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My Favorite Frontmen... and Women (Part Two L-V)
This list is not all inclusive, nor is it stagnant or final. I'll likely make a series of these as I do with my other music hubs. This first list covers artists from A-J and is based on my taste and my taste alone. This list covers the rest of the alphabet. I am not a fan of Madonna and I could take or leave Springsteen, so, they weren't considered. There are no country artists. These artists were chosen based on my personal tastes and my desire to offer a diverse blend of artists, new and old, dead and alive. You're certainly welcome to scrawl below artists you think are missing, but don't assume an artist not being on here is an insult to them or their art. Part One is here.
Be sure to vote at the bottom for your favorite artists!
I hope you enjoy this list, some trips down memory lane and some new artists. turn your speakers on and enjoy...
Meat Loaf (September 27, 1947--)
Marvin Lee Aday became Meat Loaf as a high school football player when a coach made a comment about his girth inhibiting his ability to move in an athletic way. The name stuck and has become ironic given Meat Loaf's vegetarian eating habits and significantly less girthy physique. Loaf performs what are essentially rock operas with dramatic flair in Victorian Era Stage costumes. His pairing with songwriter John Steinman (who, in addition to hits with Loaf, has written songs for other artists, including Total Eclipse of the Heart) has created some of the most memorable and emotive rock roll songs in the last half century. After recording a highly successful record in the seventies (Bat Out of Hell) which spawned the megahit Paradise Under the Dashboard Light, he disappeared for a decade a half, resurfacing with Bat Out of Hell II and the megahit I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That). Just what Loaf won't do for love remains a mystery. His success, however, is overt. Nearly sixty five, Loaf continues to tour and record and he's appeared in several films, including Spice World (as the bus driver, who quotes his famous song in a moment of dead pan hilarity) and Fight Club (As Robert Paulson, with the "bitch tits"). He continues to perform with pomp and vigor and is a truly unique American rock n roll icon.
Freddie Mercury (Queen) September 5th, 1946-- November 23rd, 1991
Sometime in the early 1970's, Faroukh Bulsara, a brass zoroastrian British transplant from Zanzibar became Freddie Mercury. I've already written a lot about the greatest rock front man for the greatest rock n roll band of all time. He possessed more soul, more swagger, more talent and more charisma then everyone else on this list, combined. I mean no disrespect to anyone, but, whether he's doing gospel, blues, rock opera, rock n roll or ballads, Freddie did it better and with more pomp, pizazz and power then anyone, before or since. On top of that, whereas others might look outrageous in his bodacious and extreme outfits, Freddie looked right at home. Freddie's favorite singer was Aretha Franklin, and he often quipped with his band mates that he wanted to be reincarnated as the gospel queen. That's the kind of attitude needed to be a successful rock icon. He was one of the first celebrities to die from AIDS, and yet this does not define him as it might a lesser figure. He's known for rock n roll, an eight octave range and a charming overbite. He once said "I Won't be a rock star-- I will be a Legend." Mission accomplished, Faroukh.
Craig Owens (Chiodos, Isles and Glaciers, solo artist) August 26th, 1984--
Unless you're a young hipster or fan of post hardcore/screamo or whatever it is that kids listen to these days, you probably don't know who Craig Owens is. Owens came to prominence with post hardcore group Chiodos, as the primarily screaming half of a dual vocal head. Later, ousted from the band, he formed Isles and Glaciers with another great vocalist, Jonny Craig, before reuniting once again with Chiodos in April of 2012. Owens is known as much for his brutal honesty as he is for his voice, stage presence and myriad tattoos. In 2008 he attempted suicide and later revealed that he was bi polar. He is now a fervent advocate against suicide and uses his supreme talents to bring hope and joy to his fans. His music is an acquired taste. His passion and message are not.
featuring Stephen Christian, from Anberlin
Steve Perry (Journey, solo artist) January 22, 1949--
In 1977 Journey was just another Bay Area band struggling to stay afloat. Their albums were not selling out and their tours were performed in front of half empty arenas. They were told to change their sound from blues based prog rock to something with more commercial appeal, or risk being ousted from their record label. Enter Steve Perry and his gentle tenor. Perry joined and the band turned into an arena rock sensation nearly overnight. Perry's soothing tones along with Neal Schon's tasteful, blues based guitar, helped propel Journey to the top of the pop charts. The struggling pop rockers became bona fide pop stars. When one man can change the fortunes of a band, that's all you need to know about their abilities. Perry could croon with the best (Don't Stop Believing, Who's Crying Now, Open Arms) and could hold his own on hard rock tunes as well (Wheel in the Sky, Girl Can't Help It.). He also had a rather successful solo career in the mid 80's. Although Perry, now in his sixties, is no longer a part of the band that made him rich and famous, his impact on the rock n roll in the 70's and 80's will never be forgotten.
Tom Petty (Tom Petty & the Heart Breakers) October 20th, 1950--
Hailing from Gainesville, Florida, Tom Petty is an all american songwriter, brilliant rock and roll musician and phenomenal story teller. Over his forty year career he has written some of the most memorable songs in rock n roll history--Free Fallin', Even the Losers, Last Dance with Mary Jane, Refugee-- and recorded countless covers. He's a prolific songwriter, still keeping a busy touring schedule and recording consistently quality music even as he now creeps past the sixty mark. Whether he's performing country and western, blues, gospel, or straight ahead rock n roll, he offers a distinctive voice and style. Like Elvis Costello, his British counterpart, he can do no wrong. He's managed to stay at the top of his game for his whole career and has kept his band, The Heartbreakers , largely in tact (Only two member changes in forty years) and free from drug overdoses (with the exception of Howie Epstein, a heroin addict and son-in-law to Johnny Cash, whom died in 2003, though his death was not ruled an overdose) and scandal. This a testament to Tom petty's ease to work with, dedication and professionalism. Married for the second time and the father of two, Petty shows no sign of slowing down and settling into old age. Let's hope for another four decades of brilliance from an American treasure.
