Top 5 greatest rock singers
Rock singers often spend years studying their craft and honing their vocal skills to reach the very top of their game and become the greats the we now know them to be. This top 5 list will detail the greatest rock singers of all time and the singing techniques that they have used to become such incredible singers. Of course, any ‘greatest’ list is subjective, so please comment below with any singers you think should have made this top 5 list of the greatest rock singers of all time!
#1 – Chris Cornell
No greatest rock singers list would be complete without Chris Cornell, so we’ll go right ahead and put him at the #1 greatest rock singer of all time. From the wailing banshee screams of Soundgarden, gifted range and bluesy runs of Temple of the Dog, pop rock sensibility of Audioslave through to his incredibly versatile solo albums – Chris Cornell had seemingly endless range, grit and distortion on tap and an incredibly unique delivery that was both powerful and sensitive in the same breath.
Chris cornell vocal range – Not simply limited to the Tenor range, or the Baritone voice range, the only real way to classify the incredible breadth of notes he was able sing with is to simply call it The Chris Cornell Vocal Range.Ranging from baritone in the second Octave right up to sustained G5 notes in full voice, Chris Cornell’s voice was intimidating as it was impressive.
Chris Cornell octave range – Spanning from the second octave right up into the high fifth Octave, range wasn’t something Chris Cornell ever worried about. Other singers have made professional singing careers out of only a quarter of the Chris Cornell octave range.
How to sing like Chris Cornell – Learning how to sing like Chris Cornell takes time, perseverance and the right vocal approach. As I always say, a singing voice is only as strong as the foundation it is build up, so make sure you set up your posture correctly for diaphragmatic breathing while placing your resonance like I’ll show you in my free foundations short courses. After you’ve build your foundation, it’s important to understand that Chris Cornell’s impressive belt voice wasn’t occuring because he would sing higher in chest voice, in fact, he almost exclusively used the mix voice coordination to sing in. Learning how to sing in mix voice will allow you to sing with an extended range while keeping the full and rich sound of your chest voice – giving way to a much fuller head resonance as you transcend your voice breaks. Here’s a tutorial I’ve put together for you to get you started learning how to sing like Chris Cornell, the right way:
Chris Cornell is my all time favourite singer, and I’ve spent a lifetime learning how to sing like Chris Cornell so I can help other singers learn how to do the same. To learn how to sing like Chris Cornell, you must first:
- Build a strong foundation
- Develop your middle voice coordination
- Learn how to TUNE your resonance
- Shape your vowels correctly
- Release your registers
- Place your voice
- Learn how to articulate your consonants
- Extend your range and bridge your breaks
- Build a strong MIX
- Amplify with twang
These are just some of the elements that I teach here at Bohemian Vocal Studio, from a healthy foundation and breath support right through to fine tuning your resonance, building your register coordination and developing that elusive MIX that everyone keeps talking about.
Chris Cornell was an incredibly gifted singer, but with that came extensive voice training and a fine tuned and personalised approach to singing that extended his natural range with POWER and ease.
#2 – Robert Plant
Robert Plant is another one of my FAVOURITE singers and an obvious contender for the top spots in the list of the top 5 greatest rock singers of all time. Gifted with a lilting and soaring Tenor range, Robert Plant was as famous for his golden locks and matching blouses as he was for his impressive singing voice. As the voice of Led Zeppelin, Plant set the stage for other singers like Chris Cornell to really test the boundaries of the Male voice in range and character, and you can hear alot of his delivery and aesthetic in other singers on this list – for a good reason.
Robert Plant Vocal Range – Robert Plant’s impressive voice was gifted with a similar vocal dexterity to Chris Cornell, albeit without the low range afforded to Cornell as a baritone. Plant’s voice seemed to sit incredible high with ease and expression like no other singer before had been able. The Robert Plant Vocal Range is another that deserves it’s own classification!
How to sing like Robert Plant – The most important thing to understand if you’re trying to learn how to sing like Robert Plant is that vocal registers are not always what they seem, nor are all voices created the same. Quite often, Plant would sing in a comfortable and well placed middle voice coordination in his higher range, giving the illustion that he was absolutely screaming at the top of his voice which simply wasn’t the case. Learn how to release your registers, develop your mix voice and make sure to place your resonance to learn how to sing like Rober Plant. Baritones keep in mind too, Robert’s voice is simply different to a true Baritone’s voice, but you can STILL learn how to sing like Robert Plant is you place you voice in a similar manner and tune your own individual resonance the way that he was able to.
With a gifted delivery as a natural showman, Robert Plant’s extensive octave range was often interplayed with his vocal theatrics and on stage antics to create and become of the Greatest Rock Singers of all time.
#3 – Paul Rodgers
As the voice of Free and later Bad Company, Paul Rodgers had an ease of delivery that made it seem like there was NO effort behind his trademark bluesy buzz – but if you’ve ever tried to sing a Free tune from the 60’s, or any number of Bad Company hits, learning how to sing like Paul Rodgers is an incredibly hard task!
