Top 10 Backing Vocalists in Rock and Metal

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 Jerry Cantrell - Alice In Chains Jerry Cantrell - Alice In Chains Jerry Fulton Cantrell Jr. is an American musician who is best known as the lead guitarist, co-lead vocalist and main songwriter for the rock band Alice in Chains.
2 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.

Long-term Metallica bassist who sang some of their songs live as a lead singer. Not bad at all. - Metal_Treasure

Made their live concerts 10x better

3 George Harrison - The Beatles George Harrison - The Beatles George Harrison 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 Roger Taylor - Queen Roger Taylor - Queen Roger Meddows Taylor is an English musician , multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter born on April 26th,1960 in Kings Lynn, Norfolk. He was the drummer of the band Queen and wrote few of many hits such as including Under Pressure, A Kind Of Magic and Radio Ga Ga. Despite being well known in Queen more.

His high vocals and vibratos complete all the Queen songs like Bohemian Rhapsody, I want to break free and Somebody to love. - Plonderss

Why isn't he on the top? I think, that he is number one in singing skills among the others in this list. He has much better voice than p.ex. George Harrison.

A drummer with a four octave voice, amazing!

He has much better voive, than George Harrison.

V 3 Comments
5 Kai Hansen - Gamma Ray, Helloween Kai Hansen - Gamma Ray, 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

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 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 more.

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

8 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

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

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

Unrivaled voice and huge contribution to all bands involved with.

10 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.

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

John has very good backing vocals. Especially in Can't Stop, Sir Psycho Sexy, Venice Queen and Knock me Down.

Just listen to Dosed, the harmonies he makes are incredible and beautiful like no other

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

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The Contenders

11 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.

Bon Jovi guitarist released solo albums. - Metal_Treasure

12 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

13 Mike Shinoda Mike Shinoda Michael Kenji "Mike" Shinoda is an American musician, rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, graphic designer, manager and film composer.
14 Erich Awalt - Disturbed
15 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

16 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

17 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, 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

18 Jen Ledger - Skillet Jen Ledger - Skillet
19 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.
20 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

21 Brian Head Welch Brian Head Welch

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

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

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.

"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.

23 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

24 Pepper Keenan - Down, Corrosion of Conformity

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

25 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

26 Chris Fehn - Slipknot

Very very awesome

27 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.
28 The Edge The Edge
29 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.

30 Malcolm Young - AC/DC
31 Arto Järvinen - Teräsbetoni
32 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.

33 Ray Thomas - The Moody Blues

A phenomenal talent!

34 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.
35 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.

36 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

37 Martin Gore - Depeche Mode
38 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

39 Eric Bass - Shinedown
40 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

41 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

42 Joe Trohman - Fall Out Boy
43 Sting Sting Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner CBE, known professionally by his stage name Sting, is an English musician, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, activist, actor, and philanthropist. He is best known as the lead singer for the English band The Police
44 Neil Sanderson - Three Days Grace

Brad Walst (the bassist) also sings backing vocals.

45 Ben Bruce
46 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.
47 Richard Wright - Pink Floyd Richard Wright - Pink Floyd Richard William "Rick" Wright was an English musician, composer, singer and songwriter. He was the main keyboardist and a backup vocalist for the psychedelic and progressive English rock band, Pink Floyd .
48 Warren DeMartini - Ratt

Rate definitely had some of the best backing vocals in metal. I give the nod to Warren because he stood out just a bit above the others - Shake_n_Bake13

49 Steve Harris - Iron Maiden Steve Harris - Iron Maiden Stephen Percy "Steve" Harris is an English musician and songwriter, known as the bassist, occasional keyboardist, backing vocalist, primary songwriter and founder of the British heavy metal band Iron Maiden.
50 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. V 1 Comment
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List Stats

200 votes
53 listings
1 year, 225 days old

Top Remixes

1. George Harrison - The Beatles
2. Roger Taylor - Queen
3. Eric Clapton - Cream
1. Jerry Cantrell - Alice In Chains
2. Dave Grohl - Nirvana
3. Eric Clapton - Cream
1. George Harrison - The Beatles
2. Jerry Cantrell - Alice In Chains
3. Glenn Hughes - Deep Purple


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