Top 10 Backing Vocalists in Rock and Metal

Metal_Treasure
Some backing vocalists are very good - maybe not better than the lead singers but still.
There are backing vocalists who:
1) Released solo albums as lead singers
2) Are lead singers for another band (usually less known)
3) Sang whole songs for the same band as lead singers (studio or live)
4) Sang big parts of songs for the same band as lead singers (studio or live)
5) Provide great backing vocals.

The Top Ten

1 Jason Newsted - Metallica Jason Newsted - Metallica Jason Curtis Newsted is an American metal musician, known for being the third bass guitarist with the band Metallica from November 1986 until his departure in January 2001, he was also a part of Voivod and Flotsam and Jetsam.

Until the point he left Metallica was still a metal at least.
Cliff Burton: Thrash Metal
Jason Newsted: Heavy metal
Rob Trujillo: Happy metal

Jason was the man! - Userguy44

Made their live concerts 10x better

Long-term Metallica bassist who sang some of their songs live as a lead singer. Not bad at all. YouTube these videos:
Metallica - Seek & Destroy (Jason on vocals);
Metallica - The Four Horsemen (Jason on vocal! ) [HD] (1992.06.16) Jackson, MS, US - Metal_Treasure

2 Roger Taylor - Queen Roger Taylor - Queen Roger Meddows Taylor is an English musician , multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter born on July 26th,1949 in Kings Lynn, Norfolk. He was the drummer of the band Queen and wrote few of many hits such as "Under Pressure", "A Kind Of Magic" and "Radio Ga Ga". Despite being well known in Queen ...read more.

Jason Newsted above Roger Taylor? Are you kidding? Jason Newsted hasn't a 4 octave vocal range!

His falsettos are orgasmic...very talented drummer, songwriter and singer!

All those as in "in the lap of the gods" and ready freddies in "crazy little thing called love" and radio gaga, damn he is the greatest

I don't have to thinking about that! This man has a 4 octave vocal range, his voice was amazing, his backing vocals are unique and awesome!

V 17 Comments
3 George Harrison - The Beatles George Harrison - The Beatles George Harrison (1943 - 2001) was an English guitarist, singer, songwriter, and music and film producer who achieved international fame as the lead guitarist of the Beatles.

How ironic; one of the greatest musicians of all time, but only the third best in his own band.

4 Jerry Cantrell - Alice In Chains Jerry Cantrell - Alice In Chains Jerry Fulton Cantrell Jr. is an American musician, singer-songwriter and guitarist best known as the founder, lead guitarist, co-lead vocalist and main songwriter of the rock band Alice in Chains.
5 Glenn Hughes - Deep Purple Glenn Hughes - Deep Purple Glenn Hughes is an English rock bassist and vocalist, best known as a member of Deep Purple and the rock pioneers Trapeze, and his solo career. Hughes was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Deep Purple. He is acclaimed for his wide vocal range.

He was better than David Coverdale in my opinion. Glenn is incredible - MattAffterburner

He was the bassist and backing vocalist during the Coverdale era. Later he started a solo career as a lead singer and bassist. - Metal_Treasure

Unrivaled voice and huge contribution to all bands involved with.

He did lead vocals on an entire Black Sabbath album (Seventh Star, 1986). - Metal_Treasure

6 Eric Clapton - Cream Eric Clapton - Cream Eric Patrick Clapton is an English rock and blues guitarist, singer and songwriter. He is the only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: once as a solo artist and separately as a member of the Yardbirds and Cream. He has also been a member of Derek and the Dominos.

Jack Bruce is up front in most of Cream's songs, with a few notable exceptions..

7 Bernie Marsden - Whitesnake Bernie Marsden - Whitesnake

Whitesnake's guitarist has amazing vocals - he is so good that he could have been a lead singer. He provided lead vox for some songs - Outlaw, Free Flight, and more. - Metal_Treasure

8 Steve Priest - The Sweet Steve Priest - The Sweet

He's their bassist. I like his vocals more than the lead vocals, especially on "No You Don't" and "Fox On The Run". The song "Restless" was sung by Steve Priest. - Metal_Treasure

Also, his lead vox (shared) on The Ballroom Blitz are fantastic. - Metal_Treasure

9 John Frusciante - Red Hot Chili Peppers John Frusciante - Red Hot Chili Peppers John Anthony Frusciante is an American guitarist, singer, producer and composer.He is best known for his time with the Funk Rock California based band the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He was also part of the Mars Volta, Swahili Blonde, Ataxia and more.

The Chili's songs with his backing vocals are far superior to those without. Also his solo stuff is amazing, providing backing vocals to himself.

