Rolling Stone Readers Pick the Best Lead Singers of All Time – Rolling Stone
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Rolling Stone Readers Pick the Best Lead Singers of All Time

Watch clips from the winners, including Robert Plant, Bono, John Lennon and Freddie Mercury

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Last weekend we asked our readers to vote for their favorite lead singers of all time. We received an enormous number of votes, and here are the results. (And remember, we just count the votes – even if they are exclusively for white men.)

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2. Freddie Mercury

Few men in rock basked in the love of a giant crowd quite like Freddie Mercury. Kurt Cobain even mentioned it in his suicide note: "When we're back stage and the lights go out and the manic roar of the crowds begins it doesn't affect me the way in which it did for Freddie Mercury," he wrote. "[He] seemed to love, relish in the love and adoration from the crowd which is something I totally admire and envy." Queen's set at Live Aid – where they stomped nearly every rock band of the day (besides U2) – shows that they were peaking right as Freddie's battle with AIDS took them off the road. Queen toured in the past few years with Paul Rodgers, but even a singer of that high caliber couldn't come close to filling Mercury's shoes.

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Photos: Queen, David Bowie, the Ramones, Lou Reed and more from Mick Rock's Book, 'Exposed'

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1. Robert Plant

When the Yardbirds dissolved in 1968 guitarist Jimmy Page wanted to form a band with the greatest singer he could possibly find. His first choice was Terry Reid, who turned the gig down. He did, however, suggest that Band of Joy Frontmtan Robert Plant might be a good fit. He was right. Led Zeppelin started playing gigs in late 1968, and fans were instantly stunned by the wild banshee wail emanating out of the lead singer. For 12 years Plant fronted Zeppelin, but when drummer John Bonham died in 1980 the band broke up. They have come together for the occasional one-off since then – most notably in 2007 when they played a full set at London's 02 Arena – but Plant has stubbornly refused to take the band on the road. Instead, he's focused on his solo career – which peaked in 2009 when he won Album of the Year at the Grammy's for Raising Sand, his LP of duets with Alison Krauss. This past year he brought his career full circle by reviving the Band of Joy name for his latest solo project.

Video: Robert Plant and the Band of Joy Cover Richard and Linda Thompson on Letterman

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