Not everyone listens to music to admire the voice and the vocal range of the leading singer. For many listeners, the most important thing is the music or beat. Some are willing to ignore the singer’s range and the lyrics for the sake of the music. However the most successful bands/singers are usually the ones who manage to combine quality music, meaningful lyrics and a great vocal range.
Vocal Range is basically “the measure of the breadth of pitches that a human voice can” vocalize (Wikipedia definition). Basically, it is how low and how high a note a voice can produce while singing. Sometimes it is about “talent” and sometimes can be an obligation or a choice, as singers of different genres may use aids for singing (microphones, talk-boxes and such) and they may choose to sing in different ranges.
Vocal ranges are used to determine voice types. For women, the main three types are soprano, mezzo-soprano, and contralto. For men, there are four types: countertenor, tenor, baritone, and bass.
Since letters and numbers are used for classifying vocal ranges according to voice type, I should list those notations and what they represent before bragging about some of rock’s diverse vocals.
For men: it is C3- C5 for tenor, F2- F4 for baritone and for bass, it is E2- E4. For Women: it is C4- C6 for Soprano, A3 — A5 for Mezzo-soprano and F3 – F5 for Contralto.
Some singers can go beyond these limits.
The Rock Vocalists
Freddie Mercury was the singer/songwriter/piano player of the highly popular and critically acclaimed rock band Queen from the time the band was formed in 1971 until his death in 1991.
Freddie’s speaking voice was in the baritone range but he preferred singing in the tenor range. His range included F2 — E6, to F6 and F5.
Freddie’s vocals were over a four-octave range.
|Roger Meddows- Taylor is the Queen drummer and he provided back-up vocals as well. He frequently contributed to the band’s songwriting process and he even sang lead vocals for the songs he created himself. While Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant was great at singing high notes (for instance E4), he couldn’t sing very low. Both Freddie Mercury and Roger Taylor could sing as high as Plant but they could also go much lower (A1 for Roger Taylor and E1 for Freddie Mercury. Even though Freddie has a higher range, he has been inspired and influenced by Plant’s singing style.|
|Elvis Presley is both a tenor and a baritone. In one music critic’s words, Elvis is “a high baritone, calculating his range as two octaves and a third, from the baritone low G to the tenor high B, with an upward extension in falsetto to at least a D-flat.”|
|Linda Ronstadt is an American rock singer born in 1946. She is mostly famous for singing cover songs and her high vocal range. Her voice can go from contralto and soprano. And just like Freddie Mercury, she is known to use her range in one song.|
|Matthew Bellamy is the singer/songwriter/piano and guitar player of the alternative/progressive rock band Muse. He has been known to hit A2, A4 and A5.|
|Axl Rose is the singer of the hard rock band Guns N’ Roses, founded in 1985. The band lost its original line-up in 1996 (lead guitarist Slash and several other members left) but Axl continues to front the band. Axl can sing in the tenor range, bass and baritone. Moreover he can also sing a high soprano.|
Yes most of the mentioned names were impressive but it takes more than range to make a great singer. Chris Cornell had it all. His range was spectacular, the sounds that came out of him were extraordinary.He was a complete package comparable to no one.
I can fart in bass range, talk in baritone, sing in counter tenor and if you hit my little finger with a hammer i can reach tenor, i am not boasting or anything like that but i am the complete package..
Take some time to listen to Johnny Maestro-he was a tenor to enjoy
Regarding FM, seems F2 to F6 is a range of 3 octaves, not 4. F2 to F3 would be 1 octave, right?
All of the above mentioned singers are and were AWESOME as well of those many others that are not being mentioned for now (still way to many out there of the same or better caliber) Bottom line is, let’s not forget that we are blessed for being able to appreciate and recognize their singing capability talents and for us to enjoy their singing quality components and styles. All of us to be lucky to be alive and have the honor and prestige to enjoy their singing rocking style and to be part of it all in this rock and roll world. Just the thought of selecting who is the best singer and competing for which one sings the best and giving different personal opinions, that on itself is GREAT. The selection determination process it is just magical when you appreciate their power chords, and all the singers that we enjoy listening to on our daily lives are not just winners but our number one brothers as well. As it is well known, it all depends on different factors such as the state of mind, age, personal situation, etc. etc. To determine who is the “ultimate singer king” thank goodness is always hard and thanks to the many choices on the rock singing profession and that should be construed as an AWESOME thing as well. ROCK ON.
