Access To Rock

Access To Rock

MGK’s Top 20 Countdown for 2023 is counting down the 20 greatest classic rock singers decided by our listener vote.

We’ll dedicate blocks at 9am, 2pm, and 7pm to one singer who’s made the list every weekday throughout the month of February.

From underrated vocalists like Brad Delp of Boston to larger-than-life frontmen like Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones, our listeners have put together a list of excellent choices so far. 

Listen to MGK’s Top 20 Recap Weekend on March 4-5. It will include blocks every hour from singers who made the list to catch you up on anything you missed!

 

  • 20. Brad Delp

    Tom Scholz pieced Boston together in the early 1970s mostly based on his previous group Mother’s Milk. He assembled Brad Delp, John (“Sib”) Hashian, Barry Goudreau, and Fran Sheehan as the original members of Boston.

    Their self-titled debut album Boston blew up almost instantly after its release in 1976 with “More Than A Feeling” as its most popular track. Additional hits like “Peace of Mind” and “Let Me Take You Home Tonight” solidified the album and the band’s status as a Rock & Roll giant.

    Delp sang for Boston on their 1978 album Don’t’ Look Back and their 1986 album Third Stage. He passed away tragically in 2007 at the age of 55.

  • 19. Steven Tyler

    Aerosmith released their self-titled debut album with Columbia Records in 1972. Steven Tyler quickly exploded onto the scene as the front man and lead vocalist propelled by the single track “Dream On” rising toward the top of the charts.

    Aerosmith released Toys in the Attic in 1975. The album included two of the band’s most iconic hits, “Walk This Way” and “Sweet Emotion.”

    They have recorded 15 total studio albums, and Tyler released We’re All Somebody From Somewhere solo in 2016. He has also played piano, harmonica, and percussion at different points with Aerosmith, widely considered one of the greatest American rock bands.

  • 18. Bruce Springsteen

    Bruce Springsteen grew up in Freehold, New Jersey before gradually making a name for himself in Asbury Park and the surrounding area in North Jersey. He built a reputation as a hero of the common man with semi-autobiographical lyrics written to provide hope an inspiration to his audiences.

    “The Boss” has released 21 studio albums, and the legendary E. Street Band has followed him through decades of tours.

    His affinity for the Jersey Shore has helped his popularity grow locally. 

  • 17. Don Henley

    Don Henley began as an original member of the Eagles before their self-titled debut album in 1972. 

    He sang lead vocals on the timeless “Hotel California” as well as hits like “Desperado,” “Life in the Fast Lane,” and “Witchy Woman.” He left the Eagles to pursue a solo career during the 1980s. His greatest solo success came with “Dirty Laundry” in 1982 and “The Boys of Summer” in 1984.

    Henley unexpectedly rejoined the Eagles in 1994 for the appropriately named album Hell Freezes Over. He has continued solo ventures and tours with the Eagles.

  • 16. Jon Anderson

    Jon Anderson teamed up with bassist Chris Squire and guitarist Peter Banks to form Yes, one of the most influential progressive rock bands in history.

    An appreciation for mystical lyrics became an important and unique element of the band’s success. Anderson drew the inspiration for some of the memorable lyrics from classic literature and philosophical concepts in world history.

    He co-authored three of Yes’s most recognizable hits: “I’ve Seen All Good People,” “Roundabout,” and “Owner Of A Lonely Heart.” 

  • 15. Mick Jagger

    Mick Jagger achieved success as the iconic front man for the Rolling Stones, one of the most impactful bands in the history of Rock & Roll. Jagger and Keith Richards have been the steady foundation of the Rolling Stones for an astonishing run of tours for over 60 years. 

    The Stones have released 30 studio albums with unmistakable hits like “You Can’t Alway Get What You Want,” “Paint It Black,” “Sympathy for the Devil” (among too many others to name).

    Jagger continues to withstand the test of Father Time at age 79.

  • 14. Phil Collins

    Phil Collins got his first taste of mainstream success as the replacement drummer for Genesis during the 1970s. He soon became as recognizable as Genesis lead singer Peter Gabriel.