Listen to Venice Queen at Slane Castle. The backing vocals are just beautiful and extraordinary. He matches Anthony so perfectly. - connor2738

Just listen to otherside in Slane Castle. It will blow you away. Gives me chills every time. - connor2738

No one can hit high notes like fur isn't especially as a back up vocalist. His singer in desecration smile, under the bridge, and other side are incredible

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10 Kai Hansen - Gamma Ray, Helloween Kai Hansen - Gamma Ray, Helloween Kai Michael Hansen is a heavy metal guitarist and vocalist. Hansen is the founder, lead guitarist, and vocalist of power metal band Gamma Ray. He is also the co-founder and former member of German metal band Helloween.

I put him on low because he's a complicated case - basically he's been a guitarist all the time but he switched several times from lead to backing vox and vice versa:
In Helloween - first lead vox and then backing vox
In Gamma Ray - first backing vox and then lead vox.
Lead vox: Gamma Ray - Rebellion in Dreamland, Land Of The Free, Armageddon - Metal_Treasure

The Contenders

11 Dave Grohl - Nirvana Dave Grohl - Nirvana David Eric "Dave" Grohl is an American rock musician, multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, producer and film director. He is best known as the former drummer of the hugely popular 90s grunge band Nirvana and the vocalist/guitarist for the alternative rock band Foo Fighters. He has sat behind the ...read more.

This man is a rock god in and of himself... There is no other.

12 Jon Schaffer - Iced Earth Jon Schaffer - Iced Earth Jon Ryan Schaffer is an American heavy metal musician. He is best known as the guitarist and last remaining original member of the Florida-based heavy metal band Iced Earth, which he formed in 1985 under the name "Purgatory".

Rhythm guitarist who sang entire songs for Iced Earth (ex., Stormrider) and provides lead vox for his side project 'Sons Of Liberty'. Not bad. - Metal_Treasure

Check out the song Stormrider, his vocal performance is fantastic! - Metalmaniakkk

13 David Crosby - The Byrds, CSN&Y David Crosby - The Byrds, CSN&Y David Van Cortlandt Crosby is an American guitarist, singer, and songwriter. In addition to his solo career, he was a founding member of three bands: the Byrds; Crosby, Stills & Nash; and CPR.

A massive jerk, but Crosby essentially invented the concept of "high harmony" that enhanced whatever the lead singer was doing, and making the overall sound much better.

14 Ray Thomas - The Moody Blues

The man could sing. Great voice which enhanced so many songs along with his wonderful lead efforts. - Billyv

A phenomenal talent!

15 Neil Young - Buffalo Springfield Neil Young - Buffalo Springfield Neil Percival Young is a Canadian singer-songwriter and musician, producer, director and screenwriter.

"On The Way Home" and "Do I Have to Come Right Out and Say It" are among Buffalo Springfield's best songs written by Neil, but with Richie Furay as lead singer. When BS has a reunion concert, Richie still sings lead, but you can tell that Neil's backing vocal adds a lot. It is an exceedingly rare treat when Neil performs those numbers himself at one of his own concerts.

Neil was young and still a little shy about singing the amazing songs he was writing even back then, and often let Richie Furay, Stephen Stills, or Jim Messina take the lead vocals, and just contributed to the background.

16 Richie Sambora - Bon Jovi Richie Sambora - Bon Jovi Richard Stephen "Richie" Sambora is an American rock guitarist, producer, singer and songwriter who was the lead guitarist of the rock band Bon Jovi for 30 years. He is known for his work with Bon Jovi from 1983 to 2013. He is a very praised guitarist who played solos for songs like Dry County, Stranger ...read more.

Bon Jovi guitarist released solo albums. - Metal_Treasure

YES YES YES! He’s the greatest! And he has the most soothing voice I’ve ever heard! Just listen to I’ll be there for you, stranger in this town, and his solo in Dry County and be blown away by the amazing voice and skills this guy has! - DaringXx

GIMME AN R! GIMME AN I!
GIMME A C! GIMME A H!
GIMME AN I! GIMME AN E!
WHAT DOES THAT MAKE?
RICHIE! wooopwopp - DaringXx

17 Erich Awalt - Disturbed
18 Adrian Smith - Iron Maiden Adrian Smith - Iron Maiden Adrian Frederick "H" Smith is an English guitarist, best known as a member of Iron Maiden, for whom he writes songs and performs live backing vocals on some tracks.