Two words….STEVE PERRY!
I never was a fan of Queen but Freddie Mercury’s range and power was something to behold, he had the best rock voice I’ve ever heard.
Another one I like was Paul Rodgers, great rock vocals.
You people need to get off Farrokh Bulsara’s (Freddie Mercury) bandwagon. He was a great singer. Not denying that…
But he was far from the highest ranged or the “greatest,” which is all a matter of opinion anyway.
There are far more singers who had a higher range, and in my opinion, more style and class than he did. And they also had more depth than he did.
Any 80s and early 90s hard rock/ heavy metal singer blows Mercury out of the water.
Mike Matijevic, Mark Slaughter, and Rob Halford sing circles around Mercury.
There are plenty more too.
I’m also extremely surprised noone had Tim “Ripper” Owens on this list.
He was the guy the movie Rock Star was made after. He took over as Judas Priest’s lead singer and I think he’s one of the top vocalists who ever sang a note.
Incidentally, I do believe Matijevick voiced the singing in Rock Star. And Jeff Soto, but I definitely hear more of Matijevick….But, I’m sure you already knew this.
You can’t really choose between a tenor voice like Freddie had or a heavy metal husky voice like Mike Matijevic? and btw where is Ian Gillian.. this is a very strange list anyway…
Interesting that Corey Taylor isn’t mentioned…he has a five octave range and is an extremely talented individual.
Also agree with MHB, love Shinedown.
Point being, this is a biased article that doesn’t even begin to cover all of the talent that is or has been in singers/vocalists.
I apologize, Corey Taylor has a five and a half octave range, at least according to VVN Music and is second to only Mike Patton in their study.
He has a four octave range
Steve Perry is the best rock vocalist of all time! Listen to some of the albums and live shows between 1978 and 1981. He is a tenor altino which is a very rare male voice. He has incredible range, power and beautiful vibrato, and clarity. He sings in the alto range and rarely uses falsetto, but when he does, it’s in the soprano rangeI demonstrated in the live versions of Wheeln the Sky is and Mother, Father. He also shows an unbelievable talent when demonstrating multiple accurate leaps bacback and forth over the passaggio. He ruined some of these vocal abilities by performing over 200 shows a year. Steve Perry is also the best and most accurate vocally singing live.
What I find interesting. . . I went to a post Steve Perry Journey concert (won’t spend money for that again) and they didn’t play Open Arms. Crazy right.? This is their highest charted song. After, I was listening and when I heard the song I began to wonder if the guy singing could hit the highs? Now I don’t think they have the same singer anymore so maybe the new one is better or maybe the one I saw had a cold
Joe Earl Mason out of Bruce MS had a four octave range from Bass to Upper Tenor, many of his admirers say thet have never heard these ranges from a country singer !
Michael Sweet of Stryper has an amazing vocal range!
you left out Ann Wilson, the greatest rock singer in history. Who could even compete with her range, maybe freddie mercury. But no one else.
What about Grace Slick?
ohhh m surprised why Judas priest vocalist isn’t he has high range of voice which is very cool with a mixture of raw and deep voice at live or anywhere he sings it amazingly n in diamonds and rust wow at last part its amazing he would probably be placed 1 in high pitch
Guys, sorry spoiling here but the things written here are unreal!!!! (People talking about 5 to 7 octave range?!) Completely absurd!!
Let me explain:
An average 6 strings guitar itself doesn’t have 5 octaves range, you need a full piano to reach 7 octaves.
There are different vocal technics (belting, falsetto, whistle, drive, etc) but realistic none of these singer can go further than 4 full octaves (including Mariah Carey).
