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Favorite Rock Screamers

Updated on July 10, 2018
rmcrayne profile image

Originally from SC, Rose Mary is a Texas transplant, thanks to the Air Force. She enjoys music, & has been to hundreds of live music events.

Those that know me well, know that when it comes to singers, I’m biased toward males, love a falsetto, and love, love, love a great Rock scream. There’s so much about a great screaming rock vocal that gives me pleasure. Sometimes it’s like stop everything, waiting, anticipating that upcoming scream. Sometimes it’s that feeling of the hair on the back of my neck standing up.

My first scream love was and remains Ted Neeley in Jesus Christ Superstar, the motion picture. I have chronicled my favorite rock screamers, including Ted, in no particular order, among artists I have seen perform live.

Steven Tyler, Aerosmith

Steven Tyler, Joe Perry
Steven Tyler, Joe Perry | Source

I saw Aerosmith in San Antonio, probably around 2006. Steven Tyler is obviously a renowned screamer. Tyler and pals formed Aerosmith in 1970. He had already written one on their biggest hits, Dream On, in 1969.

I dare say Steven Tyler will always be known as one of the best front-men of all time, as well as the Demon of Screamin’. Lots of vocalists have songs that end in a dramatic scream. Steven screams a lot, and well. I’ve often wondered how he could do so much screaming without damaging his voice.

Top Ten Steven Tyler Screams

Robert Plant, Led Zeppelin

Robert Plant
Robert Plant | Source

I saw Robert Plant in Columbia, S.C. in the early 80s. It was one of the most exciting shows I’ve ever seen. I was mesmerized. A lot of his mannerisms seemed effeminate to me, yet I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. I had tickets to see him again in 1990 in Charlotte, N.C. Unfortunately I showed up and he didn’t.

Plant screams on most Zeppelin songs. I chose this video of Immigrant Song because you get to see Zeppelin in their heyday, and there’s lots of footage of Plant moving around. Do you see the sex appeal?

Led Zeppelin Immigrant Song

Ann Wilson, Heart

Nancy and Ann Wilson
Nancy and Ann Wilson | Source

I saw Heart in St. Louis, about 2005. Ann Wilson could still belt it out. She’s a great screamer. I think she does Robert Plant as well as he does. I dare say, in a blind test, playing certain portions of Ann’s version of Rock and Roll, plenty of listeners could be fooled, thinking it was Plant.

Of note, Aussie Anne McCue opened for Heart when I saw them. She writes her own songs and is a guitar virtuoso. Figured she was discovered by guitarist Nancy Wilson. Look up Anne McCue, Stupid on YouTube for a great ballad.

Heart Rock and Roll

Joe Cocker

Joe Cocker
Joe Cocker | Source

I saw Joe Cocker in San Antonio about 2001. I was stunned at how great he still sounded. In fact, he opened for The Guess Who, and Burton Cummins still sounded fantastic as well, but I digress.

Joe is one of those artists that lots of listeners think can’t sing. But he has a large and loyal following, and fans find the voice crack on You Are So Beautiful to be endearing. As an occupational therapist I found him fascinating to watch. He is often lampooned for his flailing movements, and has denied he had cerebral palsy. When I saw him, I’d say he flailed less, but constantly flicked his middle and ring fingers to his thumb, which you can see in this video.

RIP John Robert "Joe" Cocker, 20 May 1944 to 22 Dec 1914.

Joe Cocker, With a Little Help from My Friends


Prince | Source


When I was attending the Medical University of S.C., I stayed in the dorm the first semester because of gross anatomy. Figured I’d be at school all the time, so being a couple blocks from the lab would be helpful. My neighbor was a medical student from Howard, repeating her anatomy. One afternoon I heard her screaming like she was being murdered. I called security and stayed locked in my room. Turns out she had on her headphones and was singing along with Prince on Kiss!

I saw Prince in Charlotte, N.C. in the late 80s, and St. Louis around 2004. In Charlotte he came out in a real T-bird, attached to a pole, that moved part way around the stage, delivering him. He sang pretty much all of his hits, but shortened versions, so I was disappointed. I wanted to hear the whole enchilada on Kiss. It was my favorite dance song in college. There is a scream at the end, but I must admit it is the falsetto throughout that has me hooked.

In St. Louis he seemed a more humble version of himself, appreciative of his fans. He did an entire set, just him and a guitar.

RIP Prince Rogers Nelson, June 7, 1958-April 21, 2016.

Prince, Kiss

Roger Daltrey, The Who

Roger Daltrey
Roger Daltrey | Source

I saw The Who about 1989. It was my first and only camp-out-on-the-sidewalk-overnight-for-tickets adventure. This was before the convenience of nabbing your tickets online. When I got to the front of line, they only wanted to know how many. Didn’t really care what location anyone wanted. My party wound up on the 14th row of the floor of Busch Stadium in St. Louis. We were on the right, past the stage. Even if I craned my neck, I could not see the stage! Thankfully we had a big screen right in front of us. For this I waited in line 19 hours!

Anyhoo, I give Roger Daltrey a small mention for the scream at the end of Won’t Get Fooled Again. How apropos.

The Who, Won't Get Fooled Again

Ted Neeley

Ted Neeley
Ted Neeley | Source

I was immediately smitten with Ted Neeley’s performance in Jesus Christ Superstar. He had a little music ensemble before playing Jesus Christ, but never achieved any major rock star fame. He’s still my top pick for rock scream.

My high school girlfriends chipped in together and bought me the double LP motion picture soundtrack for my birthday. There are a few screams throughout. The first big attention grabber was the Temple scene. My favorite screams however are in Gethsemane.

I saw Neeley reprise his Christ role in a small production touring the country, which I saw in Corpus Christi, Texas, about 2006.

Jesus Christ Superstar, Gethsemane

© 2012 rmcrayne


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