Although it seems impossible to put together a list of the best singers in history, there is a method to do it, which at least seems more objective, than simply following the tastes of each one or being guided by the volume of records sold. Take a look at our list of 10 Vocal Group Lead Singers That Prove They Deserve Their Position:
1. Clyde McPhatter (Dominoes – Drifters)
Born in North Carolina, in the early 1950s he stood out as the tenor of the Billy Ward & The Dominoes quintet, which he left in 1953 and was replaced by Jackie Wilson. After co-founding The Drifters, he was forced to take a forced layoff for military service. With The Drifters, he recorded several classics such as Money Honey (1953) and such a Night (1954), before embarking on a solo career. In 1956 he signed a contract with Atlantic Records and in the following years, he released several best-selling singles including Treasure of Love, Without Love, and Come what May. In 1959 it moved to MGM and about a year later to Mercury Records. From 1964 on he had a personal crisis and became an alcoholic. In 1972, a victim of a heart attack died at the age of 39. In 1987 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
2. Tony Williams (Platters)
Tony Williams was the lead voice for the Platters, a tenor voice in a non-classical context. Williams had his most immediate predecessor in singer Bill Kenney, the second soloist of the group The Ink Spots. This group, which had been formed in the United States in 1934, was the first vocal group to include among its voices, a tenor tessitura. Their mastery is evident in later vocal groups like The Drifters or the Coasters.
3. Bill Kenny (Ink Spots)
Kenny’s first professional hire was in Atlantic City, New Jersey, at the Ritz-Carlton Gardens. After Milton Berle’s brother Phil Berle heard Kenny sing ballads, he signed a contract with him. Because it was too difficult to get jobs in New York City, Berle decided to release Kenny from the contract shortly after. It was around this time that Kenny sang “Trees” in an amateur contest at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem, and won first place and a position singing with a group known as “The Ink Spots.”
4. Levi Stubbs (Four Tops)
Levi Stubbs was born in Detroit in 1936; began his singing career in his hometown with some friends with whom he formed the Four Aims in 1954. After changing their name to Four Tops, the group records an LP for Motown, which however does not respect the wishes of the four who instead they want more R&B sounds; thanks to the meeting with the Holland-Dozier-Holland trio, Stubbs’ voice becomes the main one of the group, which thus creates a series of successful songs. In 1967 the Holland-Dozier-Holland trio left Motown due to a financial dispute and the Four Tops initially seem to be affected by this separation: in fact, they too leave the label in 1972 in favor of ABC-Dunhill, where they meet the producers and authors Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter …
5. Sonny Til (Orioles)
Formed in Baltimore in 1947, the Orioles are often cited as the first vocal group to sing in Rhythm-and-blues (R&B) led by Sonny Til, which they achieved by taking the predominant pop vocal style of the Ink Spots and adding a more rhythmic, rock-out approach. . Following their success, vocal groups with ornithological names became a staple of rhythm and blues.
6. Smokey Robinson (Miracles)
In 1957 with the Matadors, a group that Robinson founded with some classmates, he began to perform on the local scene; the following year Robinson met the musical author Berry Gordy, who in 1959 founded Tamla Records, which later became Motown. The Matadors – who in the meantime change their name to Miracles – are among the first to join the stable of the label of which Robinson becomes vice-president in 1961. The single “Shop around” of 1960 becomes the first number one of Motown in the R&B chart and the first among the many successes for Miracles: among these, we remember for example “Who’s loving you” (1960).
7. Russell Thompkins Jr. (Stylistics)
Stylistics represent the cute side of the 1960s Philadelphia music scene: Their music was devoid of message or precise consistency, but their superficiality was the key to the success of this vocal quintet. Stylistics consisted of three boys from Philadelphia, Arrion Love, James Dunn, and Russel Thompkins Jr., a New Yorker from Harlem, James Smith, and Herbie Murrell, the oldest, from South Carolina. Thompkins, Love, and Smith began their careers singing with The Monarchs, while Murrell and Dun excelled performing with The Percussions. The five got together in 1968 and toured with a backing group called Slim and The Boys. In 1969 The Stylistics recorded ‘You’re a big girl now’ for the company Sebring Records, a single that represented a kind of anachronism with respect to what was fashionable at the time. But the situation was different in the Northeastern states, where the doo-wop tradition was still alive; in this area, thanks to Avco’s distribution, the album sold very well. Avco put Thom Bell, as a producer of his next album: ‘Stop, look, listen to your heart’ reached the thirty-ninth place in the US charts, and received a “Gold Record.”
8. David Ruffin (Temptations)
Born in Mississippi in 1941, David Ruffin began writing songs as a teenager. He sang at Memphis talent shows before signing with Motown Records and joining the Temptations. With Ruffin at the helm, the temptations came in a big way with songs like “My Girl” and “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” before Ruffin ‘. The use of drugs caused the band to implode and fire him. As a solo artist, Ruffin found occasional hits, but experienced a rough ride, dying of a cocaine overdose two years after being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
9. Eddie Kendricks (Temptations)
Edward James Kendrick (December 17, 1939 – October 5, 1992) was an American singer-songwriter. Co-founder of The Temptations, he became known for his falsetto singing, recognizable in songs like the Way you Do the Things you Do, Get Ready, and Just my Imagination (Running Away with me).
10. Frankie Valli (Four Lovers, Four Seasons)
Frankie Valli is one of the most decorated artists of all time as famous as the lead singer of the band, ‘The Four Seasons’ in the 1960s. With the band, Valli produced songs like, ‘Who Loves You’, ‘My Way Back to You’, ‘Sherry’, etc. Thanks to these amazing songs, Valli was able to pursue a very successful career as a solo artist as well.