Those singers you enjoy,....that don't really have a great voice?

There have been successful singers in almost any style that realistically did not have a "golden" voice.  Perhaps guilty pleasures.  Who are yours?


To me, Roy Orbison had one of the greatest voices ever in popular music. Lovely tone. Gorgeous diction. Whether or not it suits traditional operatic requirements, his low register to high register yodeling was masterful. He delivered the lyrics with unerring passion and inevitability.

Almost forgot, Captain Beefheart (Don Van Vliet). Loved his work (pure excellence) but no Pavarotti.

major "mule" holley, his contrabass grunt of a voice is a perfect complement to his string bass.


I need to find a thumb drive loaded with older pics and then figure out how to download it to the iMac.

I’m up for rotating cat pic’s with my listed system, just need to find the data and figure a few things out first.

There are a few pics with cats sleeping on me while I’m sleeping, but if I posted those everyone would then know that I really am rich, famous and extremely sexy (not certain how that reality check would turn out in these forums;-).

If I learn how to use the camera in the iPod I could eventually post pics of my unattractive gear (the TT’s not bad, but the rest is pretty fugly).



Jagger has already been mentioned, Warren Zenon is another for me… not sure either of those guys are great singers but the tunes are so good!  

Zevon was a passable singer at best. He's another folk rocker I saw at the Troubadour (and another recording artist who showed up at one of my sister's parties). Jagger's voice was unpolished to say the least, but it had charisma and integrity to spare.

Warren Zevon?

I haven't thought of him for years.

if so, great story teller.



I like Willy Deville, especially his later performances.

He seems to combine Dylan with a few others mentioned in this in this thread.


Joe Jackson, Richard Hawley, Lucinda Williams, Johnny Cash, Elvis Costello, Jonathan Richman (Modern Lovers), Christie Hynde, Ryan Adams, Joe Strummer,... there's kind of a lot if you really think about it. 

No one but Warren Zevon could sing 'Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner'...

Probably why there are no covers.


A little off topic but your cat references remind me of a box I keep of Hifi memorabilia from my 45 years of peddling "decent" gear. In the collection is a Focal Utopia berylium tweeter from years ago that formerly belonged to a customer. We’ll just say that curiosity didn’t kill the cat, but a cat claw did kill the $1,000 tweeter. The cost of pet ownership got nicked a little that day.

Glenn Gould...he hums along with his piano but I still like him.

Billy Gibbons has a great voice by the way, as does Elvis Costello and many others listed here. What's the standard? Opera? A great voice is one that gets the point across mostly in tune...serves the song as it were. Lots of so-called  "great" singers don't get that done, so I'll take Johnny Cash all actual GREAT singer.

Keith Jarrett hums too, and like him also.

I agree for many of the above mentioned but i would add Jim Kerr who just makes meaninless words from vowels just to fit in the pattern.

Ozzy does not have a great voice but is mostly enjoyable (Sabbath period), as is Iggy Pop, Neil Young, Brian Johnson, Joey Ramone, Anthony Keidis, ...

Of course i am not enjoying Yoko.


By my ridiculously unscientific calculations, it can be stated that approximately 80% of all singers can be put in this category.

John Kay  ( Steppenwolf)  and Gary Brooker  ( Procul Harem )  Fantastic ....

Leo Kottke. He described his singing as "Like geese farts on a muggy day."

Jorma Kaukonen.

John Prine.

Someone mentioned Leonard Cohen, but I think there was a big difference between his singing early in his career vs. later.

Somebody also mentioned Janis Joplin. Same thing - there was a tremendous difference in her voice between her early days (just a member of "Big Brother...") and when she was the headliner.

Roger Miller had a great voice to me because of the growl.  Listen to Engine, Engine #9, when he says these lines on later verses:

"I'm a little upset, yes"

"Coming down the railroad line..."

Roy Orbison was a superb singer that many couldn't match.

Great list folks!



Roy Orbison??

You gotta be joking.  Not just (by far) the best voice in the Wilburys, Orbison had one of the greatest male singing voices ever heard in rock, a pure soaring tenor.  Plus so sad he passed early, but that does mean his voice never aged or deteriorated.  We can love it forever.

Were you listening from the garden?

Given this is an audiophile forum, I’ll note that the Analogue Productions vinyl reissue of Roy’s Crying LP is knock-yer-socks-off glorious.

And yeah, most singers would kill to have a voice like Roy’s.

I saw Procol Harum live in the early 70s and I still think Gary Brooker had one of the best voices I've ever heard before or since, so, again, it's mystifying he'd be included in this thread.

To me, Roy Orbison had one of the greatest voices ever in popular music.

If you like to listen to singers who can't sing high notes without being off key, be my guest.


I can't believe no one has mentioned Jackson Browne. Not a bad voice, just not great. Incomparable lyricist though.

That's an easy one among cantorial singers-Shlomo Carlebach.  An always gravely, grating voice but what wonderful compositions he wrote and sang.  His recordings on Vanguard often have a sumptuous male choir and orchestra with his voice sticking out singing his songs.  

There was only 1️⃣ Gary Brooker. Just look at the effect he has on the band members as they try to match him with their playing! He elevates the whole affair.


I too, was surprised to see Gary Brooker's name on this list. Here is another sterling performance.



I liked Sue Foley, after several years of listening to her I'm done. Her pipes are horrid on most songs.