15 Best Rock Singers of the 1970s

The 1970s was a groundbreaking era for rock music, and lead singers and frontmen emerged as cultural icons. An explosive surge in innovative artistry and creative expression broke away from convention, giving rise to the development of new genres. This energy injected popular music with a new wave of popularity that completely transformed the music scene.

Iconic rock vocalists like Stevie Nicks, Patti Smith, and Freddie Mercury revolutionized the role of rock singers. They pushed the limits of the genre by infusing dynamic new sounds with blues, funk, and new artistic elements into their music. This list explores 15 of the best rock singers of the 1970s and their cultural impact on the music industry.

Iggy Pop

Iggy Pop performing
Editorial credit: J Morc / Shutterstock.com

Stand Out Tracks: “The Passenger,” “Lust for Life’, “Down on the Street”

Band: The Stooges

As the frontman for The Stooges, Iggy Pop was renowned for his magnetic energy, emerging as a central figure on the rock scene. With an abrasive style in his performances, he incorporated a raw, gritty, and primal sound into his vocals, complementing the rebellious and aggressive nature of his music. A dynamic and surprisingly versatile performer, Iggy Pop is renowned for his distinctive style and uninhibited performances, which established him as one of the greatest rock singers of the 1970s.

Ozzy Osborne

Ozzy Osbourne at the OZZFEST 2007 press conference
Editorial credit: s_bukley / Shutterstock.com.

Stand Out Tracks: ”Paranoid,” “Children of the Grave,” “Master of Reality”

Band: Black Sabbath

Ozzy Osbourne’s haunting vocals with Black Sabbath helped craft a new alternative sound that established the band as pioneers of the heavy metal movement, offering an alternative to mainstream rock at the time. Despite Osbourne’s unique voice not being conventionally good, it was deemed great thanks to his distinct sound combined with the band’s fusion of heavy blues, sinister themes, and a hedonistic lifestyle. He is certainly memorable as one of the greatest frontmen of the time.

Rod Stewart

Rod Stewart
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Standout tracks: “Hot Legs,” “The First Cut is Deepest,” and “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?”

Band: Faces

One of the finest voices of a generation, Rod Stewart is renowned for his soulful, raspy voice and ability to reimagine classics, becoming a magnificent rock interpreter and storyteller. Affectionately known as “Rod the Mod,” his ability to deliver emotion through his music was truly remarkable. A trailblazer in electric folk, blues, and rock, Stewart defied conventions. He fearlessly experimented with his sound, showcasing his musical prowess and establishing himself as one of the greatest rock singers of his time.

Roger Daltrey

Roger Daltrey
Editorial credit: Anthony Mooney / Shutterstock.com

Stand Out Tracks: “Baba O’Riley,” “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” “Behind Blue Eyes”

Band: The Who

The brilliant lead singer of the iconic rock band The Who, Daltrey’s commanding vocals helped transform the band and pushed the boundaries of both music and performance art. Over time, Daltrey developed his hard rock sound through his solo career, transforming into one of rock’s most powerful lead vocalists.

Bob Seger

Bob Seger
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Stand Out Tracks: “Old Time Rock & Roll,” “Still The Same,” “Beautiful Loser”

Band: Solo Artist

A classic rocker, Bob Seger’s iconic voice is easily distinguishable for its raspy, powerful sound and classic take on rock. With strong roots in Detroit’s Old Time Rock & Roll traditions, he used his distinctive growl and gritty warmth to address poignant social issues through rugged ballads like “Turn the Page” and “The Famous Final Scene,” showcasing a level of maturity and depth to his work that was well beyond his years.

Grace Slick

Dark guitar case and a concert amplifier
Image credit: ChiccoDodiFC / Shutterstock.com

Stand Out Tracks: “White Rabbit,” “Jane,” “Miracles”

Band: Jefferson Airplane, Starship

One of the original female rock artists, Grace Slick, was a revolutionary American musician renowned for her captivating performances and dynamic vocals with Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship, and Starship. Slick was a symbol of the ’60s and ’70s psychedelic rock era and a trailblazer for female rock musicians and the counterculture movement of the decade.

Robert Plant

Robert Plant
Editorial credit: Bruce Alan Bennett / Shutterstock.com

Stand Out Tracks: “Black Dog,” “The Rain Song,” “Stairway to Heaven”

Band: Led Zeppelin

Robert Plant’s piercing vocals earned him the title of the “Golden God” of Led Zeppelin. A musical phenomenon, Plant’s voice fused elements of his contemporaries, hitting high notes and contrasting with intense guttural sounds, giving him a distinctly androgynous style that contributed to the development of the heavy metal genre and shaped rock history.

Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin at the Madame Tussauds museum in SF. It was open on June 26, 2014
Editorial credit: Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock.com

Stand Out Tracks: “Ball and Chain,” “Half Moon,” “Buried Alive in The Blues”

Band: Solo Artist

Janis Joplin ascended to ’70s rock icon status at lightning speed, earning legendary status in just 52 months. Her distinctive voice, often compared to blues greats, manipulated the sound of blues, rock, and soul to skillfully convey a range of emotions from raw vulnerability to rage with unmatched intensity. Although her career was brief, her talent and incredible delivery cemented her as one of the era’s greatest rock artists.

Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney
Editorial credit: Debby Wong / Shutterstock.com

Stand Out Tracks: “Don’t Let Me Down”, “The Lovely Linda”, “Live and Let Die”

Band: The Beatles, solo career 

Paul McCartney’s vocal versatility and multifaceted genius established him as a rock legend. A celebrated songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist, McCartney cultivated an impressive array of skills that contributed to his musical prowess. His vocal abilities, from delicate ballads to powerful belters, solidify his status as a ’70s rock legend.

David Bowie

David Bowie's Alter Ego
Editorial credit: Stefano Chiacchiarini ’74 / Shutterstock.com

Stand Out Tracks: “Starman,” “Heroes,” “Rebel Rebel”

Band: Solo Artist

Glam rock icon David Bowie was adored for his musical innovation, trend-setting style, and constant reinventions, such as Ziggy Stardust. He remained a true emblem of the 1970s glam rock era. His dynamic presence, high-energy theatrical delivery, and rich baritone voice, combined with bluesy conventional styles, continue to distinguish him as a rock legend and household name.

Patti Smith

Patti Smith
Editorial credit: Ben Houdijk / Shutterstock.com

Stand Out Tracks: “Dancing Barefoot,” “Because the Night,” “Gloria”

Band: Solo Artist

Patti Smith, an influential member of the New York City-based punk rock movement in the ’70s, emerged as an accidental rock icon. Identifying as a poet and artist, she discovered her singing ability with the release of “Horses” in 1975 and reshaped the industry by demonstrating endless possibilities of musical expression. Thanks to her unmatched artistry and creative spirit, she became a narrative powerhouse in the rock scene.

Debbie Harry

Debbie Harry
Editorial credit: Sterling Munksgard / Shutterstock.com

Stand Out Tracks: “Heart of Glass,” “One Way or Another,” “Dreaming”

Band: Blondie

Debbie Harry, lead singer of American rock band Blondie, left a significant mark on the 1970s music scene. Fearlessly experimenting with her voice, she fused rock with reggae, hip-hop, and avant-garde elements. Her cool-girl persona and satirical lyrics cemented her as a cultural and new-wave punk icon with a lasting influence on the music scene.

Stevie Nicks

Stevie Nicks
Editorial credit: Randy Miramontez / Shutterstock.com

Stand Out Tracks: “Gold Dust Woman,” “Landslide,” Everywhere”

Band: Fleetwood Mac

Stevie Nicks’s legendary status as a mythical musical alchemist is evident in her sultry tones and enchanting voice that encapsulate the sound of 1970s rock. Revered for her unwavering power and transformative presence, she distinguished Fleetwood Mac’s sound and continues to influence artists like Harry Styles, Courtney Love, and Florence Welch with spellbinding classics like “Dreams” and “Wild Heart.”

Mick Jagger

Mick Jagger arriving the Premiere of Crossfire Hurricane
Editorial credit: Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock.com.

Stand Out Tracks: “Angie,” “Miss You,” “Beast of Burden”

Band: The Rolling Stones

Easily a contender for the best frontman of all time, Mick Jagger’s distinctive voice, rockstar lifestyle, and energetic performances as the lead man of The Rolling Stones place him in a league of his own. A genuine rock god, Jagger’s unique voice and irresistible presence remain unmatched, helping earn his band, The Rolling Stones, the reputation of being one of the world’s greatest rock and roll bands.

Freddie Mercury

Freddie Mercury performing
Editorial credit: Bruce Alan Bennett / Shutterstock.com

Stand Out Tracks: “We Will Rock You”, “Somebody to Love”, “You’re My Best Friend”

Band: Queen

Without a doubt, another of the greatest rock musicians of the 1970s and of all time, Freddie Mercury, was a legendary frontman whose flamboyant personality and energetic performances revolutionized rock and defied all conventions. A remarkable singer and creative genius, his four-octave vocal range and theatrical flare, demonstrated in tracks like “Bohemian Rhapsody,” solidified his spot as one of the most influential and technically gifted musicians of all time.

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