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The Greatest Singer Of All-time

June 07, 2007 | People
Britain's Q magazine (The Essential music guide) recently selected the finest voices in music history.

Presented as a list of the 100 Greatest singers, their 10 greatest songs were also nominated.

Johnny Cash made #14, Roy Orbison #23, Ray Charles #24, Tom Jones #71 and Smokey Robinson #95.

Here are the top ten with you-know-who at Number One!

1. Elvis Presley
2. Aretha Franklin
3. Frank Sinatra
4. Otis Redding
5. John Lennon
6. Marvin Gaye
7. Kurt Cobain
8. Robert Plant
9. Mick Jagger
10. Jeff Buckley.

Number 1 - Elvis Presley
Rocker. Roller. Showman. Icon.

It's a story almost too good to be true. On 5 July 1954, Elvis Aaron Presley, originally from Tupelo, Mississippi, walked into Sam Phillips's Sun Studios in Memphis, Tennessee. When he walked out again early the next morning things had changed forever. Taking Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup's workmanlike blues, That's All Right (Mama), the 19-year-old truck driver had sung in a way no white country boy had ever sung before: high, clear, joyfully spontaneous, hip-shakingly rhythmic, almost exploding with youthful vigour and testosterone. Rock'n'roll music was born.

Over the next 23 years, Presley would become the biggest singing star the world has ever known. The swaggering, natural exuberance of his early Sun recordings, however, was short-lived. Snapped up by RCA for $35,000 in late 1955, coltish innocence was soon replaced by a reckless disregard for his own career brought on by the demands of Hollywood and a manager, Colonel Tom Parker, who regarded him as little more than a cash cow. Pop schlock and big sentimental ballads followed. But just when it seemed he could sink no lower, he bounced back.

In 1969 Elvis returned to Memphis and, sounding completely re-energised under the guidance of producer Chips Moman, made some of the best, most mature music of his life.

It didn't last. Instead, he saw out his remaining years as a bloated parody of himself, a Las Vegas cabaret act who, despite everything, still occasionally clawed something majestic from all the crushing tackiness and tragedy of his life. And in the end, maybe that's what made him truly great. - (writer: Peter Kane)

Elvis' 10 Key Songs - as chosen by 'Q' magazine.

