Bands with more than one (good) lead singer
March 31, 2007 6:40 AM   Subscribe

Mainstream bands with more than one (good) lead singer?

Need help with a list of mainstream bands who had success with more than one equally capable lead singer all in the group at the same time.

Good examples: The Cars (Ocasek/Orr) and The Who (Daltrey/Townshend) had big hits from both guys.

Not good examples:
- Van Halen (lineup changes don't count)
- Queen (Mercury was front man but Taylor occasionally sang, i.e. "I'm in Love with My Car")
- 'Traveling Wilburys'-type aggregations of performers
- Obscure, indie or other groups who the "average person" would not recognize

I guess the more you have to justify/qualify/explain your response, it's probably not fitting the bill.
posted by I_Love_Bananas to Media & Arts (74 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Barenaked Ladies
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 6:45 AM on March 31, 2007

The Beatles. The Libertines.
posted by popcassady at 6:46 AM on March 31, 2007

oops forgot:
Sister Hazel
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 6:46 AM on March 31, 2007

B52s, Roxette. You could think of lots of duos like Roxette, I suppose. ABBA.
posted by Wolfdog at 6:47 AM on March 31, 2007

pink floyd
posted by fair_game at 6:47 AM on March 31, 2007

The Eagles
posted by Khalad at 6:51 AM on March 31, 2007

Fleetwood Mac
posted by punkfloyd at 6:52 AM on March 31, 2007

Need to qualify.

I knew this would happen. I tried to come up with all the contingencies but...

I need the singers to be independent of each other.... meaning, their hits are not products of singing together or harmonizing with each other, or trading off verses.

Separate people, separate lead vocals. The example of The Cars is the best one I can think of and illustrates what I mean.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 6:52 AM on March 31, 2007

posted by punkfloyd at 6:54 AM on March 31, 2007

The Band: Danko, Helm and Manuel were all fine singers.

Uncle Tupelo: Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar shared singing duties.

The Grateful Dead: Well this one violates the (good) criterion but Jerry and Bobby sang every other song.
posted by octothorpe at 6:54 AM on March 31, 2007

Yes! - B52's, Fleetwood Mac, Eagles, after some reflection I buy ABBA. Excellent!

Can't believe I didn't come up with the Beatles on my own. Duh.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 6:54 AM on March 31, 2007

the New Pornographers
posted by CaptMcalister at 7:01 AM on March 31, 2007

The Beautiful South.
posted by handee at 7:11 AM on March 31, 2007

The Band
The Beatles
They Might Be Giants
posted by kdern at 7:19 AM on March 31, 2007

good one octothorpe...
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 7:21 AM on March 31, 2007

posted by baphomet at 7:27 AM on March 31, 2007

The Monkees. I myself prefer the Davy songs.
posted by lampoil at 7:29 AM on March 31, 2007

Mates of State.
posted by subtle-t at 7:40 AM on March 31, 2007

The New Pornographers
The Constantines
Wolf Parade
Swan Lake
Broken Social Scene
The Most Serene Republic
The Arcade Fire

With some of these, the appearance of the second vocalist isn't exactly common, but it still happens.
posted by synecdoche at 8:04 AM on March 31, 2007

maybe the guess who?
posted by lester's sock puppet at 8:04 AM on March 31, 2007

Pink Floyd again, but I will give examples. (And note that Roger Waters is NOT a very good vocalist, but had his moments, sometimes by re-recording snippets in the studio till he got it right. Although his performance in the live CD of The Wall, Is there Anybody Out There, is well done.)
David Gilmour and Roger Waters sang most of the lead, but Rick Wright had a few good ones, and traded off lead with Gilmour on some memorable songs such as Time.

Rather than list anything here, I give you this link.
posted by The Deej at 8:07 AM on March 31, 2007

The Pixies
Dead Can Dance
The Chieftans
Drive-By truckers
posted by kimdog at 8:11 AM on March 31, 2007

Blink 182
Dada (not too popular but they had 2 distinct singers)

not sure about these but maybe...

