What Makes A Great Rock Singer? ‘Good Hair,’ Reckons Jeff Scott Soto…
Jeff Scott Soto of Journey/Yngwie Malmsteen/Soul SirkUS fame didn’t quite make into Classic Rock’s list of the Greatest Rock Singers Of All Time. But, hell, we decided to interview him anyway…
What makes a great rock singer?
Good hair is very important. There aren’t that many great rock singers but just about all of them have got great hair.
Is a distinctive voice necessarily a good voice?
Yes. Like I just said, I have to admit that there are not a lot of great singers out there. I’m not going to name names, but even some of the great ones have the type of voices that you only learn to accept after a while. Bon Scott was not an especially good singer, but after you became familiar with his style he became perfectly acceptable. His voice fits the music with that band and those songs – you don’t think about the fact that he’s not Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke, Steve Perry or Freddie Mercury. You love the way his voice sounds.
Who do you consider to be the greatest rock singer of all time, and why?
I would normally say Freddie Mercury, but the question is specifically about a rock singer. To me, Freddie was always so much more than just a rock singer. So my answer is Ronnie James Dio. From the early days of Elf and Rainbow onwards, his track record deserves the accolade. Ronnie’s still doing it, and he still sounds so bloody good. Some other singers have lost if after ten years, but he’s how old…?
He recently admitted to being 66 years old.
That’s absolutely amazing. The guy never misses a beat. He’s being doing it for 40 years and he still sounds as good today. When it comes to being the prefect rock singer, Ronnie James Dio is the pinnacle.
Why did you become a singer?
I had no choice. My parents could both sing extremely well, though they didn’t pursue it because they had children. They definitely passed it onto me. From the age of five onwards, I knew it’s what I wanted to do.
Did you take lessons?
So you’re completely self-taught?
That’s right. I learned how to read music at school and how to make sense of what I was doing. But the only two times I sat with a coach was when I got nodule surgery seven years ago; I was singing incorrectly. Then during the tour I did with Journey I saw Steve Perry’s long-term coach. He taught me how to take my baritone and take it up to a tenor – all in one lesson. He’s a very clever guy…
Do you agree with Edward Van Halen’s famous complaint about vocalists that suffer from Lead Singer’s Disease?
What you’re asking is whether singers have a licence to behave a little differently to the rest of the band? Absolutely. Flamboyant behaviour is what makes rock n’ roll. There are degrees, obviously. But the singers we end up talking about most, they’re the ones with the ‘issues’. Being a singer is a license to do whatever the fuck you want.
Do singers get all the girls?
[Laughing]: We always used to. Now we have to share them with the guitar players and it’s really not fair.