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Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Tomm Williams, Sep 7, 2019.
Then Prince is a good suggestion. Sang, guitar, piano, wrote, produced (at 17 yo if Im not wrong)
The term Frontman kind of delineates things into, the leader of a band, category. Someone who spent or spends considerable time as a solo artist is kind of disqualified.
Definitely Prince was fantastically talented and versatile but virtually the same things could be said about numerous other musicians. Another great and versatile frontman was Greg Allman.
The names referenced here so far exhibit a fair amount of personal preference as the reigning criterion. And that's understandable, to a certain extent. Some artists mentioned I actually like but just don't think of them as versatile. Others I don't like. Others I just may know the name, but was never into their work, and couldn't name a single song of theirs if my life depended on it. I'm sure it's the same with all of us. But since we're being asked for our opinions, it's okay. So, I'll offer mine, FWIW.
Versatility as a musical frontman? Okay, that would be a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist with plenty of charisma to engage audiences. In that light, I agree with putting Steve Winwood's name on the list.
But so far, I haven't read anything here to sway my vote for the # 1 spot from Paul McCartney. And I don't mean Lennon/McCartney. And I'm thinking less of The Beatles years (though he surely did exhibit lots of charisma and versatility there) and more of the decades that followed.
He fronted Wings following The Beatles, and has fronted his live shows throughout the decades since. (He's played with his current touring band longer than he did with The Beatles, maybe Wings as well.) Though the quality of his voice and his range have suffered in recent years, he's still a better singer than a lot of contemporary artists, and in his prime was phenomenal. He plays bass, acoustic and electric guitar, keyboards, drums and probably other instruments I'm not aware of. Of course, he's a songwriter, and is versatile in that respect as well, composing rock, ballads, even orchestral music. Oh, and he produces. And he still has the charisma that engages audiences.
Yes, I was a Beatles fan. I was 10 years old sitting on the floor in front of the TV set in February of 1964, watching them on the Ed Sullivan show. Between my older brother and me, we had pretty much all of their USA released albums. After they broke up, I bought McCartney's first solo album. But I don't remember buying another album of his since. I wasn't boycotting him, I was just an old married man at the age of 19 and six months after we married my wife conceived our firstborn. So I was a kid having kids, and scrambling to make ends meet and provide for a growing family. It would be years before I bought another album.
I only include that information to temper my comments of praise. And I'm not speaking of McCartney's personal views, drugs, activism, politics, etc. And I'm not trying to get into the verboten issue of politics here. I'm only saying that if Sir Paul and I were to sit down in a room together, we'd probably find more disparity of opinion than common ground. So this isn't really about personal admiration. My comments here pertain to the assessment of his skill set, the body of work and the longevity of his career as a frontman.
Bono or Prince for me.
I understand what you’re saying LG but how can McCartneys career be anymore versatile or extensive than Jagger? Singer/songwriter, multi instrumentalist etc. To pick one over the other is more personal preference except that Jagger has fronted the same band from the beginning. McCartney has been with different bands and even been solo.
Holy crap, this clip is incredible. I was going to mention a few others, but after watching that it’s pretty obvious Prince wins, hands down.
He could write, arrange, sing, dance, play pretty much any instrument, and run a band of top shelf musicians who play their asses off.
Watch the video. Nobody’s on that level.
First of all, I confess to not being well versed in Stones' music, so that may temper what I'm about to say. I have my favorites from the '60s (Mother's Little Helper, Jumpin' Jack Flash and Paint It Black spring immediately to mind), but I don't think of either Jagger or the Stones as a group as particularly versatile. There seems to be an edgy sameness to everything they did/do. And Jagger's voice isn't particularly pleasant. The way he sings is well suited to the kind of raw, gritty styles and hedonistic themes they favor, but the vocal quality isn't great for much else. If Jagger's ever sung something that showcases a wide vocal range and pleasant vocal timbres, I haven't heard it. And as far as I know, Jagger isn't a multi-instrumentalist. I've seen him on rare occasions with a guitar, but that's it. Oh, wait, I just remembered the harmonica. Okay, I guess that qualifies him.
For versatility of writing, there's no comparison. As I said before, McCartney does rock, ballads, even orchestral music. Not all of what McCartney writes may be your cup of tea, but that's not the point here. And he also wrote and performed songs in the styles of a bygone generation, not to mention covering songs of yesteryear. There may be more to Jagger than I'm aware of, but so far I'm unconvinced.
Oh, and I'll grant you the statement about the long-standing frontman relationship between Mick and the Stones as being extensive. I'd say McCartney and Jagger are more or less on equal terms on that score. Mick's done it with one band for all these decades, Paul with three or so, but for pretty much the same time frame. But the point of this thread is not about longevity, but versatility. And while the former can lead to the latter, I contend, as I've already said, that it hasn't in Jagger's/Stones' case.
It may actually be easier to define which water is wettest: The kind with 1 oxygen atom, or the kind with 2 hydrogen atoms.
Robin Zander is among the best.
when Steve left the band faces they had to replace him with a guitar player and a singer!
Glad you appreciated. Indeed he produced everything. Songs, choreography, band, etc. Only 30k views of that clip and I also think it was awesome.
The man was unbelievable. Everyone has seen the popular clips-- i.e., stealing the show for My Guitar Gently Weeps. Super Bowl halftime show. Etc.
Here is how Prince handled the press conference for the Super Bowl halftime show (not great audio but great playing of Johnny B Goode)
So most versatile front man IN ROCK to me would include:
Vocals with a great range
Additional skills with musical instruments
Lot's of greats already mentioned, but I'll go with Myles Kennedy.
Slash and the Conspirators:
Here's a question that I truly don't know the answer to, but if not for all those here who consider him a contender for most versatile front man in Rock I'd say the answer is no:
Did Prince play Rock?
If yes then maybe someone can post some clips of Prince playing Rock.
Well he sort of played Rock at the beginning and can certainly play Rock guitar, but I've never seen him front a Rock band or record Rock albums.
I've seen him play on TV shows where he went more Rock than his usual band style, but I just can't say Prince is a Rock frontman.
If by versatile frontman we mean being an effective front man in multiple genres of music I’ll throw out the man many TDPRI-ers like to loathe: John Mayer. He had a multiplatinum career doing soft romantic ballads; then toured in a hard core blues rock band; and now plays and sings in the Grateful Dead. Pretty damn versatile...
Todd Rundgren. Vocals, guitar, keys, drums, sax.
Kotzen does loose musicality in some of his solos but I don't hear that in the first or last solo videos I posted. It tweaks my ear because after nearly five decades of listening to Hendrix, SRV, blues players etc my ears are burnt out by basic pentatonic solos.
When you get stuck listening to one style or learning one players licks you don't progress and it gets boring like listening to the same song for decades. I get bored listening to my own playing too when stuck on a few artists styles when I improvise so i like to expand on what i listen to so i can steal new licks.
Jazz is too much for me and I don't like shred, Kotzen has a real Hendrix vibe in the first video but mixes it up with jazz fusion flavoured licks played with fingers and what guitar player doesn't like the sound of a sweetly overdriven Marshall feeding back.
I like to be surprised by a solo now and then whereas the majority of players I know what's coming having heard their licks thousands of times by hundreds of players.
The post was asking for the most versatile front man, not peoples favourites. For me that means being able to cover several genres and play multiple instruments at pro level as well as have stand out vocals. I don't see much of that in mainstream promoted artists. They generally have their style/formula that the industry promotes and prefers or demands that they stick to.