Countless articles have been written and surveys done on frontmen but coming up with this CRUNCHLIST was a killer. It really does come down to individual opinion right? It’s so subjective!
Secondly I really wanted to understand what a real frontman is? Can you count those who are more widely known as solo artists but who started or dabbled in a band?
For me it’s surely about keeping the band together and being the voice, the presence and the central image of the band. But then that leaves the likes of John Lennon and Liam Gallagher out of the running. Tough.
And so with deadline looming, I complied my CRUNCHLIST with the following select criteria in mind: live performances, their fame in relation to the rest of the band and their sheer musical talent. Crunchtime!
The man breathed fire in full make up wearing 7 inch heels for Christsake! Somewhat slightly obsessed with super heroes and mega stardom he was the co-creator of the outrageous rock and roll band KISS. His on-stage persona was a tribute to comic book heroes “The Demin” and he has been entertaining fans since the mid-seventies when they were one of the most popular live acts to go and see. Although the band no longer perform with the original line up they are still remembered for their pyrotechnic displays, exploding guitars and Simmons blood spitting. They set the bar high for future arena shows for every big artist. KISS may not have had the highest record sales on this list but the business man in Simmons has made a fortune promoting the band through branded merchandise and selling his image around the world.
9- Anthony Kiedis
Performing with endless energy and manic enthusiasm, the once heroin-addict turned teetotaller has seven albums with The Red Hot Chilli Peppers. He wrote Californication, the tune that launched them onto another level of super stardom. His writing style hasn’t changed in two decades of recording but he’s found a formula that works and has moulded a very successful career out of his dark take on American culture. Kiedis, along with the band has been nominated for the Rock and Roll hall of fame 2011 and will be headlining this year’s MTV European music awards next month.
8- Eddie Vedder
The man is instantly recognisable by that scraggy husky voice. Pearl Jam have been together for 20 years and now the secrets of the band have been revealed in a documentary by Cameron Crowe. Unlike so many other front men Vedder stays out of the spotlight when he’s not performing after leaving the dangerous road to super stardom early on, which involved climbing lightning rigs, booze and drugs. Since then the band have remained private and although they carried on making music the rock and roll life style was left behind in the 90’s. But perhaps that’s the reason for bands success and longevity. Vedder’s singing style led to an influx of copy-cat artists from the likes of Creed to The Goo Goo Dolls. With no plans to split anytime soon the band are continuing to write produce and create for their fans.
7- Billy Joe Armstrong
The nicest guy in punk? Deffo the case for Billy Joe Armstrong. The frontman of American pop punk band Greenday is so nice to his fans he even married one! A fan of his fans he’s known to pull hurt fans out of the mosh pit at gigs and invites a lucky few on stage to perform with the band at live gigs. Still topping the bills at festivals and selling out stadiums Greenday’s upbeat attitude and lyrics are not what you’d expect from the punk genre.
6- Jon Bon Jovi
Cheese or no cheese, Jon Bovi is the king of stadium rock. And with three decades of success why would he care? The band’s classic 80’s rock catalogue remains the soundtrack of many a good night out. In fact there are so many famous songs written by Bon Jovi that the band have released a greatest hits album of 28 tracks and the band are currently on a sold out world tour of 144 dates. However it wasn’t all clean living for the New Jersey native as was revealed in ‘Star Man’, a book by his bodyguard in the 80’s who dished all the dirt!
5- Kurt Kobain
He wasn’t just the front man of Nirvana but the front man of Grunge. So much has been written and said about Kobain but his popularity was such in his short career that 20 years on his music still influences bands today. Nirvana’s unplugged performance in New York is a small example of his ability to command the attention of every person in the room even during his stripped back acoustic performance. Nevermind celebrated its 20th Anniversary this year and BBC Radio 1’s Zane Low aired a special commemorative show to mark the impact the album had on the music industry. A special edition has been re-issued proving that Kurt Kobain is still very much a leading influence for musicians and frontmen the world over.
4- Jim Morrison
Any frontman whose performances included full frontal nudity was definitely getting on our CRUNCHLIST. His self-destruct rock and roll life style was the envy of many. The lyricist behind one of the most influential bands of the 60’s The Doors, Jim Morrison always makes an appearance in the any legend articles. He died at the age of 27 after living life on fast forward fuelled by drugs and alcohol. Unfortunately he may be remembered more for his arrests over exposing himself on stage and rioting in clubs than for his short lived music career. A troublemaker yes but also adored by thousands and still influential five decades on.
3- Dave Grohl
Already a worshiped rock legend for almost two decades his fan base continues to grow among the public and within the industry. He totally upped his game this year vocally and was the highlight of the summer for many headlining festivals with The Foo Fighters all over the world. The potty mouthed rock god really rallies the crowd up with a good swear fest and doesn’t hold back his opinions: “There are no computers on this stage, we are a real band and we play real fucking instruments”. Legend.
2- Mick Jagger
At 68, ladies man, Jagger is still rocking the stage with the band behind some of the most recognisable guitar riffs in chart history. He’s legendary moves on stage have made him just as famous as any song the Rolling Stones have released. Women scream for him, men want to be him and still blessed with the ability to move like he’s still 18 Jagger performed at this year’s Grammys and stole the show. Next year The Rolling Stones will be celebrating their 50th Anniversary, celebrating not only the music but his ability to turn The Rolling Stones into a brand of its own with his slick business sense.
An eccentric, original genius and the quintessential frontman, everyone knows who Freddie Mercury is. With their perms, gold trousers and rhapsodies Mercury and Queen were never going going to go quietly into the night and Mercury died of AIDS in 1991 after a life of excess. His music is still covered by other bands and played around the world and his image remains an icon of superstardom.
Finally a couple of honourable mentions included Marylyn Manson, Ray Davies, Howlin Pelle Almqvist (if you don’t know who this is you should!), Josh Homme and Keith Flint. Who would make your CRUNCHLIST?