The Beach Boys
posted by eightball at 8:17 AM on March 31, 2007

Toad the Wet Sprocket
posted by 4ster at 8:27 AM on March 31, 2007

Also, the Runaways (the band that produced Joan Jett and Lita Ford).
posted by 4ster at 8:31 AM on March 31, 2007

A bit of a stretch, perhaps, but I'd count the Rolling Stones, given Keith Richards's singing on "Happy".
posted by Zonker at 8:37 AM on March 31, 2007

The Pipettes have 3 singers and the "lead" rotates between songs.
posted by subtle-t at 8:41 AM on March 31, 2007

Depeche Mode: Dave Gahan and Martin Gore (although few of Gore's were hits)
Tears for Fears: Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith
The Eagles: Don Henley and Glen Fry
posted by rintj at 8:47 AM on March 31, 2007

Indigo Girls
posted by bassjump at 9:11 AM on March 31, 2007

The Eagles: Don Henley and Glen Frey

and Randy Meisner and Joe Walsh and Bernie Leadon

Also, I'd add Little Feat
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:16 AM on March 31, 2007

The Pogues
R.E.M. (Mike Mills sings lead on several songs)
U2 (The Edge has sung lead on a couple of songs.)
posted by kirkaracha at 9:27 AM on March 31, 2007

Deerhoof and The Fiery Furnaces
posted by Andy Harwood at 9:34 AM on March 31, 2007

Scissor Sisters
posted by awesomebrad at 9:36 AM on March 31, 2007

Sonic Youth
posted by carsonb at 9:47 AM on March 31, 2007

posted by kittyprecious at 9:58 AM on March 31, 2007

Badfinger and Big Star
posted by gfrobe at 10:00 AM on March 31, 2007

The Beastie Boys
posted by iconomy at 10:08 AM on March 31, 2007

Alice in Chains
posted by ghegar at 10:09 AM on March 31, 2007

I will use a bunch of these! Thank you all.

Many are too obscure though or too fine a line (U2 I think isn't quite fitting the requirements)... all the songs, regardless of singer, must be/have been hits (in the most conventionally acceptable definition of the word.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 10:09 AM on March 31, 2007

Can't believe nobody mentioned Kiss.
posted by Atom12 at 10:40 AM on March 31, 2007

Phish? Trey usually sang the lead vocals on their songs, but Mike, Page and even Fish had songs that were theirs.

The Grateful Dead? Plenty of Jerry songs vs. Bobby songs.
posted by emelenjr at 10:41 AM on March 31, 2007

Blue Oyster Cult?
posted by Calloused_Foot at 10:44 AM on March 31, 2007

"Numb" by U2 sung by the Edge was the first single off Zooroopa and hit #2 on the Modern Rock charts.
posted by smackfu at 10:44 AM on March 31, 2007

posted by roll truck roll at 10:50 AM on March 31, 2007

posted by bink at 11:25 AM on March 31, 2007

Goo Goo Dolls
posted by sexymofo at 11:30 AM on March 31, 2007

Seconding Sister Hazel. And I'd also like to throw Floetry out there.
posted by LiliaNic at 11:31 AM on March 31, 2007

posted by Robot Rowboat at 11:49 AM on March 31, 2007

Traveling Wilburys
posted by kjars at 11:51 AM on March 31, 2007

Veruca Salt!
posted by pazazygeek at 11:52 AM on March 31, 2007

I should learn to read the question.
posted by kjars at 11:52 AM on March 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

Rilo Kiley
The Weepies
Black Eyed Peas?
Nickel Creek
posted by non sum qualis eram at 12:27 PM on March 31, 2007

Sebadoh, although this may fail the 'average person' rule.
posted by liquidindian at 12:34 PM on March 31, 2007

Massive Attack. Though they rotated out guest vocalists, there was (mostly) always a core of three guys. They don't have as much name recognize as they do song recognition; almost anyone would recognize "angel" off of Mezzanine. Inertia creeps, while less popular, is I think still quite well known and features multiple core vocalists.
posted by flaterik at 12:43 PM on March 31, 2007

Hüsker Dü - may not be recognizable to the "average" person, but if Rilo Kiley and the Beautiful South count...
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 12:47 PM on March 31, 2007


British metal band, with a screamer and growler.

+1 to 3 Inches of Blood as well! The best I've ever seen dual metal vocals pulled off live.
posted by chrispy108 at 1:04 PM on March 31, 2007

Whiskeytown -- Ryan Adams and Caitlin Carey

Savatage -- Jon Oliva and Zak Stevens

Traffic -- at various points Dave Mason, Jim Capaldi, and Steve Winwood

Matatabi and Kuroneko from Onmyou-za are probably not mainstream enough, are they? Darn. I love that band...
posted by Smilla's Sense of Snark at 1:15 PM on March 31, 2007

Gomez has THREE!
posted by vytae at 1:25 PM on March 31, 2007


And from the '80's...

