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?


Bob Dylan

Neil Young

David Bromberg

These three don't have great voices but they are all able to put more emotion into a song than most any other singers I can think of.  

In an interview I once heard, Neil Young was asked about whether anyone else in his first band could sing. He laughed and said nobody in the band could sing.

1. Neil Young

2. LP

3. Joe Cocker

4. Boz Scaggs

5. Bob Dylan

6. Me in the shower

I'm enjoying all shall I say...quirky ones. In any case, when it comes to pop/rock/folk music, quirkiness, personality and delivery are much more important than actual vocal chops.

+1 @bigtwin 

I wish however that I could sing even half as bad as any of the people mentioned....

Agreed about Jerry Garcia in his later life.  As his voice got worse, his singing got better.  

Also Mick Jagger.  As Chris Robinson said about Mick “Man, for someone who can’t sing, that guy can sing!”

Okay -- you guys found one I can swing with... Utterly no voice. But capable of delivering the real true center of a song. Leonard Cohen.

Frankie Beverly (and MAZE)

Kristin Asbjornsen (great singer, i would say, but some would find her voice to be grating!)

I would add Ry Cooder, a great favorite of mine not blessed with golden pipes.  John Lennon was no bargain either.  Arlo Guthrie, Kieth Relf of the Yardbirds, 

Of the big four mentioned above, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen and Dylan and Jerry, Neil and Jerry are the ones I can listen to throughout entire career. When Cohen and Dylan began to sound more like croaking frogs than human is day I couldn't take it anymore.


There is this one obscure female hillbilly singer from 1950's, can't recall her name for life of me, somewhat recent thread here mentioned her. Anyway, the voice is probably the single most unbearable voice I have ever heard!

 Neil Young 

Johnny Rotten 

Gord Downie 

Dave Grohl 









I love Lucinda Williams and Ricki Lee Jones - though I've been told their voices, like Scotch whiskey, are an acquired taste.

Tiny Tim and Mr. Rogers  had successful singing careers ?

What kind of guilty pleasures do you guys have ?

Shane MacGowan.  Sounds like he's just swallowed draino and yet has the most tone perfect and musical delivery you've ever heard in a drinking song.  Absolutely love him.  Bartender, pour me another. 

Rush - Geddy Lee.   With Rush actually tend to focus

more on the instruments versus Geddy

Someone posted the name of a singer that most all great and famous singers says has the best voice of all singers.... so there is that.

@sns agreed if your referring to Janis Joplin

can’t believe she hadn’t been mentioned yet.…or I missed it.

But I digress…the question is a bad voice whom you DO like…😂

Did someone really say "Moody Blues"? Many of my favorites don’t sing as much as they talk. Two that come to mind are Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, although I have nearly every album, CD or cassette either have ever made. Yes, I am a fan!

The top of my list is Billie Holiday.  Her singing makes me want to slit my wrists. Michael McDonald too, he had no business with a microphone.

The voices that come to mind for me have already been repeatedly listed here. I was surprised to see Roy Orbison's voice listed. He wouldn't have made my list. Nevertheless, the thread has got me thinking perhaps there really is no such thing as a bad voice. Talent can make use of whatever is available.

Roy Orbison “doesn’t have a great voice?”

Wow.  Those are some high standards.

I love the sound of Kurt Cobain, Lemmy, Lou Reed, Roger Miller and John Sebastian’s voices.

I wouldn’t say any of those guys were proficient vocalists, but I’ll be darned if I don’t love the sound of their voices.