While Mariah can reach unbelievable high notes with her whistle, she cannot reach Johnny Cash deep low notes. Even considering Ian Gillan and Glen Hughes could hit high falsetto notes like A5, only a few serious male singers in the world can go under C2
So I’m putting my list of favourites here considering voice power+range:
Brad Delp (Boston)
Not heavy Rock, I could mention: Stevie Wonder, Sting, John Bon Jovi, etc
Elvis was a great singer although his range was of a baritone
Phillip Bailey for his amazing falsetto
Michael Jackson had a very versatile high pitch voice although he couldn’t reproduce the same live.
Well Hey!! Considering Yr comment is fairly recent, I wonder why you didn’t give an honorable mention to Mr Mike Patton. Granted you said favorite which acts as a caveat against being technically correct.. But still. 😉
You are COMPLETELY wrong if think 4 octaves is the widest range a professionally trained singer can produce! This statement is 100% false! The World record is 10 octaves held by a guy named Time Storms. Google him.
sorry to say but neither farting or whistling are considered as sounds that singer produces on mich while performing. Thus the realistic range for SINGING is as Yvan stated above.
If we talk about real singing voice range in a classical sense then only voice having a natural vibrato would be counted. For this reason opera tenors are rarely over C5, although they could produce higher sounds but not higher supported singing voice.
I’m adding this because no one else is, Brad Delp (yes the Frontman for BOSTON) not only ROCKED the most impressive range but had a powerful ability to sustain these mind blowing notes. Also, Brad had a very uncanny ability to not only imitate voices but to sing them in perfect pitch. As he aged his higher notes did fade but, he always maintained perfect pitch!
Here’s Brads range with listed references and video.
Voice type: Tenor
Vocal range: F♯2-D6
Significant high notes:
D6 (“Let Me Take You Home Tonight”)
B5 (“More That A Feeling”)
B♭5 (“Rock & Roll Band”)
A5 (“Smokin'”, “Rockin’ Away”)
G♯5 (“Let Me Take You Home Tonight”, “Something About You”, “Peace of Mind” demo)
G5 (“Smokin'”, “Talkin’ to the Wall”, “More Than A Feeling”, “Mean Woman Blues”)
F♯5 (“Rock & Roll Band”, “Cool the Engines”, “Let Me Take You Home Tonight”, “Smokin'”, “One Step Away”)
F5 (“Foreplay/Long Time”)
E5 (“Peace of Mind”, “Hollyann”, “Something About You”, “More Than a Feeling”, “We’re Ready”, “Rock & Roll Band”, “Let Me Take You Home Tonight”, “My Destination”, “A Man I’ll Never Be”, “Feelin’ Satisfied”, “Party”, “Used to Bad News”, “Given You Up for Dead”, “This Is My Life”, “Livin’ for the Rock ‘n’ Roll”, “What’s a Fella to Do”, “It’s Easy”, “Mean Woman Blues”, “I’m On a Roll”, “Hands of Time”, “Peace of Mind” demo, “More Than a Feeling” demo)
E♭5 (“Talkin’ to the Wall”, “Can’tcha Say (You Believe in Me)/Still in Love”)
D5 (“Given You Up for Dead”, “Don’t Look Back”, “Foreplay/Long Time”, “Something About You”, “Cool the Engines”, “Talkin’ to the Wall”, “The Rhythm Won’t Stop”, “Rain Down on Me”, “There’s Another Side”, “Used to Bad News”, “One Step Away”, “Until Your Love Comes Back Around”, “Dangerous”)
C♯5 (“Shakin'”, “It’s Easy”, “One in a Million”, “This Is My Life”, “When You Love Someone”, “Face the Music”, “Rock the Night”, “Show Me”, “The End” live)
C5 (“Higher Power”, “Party”, “Let Me Take You Home Tonight”, “Turn This Love Around”, “Given You Up for Dead”, “Out of My Hands”, “I Had a Good Time”, “Change for Change”, “The Rhythm Won’t Stop”, “Such a Fool”, “Birthday” live)
Significant low notes:
G♯2 (“I Had a Good Time”)
A2 (“Out of My Hands”)
B2 (“Let It Roll”, “My One True Love”, “Everyday”)
C3 (“Don’t Lead Me On”)
Best Studio Vocal Performances (According to TRP):
2. Let Me Take You Home Tonight
3. A Man I’ll Never Be
4. More Than a Feeling
5. Peace of Mind
6. Long Time
8. It’s Easy
10. Something About You
Wow, a serious Brad Delp fan! Amazing that you have taken the time and trouble to annotate these songs. In the realm of Rock Concert Ballad singers who maintained a clean, undistorted style, the two who stand head and shoulders above the rest are Steve Perry and Brad. Tom Scholz may be the creative soul of the band, but Delp was the heart, and after he was gone, Boston was, in my mind, gone. But hey, Don’t Look Back. We’ll always have those stratosphere-piercing vocals he laid down!