Split Enz
Tears for Fears
posted by chococat at 1:50 PM on March 31, 2007

Tegan and Sara (and I'll admit, half the time I can't tell which twin is singing)
posted by messylissa at 2:23 PM on March 31, 2007

X (John Doe and Exene Cervenka)


Throwing Muses (pre-"Red Heaven" era with Tanya Donnelly)

The Pixies

Yo La Tengo (jeez, YLT seems to be the appropriate answer for many AskMe questions as of strange)

At least to my observation, the best "two lead singer" bands seem to generally be comprised of mixed male/female vocals. There are a lot of multiple-male lead singer bands, but I have a much harder time thinking of GOOD multiple-male lead singer bands off the top of my head.

XTC came to mind, but compared to Andy Partidge, Colin's voice seems rather generic to my ears, so I don't think it qualifies for I_L_B's "(good)" requirement.
posted by melorama at 3:21 PM on March 31, 2007 reading the entire thread, i see now that, as influential and "mainstream" that the bands I mentioned are in their respective genres, they aren't exactly "hit" bands.
posted by melorama at 3:27 PM on March 31, 2007

It probably doesn't fit all the requirements.. but Queens of the Stone Age. Josh Homme is the main singer, but Nick sang some songs. I say sang because he's no longer in the band. Plus Mark Lanegan has sung on some of their tunes here and there too.
posted by VegaValmont at 5:30 PM on March 31, 2007

Everything But the Girl
posted by kirkaracha at 6:09 PM on March 31, 2007

Jefferson Airplane/Starship
posted by rfs at 6:09 PM on March 31, 2007

The Posies
Alkaline Trio
posted by redshifter at 10:34 PM on March 31, 2007

I can't be the only one who digs Keith Richards' vocals on "Happy" or "You Got the Silver." The latter particularly deserves respect, no matter how comic Keith's persona is these days.

And another obvious choice from classic rock--since you mentioned the mainstream bit--is The Who.
posted by raysmj at 12:23 AM on April 1, 2007

raysmj, I did reference The Who in my original post...
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 7:21 AM on April 1, 2007

Looking over the list as it stands I see 20-25 or so I will feel confident in using.

The rest are out because either I never heard of them, the friend doing this contest will have never heard of them, or they are too much on the line requiring "yeah, but..." justification.

Thanks again!
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 7:26 AM on April 1, 2007

In early Lonestar albums, John Rich traded off singing duties with lead singer Richie MacDonald. Early hits, such as No News, Say When, and Everything's Changed cemented MacDonald's distinctive voice in the group's commercial sound, and Rich eventually left Lonestar to pursue other opportunities.

If I remember correctly, the next Lonestar album was Lonely Grill, which contained the once-in-a-career hit song Amazed, which ended up being the biggest pop/country crossover hit fronted by a male singer in years.

And as for John Rich? He launched a failed bid for a solo singing career before settling for songwriting, in which capacity he launched the career of 'Redneck Woman' Gretchen Wilson... and ironically found popular success himself singing offbeat tunes (such as Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy) with songwriting partner 'Big' Kenny Alphin in the duo Big & Rich.
posted by The Confessor at 9:48 AM on April 1, 2007

Jefferson Airplane? Oasis? (or did the other brother only sing when the first was having a tantrum?) The Jacksons? Public Enemy? Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young? Fugazi? Galaxie 500? Low? Swans? Strawberry Switchblade? The Birthday Party? My Bloody Valentine?
posted by Martin E. at 12:10 PM on April 1, 2007

Styx (Dennis DeYoung and Tommy Shaw)
posted by SisterHavana at 8:20 PM on April 1, 2007

OMG, how could I have ignored Styx? They are a perfect example.

Thx Havana!
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 11:32 AM on April 2, 2007

Night Ranger - Kelly Keagy & Jack Blades. Keagy is also a singing drummer.

Damn Yankees - Tommy Shaw, Jack Blades & occasionally Ted Nugent
posted by drstein at 1:27 PM on April 2, 2007

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