Top 10 Metal and Rock Singers Who Didn't Intend to Become Lead Singers

I ranked these singers according to 3 criteria:
1) how good their voices and vocal skills are;
2) how unaware of their singing talent they were;
3) how much they didn't want to be lead singers.

The Top Ten

1 Bruce Dickinson Bruce Dickinson Paul Bruce Dickinson, known professionally as Bruce Dickinson, is an English musician, airline pilot, and broadcaster. He is most well known for being the lead singer in heavy metal band Iron Maiden and his solo career.

Guys, he wanted to be a drummer! I put Tobias Sammet higher because Bruce was just unaware of his singing talent but he didn't have Sammet's complete unwillingness to become a singer.
This is a quote from his wiki page: "Dickinson initially wanted to play the drums, later obtaining a pair of bongo drums from the music room for practice. He remembers playing "Let It Be" with his friend Mike Jordan, during which Dickinson discovered his singing voice while encouraging Jordan to sing the high-notes." - Metal_Treasure

2 Tobias Sammet Tobias Sammet Tobias Sammet is a German metal musician, best known as the vocalist and primary songwriter of the power metal band Edguy, as well as the founder, main singer and bassist of the metal opera Avantasia.

He played several instruments but never wanted to be a singer. He was originally the keyboardist but the band had no singer and told him at the 2nd rehearsal that he was the singer. He didn't want this because he was only 14 and still had a "puberty" voice. He said "Of course, I couldn't do that at all, but to be honest my drive for personal prestige was bigger than the fear to make a fool of myself with my puberty voice".
I am glad he eventually took the risk because his voice and vocal skills are incredible. - Metal_Treasure

3 Hansi Kürsch Hansi Kürsch Hansi Kürsch, born Hans Jürgen Kürsch, is the lead singer, lyricist, co-composer and bassist for German power metal band Blind Guardian . Heavily influenced by Freddie Mercury, he creates a huge choir effect by overdubbing his own voice multiple times in complex, overlapping vocal harmonies. He records more.

I put Hansi after Tobias Sammet because both didn't intend to become singers but Hansi didn't have Sammet problems when deciding whether to accept the challenge or not.
Hansi said: "I loved to sing but it was an expression of my good mood and never looked at it as my first step in becoming a vocalist. When I started making music I had a stronger tendency to become a guitarist. That changed when I met André Olbrich in school and he was the one realizing my potential as a vocalist. During one of our high school parties I was screaming parts of Ian Gillan and MSG songs. He somehow liked it." - Metal_Treasure

4 Dave Grohl Dave Grohl 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.

His story is well known and I probably don't need to re-tell it. - Metal_Treasure

5 Todd La Torre Todd La Torre Todd La Torre is an American singer and drummer. He is the lead singer for the progressive metal band Queensrÿche, and a former lead vocalist of the bands Crimson Glory and Rising West.

In 2013, when he was already the lead singer for Queensrÿche, he said "My dream was always to be a famous rock drummer. I still feel like a drummer that likes to sing".
Actually he was a drummer for 24 years but unfortunately his previous bands were less famous than Queensrÿche. - Metal_Treasure

6 Dave Mustaine Dave Mustaine David Scott "Dave" Mustaine (born September 13, 1961) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, actor and author. Mustaine is best known as a pioneer in Thrash Metal, being the former lead guitarist of Metallica before his dismissal in 1983, leading to finding and becoming the front man of his own more.

He intended to be a metal guitarist, which he became. But when Dave Mustaine formed Megadeth, he wanted Shawn Harris of Diamond Head to join Megadeth as a lead singer. Shawn Harris declined and Dave Mustaine sang on the debut album. And continued.
Later Dave Mustaine had many opportunities to hire another lead singer but he didn't. - Metal_Treasure

7 Mikael Akerfeldt Mikael Akerfeldt Lars Mikael Åkerfeldt is a Swedish musician, prominently known as the lead vocalist, guitarist, and primary songwriter of progressive death metal band Opeth, as well as being the former vocalist of death metal supergroup Bloodbath for three albums up until 2012. more.

