100 Greatest Singers of All Time

Aretha, Elvis, Lennon, Dylan and many more

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Kurt Cobain

45. Kurt Cobain

Born February 20th, 1967 (died circa April 5th, 1994)
Key Tracks "Smells Like Teen Spirit," "Lithium," "All Apologies"
Influenced Dave Grohl, Gavin Rossdale, Rivers Cuomo

Kurt Cobain's ferocious rasp clawed its way out of the rock & roll underground in 1991, transforming the fury and anguish of punk rock into pop singing like nothing else had before. He could scream himself raw in tune. (Listen, for instance, to his electrifying howls on Nirvana's "Stay Away.") What Sub Pop's Jonathan Poneman said first caught his attention about Cobain's voice was that "it was so emotionally versatile." Beneath his singing's bloody power, there was a subtler roughness that came from blues and folk music. His interpretation of the Lead Belly song "Where Did You Sleep Last Night," Patti Smith says, "was just magnificent — when he sings 'I will shiver,' you can feel that he's shivering, straight through his veins."

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