Top Five Bands That Split the Job of Lead Singer and Lyricist

(Most of the time, anyway.)

1. The Who
2. Depeche Mode
3. Rush
4. Oasis
5. Abba

Who else?

posted 1 July 2013 in Tasty Bits and tagged . 6 comments

6 Comments on Top Five Bands That Split the Job of Lead Singer and Lyricist

  1. Scott Underwood Says:

    Louis Perez is Los Lobos’ primary lyricist, but I’m pretty sure he rarely sings in the band.

    The Band fits, as well. Robbie Robertson wrote or cowrote the majority of the lyrics, but (according to Wikipedia) only recorded lead vocals on three songs. There is some contention about this, as Levon Helm said that the songs were often composed as a band — but did he mean the lyrics, the music, or both?

  2. Gavin Says:

    The Band fits–and I had never heard that about Perez! I always thought Hidalgo and Rosas wrote the songs they sang.

    Led Zeppelin fits too, at least in the early stages of their career–I believe Page didn’t turn lyric-writing over to Plant for a while.

  3. Tom Nawrocki Says:

    Fall Out Boy has an odd split in this category: The lead vocalist composes all the music while the bass player writes the lyrics.

  4. Scott Underwood Says:

    Boston is another: Tom Scholz wrote most of the songs on their albums, though singer Brad Delp has a couple credits.

    The example I keep hearing when I bring up this topic (around fans of a certain persuasion) is Robert Hunter, who wrote lyrics for songs Jerry Garcia sang. “They considered him part of the band,” they cry, but no.

    However, it suggests a category of nonperforming lyricists who primarily worked with one artist. Bernie Taupin, of course, and I guess the other Dead lyricist John Perry Barlow. Pete Brown wrote songs with Jack Bruce for Cream and solo; Peter Sinfield wrote for the first few King Crimson albums. Jim Steinman for Meat Loaf, but that didn’t last long.

  5. Chris Molanphy Says:

    You mean as a regular job, right? And only lyrics? So you’re not looking at, say, bassist John Deacon writing Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” (music and lyrics) or guitarist Robby Krieger writing the Doors’ “Light My Fire”?

  6. Gavin Says:

    Right, I’m looking for bands that as a rule, have one person write the lyrics (maybe the music too, but that’s a bonus) but not sing the songs.

    Odd one-offs like “Near Wild Heaven” and “Sister Christian” are always interesting, but not what we’re talking about here.

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