He joined Opeth as a bassist - Metal_Treasure

8 Kai Hansen Kai Hansen 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.

He has always wanted to be only a guitarist but life made him a lead singer, too.
He started in Helloween as the lead singer and guitarist but quickly found M. Kiske for the lead vocals. Several years later Kai Hansen left Helloween and formed Gamma Ray with another lead singer who left after 2-3 years. So since about 1995 Kai Hansen has been both lead singer and lead guitarist for Gamma Ray, a band that plays power and speed metal (vox and guitars aren't easy).
In both bands Kai Hansen wanted to focus on guitars but you see, fate... - Metal_Treasure

9 Jerry Cantrell Jerry Cantrell 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.

Another well known story. Not as good as Layne Staley but saved the band somehow. - Metal_Treasure

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

A pretty good singer with a story that is very similar to Kai Hansen's - he wanted to focus on guitars because he played both lead and rhythm guitars, at times bass guitar and he was almost the sole composer of the band. But he also had to provide lead vocals for Stratovarius for 10 years (1985-1994). Later he succeeded to hand over lead vocal duties to Timo Kotipelto. - Metal_Treasure

The Contenders

11 James Hetfield James Hetfield James Alan Hetfield was born on August 3, 1963. He is an American musician, singer and songwriter known for being the co-founder, lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist and main songwriter for the American heavy metal band Metallica.

He did not want to be the lead singer of Metallica originally.

Hetfield is awesome! - EliHbk

12 Jeff Waters Jeff Waters 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.

He has always wanted to be primarily a guitarist and songwriter for Annihilator and he has been. Annihilator have had several lead singers but due to line-up changes, lack of resources, and so on, Jeff Waters had to provide lead vocals, too. He did that for 4 entire Annihilator albums and some songs on other albums. I wouldn't say he's a great singer but pretty good for thrash. - Metal_Treasure

13 Eric Clapton Eric Clapton 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.
14 Brendon Urie Brendon Urie Brendon Boyd Urie, more commonly known as Brendon Urie, was born April 12, 1987, in St. George, Utah. He is an American singer, songwriter, musician and multi-instrumentalist. He is best own as the lead singer of the American pop-rock band Panic! At The Disco. He is the only original remaining member. more.

This is a joke, right?

Though his music isn't as amazing as it used to be, Brendon is a phenominal singer and multi-instrumentalist. I've seen Panic! At The Disco live and he was INCREDIBLE!

15 Paul McCartney Paul McCartney Sir James Paul McCartney is an English singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and composer . With John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, he gained worldwide fame with the rock band the Beatles, one of the most popular and influential groups in the history of pop and rock music .
16 Joey Ramone Joey Ramone Jeffrey Ross Hyman, professionally known by Joey Ramone, was an American musician and singer-songwriter, lead vocalist of the punk-rock band The Ramones.

Wanted to be the drummer, Then became the lead singer

17 Tim Charles Tim Charles

He's a violinist and joined Ne Obliviscaris to play violin.
He also became a lead singer (clean vocals) because the band auditioned a few female singers but they were't suitable. Then Tim volunteered and said "I can sing a little bit".
Wow, I love his voice and his technique is pretty good. - Metal_Treasure

18 Phil Anselmo Phil Anselmo Philip Hansen "Phil" Anselmo is an American musician who is best known as the former lead vocalist of the heavy metal band Pantera. He currently is the vocalist of heavy metal bands Down and Superjoint Ritual.

Great singer

19 Matt Heafy Matt Heafy Matthew "Matt" Kiichi Heafy is a Japanese-American musician, best known as the lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist of the Orlando based Heavy Metal/Metalcore band Trivium.
20 Bernard Sumner

This story is also well known, after Ian Curtis committed suicide, the remaining members of Joy Division started New Order, and Sumner emerged as the band's singer and lyricist, alongside playing guitar and keyboards. - Lotuscandy

21 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.

Wasn't the original lead vocalist of oasis and didn't want to be the singer at the time leaving it all to his brother Liam but after definitely maybe began shared it with Liam singing lead on some of the best oasis songs like don't look back in anger, the masterplan, talk tonight, little by little, half the world away and the importance of being idle

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