Reese Roper (Five Iron Frenzy, Roper, Brave Saint Saturn) June 30th, 1973--
Let's face it. You've probably never heard of Reese Roper. What he is is is an adequate singer and a top notch entertainer. Blending politics with faith with humor and honestly, Roper burst out of Denver and onto to the scene with groundbreaking skacore group Five Iron frenzy in the mid 90's. Sometimes he would perform with shoulder pads sporting Canadian flags, in a karate gi, or dressed like a furry animal. His energy level during peroformances was mind boggling and his lyrics were always thought provoking and drenched with catchy, sing along hooks. He often sang about the injustices against the American indians, his nerdiness, his faith and his intellect. He was often self deprecating and always honest. With a charisma that is undeniable, regardless of the project, Reese was and is the center of attention. Five Iron Frenzy, after a nine year hiatus has reunited. If you see them coming to a town near you, buy a ticket and skank away with the kiddos. You will not regret it.
Pardon the quality... Reese must be experienced live
Sting (The Police, solo artist) October 2, 1951--
Aside from the name that Englishman Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner was given (Sting) that is a present tense verb (which is awesome), this bass playing front man for new wave/ska/punk/pop/rock legends the Police is one of the coolest and most consistent forces in modern music. Sting (who is never called Gordon, not even by his own mother) mixes philosophy (whether it's his thoughts on religion or his own struggles with bi polar disorder), literature, politics and wit, String is one of the smartest artists in music, ever. After the Police, he went on to write some of the most memorable tunes of the 80's and 90's. Much of his rise to solo fame is captured on the documentary of the making of Dream of the Blue Turtles, which chronicles the making of the album (and subsequent tour) of the same name. Now, whether he's engaging in unabashed tantric sex with long time wife Trudy Styler, trying to save the planet or making a cameo as himself in the Bee Movie, this former literature teacher is a real life example of rags to riches (He's among the top ten richest British musicians) a true icon, activist and musical genius.
Tupac Shakur (2Pac, Digital Underground) June 16th 1971- September 13th 1996
Tupac, the step son of a revolutionary (Mutulu Shakur, currently incarcerated for armed robbery) and a crack addict mother, was perhaps the most influential solo rap artist ever. While he covered many of the themes common to gangsta rap, he was also very socially and politically active in his personal life. Pac was extremely intelligent and a terrific poet (He has ). He was sensitive and caring, he was tough and his voice was chocolate smooth. Sixteen years after his murder (which remains unsolved and under investigated) he still releases new material and recently went on tour as a hologram. Famous for his feud with East Coast rapper Notorious B.I.G., who was murdered a few months after Pac, and who's murder also remains unsolved, Tupac lived large and fast. He is one of the most important figures in music of any genre. His songs caught the grittiness of the streets, the realities of fame and the darkness in our own lives. They were bass heavy and always catchy.Tupac is a legend, in the truest sense of the word. In his extremely short life, his output and influence clearly places him on the list of top front men ever. a poetry book
Steven Tyler (Aerosmith) March 26, 1948--
Steven Victor Tallaricco, better known as Steven Tyler, better known as the frontman for Boston, Massachusetts' own Aerosmith, by all accounts shouldn't be alive. The father to Liv Tyler (wet dream for Hobbit loving nerds around the world) has done copious amounts of drugs and, while he seems to have slowed down a bit as he approaches his golden years, he's still been in and out of rehab, even as recently as this year. Tyler, who owns the second most famous pair of rock n roll lips (behind Mick Jagger) owns one of the finest hard rock voices the world has ever known. His scarved microphone stands and bombastic stage persona are one of the main reasons for Aerosmith's long and storied history, which has included several eras of inactivity due to Tyler's drug use. He's had throat surgery, a nasty bout of Hep C and a forgettable tenure on American Idol. He's also a member of the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, multi-millionaire and a philanthropist. Steven Tyler is an icon of American hard rock. His voice, his lips, his scarves will live on long after Tyler passes into rock n roll Heaven.
Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam, Temple of the Dog) December 23rd, 1964--
How this southern california surfer kid ended up in Seattle in one of the preeminent and most enduring grunge bands of all time is a story itself. In fact, it's chronicled beautifully in by rock n roll journalist Kim Neely. He's partially responsible for the best album of the grunge era (1991's Ten) and countless classic tunes: Jeremy, Even Flow, Leash, Dissident, Better Man, Once. As the video below will show, Mr. Vedder is passionate and engaging on stage. His lyrics are deep and impactful. He often gazes into the sky, his eyes rolled back in his head, his hands gesticulating wildly, and he doesn't miss a note. Pearl jam has gone through music and member changes (mostly because of power struggles between Vedder and his bandmates) but the consistency of his voice and energy have held the band together. Into his late forties now, he continues to perform with vigor, passion and gusto, adding guitar and solo records to his repertoire. this book