Classic Rock: Rock and Metal Vocalists of the Greatest Generation

 Classic Rock: Rock and Metal Vocalists of the Greatest Generation

With all the swagger, bandanas and swagger associated with classic rock of the 80s, it might seem surprising that so many great vocal performances came from this era. Many  musicians turn their nose up at this particular decade, feeling that it was all about showy, decadent lifestyles over music. While there is much evidence to support this, there are a great many vocal performances from this particular time that would seem to support this being one of the greatest generations of rock singers to ever come down the line.

Starting with the obvious, we have Brad Delp (Boston) and Steve Perry (Journey) carrying the torch over from the 70s. Delp’s golden tone and soulful, pitch-perfect, four-octave range remains one of the great wonders of the musical world. Perry’s more gritty sound still captured the hearts of rock enthusiasts everywhere, as Journey would go on to dominate the early part of the 80s. Foreigner’s Lou Gramm also made a monster transition from the late 70s into 80s superstardom with a host of hits.

Other holdover singers from the 70s also carved out a grand niche in the decade of hairspray, including Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin), Ann and Nancy Wilson (Heart), David Coverdale (Deep Purple, Whitesnake) Rob Halford (Judas Priest), Sammy Hagar (Montrose, Van Halen) and Freddie Mercury (Queen)just to name a few. And it was truly good to have each of these vocalists on the airwaves and in our walkmans at that time because it helped offset some of the lesser performances of that era.

The 80s also saw a new crop of rock and metal vocalists taking a shot at vocal greatness. Zebra’s Randy Jackson helmed one of the great and now unsung releases of the early 80s with Zebra’s debut. His multi-octave golden tone called to mind the greater performances of Robert Plant’s heyday with Zeppelin. Joe Elliot of Def Leppard crafted a rough-and-raw metal style that would broaden as the 80s wore on, leading to the sales of tens of millions of albums.

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