    After Collins left Genesis to pursue a solo career, he became one of the most successful rock artists of the 1980s with a run of 13 straight top ten hits in the United States. His dual talents as a drummer and a singer rivals the best of all-time. 

  • 13. Stevie Nicks

    Stevie Nicks teamed up with Lindsey Buckingham to form a successful duo during the early 1970s, but her most memorable success came after both performers joined up with Fleetwood Mac. Nicks was the female lead vocalist featured in recognizable hits like “Rhiannon” and “Landslide.”

    The surviving members of Fleetwood Mac paid heartfelt tribute after the recent passing of Christin McVie. 

    Stevie Nicks and Billy Joel will perform at Lincoln Financial Field in June. 

  • 12. Billy Joel

    Billy Joel is one of the best-selling artists of all time. He has won six Grammy Awards, and he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1999. The Library of Congress chose “Piano Man” to be added to the National Recording Registry in 2014.

    The Long Island native has had two hits, “It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me” and “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” reach the top of the charts. Other widely known songs include “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant,” “Captain Jack,” and “Only the Good Die Young.”

    Billy Joel and Stevie Nicks will perform at Lincoln Financial Field in June. 

  • 11. Chris Cornell

    Chris Cornell is one of the most influential musicians of the peak era of grunge rock during the 1990s. He became the lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist for Soundgarden and helped the band rise to prominence through the late 1980s and early 1990s.

    Their 1994 album Superunknown officially put them on the map with other iconic Seattle rock bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam.

    Cornell also became the lead vocalist for Audioslave from 2001-2007. He passed away tragically in 2017.

  • 10. Elton John

    Sir Elton John became a worldwide phenomenon during his peak when he recorded seven #1 albums from 1972-1975. His talent as a pianist in addition to being an incredible singer helped songs like “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” “Tiny Dancer,” “Bennie and the Jets,” and “Rocket Man” become timeless classics.

    His work as a composer, especially writing the music for The Lion King, has helped further his legacy.

    With over 70 songs that have it made it to the Top 40, he is the most successful male singer in the history of the American charts.

    The release of the biopic Rocket Man in 2019 helped Sir Elton explode back onto the scene. He is currently on the Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour, which began its North American portion at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia in June 2022.

  • 9. Ann Wilson

    Ann Wilson helped Heart make its way into the conversation with some of the top rock & roll bands of the 1970s. Her work singing lead vocals for “Crazy On You” on the album Dreamboat Annie in 1975 helped her build a reputation as one of the best female singers of all time. “Magic Man” and “Barracuda” also grew as two of Heart’s biggest hits.

    She was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2013 as a member of Heart. Her sister Nancy Wilson also plays guitar in the band.

  • 8. Paul Rodgers

    Paul Rodgers has made his way around as the lead vocalist for multiple legendary rock & roll bands. He joined Free in 1968, where his his fist major hit “All Right Now” shot up the charts.

    Rodgers did his most memorable work with Bad Company through the 1970s. They released memorable hits like “Feel Like Makin’ Love,” “Shooting Star,” and the title track “Bad Company” of their self-titled debut album Bad Company.

    He later had tenures with the Law and the Firm in addition to his solo performances. He even joined up with Queen as a featured singer from 2004-2009.

  • 7. Paul McCartney

    When Paul McCartney and John Lennon met as teenagers in 1957, music changed forever. The Beatles rose to fame as a driving force behind the British Invasion of Rock & Roll and became one of the most influential bands of all time.

    Paul’s talent as a singer was at it best with “Hey Jude” in 1968. The melody changed towards the end into a new sound in one of the most iconic rock songs in history. The release of “Let It Be” in 1970 also told the emotional story of his upbringing.

    After the Beatles broke up in 1970, he formed Wings with his wife Linda and former Moody Blues star Denny Laine. He also put together one of the highest-selling solo careers in music history, most memorably with “Maybe I’m Amazed” in between his stints with the Beatles and Wings.

  • 6. Roger Daltrey

    Roger Daltrey co-founded the Who in 1964. Along with band members Pete Townsend, Keith Moon, and John Entwistle, he helped the band become a key part of the British Invasion of Rock & Roll during the 1960s.

