Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Don Henley magic

Question - Has there been a better, more versatile male voice than Don Henley in the last 30 years of Pop?

I am unashamedly biased but there just is no competition in my opinion. Here Don sings his classic "The End of the Innocence." This track is on "The Very Best of Don Henley" - a new Henley album and he sounds even more perfect 'live' than on the album - surely a sign of genius at work!


Scott Peters said...

Excellent topic...

Over the past 30 years Don Henley has made such an impact on RNR in and outside the Eagles. I play in a band that covers "Heart of the Matter" and his genius shines through no matter what he does.

So, is there anybody better with regard to timeless vocal ability and stamina? Let me share my dear friend Trevor...

Aretha Franklin has many fans and has endured time very well. However, when I've seen her perform recently, she's sucked. I give the edge to Henley.

Tina Turner has pipes and LEGS in her 60's!!! I'd do 'er as young kids say today, even with your wanker. Bad attempt at humor?!?! Edge goes to Henley, because I'd probably do him too.

Billy Joel has been very popular as a soloist and has produced some of the top selling albums of all time. I give the edge to Joel in this case.

Paul McCartney, one of your own, has done so much for music and plays great shows today. He is also referred to as "Sir" in most parts of the world. I give the edge to McCartney in this contest.

Bono, because of his ability to keep a band together and perform amazing work for the world outside of RNR receives very high marks by me. However, U2's most recent work sucked and Bono has points taken away. Edge goes to Henley.

Stevie Wonder...need I say more, he gains the edge over Henley.

Rod Stewart, even with his oddities and lack of popularity today edges out Henley.

Eric Clapton...Slowhand has performed better as a solo artist than Henley; yet, other than Cream years and years ago, Clapton never made it huge with a band. Edge goes to Henley who has achieved both.

The Boss, Bruce Springsteen...a much better live performer than Henley. His show at the Super Bowl was stellar until he slid across the stage and landed his crotch right in the camera; points off for that maneuver! Edge goes to Henley.

Stevie Nicks...gotta love her but she lost her allure over the years. Her voice is great though. Edge goes to Henley for keeping it together better.

Steven Tyler of Aerosmith and the Toxic Twins...gimmie a break. More than an edge goes to Henley.

As you can see Trevor, Henley is a great vocalist and artist, but he does not make the top of my list. All around, I believe Billy Joel is a better artist and singer. Paul McCartney is an untouchable, outside of his ex, with regard to what he's done for music with or without the Beatles. Stevie Wonder is awesome period. That guy can sit at a piano blind and belt out some of the most beautiful music and lyrics I've ever heard...ever.

Love the blog man...great work.

JOHN O'LEARY said...

Trevor: we would agree that DH is no vocal slouch, but if you're talking about a "better, more versatile male voice" at ANY time over the last 30 years he has plenty of competition. For versatility, Marvin Gaye would be my #1. On some of his songs he sings backup parts that I only recently realized were his.

Stevie Wonder, Sly Stone, Michael Jackson, and Prince were also amazingly versatile male singers.

Dave Wheeler said...


Mr. Henley is indeed a terrific vocalist. I will admit my opinion is a bit biased because I grew up in California came to avoid the music of certain groups like the Beach Boys and Eagles because of the sheer "over exposure" on the airwaves. That and the Beach Boys music was just plain irritating to me! Billy Preston and Levi Stubbs of the Four Tops, along with Don Henley would definitely be in my Top Ten though...maybe Top Five.

Great topic sir!

Trevor Gay said...

Fantastic list Scott - we have similar views about all those on your list.

As a teenager brought up over here in England in the 1960's on The Beatles, The Kinks and The Stones I would say Lennon outscores McCartney.
I still rank Henley the tops – but I know I am very polarised in my views of anything 'Eagles' :- )

Trevor Gay said...

John - you and Scott have far more knowledge than me of the technical side of rock and pop and I bow to both of you on that. I speak from the heart (as always) and objectivity goes out the window I guess.

I’d completely forgotten my namesake the great Marvin who I just love. BTW just in case your wondering the spelling gives away the fact Marvin's not my Dad after all :-)

Trevor Gay said...

Dave – you and John have California in common my friend. John was performing alongside the legends of the time in those Eagles, Ronstadt. JD Souther days. I’m sure John could tell us some real tales.

I understand the over exposure thing – I felt the same over here when I was a kid in the 60’s about some bands. The Kinks never had as much coverage as The Beatles or The Stones but I always rated The Kinks the best band of the three.

Mark JF said...

(Sorry about the above: Misty the cat sat on the keyboard.)

Henley is certainly a candidate for the singer award (and I think he's often overlooked when people talk about songwriting because he produces some great lyrics) but is he the winner? And is there a definitive standard which lets us choose an undisputed winner? Obviously not which is what makes this sort of discussion such a great bar room debate!

I'd put Rod Stewart in the pantheon. Look at the range of material he's covered, phrasing, emotion, control... he's a fabulous singer.

Sam Cooke. (Who Rod apparently idolises.) What a voice!

Marvin Gaye - John's right, an awesome talent.

Both Buckleys, Tim and Jeff, had voices to die for and Jeff in particular was beginning to go places most of us can't even imagine before his untimely death.

So many others: Emmylou Harris, Captain Beefheart, Kurt Wagner (from the band Lambchop: if you haven't heard them, go listen to 'Steve McQueen' from the album "AwCmon"), Otis Redding, we could mention a certain Francis Albert Sinatra, Mick Hucknall (Simply Red: it always invites controversy when I mention him but he's a fabulous singer), Dionne Warwick, Robbie Williams (yes, him), Tammi Terrell, Frankie Valli.

You know what? We're lucky to live with all this talent so readily available for our enjoyment!

Trevor Gay said...

I know the feeling Mark – my dog often sits on my knee at the PC and enjoys tapping out the odd word or two on the keyboard! I deleted the comment – hope Misty is not offended :- )

You are so right that the talent is awesome when we write it down. I would add Jimmy Ruffin to the growing list – he was very under-estimated. You won’t find me knocking Mick Hucknall - after all is he is a fellow dedicated Red from the Theatre of Dreams :- )

Scott Peters said...

Mark JF,

Impressive list. Thx for your input. I agree, there is so much talent in the world we are truly blessed with music, books, speakers, leaders, and managers.


Dan Gunter said...

Trevor, you raise an interesting discussion here. While there have been many great artists in the last few decades, I honestly can't think of one I'd call more versatile.

My apologies for the scarcity of communications or comments lately. I've been pretty well buried with video production and website work the past few weeks. It is REALLY busy for me at the moment. I'm not complaining. It sure beats being bored and eating lots of sandwiches.

Trevor Gay said...

Dan - Not disagreeing about Mr Henley needless to say!

Good news on the work front - well done. No need to apologise about scarcity of comments and communication – paying the bills is a pretty important priority in life my friend :-)