Often referred to as a “BariTenor”, Paul Rodgers strangely enough sounds like he is singing in his low range when he is hovering in the middle of his range in the 3rd Octave. Not overreaching or pushing his voice beyond it’s natural boundaries, Paul Rodgers was all about SOUL, performance and tone. Another of my favourite singers ever, you’ll find there’s quite a few singers out there that copped a LOT of what Paul Was doing in Bad Company, and made successful careers while doing so – David Coverdale definitely comes to mind.
Oddly enough going on to sing with Queen for a time, Paul Rodgers 3+ Octave singing range was impressive of itself, and his consistent tone throughout the years, and never-waning ability to sing songs from any period in his career later into his life immediately earns him a spot in the top 5 greatest singers of all time.
How to sing like Paul Rodgers – Releasing your registers and learning proper register control so you can develop a natural and strong middle register is the key to learning how to sing like Paul Rodgers. It’s important to understand how Paul was able to create his powerful middle range without pushing by coordinating his two main registers to create a middle ‘shelf’ that his powerful, yet comfortable range was build upon. If you want to learn how to sing like Paul Rodgers, you first need to release your registers and learn how to tune your resonance through your first break into your middle range.
Paul Rodgers has made his professional career out of consistency and a great tone – there’s a LOT you can learn for a great singer like Paul Rodgers who didn’t push himself to extremes simply to impress. There’s something incredibly impressive about how consistent his voice has always been that truly makes you realise he is one of the greatest rock singers in the world – there’s a reason they call him The Voice of Rock!
#4 – Glenn Hughes
Oooowhee! From Trapeze and Deep Purple through to his impressive solo work and Black Country Communion project, Glenn Hughes was gifted with a mighty and peircing range that, like Paul Rodgers, has never seemed to fail him in almost 40 straight years of singing. A master of harmonies as evident with his Deep Purple duets alongside baritone crooner David Coverdale, Glenn Hughes was able to sing into the 5th Octave with such ease he could get confused for a Female singer or even Stevie Wonder – before belting out a powerful rock wail to rival Robert Plant and Chris Cornell respectively.
The key to Glenn Hughes monster range and consistency over a 40 year career is constant training and adjustment of his technique as his voice has aged. I would even go as far as saying that Glenn Hughes’ singing technique is far superior now in his 60’s than it was in the NINETEEN sixties. A favourite record of mine featuring Glenn Hughes incredible voice (and underrated bass playing!) is Trapeze’s Medusa album – you can clearly hear how much his voice has improved in clarity and consistency, especially into his high range as his voice has aged, but he has continued to develop and tweak his singing technique.
How to sing like Glenn Hughes – Placement, the mix register and tuning your vowels (narrow narrow narrow!) into your higher range are all key to learning how to sing like Glenn Hughes. A really great process for learning how to develop your voice into your high range and sing ANY song is what I like to call Release, Place and Resonate. Here’s a great tutorial I’ve put together for you to show you how to sing ANY song using this process I have developed.
Learning to sing like Glenn Hughes takes time, persistance and understanding that every voice is different, hence every voice and vowel needs to be tuned in a specific and unique way.
I especially love the way that Glenn Hughes is able to sing higher than almost any other rocker out there, and wail with the best of them – but the song always came first, and he was happy to take a back seat to David Coverdale’s lead vocals in Deep Purple, and share the spotlight with Joe Bonamassa in Black Country Communion. Rock ‘n Roll isn’t ALWAYS just about the glory and spotlight…
#5 – Steve Perry
No doubt you’ve heard a Journey song or two on the radio over the years and run into a few issues trying to sing along with the might Steve Perry. Similar to Paul Rodgers in that it doesn’t “sound” like it’s that hard to sing like Steve Perry, but when you attempt it, most singers fall incredibly short of the incredible range, consistent tone and unique character of Steve Perry’s brilliant singing.
Often considered one of the greatest rock singers in the world, Steve Perry was able to sing well into the 5th octave with ease, grace and class where other singers resorted to tricks or pushing – his vocal technique matched his naturally gifted instrument, and has rightfully earned his place on any good list of the greatest rock singers.
How to sing like Steve Perry – Tough gig! Learning how to sing like Steve Perry takes perseverance and a whole hellava lot of great singing technique. The best place to start with learning how to sing like Steve Perry is actually to set better singing goals in incremental stages to ensure you aren’t missing any elements along the way.
Learning how to sing in middle voice is an absolute MUST if you want to learn how to sing like Steve Perry, so make sure you’re not pulling up your chest voice, nor flipping into a light head or falsetto coordination to hit the highs. Remember, your high range takes time to develop, so don’t run before you can walk, step, skip, hop and jump first!
Was your favourite rock singer on this list, or do you have an honorary mention you’d like included? Add your favourite ROCK singers or your own list of the greatest rock singers and the techniques you want to learn in the comments below!
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.