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Ten Best: Grunge Vocalists

Updated on July 14, 2012

Grunge is a music genre that fuses heavy metal, hardcore punk, alternative rock and acoustic music all into one melting pot. Grunge is usually associated with Seattle, as that is where it became famous in the late 80s under labels such as Sup Pop records. Different styles of grunge music however have emerged from all around the world since the early 80s. Grunge vocalists have a unique vocal style which usually includes snarls, groaning, screaming and softer harmonies. This hub is dedicated to voices that mastered the grunge style.

10. Tex Perkins

Tex was the lead singer/song writer for the Australian alternative rock band Beasts of Bourbon, who formed in 1983, before the grunge movement started in Seattle. The Beasts of Bourbon were responsible for producing loud, punk like alternative rock that paved the way as a foundation for grunge bands to come. Tex had the vocal style that has been sense mimicked by various alternative vocalists in America.

9.Mark Lanegan

Mark is American vocalist and songwriter who is well known for his work with the grunge band, Screaming Trees, who gained popularity in the Seattle scene in the early 90s. Marks vocal style is more psychedelic and poetic than that of other grunge vocalists. Mark has also preformed and collaborated with the artists; Queens of the Stone Age, Gutter Twins and Mad Season.

Mark Lanegan
Mark Lanegan

8. Ron Nine

Ron was the American vocalist/guitarist for the early Seattle grunge bands Room 9 and Love Battery. Ron formed room 9 in the early 80s. Although the band never found commercial success, Room 9 proved themselves influential to their successors in the later Seattle movement. After Room 9 disbanded in the late 80s, Ron formed Love battery, and unusual psychedelic-pop sounding grunge band that i feel had some of his best vocals.

7. Mark Arm

Mark was the vocalist/guitarist for the grunge bands Green River and Mud Honey. Mark had the vocal style of a hardcore-punk vocalist, hyped up by his pulsating guitar and grungy lyrics. With song titles as "Touch Me I'm Sick", "In 'n' Out of Grace" and "Hate the Police", what teenager growing up as a part of Generation X wouldn't be intrigued.

Mark Arm
Mark Arm

6. Andrew Wood

Andrew Wood was an American vocalist best known for his work in the grunge bands Malfunkshun and Mother Love Bone. His vocals were one of the greatest early influences to the grunge bands of Seattle. Sadly, Andrew died of an apparent heroin overdose on March 19, 19990. In tribute to the musician that gave them such a strong influence, Wood's former band mates along with Sound Garden's Chris Cornell and Pearl Jams Eddie Vedder and Mike Mccready, formed the grunge band Temple of the Dog. Fellow grunge band Alice in Chains dedicated their Facelift album to Andrew along with their single "Would" which was written in Wood's honor.

5. Jerry Cantrell

Jerry is the lead guitarist and co-vocalist for the Seattle grunge band Alice in Chains. His amazing, harmonizing, dual-vocal style with Layne Staley is one of the most unique that I've ever heard. Jerry's guitar playing was similar to that of a heavy metal artist, setting them aside from other grunge bands. However his vocal style ranges from a hard rock sound to blues and country styles.

4. Eddie Vedder

Eddie is an American songwriter and singer for the Seattle bands Pearl Jam and Temple of the Dog. Eddie has one of the most heavily mimicked voices in the history of rock and roll. With his heavy hitting Jim Morrison like growls and sensitive harmonic verses, Eddie uses a voice that stuck. Although his most famous work came from Pearl Jam, I tend to prefer his work with Temple of the Dog, where he harmonizes with the brilliant voice of Chris Cornell. Vedder has been an influence to countless musicians and songwriters alike and deserves recognition for doing so.

Eddie Vedder
Eddie Vedder

3. Chris Cornell

Cornell has been known for his vocals in the bands Sound Garden, Audioslave and Temple of the Dog. His powerful, belting, voice blows that of many musicians out of the water. His work with Sound Garden and Temple of the Dog is by far my favorite, but Audioslave and some of his solo work is also great to listen to.

2. Kurt Cobain

Kurt was one of the most influential grunge-pop stars. His most notorious work was as the vocalist/lead guitarist of the grunge band Nirvana. Kurt's voice spoke directly to his generation, this could be the explanation for his great popularity amongst teenagers. His vocal style had similarities to that of other grunge singers blended with the classic sound of rock and roll. I believe this is due to Kurt's inspiration from the Beatles and John Lennon, who most grunge musicians weren't fond of. Cobain died on April 5, 1994 due to a supposed suicide. Friends and fans globally morned the death of the voice of their generation, he was truly an idol that countless could relate to.

1. Layne Staley

In my opinion the most talented grunge singer was Layne Staley. Layne was the vocalist for grunge band Mad Season as well as the co-vocalist for the band Alice in chains. Layne's harmonies with fellow AIC vocalist Jerry Cantrell are absolutely breathtaking. Staley's raspy, groaning voice captures the difficult and painful lyrics that his songs usually contained. The most admirable trait of Layne's musicianship was the integrity that came along with it. His music is very strait forward and heart felt. The emotion in his voice really allows you to capture what he was feeling. Layne left us on April 5, 2002 having suffered a severe drug overdose.