    The Who released their second rock opera Tommy in 1969. Daltrey’s ability as a singer helped “Pinball Wizard” become the album’s most recognizable single, but his talent was also featured prominently on “Sally Simpson” and the entirety of the narrative concept album. He played the title character in the film adaptation of Tommy in 1975.

    Daltrey let out one of the most famous screams in the history of Rock & Roll during the intro of “Won’t Get Fooled Again” in 1971.

    He again helped the Who to great success with another concept album when Quadrophenia was released in 1973. He’s enjoyed a solo career both during his time with the Who and between stints.

    The band still tours over a half century since their original formation. They most recently performed in Philadelphia in May 2022 at the Wells Fargo Center.

  • 5. David Bowie

    David Bowie made a name for himself through the late 1960s most memorably with “Space Oddity.” He took the next step after the release of The Man Who Sold the World in 1970 and Hunky Dory in 1971 featuring “Changes” as his hit single.

    He revolutionized the importance of stage presence and a persona that fed his popularity by creating his alter ego Ziggy Stardust in 1972.

    The attraction to this character helped his album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars fly off the shelves.

    Bowie developed a special connection with the city of Philadelphia throughout his career. He recorded David Live at the Tower Theatre in Upper Darby in 1972, and he recorded the majority of Young Americans at Sigma Sound Studios on 12th street in Center City.

  • 4. Robert Plant

    Robert Plant became the front man for Led Zeppelin through the heart of their prime during the 1970s. He helped the band grow as the recognizable front man in an era known for star power at the head of its most popular bands.

    Led Zeppelin develop an ability to mesh different styles of rock with slower beats like “All My Love” and “D’yer Maker” and a harder sound with “Kashmir” and “Rock and Roll.”  

    Plant sang lead vocals for “Stairway to Heaven,” arguably the greatest Rock & Roll song of all time (even though he once paid to stop hearing it). The icon final verse cemented his legacy as a rock legend.

    And as we wind on down the road
    Our shadows taller than our soul
    There walks a lady we all know
    Who shines white light and wants to show
    How everything still turns to gold
    And if you listen very hard
    The tune will come to you at last
    When all are one and one is all, yeah
    To be a rock and not to roll

    He entered the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Led Zeppelin in 1995.

  • 3. Pat Benatar

    Pat Benatar exploded when In the Heat of the Night came out in 1979 featuring “Heartbreaker” as its biggest hit.

    She continued her rise during the 1980s to become one of the premier female rock singers in history. She was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Performance in nine of 10 years from 1981-1990, winning four times with “Crimes of Passion,” “Fire and Ice,” “Shadows of the Night,” and “Love is a Battlefield.”

    Her husband Neil Giraldo has performed with her at points since their marriage in 1983. She was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in November 2022.

  • 2. Steve Perry

    Steve Perry became the lead singer of Journey in 1977. The band reached its highest point of success after releasing Escape in 1981 featuring their most recognizable song “Don’t Stop Believin.”

    His unmistakable voice became one of the band’s biggest identifiers during the 1980s. Other Journey hits included “Faithfully,” “Open Arms,” and “Wheel in the Sky.”

    Perry also released the solo album Street Talk in 1984, featuring “Oh Sherrie” as its most memorable song.

    He entered the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2017 as a member of Journey. He put his vocals to the test with a new challenge in 2021,  a Christmas album named The Season.

  • 1. Freddie Mercury

    The greatest classic rock singer of all time was born in Zanzibar in 1946. He grew up in India throughout most of his childhood.

    Freddie Mercury burst onto the scene when Queen released their self-titled debut album in 1973. His memorably colorful stage presence helped him become the recognizable face of the band.

    His most unusual, creative, and unique song was “Bohemian Rhapsody,” released as part of A Night at the Opera in 1975.

    No other singer could’ve pulled off the song quite like Freddie Mercury, which he proved at Wembley Stadium in 1985 during Queen’s iconic performance at Live Aid.

    He died tragically in 1991 due to complications resulting from AIDS.

    The release of the biopic Bohemian Rhapsody in 2018 caused a resurgence in his popularity and added to his legacy.

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