’s, Mark Farner inspired more than his fair share of rock singers who then went on to form some of the world’s most well respected bands with killer singers, the Black Crowes, Bon Jovi and LA Guns to name a few. Mark’s natural Tenor range was the special feature of the funky misfits known as Grand Funk, not to mention his prowess as a guitarist and shirtless sex appeal as only a part-native-hair-down-to-the-waist guy from 1970’s could possess. If you want to learn how to sing like Mark Farner, the first step is to grow you hair for ten years, and then perhaps look at your resonance blending, middle voice and resonance efficiency – Mark’s voice was definitely a heartbreaker, don’t let it be a voice-breaker too.
Before the days of 80’s pomp with Whitesnake, David Coverdale was an aspiring baritone with a velvet range and distinctive low range that even made guys like Paul Rodgers and Eric Burdon quake in their boots. The Coverdale/Hughes era Deep Purple albums have been on constant spin in my house for at least 20 years, from the first few distorted hammond notes in Sail Away right through to Lady Double Dealer from their last ill-fates 70’s record Come Taste The Band, Coverdale truly had a voice to reckon with in the 70’s, and is never more so evident than in his first two solo outings, Northwinds and Whitesnake from 78 and 79 respectively. Coverdale, we salute you’re awesome baritone voice – not your 80’s perm.
There were many more incredible singers and songwriters from the 70’s that I personally love, from Rodriguez to Cat Stevens and Lindsay Buckingham through to Steven Tyler – the 70’s were a magical time of spectacular singers who broke as many boundaries as they broke hearts.
If you love 70’s rock and want to sing like Steven Tyler or learn how to sing like Paul Rodgers, a great place to start is the free foundations courses available here at Bohemian Vocal Studio which will SHOW you how to set up a strong foundation and the reliable base that great singers like David Coverdale and Paul Rodgers used to create their distinctive vocal tone and timeless appeal. When you’re ready to take your voice to the next level with private singing lessons and professional voice coaching you can book a Skype Lesson with me and we’ll start working towards extending your range and building control and consistency in your voice every time you sing.
If you have any questions about learning how to sing, or you have another 70’s sing you’d like to mention, feel free to leave any feedback or questions below!
Kegan DeBoheme is Bohemian Vocal Studio’s resident vocal coach and voice expert. He teaches professional singing and voice technique to students all around the world and enjoys providing tutorials like this one on how to improve your voice.