**Disclaimer – This post is about rock and roll and the videos herein contain some pretty naughty language. Proceed accordingly.**
Ah, the frontman. The pinnacle of rock and roll fame. Well… not necessarily. Sometimes, the frontman is so completely identified with the band as to be almost at one with it. The band itself is the focus of the fame. In my opinion, that is the sign of a great band, but rock and roll also craves superstars. So, tonight, while walking and listening to music, it dawned on me that there are certain frontmen whose fame never exceeded the fame of the bands they fronted, but maybe they SHOULD have.
1. Ed Kowlaczyk – Live
People remember Lightning Crashes and I Alone off of the album Throwing Copper. But this band had a really great debut album, too. The video below proves Ed was a showman early on. He certainly had intensity, but his philosophic journey turned many people off. He always was the face of Live, but he never received enough credit for being an incredible frontman with a fantastic voice.
2. Paul Westerberg – The Replacements
The band had a reputation as a bunch of drunks who often were so wasted they couldn’t even perform. But the truth is, they were inspiration for a whole host of bands that would follow them and, along with Husker Du and Prince, defined the Minneapolis scene in the 80s. And the main reason was Paul Westerberg. Never flashy, he was simply an incredible songwriter who could walk the fine line between love and disgust and between punk and pop. He has seen some success as a solo artist, but his fame is indelibly tied to the ‘Mats. Heck, more people know who Tommy Stinson is, because he played with Guns ‘n’ Roses.
3. Zack de la Rocha – Rage Against the Machine
Tom Morello is a killer guitarist – one of my favorites – but I liked this band because of Zack de la Rocha. His forceful delivery and biting social and political commentary appealed to my angry and activist sides. He ended up leaving the band and never achieved the same level of success as with Rage. Without him, Rage had lost their distinct voice and the remaining members teamed up with ex-Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell to form Audioslave. Zack was an electrifying presence and his voice and delivery were as unique as they were angry. And how many guys can flip off the crowd and make it work?