1. That's All Right
Scotty Moore's stinging guitar helps take the boy where nobody had been before.
2. Baby, Let's Play House
So excited by the prospect of some naughtiness, he even acquires a stutter.
3. Mystery Train
Junior Parker's dark, ghostly original re-imagined as a pulsating, hillbilly rocker.
4. Heartbreak Hotel
No reservations necessary as he convincingly sobs his way to his first million-seller.
5. One Night
Hot stuff for 1958, leaving nobody in any doubt just what he's "praying for".
6. Jailhouse Rock
Irresistible Leiber & Stoller rocker, with a frantic El shaking everything he's got.
7. It's Now Or Never
His version of 0 Sole Mio owing plenty to Mario Lanza, an unlikely Presley hero.
8. In The Ghetto
Beautifully poised, with just the right amount of anger to suggest that he really cared.
9. Suspicious Minds
Proving that when given a song he truly believed in, he made it his completely.
10. I just Can't Help Believin'
Recorded live in Las Vegas, Elvis the mature balladeer at his most commanding.
Source:Elvis Information Network
Joe Carr wrote on June 07, 2007
While I agree that EP is the greatest singer of all time, the article leaves a lot to be desired!
mature_elvis_fan75 wrote on June 07, 2007
Good that they think elvis is number 1 although this kind of thing does nothing for me, i find it laughable that kurt cobain is on the list at number 7! lol
boris wrote on June 07, 2007
What a strange list indeed! Great for Elvis we all knew about his voice and his singing ability. Same thing for Ol' blue eyes. Otis Redding was a great performer and a gifted singer just like Roy Orbison. But what about the others? Since when do Kurt Cobain John Lennon or Jeff Buckley rate as great singers? I mean they're great they had a fantastic career and there's no question about their influence in the rock field over the last 20 or 50 years but do we still get picture in the end? Being a great singer is about singing ain't it?
Jerome wrote on June 07, 2007
Cobain is a distinctive singer with an own style. Vocally there could have been other important singers in the list. Won't mention them to avoid debate. Nice top ten but it shows again the lack of appreciation Elvis' later 70's songs get (
Paul Reno wrote on June 08, 2007
I am surprised there weren't more of his 70's hits in there. What about 'Burning Love', Way Down', 'Moody Blue', 'T-R-O-U-B-L-E' and the legendary, 'American Trilogy' not to mention, 'Hurt'. Sorry... I mentioned it! - It's also a four letter word and you know the trouble that can get you in to! Having said all that, the list of all the classic performances Elvis did could use up all of your printer cartridges... and then some!
FLASHBOY wrote on June 08, 2007
Kurt Cobain John Lennon Great signer ......What the hell? what about the guy who sing..Tip toe thru the tulips to complete the list.
ger wrote on June 08, 2007
Tom Jones should have been in the top 5 .
FJE wrote on June 08, 2007
Frankly I surprised you should mention this list now when in fact the magazine was the April issue and which I bought on 8th March to be exact! Anyway, I will not debate who's in the list and who's left out. Elvis is No.1 and that's all that matters. The same goes for the choice of songs. I'm sure everyone has his own favourite. Personally, I would have put Burning Love instead of Now Or Never but I'm pleasantly surprised at the choice of I Just Can't Help Believing. I always felt this song to be underrated and so I'm glad it's getting the recognition it deserves.
FLASHBOY wrote on June 08, 2007
This list is Bull exept for Elvis who is the most talented in the world. I mean where is engelbert humperdink? Tom Jones? Roy Orbison? These are the singers that was suppose to be in the top ten with Elvis. Kurt Cobain for me is number 999 he does not belong where he is number 7 are you kidding? this book is one big laugh
Rob Wanders wrote on June 08, 2007
ridiculous list, but those kind of lists mostly are. I guess they deliberatly left out classical singers otherwise 95% of them would not reach the top 1000!! Ok, of popsingers Elvis number one is great and probably right. I miss Tim Buckley!!! And Barbara Streisand. Happy with Jeff Buckley, Tim's son, but Kurt Cobain, Robert Plant... give me a break. But isn't the list old news actually? And I'm curious about the 10 worst singers. I can pay a tribute to that list, easily.
Colonel wrote on June 08, 2007
I have nothing against John Lennon, but he wasn't a great singer. Even McCartney was (and still is) better than him. Well for the other stuff, I really can't take it serious. If I wanted to show Elvis as a great singer, I'd rather play someone "My boy" from the "bloated parody"-years than "Heartbreak hotel". People don't realize that Elvis was an artist who made great music throughout his carrere and not just for a short period. The description of "Suspicious minds" sucks. It makes one believe that there were only a few songs Elvis believed in and made his own. Nice to see him on no.1 though
ta2k wrote on June 08, 2007
I don't care who is ranked 2-100 or who 'should' be ranked 2-100, The King is desrvedly at the summit and that is all that counts. It's not too many years ago that on lists like this, and others done recently,that Elvis was nowhere to be seen and people were complaining 'Where is Elvis,this list is shocking'?! Now that he is regularly topping such polls people are still calling them stupid because so-and-so shouldn't be No.9 or No.78 or whatever...i don't care about Mr So-and-So ! I care about The King. TCB.
Rob Wanders wrote on June 08, 2007
and I also care about Eva Cassidy. She should have been on the list too. Look at youtube.
Dixieland Rock wrote on June 08, 2007
Glad to see Elvis at number one. But Dean Martin should be in the top ten. My top ten list does include Elvis, Dean Martin, Jerry Lee Lewis & Tom Jones. Corbain & Jagger, no way.
chicken wrote on June 08, 2007
Ger, the only top 5 that Tom Jones should be in is the top 5 worst Elvis impersonators, at that all important no. 1 position
Pedro Nuno wrote on June 08, 2007
Q Magazine got it right, but it is still amazing how they have Elvis Clichés in their minds!Just see how they treat Presley’s career in the 70'S: "It didn't last. Instead, he saw out his remaining years as a bloated parody of himself, a Las Vegas cabaret act who, despite everything, still occasionally clawed something majestic from all the crushing tackiness and tragedy of his life!" Say What?? Elvis and We (Elvis fans) still have a long way to go until they (the media) truly understand the Kings music, and give it proper credits! P.S. But it's not that bad. 10 to 15 years ago they had jus deleted Elvis, from the living music after 1958, and his army period! TCB all
Rob Wanders wrote on June 08, 2007
as I wrote before, I think it's right that Elvis is in number 1, but I miss Tim Buckley. Friends, take a look at youtube, for example the clip about the new DVD: My floating house. I Wonder if Elvis knew about Tim, cause they were from the same generation. Tim lived from 1947-1975. Even much shorter than Elvis did.
Steve V wrote on June 08, 2007
This list was out a few months ago and we all made similar comments then. It's right & great that Elvis is number one. Sometimes he is not as in the Rolling Stones greatest rocker list. But after Aretha & Frank Sinatra I dont agree at all with the rest of the names in the top 10. They are all unique vocalists with their own styles but that doesnt make them great singers. Where's Ella or Billie Holiday? Sam Cooke? Orbison? Garland? I could go on & on. Now those are great singers!
Sean Ryan wrote on June 08, 2007
I agree that Elvis should be Number 1, goes without saying, but the rest is totally wrong.No Sam Cooke,No George Michael,no Bobby Darin,no Karen Carpenter,no jackie wilson,no michael jackson,only got one right in the topten.Lennon wasnt that great a singer.
Colonel wrote on June 08, 2007
ta2K: You have your opinion and that's good. I just see this from a musician's point of view, so I want them to do these lists right. May I mention Carl Wilson's name for the top 5 ?
Sean Ryan wrote on June 08, 2007
Robert Plant ahead of Freddie Mercury?? yeah, right.
FJE wrote on June 08, 2007
For the record and to quench some fans' curiosity here are the 10 worst singers as published in this same issue of "Q Magazine". 1. Ozzy Osbourne, 2. Fred Durst, 3. Celine Dion (do I hear a chorus of approval?!), 4. Mariah Carey, 5. Einer Orn Benediktsson, 6. Heather Small, 7. Yoko Ono, 8. Nick Heyward, 9. Bobby Gillespie, 10. Any Death Metal Singer Ever (lol). I have no idea who the heck No.2 & 5 are! Go on guys, add your own choices to this list! John Travolta anyone??!!
Colonel wrote on June 09, 2007
I believe Fred Durst is from Blink 182. Ringo anyone...?
Cherokee wrote on September 08, 2007
I'm guessing the book only deals with the "best" pop or rock singers? I'm a great Elvis fan, but was he the best singer ever? No. If all musical styles were included, I'd put Pavarotti on 1, Elvis on 2, Andrea Bocelli on 3, Nat King Cole on 4, Barry Gibb on 5, Michael Buble on 6, Bono on 7, Sammy Davis Jr. on 8 and I wouldn't even know more who can recreate live what they produce in the recording studio. That's my all male list. Female voices of all genres: Ella Fitzgerald, Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Karen Carptenter, Amy Winehouse....again all capable of reproducing or surpassing live what they sound like on recordings.