Tom Cruise’s character in Rock of Ages, Stacee Jaxx may burn up the stage but real-life rock frontmen have been doing just that for decades. We bring you the greatest stage presences…ever
Whether he’s biting the head off a bat or chasing his inner demons, Ozzy Osbourne had more stage presence than Satan. First with Black Sabbath and then with his own band, Ozzy always played conjurer to the musical geniuses who backed up his outstanding talent. Even the young and sublime Randy Ehodes had to bow before the altar of Ozzy awesomeness.
Few youngsters will remember all the members of Guns ‘n’ Roses, the seminal hard rock outfit that changed the whole trajectory of the genre. But Axl Rose, like his bandmate, lead guitarist Slash is etched into the annals of rock history. Axl’s presence on stage was a live wire verging on dangerous. G ‘n R may have mellowed later into its career but on albums like Appetite for Destruction and Lies, Axl Rose soars.
Arguably the most charismatic singer of a rock band ever to walk on stage, Freddie Mercury was a beacon to which flocked the masses. Whenever the opening beats of We Will Rock You emanated from Roger Taylor drum set all eyes would focus on the preening front man as he get set to deliver on his promise of a vocal masterclass. The passing of Freddy Mercury left a gaping hole in the music world.
Clad in a flannel shirt and blue jeans, Bruce ‘The Boss’ Springsteen epitomised the everyman whenever he strode out on to the stage, electric guitar in tow. Backed up by the excellent E-Street band and Clarence Clemmons, Bruce’s rasp captivated arenas. Equally at ease belting out Born to Run, and quietly layering the texture on The River, Springsteen is a frontman who has spanned generations. The classic clip of him asking a young and anonymous Courteney Cox to shake a leg on stage to Dancing in the Dark is priceless and personifies the Springsteen spirit.
Laid back and loving it, audiences had to often excuse Jim as he kissed the sky between lyrics that seemed to be a product of a Poe-Keats love child. But they didn’t care because Jim Morrison had that charisma that could only come from supreme confidence. Leading the Doors through an era fraught with self-destruction, Jim became not only an icon, but an incredibly influential singer. His lyrics were matched only by his ability to croon the audience into a state of ultimate bliss. Many have attempted to copy his stage style, almost all have failed.
The lead singer in arguably the greatest rock band ever, Robert Plant was at the vanguard of the Led Zeppelin phenomenon. Although supported by uber-talented Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and John Bonham, it was Plant’s vocal crescendos that put the band on the map. From the silken Stairway to Heaven and the raging Immigrant Song to the sheer brilliance of Kashmir and D’Yer Mak’er Plant was brilliance in tight leather pants.
To call Mick Jagger the aged gentleman of rock lead singers would be to do him a great injustice. Even at 69, Jagger has lost none of the potency that makes him one of the most popular singers of all time, pipped to the top spot only by Elvis Presley. As part of the legendary Rolling Stones Jagger has been part of arguably the best band ever, across any genre and has used his tremendously talented band mates to provide a cushion of harmony upon which the frolicking genius of jagger can cavort. And boy does he cavort. One look at the footage of Jumpin’ Jack Flash or the high camp of Angie and it’s evident, there can only be one Mick Jagger.
Whether you like it or not, one has to admit that U2 is an extension of its lead singer Bono. It is Bono’s command of the stage and rigorous belt that he whips around each tune that has taken the band into the stratosphere. From the early rawness of Boy, to the far more refined No Line on the Horizon, Bono’s vocals have charted the band’s metamorphosis from underground statement-makers to arena-filling trend-setters.