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The Greatest Vocalists of The Southern Rock Era



by Michael Buffalo Smith


1. Jimmy Hall
    I am sure to get some flack for choosing Jimmy above Gregg as the number one contender here, but I truly believe that his huge body of work with Wet Willie, with Jeff Beck and all of his ongoing projects over the years, Jimmy has proven to be one of the overall finest singers in not only Southern Rock, but in all of music.
AT HIS BEST: “Grits Ain’t Groceries” (Live); “Shout Bamalama;” “Street Corner Serenade.”

2. Gregg Allman
   What an amazing, smokey blues voice. Gregg won me over with the Fillmore album, and his Laid Back solo record is always in my CD player. AT HIS BEST: “Whipping Post” (Live, At The Fillmore); “Queen of Hearts” (Laid Back); “Come and Go Blues” (Brothers and Sisters)

3. Doug Gray
    When he locked his legs together and planted his feet on stage like tree roots, you could tell he was about to let fly with vocal pyrotechnics like you ain’t never heard in all your born days. An amazing singer, steeped in blues, country and good ol’ rock and roll.  AT HIS BEST: “Ramblin’” (Live, Where We All Belong); “The Thrill is Gone” (Live, Volunteer Jam); “My Jesus Told Me So” (The Marshall Tucker Band)

4. Bonnie Bramlett
    Before she came to Capricorn Records, Sweet Bonnie had already recorded some of the finest music ever with husband Delaney Bramlett (Motel Shot, for example, which also featured Duane Allman, Gram Parsons and a cast of thousands) but when she hit Macon, Georgia, her Southern Rock roots came to the surface. Whether singing with The Allman Brothers Band, Dickey Betts solo, Gregg solo or on her own solo records, Ms. Bonnie always rocked. AT HER BEST: “It’s Time” (It’s Time); “Two Steps from The Blues” (Duet with Gregg, It’s Time); “Superstar” (Delaney & Bonnie)

5. Ronnie Van Zant
    One of the most unique singers in all of Southern Rock, Ronnie was the conduit that held all of Lynyrd Skynyrd together. His songwriting was as honest as his vocals. AT HIS BEST: “Free Bird” (One More From The Road); “Ballad of Curtis Leow” (Second Helping); “On The Hunt.”

6. Hughie Thomasson
    Another original voice that you can spot immediately upon hearing just a few notes. Hughie blended a cowboy sound, country rock and a huge dose of originality into a vocal style that was just plain good. As amazing a singer as he was a guitarist.  AT HIS BEST: “Green Grass and High Tides,”  “There Goes Another Love Song” (The Outlaws); “Hurry Sundown” (Hurry Sundown)

7. Dale Krantz (Rossington)
    The first time I heard Dale sing with The Rossington Collins Band, it blew my mind. She reminded me of Janis Joplin and Grace Slick wrapped in an Ann Wilson vibe. I’d love to see her front and center once again. AT HER BEST: “Prime Time,” and “Don’t Misunderstand Me,” (Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere)

8. Ricky Medlocke
    The wild and crazy front man of Blackfoot who these days acts as a guitarist for Lynyrd Skynyrd, Medlocke was a true powerhouse vocalist and show stopper with Blackfoot.  AT HIS BEST: “Gimmie, Gimmie, Gimmie;” “Highway Song;” “Train, Train.” (Strikes)

9. Danny Joe Brown
   Another powerhouse singer and one of the true legends of Southern Rock. Danny Joe belted out the tunes like nobody else, and worked the stage like a true rock star.  AT HIS BEST: “Flirtin’ With Disaster;” “Dreams;” “The Creeper” (Live).

10. Dickey Betts
     Dickey brought a country element into the Allman Brothers Band that really gave them their unique sound. His voice is clear and smooth and perfect for his style of music.  AT HIS BEST: “Blue Sky” (Eat a Peach); “Ramblin Man” (Brothers and Sisters); “Long Time Gone” (Highway Call).

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