The Best Singers 1970s
Growing up in the country, my early musical education mostly came from the cassettes strewn throughout my Father’s car – I used to relish the chance to go fishing or camping, not for the outdoor experience but because it was the only chance I had to listen to Creedence Clearwater and Led Zeppelin non stop. Bands like Zeppelin and Creedence had some of the best singers 1970s rock had to offer, Robert Plant and John Fogerty respectively are two of my personal favourites, along with Ozzy Osbourne, David Coverdale, Steve Marriott, Glenn Hughes, Paul Rodgers and so many other incredible singers 1970s rock had to offer.
This tutorial will detail the best singers 1970s rock had to offer along with pointers and tips on how to sing in their style with proper vocal technique.
Paul Rodgers is my all time favourite singer. I especially love his singing in FREE and the early Bad Company records – with a sturdy middle range and incredible musical dexterity, learning how to sing like Paul Rodgers has taken many years of vocal training and constant practice. If you wish to learn how to sing like Paul Rodgers, it’s important that you develop your middle register by coordinating the muscles responsible for Chest voice (the thyroarytenoid) and the Head register (Cricothyroid) to allow the rich depth of chest while allowing the extensive range afforded by head. Paul Rodgers is often mistaken as belting, when in fact he had a very relaxed coordination that was simply confident and controlled in a very powerful way – if you’re shouting to hit the highs in a Bad Company song, you’re not singing in the same manner as Paul Rodgers.
Grand Funk Railroad’s ever fervent front man Mark Farner possessed a naturally gifted Tenor range that allowed him to sing in a powerfully high and consistent manner throughout his career with Grand Funk. I especially dig the ‘red’ album care of his grungy blues guitar playing and exceptionally diverse singing ability.
Another singer that requires the use of your middle coordination, Mark Farner was also another released singer that didn’t lock his vocal chords into a permanent belt like some may mistakenly believe. If you wish to learn how to sing like Mark Farner, it’s important that you develop the right approach to vowel sounds into your high range by shaping your vowels using your tongue and corresponding vocal tract width. As an example, an EE vowel is created with your tongue high at the back and a relatively narrow vocal tract, while an AH vowel is created with your tongue low and concave with a relatively wider vocal tract. If you nail these vowel shapes, your high range will open up in an extensive way, and you will be able to sing any vowel or word with ease. Do you hear Mark Farner straining and struggling with words or pitch in Grand Funk’s early records? No – so don’t strain when you try to sing like Mark Farner, release your registers and develop your vowels properly.
Robert Plant was the quintessential 1970’s frontman, all golden locks, extensive range and jutting of the hip – Robert Plant’s impressive high range made Led Zeppelin as famous as much as Jimmy Page’s virtuosic guitar playing. I often hear singers pushing and yelling trying to hit the Zeppelin highs like Robert Plant, but this is simply not how it should be done – by developing strength in your head register by building a released coordination that seamlessly travels between chest, middle and head voice, you will find that Led Zeppelin songs really aren’t that difficult to sing. Developing proper register release and register control is key to learning how to sing like Robert Plant – stop singing so heavy and dragging up all that weight with your chest register and learn how to connect chest and head properly first. Robert Plant has become one of the most popular singers 70s through to the current day due to his unique and quintessential vocal deliveries – as a rock singer, Robert Plant set the standard higher than any other rock group before Led Zeppelin in the 70’s.
Humble Pie’s rambunctious singer Steve Marriot was blessed with a powerful and extensive singing range that can only by built through years of training and proper vocal technique. Steve’s live rendition of Black Coffee for TV in the early 70’s was a key factor in my early desires to start singing – the power and prowess with which he sings is a true wonder to behold. This power in Steve’s range came from a combination of super strong support, an intense twang and released register coordination. By adding a touch of twang via narrowing the top of the epiglottis, you will be able to sing with an intense and powerfully sharp delivery with very little effort, while maintaining a properly released register coordination that sounds full and extensive in range.
With a range that is as rich and powerful now as it was 40 years ago, Glenn Hughes is one of the greatest rock singers of all time. Known for his extensive Tenor range and powerfully intense high end, Glenn Hughes’ voice has stood the test of time and is really a testament to healthy vocal technique and constant training. Learning how to sing like Glenn Hughes takes time and proper resonance tuning to achieve that laser sharp resonant sound into your high range. Vowel tuning is a key part of any healthy vocal approach, and involves subtle changes in the width and shape of your vocal tract to ‘EQ’ your frequencies in each vowel sound through each of the difficult passages that occur in your singing range. Watch this video to learn the best method for tuning your resonance:
While Ozzy isn’t known for his vocal training and healthy technique, his natural range made him one of the most unique singers 1970s rock had to offer. Some of the singing on records like Sabotage and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is mind bogglingly high, especially for an untrained singer like Ozzy – it really wasn’t until the 80’s that you started to hear the effect of his poor technique in his singing, and even then was still one of the greatest singers 70s rock ever created. To extend your range like Ozzy could in his prime, you will need to develop your mix coordination, along with learning how to narrow your vowel up into your high range like a pro – Ozzy was the king of narrowed vowel sounds for a soaring reach.
The best singing voice types for Rock
As you can see, all manner of male voice types can develop powerful and extensive singing ranges – singing voice types really don’t dictate your ability to extend your range, and terms like Tenor and Baritone really only serve a singer in a classical setting where you are give a piece of music to sing designed for your specific tessitura. The best singers 1970s rock ever made were of all singing voice types and all manner of vocal ranges. If you develop your vocal technique and extend your range with techniques like Middle Voice, vowel tuning, resonance placement, consonant grouping and register release, you will be able to sing higher than ever and reach the heights of the best singers of the 1970’s from Robert Plant to Ozzy Osbourne and so many other fantastic singers 1970s rock was known for.
If you’re ready to take your voice to the next level with professional rock vocal training at Bohemian Vocal Studio, you can book a Skype Session and we’ll get started today!
If you have any questions about 1970’s rock singers, 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.