Layne Staley
Layne Staley


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    • profile image

      Nate 8 months ago

      Yes, Layne all the way. Staley, Veder and Cornell are my favorite. I would also put Layne at the top spot. AIC has and will always be my favorite band.

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      codeman 3 years ago

      Layne... how could idiots argue?

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      Rendi 3 years ago

      Scoop your reasoning on the aogptrauhed books makes total sense. I don't think we'll ever have to worry about me making it *big* I like my privacy too much. :-bMy husband has requested a signed copy - he said that it has to say This is the very first signed copy of this book Number One for my Number One. Can we hear a collective Awwwwwww Sickening, ain't it? )

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      Puput 3 years ago

      Really liked the grass texture icons and also the furry cusohin icons Love icons, I'll use them a lot for my folders on my computer, to keep me organised. But great for websites too of course. Thanks for sharing.

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      codeman 3 years ago

      I agree with the majority of this list maybe. Kurt had his style. And although he was the vocalist for nirvana, that doesn't make him a great vocalist. His range was, well... no range. Layne, Chris, and Eddie could sing. But Layne and Chris should be the tops of this list. Even though Layne is.

    • Vanessa Ray profile image

      Vanessa Ray 5 years ago

      This is a perfect list. That top 4...just the best.

    • rcrumple profile image

      Rich 5 years ago from Kentucky

      Good hub! More into Layne, Chris and Jerry than any of the others. Kurt had his moments, but I just didn't see in him what others did, obviously. Strongest voice was definitely Cornell...great with Soundgarden, but seems to have wimped out as of late in solo career trying to appeal more to a pop audience. Saw Jerry in Louisville between 12 Stones and Creed. After Jerry, about 15 minutes of Creed was all I could stomach. Great Job!

    • SkySlave profile image

      Skyler DeCristoforo 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you all for stopping by to check out this hub on the music that has really changed the way i've looked at music itself. Its awesome to know that so many of you still enjoy these classics.

    • catfish33 profile image

      Jeffrey Yelton 5 years ago from Maryland

      Very nice hub. Layne Staley and Chris Cornell are among my favorite vocalists.

    • DonkeyKongKiller profile image

      DonkeyKongKiller 5 years ago from Texas

      90s is my favorite decade for Rock music. I don't know why a lot of people who like classic rock, don't care 90s rock and grunge. To me grunge is just a slightly heavier take on 70s rock music. To me they go hand in hand. Most of my favorite rock songs come from the 90s. Alice in Chains is probably in my top 3 favorite bands. Awesome list and great choices.

    • mikeandrustys profile image

      mikeandrustys 5 years ago

      Awesome list. Vedder and Cobain are my favourites but grunge is something that has just moved on over to other forms of music. A little less obvious and in your face than before, but sitting in the VIP lounge waiting for your attention. It's still great music, and won't really go away.

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 5 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Many greats are listed here. My favorites....Sound Garden, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains.

      This child of the eighties says bravo.

    • SkySlave profile image

      Skyler DeCristoforo 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Its awesome to see the interest that grunge music still has. I really appreciate you guys stopping to leave your feedback. Grunge music as always seemed very special to me, like theHeavyReview said, not all of the grunge artists were the most technical musicians, its the raw energy and emotion that grips me to it. Threeeyeball kid makes a great point, i think that grunge was a movement that hasn't yet been toped due to the realness and rawness of the music itself. Take it for what it is. Its loud, its in your face, but i believe these artists truly had something to say about how they were feeling. The message that they were relaying was the message that i think people needed to hear. This is why grunge blew up so big and why people still follow it.

    • TheHeavyReview profile image

      TheHeavyReview 5 years ago

      Awesome list, Layne and Kurt are #1 for me as well! Nice to see Mark Arm- he may not be the most technical vocalist out there, but he deserves credit for being in both Green River and Mudhoney.

    • iTommyGuns profile image

      TommyGuns 5 years ago from Blakeslee, PA

      Jerry, layne, and Kurt....great picks. Great subject!

    • Theeyeballkid profile image

      Theeyeballkid 5 years ago

      Great hub, it's quite a nostalgia trip thinking about these great bands and singers. A lot of great music came out of the grunge era, I think it was the last real music movement, there has been nothing since which compares.

    • SkySlave profile image

      Skyler DeCristoforo 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks! Unfortunately allot of people i know dislike grunge music. I like to give people a chance at hearing grunge music that they may not have heard before. I think theres at least one grunge band out their that everyone can enjoy.

    • Georgie Lowery profile image

      GH Price 5 years ago from Texas

      I honestly hated grunge, but I loved Layne Staley and Chris Cornell. Great list!