I couldn’t agree more! Brad Delp was an amazing talent.
Roy Orbison is under-appreciated. So is Klaus Meine.
The Big O is greatly underappreciated by the young crowd. His 4 octave range did not make use of falsetto ….and it was smooth, full power and he did it with ease. He and another great song writer of the early 60’s wrote his biggest hits to demonstrate his wonderful range and smooth delivery.
For the record, I totally agree with the sane comments here that ranges of 5 octaves and wider are mistaken. No human has that kind of range. The low A of a piano literally vibrates at a point that’s an octave or more lower than well known bass singers like Josh Turner, Johnny Cash and Trace Adkins can reach while high C is probably 12 notes higher than a squeaky soprano can reach. There is admittedly a Brazilian soprano who can squeak almost 8 octaves starting from typical soprano range and extended well beyond piano range but it’s called a whistle and can’t be discerned by human hearing so rule that exception out.
Folks need to get real.
Corey Taylor has the 2nd best, 5 1/2 ovtices. Underrated singer. Singer for Slipknot, Stone sour and numerous side projects. Phenomenal artist.
I’m really happy someone mentioned Corey Taylor on here. He amazes me. “Wait And Bleed” by Slipknot to me really showcases his unique ability to sing perfectly clear and melodic then go into straight up Death Metal vocals and back to clear again then back to Death Metal vocals and so on. And he sings pretty much all melodic in Stone Sour and has a fantastic voice.
I know he trains with Melissa Cross in NYC. She teaches most of the extreme Metal singers to do what they do without harming their voices. If you want to get a taste of her techniques get either or both of The Zen of Screaming Part 1 and The Zen of Screaming Part 2.
Corey Taylor not Death Metal
Peter Steele. Range, control, power, emotion, songwriting.
Peter Steele has one of the best voices I have ever heard. He has a low range that is powerful clear and well articulated and a upper range which sounds truly beautiful and effortless.
ROB HALFORD From JUDAS PRIEST
Has the best vocal chords EVER!!!!!
What about BOWIE?!???? His voice is so effortless and smooth, it never sounds like he’s doing much but his range is amazing, and he’s done so many different types of music!!
Also, he’s not really well know, but Corie Glover from Living Colour. One of the most powerful wide reaching voices I’ve ever heard, and he’s still got it to this day!!!!!
And for some reason pat benetar always gets left off of these things.
I meant to write “ears” and not “years” in my response to Aly… 🙂
This is the dumbest thing on the internet. “SIX OCTAVES”! LOL obviously no actual singers posting here.
3 octaves of mere chest+head voice is very impressive, especially if those 3 octaves are included in their tessitura.
If you go to a vocal school, you won’t find many men that can have a resonant G2 in chest, and have a controlled G5 in head or mix voice.
Of course you’re talking “rock singers” which accepts any old sloppy screeching and has NO standards at all in terms of technical accuracy. Freddie Mercury could not even sing WWTLF written in the original key of G, FFS let alone pull off the actual difficulties required to sing that song “correctly”.