I think people don't realize how much impact had his backing vocals on Maiden's songs

Love his backing vocals on Wasted Years,you can find them isolated on YouTube

19 Mike Shinoda Mike Shinoda Michael Kenji "Mike" Shinoda (born 11 February 1977) is an American musician, rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, graphic designer, manager and film composer. He co-founded Linkin Park in 1996 and is the band's rhythm guitarist, primary songwriter, keyboardist, producer, and co-lead vocalist. ...read more.
20 Richard Manuel Richard Manuel Richard George Manuel was a Canadian composer, singer, and multi-instrumentalist, best known as the pianist, regular lead singer, and occasional drummer of The Band.
21 Michael Anthony (Van Halen)

He was nearly a better singer than David Lee Roth. When David couldn't sing, Michael did. Watch Chickenfoot perform Highway Star, and he does the high scream. - MattAffterburner

22 Daron Malakian - System of a Down Daron Malakian - System of a Down Daron Vartan Malakian is an Armenian–American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and record producer.

Sometimes he is the lead vocalist

23 Mat Sinner - Primal Fear Mat Sinner - Primal Fear Mat Sinner is a bassist, vocalist, songwriter and record producer from Stuttgart, Germany. He is best known as the bassist and primary songwriter for the metal band Primal Fear.

Primal Fear bassist is the lead vocalist for his band Sinner (mostly hard rock). Check out:
Sinner - Every Second Counts, Born To Rock, All Men Are Heroes, Call My Name - Metal_Treasure

24 Jeff Waters - Annihilator Jeff Waters - Annihilator Jeff Waters (born February 13, 1966) is a Canadian metal musician and founder of the metal band Annihilator. He's best known as the guitarist for Annihilator, appreciated for his fast riffs and solos. Waters is also the primary songwriter in the band. Very often he has taken on the role of lead singer, ...read more.

Annihilator guitarist provided lead vocals for 3 entire Annihilator albums and some songs on other albums. Also, his backing vox on Alison Hell are more interesting than the lead vox. I wouldn't say he's a great singer but pretty good for thrash.
Songs he sang entirely - 21, King of the Kill (youtube videos available) - Metal_Treasure

25 Levon Helm Levon Helm Mark Lavon "Levon" Helm was an American rock 'n' roller, Americana musician, and actor who achieved fame as the drummer and regular lead vocalist for The Band.
26 Jen Ledger - Skillet Jen Ledger - Skillet Jennifer "Jen" Carole Ledger is a English drummer mostly known for playing in the band and being the co-vocalist for Skillet since 2008 when Lori Peters decided to retire from the band. ...read more.
27 Chris Fehn - Slipknot

Dicknose is the best!

Very very awesome

28 Christine McVie

Nearly went with George Harrison, but Christine McVie is my favourite Fleetwood Mac singer. Can't say the same for George and The Beatles. - truckturner

29 David Bryan - Bon Jovi David Bryan - Bon Jovi David Bryan Rashbaum, best known as just David Bryan, is the keyboard player of the popular American Rock band Bon Jovi, with which he has also co-written songs and performed backing vocals.

He sings alone the song "In These Arms". Not bad. - Metal_Treasure

30 Brian Head Welch Brian Head Welch Brian Philip Welch, better known by the stage name Head, is an American musician, singer and songwriter. He is one of the guitarists and founding member of the nu metal band Korn and his solo project Love and Death.

Korn's besting backing vocalist seperated and formed Love and Death.

31 Daron Malakian Daron Malakian Daron Vartan Malakian is an Armenian–American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and record producer.

He sometimes defines the songs just with his vocals, it blends so perfectly with Serj's vocals.

Well he was / is the lead guitarist of System of a Down and he also sang in many of the bands songs along with Serb.most notably lonely day and lost in Hollywood.he also started a solo project - Toucan

32 Timo Tolkki - Stratovarius Timo Tolkki - Stratovarius Timo Tapio Tolkki is a Finnish musician best known as the former guitarist, songwriter and producer of the power metal band Stratovarius.

Provided lead vocals for 10 years (1985-1994) and then backing vox. He handed over lead vocal duties to Kotipelto because Tolkki was handling all lead and rhythm guitars, and at times bass guitar (until 1993). Tolkki wanted to concentrate on his guitar work and songwriting because he was almost the sole composer of the band. - Metal_Treasure

33 Malcolm Young - AC/DC Malcolm Young - AC/DC Malcolm Mitchell Young was an Australian musician and songwriter, best known as a co-founder, rhythm guitarist, backing vocalist and songwriter for the hard rock band AC/DC.
34 Pepper Keenan - Down, Corrosion of Conformity

He did lead vox on 'Vote With A Bullet' by Corrosion of Conformity. - Metal_Treasure

35 The Edge The Edge David Howell Evans, better known by his stage name the Edge, is an Irish musician and songwriter best known as the lead guitarist, keyboardist and backing vocalist of the rock band U2.

