What makes a great frontman or woman? A distinctive voice and bags of charisma are a good start, while the ability to command a crowd comes in handy, too. Yet it doesn’t always come down to technical excellence, showmanship or the ability to entertain. Indeed, some of the most iconic performers make the grade on intensity alone – they can transfix their audience simply because they’re so real they make it known they really couldn’t (and shouldn’t) be doing anything else. One thing’s for sure, they’re a rare breed, and the really great ones don’t come along too often. With that in mind, we salute rock and pop’s 20 best frontmen and women…
Listen to our Rock Classics playlist here, and check out our pick of the best frontmen and women, below.
20: Morrissey (The Smiths)
As soon as The Smiths released their debut single, Hand In Glove, it was obvious Morrissey was a unique talent. Brandishing acidic yet erudite lyrics, his eccentric sense of style (he usually sported thrift-store clothes and swung a bunch of gladioli on stage) struck a chord with disaffected youth and – whether fronting The Smiths or as a solo artist – he arguably remains the most singular frontman ever to travel from the leftfield right into the heart of the mainstream.
“Pop music was all I ever had, and it was completely entwined with the image of the pop star,” Morrissey told The New York Times in 1991. “I remember feeling that the person singing was actually with me and understood me and my predicament. A lot of times I felt I was engaged with an absolute tangible love affair.”
Must hear: The Queen Is Dead (live in London, 1986)