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Rock Legends: My Top 10 Best Heavy Metal / Hard Rock Singers

Updated on May 26, 2015

© 2012 by Theocharis Vagelis

As always, when it comes to Top 10 Rankings, this is a subjective effort to evaluate the best of the best. I have to note that my favorite metal years were the 80’s, probably something that has affected my judgment. Also, my criteria include power, range, pitch and tone variation, which means that even though I am a huge AC-DC fan, Bon Scott is not included in my Top 10, or any other similar voice. Furthermore, I have not included any singers of Speed, Death, Hardcore, Mathcore, etc. Last but not least, I have included in my Top 10, some singers of bands of the 70s and 80s, which may be closer to classic rock than to Heavy Metal. For instance, if Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple were active nowadays, they might not have been considered as Heavy Metal or even Hard Rock bands, as music has become harder.

10. Ozzy Osbourne

John Michael Osbourne (1948 - ) may look as on old lady nowadays, but he was and still is the Prince of Darkness. He has marked our days via his work with Black Sabbath. Furthermore, he may be the only singer who left a great band, went solo, and enjoyed even greater success! He still “barks at the moon”.

Favorite LPs: Paranoid, Blizzard of Ozz, Diary of a Madman, Tribute, Bark at the Moon, No More Tears.

Shot in the Dark

9.Bruce Dickinson

Paul Bruce Dickinson (1958 - ) is a notable singer and an airline pilot and fencer at the same time. The guy is also an author, broadcaster, marketing director, screenwriter and actor. He is talented, busy and has a great voice with a huge range. He is associated with Iron Maiden, Samson, Tribe of Gypsies, Godspeed and of course has enjoyed great success as a solo act. Go Brucey!

Favorite LPs: The Number of The Beast, Somewhere In Time, Seventh Son of A Seventh Son, Tattooed Millionaire, Balls To Picasso, Accident of Birth, The Chemical Wedding.

Tears of A Dragon

8. King Diamond

Kim Bendix Petersen (1956 - ) put Denmark into the Heavy Metal map. He is a singer with a rather extensive vocal range and an impressive falsetto. He leads Mercydful Fate and the eponymous King Diamond. King Diamond follows LaVeyan Satanism, which he sees – according to him - as a philosophy and not as a religion.

Favorite LPs: Melissa, Abigail, Them.

Sleepless Nights

7. Ian Gillan

Ian Gillan (1945 - ) is the Grandpa of Hard Rock. He still demonstrates his incredible voice at 66! He is associated with Episode Six, Ian Gillan Band, Black Sabbath, Gillan & Glover, and of course Deep Purple. Was he any good? Well you just have to listen to his live interpretation of “Child in Time” in “Made in Japan”.

Favorite LPs: In Rock, Fireball, Machine Head, Made In Japan, Perfect Strangers.

Child in Time

6. David Coverdale

David Coverdale (1951 - ) has a powerful yet incredibly smooth voice. He’s led Deep Purple and Whitesnake to glory. Furthermore, he was married to Tawny Kitaen. The guy has taste! “Here We Go Again” David!

Favorite LPs: Northwinds, Burn, 1987, Slip of the Tongue.

Is This Love

5. Rob Halford

Robert John Arthur Halford (1951 - ) is the “Metal God”. He is considered to be one of the most powerful; and high pitched singers of all times. In addition to his work for Judas Priest he is also known for several side projects (Fight, 2wo, Halford, etc). Apart from the abomination of 2wo, all his acts were very well received. He came out of the closet in 1998, when he publicly admitted on an interview with MTV News that he is gay. He is still “Breaking the Law”.

Favorite LPs: Sad Wings of Destiny, British Steel, Screaming for Vengeance, Defenders of the Faith, Nostradamus.

Painkiller

4. Michael Kiske

Michael Kiske (1968 - ) has influenced power metal singers all over the world, such as Timo Kotipelto (Stratovarius) and Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian). Kiske is the champion of vocal cord gymnastics. Just a handful of singers dare to try to sing songs that he has mastered. s only dared by true masters. He is of course associated with Helloween, Avantasia, Unisonic, and many, many more.


Favorite LPs: Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I, Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II.

Halloween

3. Ronnie James Dio

The Rock world mourns the loss of a very small in size man with a big voice! Ronald James Padavona (1942 – 2010) passed away leaving a tremendous gap. Dio’s career spanned over fifty years. His legacy is huge. Do is the only guy who was associated with 3 of the greatest Metal acts ever: Black Sabbath, Rainbow and the eponymous Dio. Rest in Peace.

Favorite LPs: Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, Rising, Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll, Heaven and Hell, Holy Diver, The Last in Line.

Holy Diver

2. Robert Plant

Robert Anthony Plant (1948 - ) is a Hard Rock icon. Plant is regarded as one of the most significant rock singers ever. Enough said! His work for Led Zeppelin and Page and Plant, speaks for itself.