I will assume for a second that you know about music and its technical performance as much as you claim to. So, thinking about your comment, I immediately come up with several questions that arise in my mind:
1.) Why would anyone (the members of Queen) write a song for himself in a key that he could not possibly sing in?
2.) Is there anyone who sang that song successfully in the “proper” key so I can hear it?
3.) Why does Freddie’s voice sound so good to me and millions of other people if he is not able to sing properly even their own Queen songs?
4.) Why does Montserrat Caballe state that compared to other rock/pop singers, Freddie actually sells his voice?
5.) Why does Queen’s version of WWTLF sounds the most pleasing to my years than any other version I have ever heard?
I am not saying that you are wrong or right, because I have no idea about that, but I am trying to brainstorm for reasons why your statement would be true… One thing is a fact though, no matter if your statement is true or false, my personal taste is such that I prefer listening to Freddie than to any other “technically correct” or not singer, any day of the week… I do appreciate your comment though and I will try to research this matter further, just to clarify it for myself. I have heard that Freddie never had voice lessons so I am inclined to believe you, it’s just that my years are telling me a different story. 🙂
Freddie Mercury did train his voice. In fact he introduced Ron Anderson to his vocal instructor and Ron moved to London to study with him. Ron went on to teach that technique to people like Ann Wilson, Axl Rose, Brent Smith, Myles Kennedy, Jared Leto, Geoff Tate, the list goes on and on
Wondering what your thoughts are on Steve Perry?
My best tenor singers are:dan mccafferty of nazareth,rob halford of judas priest,bruce dickenson of iron maiden,dee snider of twisted sister freddie mercury of queen, robert plant of led zip.sebastian bach of skid row and sammy hagar of van halen w/david lee roth……other singers high pitch but not good to hear……now i discovered one guy…..he is rob lundgren.
What about Chris Cornell in his prime and how could anyone not have myles Kennedy on their list!
I know this article is strictly about range, which many people use as the only quality to judge a vocalist. There is way more to vocal talent than range though, so here’s this.
One In A Million
A Vocal Analysis of ‘The Voice’
Most singers they mentioned were not all high vocal range…..try to listen any of this singer and try to sing any of their songs…dan mccafferty of nazareth,rob halford of judas priest,dee snider of twisted sister, bruce dickinson of iron msiden,michael schender,rob lundgren,uriah heep and sammy hagar van halen…..all i can say don’t sing just listen you know why?
Glenn Hughes? Better than the lot of them and he still has the same range as he had in his “prime”, Freddie actually decreased in his range as he got older, but Glenn Hughes only developed a stronger control of his vocals. Even in his 60’s he could sing the pants off of anyone. I am pretty sure that Taylor sings falsetto when he does the really high notes, and falsetto shouldnt be included in your “vocal range”, because then basically everybody has 4 octaves. Glenn Hughes has always had an incredibly high head voice, like Freddie Mercury. He should actually be the one doing the modern Queen shows rather than Paul Rodgers.
Rob Halford also had an extremely impressive range in his prime (Sad wings of Destiny-era), he later started singing falsetto after Defenders of the Faith. You should listen to the song Dreamer Deciever/Deciever, there he sets an example of his not only incredible range, but his extreme capacity of control.
Ian Gillan had an extreme vocal range just before and after he started playing in Deep Purple. If you listen to the original album of Jesus Christ Superstar, he completely overshadows the rest of the vocalists. I think the decision of having Ted Neeley doing the musical and movie was a very good choice, as Ian Gillan simply would have stolen the show. Although around the time of “Who do we think we are” you could actually see that he was beginning to wear himself out and on the “Born Again”-album he displays some seriously high notes, however they are aswell in falsetto.
King Diamond is another notable singer, who is renowned for his incredibly high notes, however they are always falsetto. Axl Rose also sings alot of falsetto and I highly doubt his head voice could match that of say Glenn Hughes.