Listen to beautiful day. - Userguy44

36 Mike Dirnt Mike Dirnt Michael Ryan Pritchard, known professionally as Mike Dirnt, is an American musician best known for being the co-founder, bassist, backing and occasional lead vocalist of the American punk rock band Green Day.
37 Synyster Gates Synyster Gates Brian Elwin Haner, Jr., better known by his stage name Synyster Gates or simply Syn, is an American musician, best known for being the lead guitarist and backing vocalist of the band Avenged Sevenfold.

Since the release of Hail to the King, he can sing really high without having his voice crack. Especially 2014 performances of Nightmare are impressive.

38 Gary Moore Gary Moore Robert William Gary Moore was a Northern Irish musician, most widely recognised as a singer, songwriter, and virtuoso rock and blues guitarist.

He started as a guitarist and backing vocalist for Thin Lizzy but continued with a very successful solo career. - Metal_Treasure

39 David Ellefson David Ellefson David Warren "Dave" Ellefson is an American bassist and co-founding member of the American thrash metal band Megadeth from 1983-2002 and again from 2010-present.

He's a better singer than Dave! - MattAffterburner

40 Martin Gore - Depeche Mode
41 Ed O'Brien Ed O'Brien Edward John "Ed" O'Brien is an English guitarist and member of the alternative rock band Radiohead. He makes extensive use of effects units to create atmospheric sounds and textures, and also provides backing vocals.

I'm surprised that there are no jokes from the fans about how he sounds like he's singing his own name when he does backing vocals ("Eeeeddd"). Maybe that's more of a YouTube thing. - Gg2000

42 Arto Järvinen - Teräsbetoni
43 Marcus Siepen - Blind Guardian Marcus Siepen - Blind Guardian Marcus Siepen is a German guitarist and backing vocalist, most known for being the rhythm guitarist of power metal band Blind Guardian.
44 Neil Sanderson - Three Days Grace

Brad Walst (the bassist) also sings backing vocals.

45 Randy Meisner

He was the bassist for the Eagles until 1977 I believe, he had a beautiful voice and could hit some insane high notes, most notably on "Take it to the Limit", I wouldn't say top 5, but he deserves a spot on the top 20 - VintagePetRaptor

I believe he belongs in the top 20 too. His ability to hit high notes and to sing back up vocals with great harmonizing was a true gift.

46 Noel Gallagher Noel Gallagher Noel Thomas David Gallagher is an English musician, singer, songwriter and guitarist. He served as the lead guitarist, co-lead vocalist and principal songwriter of the rock band Oasis.

As well as lead singer and better singing skills than their regular lead singer. - zxm

47 Josh Klinghoffer Josh Klinghoffer Josh Adam Klinghoffer is an American musician best known as the current guitarist for the rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers, with whom he has recorded two studio albums, I'm with You and The Getaway.

Better than John Frusciante.

48 Mark Tremonti Mark Tremonti Mark Thomas Tremonti is an American musician, singer and songwriter, best known as the lead guitarist of the rock bands Creed and Alter Bridge.

His work in Alter Bridge not only displayed his virtuosity as a guitarist but as a powerful singer. Blending flawlessly with the incredible range of Myles Kennedy, marks smooth, deep vibrato rich backing vocals create a warmth and a powerful town which completes many songs, particularly “come to life”, “waters rising”, “before tomorrow comes” just to name a few. Not only that, but his work in creed also highlights his ability to blend with different singers. “My own prison” was his first introduction to singing at the start of his career and his growth can be seen in the raw power and clarity of tone in the song “a thousand faces”. He has gone on to complete three albums and working on a fourth, and he deserves all the praise in the world as well as Myles, because they’re truly two of the most talented musicians in the world currently and if you haven’t seen their work, check it out. - LachlanM

49 Eric Bass - Shinedown
50 Yngwie J. Malmsteen Yngwie J. Malmsteen Yngwie Johan Malmsteen is a Swedish guitarist, songwriter and bandleader who was born on June 30th, 1963, in Stockholm, Sweden. He was known for his neoclassical metal playing style back in the 1980s.

He's a virtuoso guitar player and backing vocalist but he sang all vocals on some of his albums. His singing isn't as impressive as his guitar playing but is OK (some popular lead singers sing worse than him, haha). - Metal_Treasure

Listen to World on Fire and your mind will change. He has gotten so much better at singing. - MattAffterburner

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List Stats

500 votes
60 listings
2 years, 318 days old

Top Remixes (4)

1. George Harrison - The Beatles
2. Roger Taylor - Queen
3. Eric Clapton - Cream
zxm
1. George Harrison - The Beatles
2. David Crosby - The Byrds, CSN&Y
3. Ray Thomas - The Moody Blues
Billyv
1. Bernie Marsden - Whitesnake
2. Roger Taylor - Queen
3. Jason Newsted - Metallica
Metal_Treasure

WRemix
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