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Posts Tagged ‘Crosby’

Most rock bands have one primary singer. Though other members might contribute background vocals, harmonies, or an off-beat album track, it’s somewhat unusual to see different vocalists in the lead role, on a consistent basis.  There are some bands that consistently featured two lead singers (e.g. Cream – Bruce/Clapton, Simon and Garfunkel, Styx – DeYoung/Shaw, The Cars – Ocasek/Orr), but few who exceeded that.  Even more uncommon is to see a band have a string of hit songs, featuring different lead vocalists.  The bands listed below have done just that.

  1. Chicago (Robert Lamm – “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?, Terry Kath – “Colour My World”, Peter Cetera – “25 or 6 to 4”)
  2. The Doobie Brothers (Tom Johnston – “China Grove”, Patrick Simmons – “Black Water”, Michael McDonald – “Takin’ It to the Streets”)
  3. Pink Floyd (Roger Waters – “Another Brick in the Wall”, David Gilmour – “Money”, Richard Wright – some lead vocals on “Time”, Syd Barrett – “Astronomy Domine”)
  4. The Monkees (Micky Dolenz- “Last Train to Clarksville”, Davy Jones – “Daydream Believer”, Michael Nesmith – “Listen to the Band”)
  5. Jefferson Airplane/Starship (Grace Slick – “White Rabbit”, Marty Balin – “Miracles”, Mickey Thomas – “Jane”) Founding member Paul Kantner also sang lead on many of the groups popular album cuts.
  6. The Mama’s and the Papa’s (Though they almost always sang as an ensemble, you can find some lead vocals, like John Phillips – “Creeque Alley”, Denny Doherty – “California Dreaming”, Michelle Phillips – “Dedicated to the One I Love”, Cass Elliot – “Dream a Little Dream of Me”)
  7. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (Stephen Stills – “Woodstock”, Graham Nash – “Our House”, David Crosby – “Wooden Ships”, Neil Young – “Helpless”)
  8. Fleetwood Mac (Stevie Nicks – “Dreams”, Christie McVie – “You Make Loving Fun”, Lindsey Buckingham – “Go Your Own Way”, Peter Green – “Black Magic Woman”)
  9. The Eagles (Don Henley – “Hotel California”, Glenn Frey – “Tequila Sunrise”, Randy Meisner – “Take It to the Limit”, Joe Walsh – “In the City”, Timothy B. Schmit – “I Can’t Tell You Why”)
  10. The Beatles (Paul McCartney – “Yesterday”, John Lennon – “All You Need is Love”, George Harrison – “Something”, Ringo Starr – “Yellow Submarine”)
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1. Art Garfunkel (Simon & Garfunkel):  Undoubtedly Art Garfunkel possessed one of the most distinctive voices in popular music; but despite his moderate success as a solo artist, it was really his collaboration with Paul Simon that allowed his gifts to be fully realized. Simon’s amazing songwriting and his deft vocal interplay were the perfect vehicle for Garfunkel to shine. While Simon’s career continued to soar as a solo artist, Garfunkel never again scaled the heights he visited in this partnership.

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2. David Crosby (The Bryds, Crosby Stills Nash & Young):  Like Art Garfunkel, David Crosby possessed a truly unique and beautiful voice. Though he was also an able songwriter and musician, it was his collaborations with people like Roger McGuinn (The Byrds), Gene Clark (The Bryds), Graham Nash (The Hollies), Stephen Stills (Buffalo Springfield) and Neil Young that created a lasting impact.

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3. Eddie Van Halen (Van Halen):  Eddie Van Halen is not only a tremendous guitar player, but a multifaceted musician and the creative force behind the band “Van Halen”. Yet despite his ample talent, it is unlikely that he would have ever achieved the same level of success without finding someone to be the face and voice of his band. Needless to say, he found two of rock’s most memorable showmen in David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar.

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4. Freddie Mercury (Queen):  Almost the polar opposite of Eddie Van Halen, Freddie Mercury was a quintessential showman, in need of collaborators to create the proper setting to showcase his talent. He found that in Brian May and the other members of the band Queen. This highly underrated group of musicians provided an accessible context and added valuable substance to Mercury’s eccentric persona.

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5. Ric Ocasek (The Cars):  Undoubtedly the quirky pop genius of Ric Ocasek was the driving creative force behind the music of “The Cars”. And while it seems unlikely that they would have had been noticed without him, the band’s best work occurred when Elliot Easton’s edgy guitar and Benjamin Orr’s emotive vocals were allowed to balance out his off beat lyrics and synth-pop sensibilities.

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6. Dennis DeYoung (Styx):  Like Ric Ocasek of the Cars, Dennis DeYoung of the band “Styx” was the pop visionary behind their most successful music. His creative flourishes fueled the concept albums and stage productions that distinguished the band from its peers. But at its core, Styx worked best as a rock band and in those moments, Tommy Shaw and James Young were essential in balancing DeYoung’s more theatrical sensibilities. Neither DeYoung nor the remaining members of Styx (who perform without him), have been as compelling since they parted company.

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7. Elton John:  Without question, Elton John is a tremendously gifted musician, singer and performer in his own right; but it is through his 40+ year songwriting collaboration with Bernie Taupin that his most memorable work has been produced. It is difficult to know what his career would have been without Mr. Taupin’s contributions.

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8. Roger Waters (Pink Floyd):  Certainly Roger Water’s dark cynicism and disdain for standard musical conventions were at the heart of Pink Floyd’s most memorable recordings, but without the balancing contributions of his band mates (most especially David Gilmour), his solo work has been erratic and far less compelling. Considering his sizable contributions to the band’s collective identity, the remaining members have made some surprisingly worthwhile music without him.

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9. Eric Clapton:  Though Eric Clapton has enjoyed a long and successful career as a solo artist, his most notable moments have almost always come through his collaboration with other artists. His contributions to bands like “The Yardbirds”, “John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers”, “Cream”, “Blind Faith” and “Derek & the Domino’s” were legendary and even much of his most memorable solo work showcased other songwriters like J.J. Cale (After Midnight), Robert Johnson (Crossroads) and Bob Marley (I Shot the Sheriff).

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10. Lennon & McCartney (The Beatles):  While inferring that either one of these musical legends wasn’t talented enough to stand alone would amount to sacrilege in the minds of most people, I would submit that both benefited greatly from their collaboration. Though they each created some classic music on their own, neither consistently produced anything that rivaled their work together.

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