Singing in falsetto isn’t very hard, but it is extremely hard to manage to control it and make it sound clean. It is actually very hard to even hit the right notes without intense training. King Diamond perfected the art of falsetto-singing, but his head voice took damage from it, as it did with Axl Rose and other falsetto singers. It is very hard to maintain a good falsetto over the course of 40 years it is, however, easier to take care of a really good head voice, given that you are not smoking and screaming at your wife too much. Freddy Mercury was a smoker and so his head voice was somewhat stagnated in his late career. Still, all of them are amazing singers, but Glenn Hughes truly has the best voice of rock n roll.
Axl Rose did NOT sing in falsetto. I know his teacher, Ron Anderson, and we discussed Axl.’s voice. I being a classically trained tenor knew it wasn’t falsetto. It’s completely connected tone. More specifically he’s singing in the pharyngeal voice which is what most high rock singers use. You’re shortening the vocal tract which accentuates the higher frequencies and allows one to sing higher into head voice. Then he twangs the epiglottis. Basically partially closes the epiglottis so the sound emitted from the vocal folds bounce off that additional reflective surface which gives the voice a brassy tone. What many think of as nasal.
I agree with you–Glenn Hughes is THE “Voice of Rock. ” <3
What about legendary Ann Wilson from HEART!!! Hello, she could stop a hurrican I believe she is the highest which is Soprano C-6… This list is crewed up!!! And someone wrote Michael Jackson is not listed but I thin k the list is for rock singers, however Ann Wilson should be on this list my option…
Sounds like a bunch of independent personal opinions to me. There are so many different styles of music, evolutionary changes in equipment, venues, electronics, recording equipment, etc., etc.; etc., how can anyone make a true , valid comparison?. And further more who cares? Listen to who you care about and give up trying to say WHO os best. It’s like trying to [removed] up a rope!
There is an ” apple/ oranges” factor when pontificating over best / worst ; high/ low; overall vocal strength. Just within the genre of Rock and Roll, there are countless sub genres , styles, ethnic influences, etc ., which just broadens an already diffuse area. (And thank God for the diversity, I might add) it’s nice to just sit back and listen to that diversity and the many origins, devoid of overanalyzimg or intellectualizing it. They’re all artists.
I don’t see why Ville Valo isn’t here either, he can hit 5 octaves as a baritone and even hit a b0.
I can’t believe that Frankie Valli, lead singer of The Four Seasons, didn’t make this list. His falsetto was VERY powerful and he hit some incredibly high notes in many of his songs, such as his last notes in “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” and the notes he hit at the end of “Candy Girl.” I also once read that Ray Peterson (“Tell Laura I Love Her”) had a 4+ octave range.
Frankie Valli was the man in his prime. Very few even with 4-6 octave ranges could match him for clarity.
I am surprised there is no mention of Jay Black of Jay and the Americans. His nickname is “The Voice” for a reason.
Another singer I feel should be on here is Tom Jones.
Ville Valo fux anybody when it comes to sing depp and high notes!
Freddie’s vocal range was incredible that no one can sing in the world like, he is still best of the best , he is the idle of art all time
So much of this thread is subjective. We all have our favorite singers. To me Freddie Mercury is a music genius. He wrote beautiful songs and fronted one of the best bands in history. His voice is amazing and if it declined in his “older” years, remember he sang right up the the last few months until he died at age 45. Freddie is my #1 forever. Chris Cornell was absolutely fantastic in the Soundgarden’s days. “I am the highway” proved he never lost it. I don’t count octaves, A voice that sends chills down my spine is my sound meter. Peace to all
It still amazes me how PAT BENATAR never gets a mention in these polls!
What about AC/DC? Their current singer, Brian Johnson, has a range of A1-A5. Their former vocalist, who is now deceased, had a range of A2-E6. Probably one of most commercially successful bands of all time.
its sad that ppl are so ignorant. rob halford has 4 octave range now( at age of 62 having 4 octave range is pretty impressive). he had 6 octave range during his prime.
even bruce dickenson had a very good range. dio had power, not range.
presley and ozzy are over-rated.
but i agree with one thing, no1 can sing like freddie mercury coz that was what Queen was all about.