Favorite LPs: Led Zeppelin I, Led Zeppelin II, Led Zeppelin III, Led Zeppelin IV, The Song Remains the Same, Now and Zen.

Communication Breakdown

1. Geoff Tate

My God! I still remember my feelings when I first heard “Operation Mindcrime”. What elation! Jeffrey Wayne Tate (1959 - ) is by far - for me – the best singer ever! He became his career with a progressive band called “Myth”. The name must have been prophetic, as Geoff Tate became a living myth, a living legend of Heavy Metal. He joined Queensryche in 1983, and since then he Progressive Metal has never been the same. Respect!

Favorite LPs: Queensryche, The Warning, Rage for Order, Operation Mindcrime, Operation LIVEcrime, Empire.

Eyes of a Stranger

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    • FatFreddysCat profile image

      Keith Abt 5 years ago from The Garden State

      Can't argue with any of these picks. Some of my other faves would include Jon Oliva and/or Zak Stevens (Savatage), Matthew Barlow (ex-Iced Earth), Midnight (Crimson Glory), Warrel Dane (Sanctuary/Nevermore)and Tim "Ripper" Owens (ex-Judas Priest)...I could go on and on. :)

    • Theocharis V profile image
      Author

      Theocharis V 5 years ago from Piraeus, Greece

      Yeah,maybe I should have included some honourary participations. I would not include Barlow though in Top 20. I would gladly include Oliva, Midnight and Owens in Top 15. Thanks for your comments.

    • FatFreddysCat profile image

      Keith Abt 5 years ago from The Garden State

      Not a Barlow fan, huh? Oh well, at least you liked the rest of my picks. :) Midnight came to mind because I've been working on a Hub about Crimson Glory's TRANSCENDENCE album for a couple of days now... I really need to finish that thing up now that I think about it!

    • Theocharis V profile image
      Author

      Theocharis V 5 years ago from Piraeus, Greece

      My friend I used to like Barlow but I watched him at a concert in Greece (in total I have seen Barlow 3 times) and man he was bad! Now, Midnight is another story! I absolutely loved Transcedence! Please finish the hub.

    • FatFreddysCat profile image

      Keith Abt 5 years ago from The Garden State

      I'm workin' on it, I'm workin' on it...haha. I have only seen Barlow once with Iced Earth (in 2002) and he was a great singer/showman. Iced Earth hasn't been the same since he left.

      I was lucky enough to see Crimson Glory live in New York City when I was in college (1989) and even got to meet Midnight very briefly while the opening acts were onstage... he seemed like a very nice guy. It's a shame what happened to him. :(

    • Theocharis V profile image
      Author

      Theocharis V 5 years ago from Piraeus, Greece

      stop commenting and finish the hub! hahaha

    • Phillbert profile image

      Phillip Drayer Duncan 5 years ago from The Ozarks

      Good choices!

    • TheHeavyReview profile image

      TheHeavyReview 5 years ago

      GREAT list! I could go on forever about all the great metal singers, there are so many. I always think it's ironic when people say that they hate metal because of the guttural vocals... tons of metal bands sing! I would add Roy Khan (Kamelot), Joey Belladonna(Anthrax) and Russell Allen (Symphony X). For hard rock maybe Sebastian Bach, Kurt Cobain, Layne Staley, and Axl Rose? I'm sure I've left off about half of my favorites, though. I would make a hub like this, but it would be way too long.

    • Shinkicker profile image

      Shinkicker 5 years ago from Scotland

      Cracking list Theocharis V

      I'm a big fan of all of them. Shows the diversity of the Rock singer fraternity.

      Look out for Jay Buchanan of 'Rival Sons' and Cormac Neeson of Irish band 'The Answer'. Great young singers

    • Theocharis V profile image
      Author

      Theocharis V 5 years ago from Piraeus, Greece

      Yeah, I think that Neeson could easily fit in a Top 20. Thanx for your comments. They are much appreciated.

    • Theocharis V profile image
      Author

      Theocharis V 5 years ago from Piraeus, Greece

      To tell the truth, I had forgotten about Bach. Great singer. Many thanks my friend 4 ur comments.

    • SkySlave profile image

      Skyler DeCristoforo 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      There are some great choices on this list. Robert Plant, Ozzy and Bruce Dickinson would be at the top of my list. Led Zeppelin have got to be one of the greatest rock and roll bands on the planet, whit Robert Plants amazing vocal range and unique voice cannot be toped. Ive always been a huge Black Sabbath fan, how can't you give Ozzy a great deal of praise for being the voice behind metal, the defining sound of dark and heavy music. Bruce Dickinson to me is the heavy metal Robert Plant. Amazing vocal range unique sound and style. Incredible albums ands tracks came from all of these artists. Thanks for sharing.

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