When pinpointing a band's most famous member, you usually can't go wrong by choosing the lead singer. But what if the band doesn't have a lead singer? If a band has more than one songwriter, it typically has more than one lead singer, too. Here are seven bands with more than one lead singer.
1. The B-52's
The B-52's are one of the most unique pop groups in history, largely due to its unusual line-up: a drummer, a guitarist who plays with only four strings, and three vocalists, all of which take turns singing lead. Some of the band's songs, such as "Rock Lobster," are carried by Fred Schneider's semi-spoken word vocals, while others, such as "Roam," feature the harmonized vocals of Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson. The band's biggest hit, "Love Shack," (which is my mom's all-time favorite song, FYI), features all three vocalists taking lead.
When Guy Picciotto first joined Fugazi in 1987, he was simply a backing vocalist, a sort of punk-rock hype man for singer/guitarist Ian MacKaye. However, Picciotto would soon assert a more dominant role in the group by writing and singing lead on half of the band's songs. By 1990, Picciotto was playing guitar for the group as well as singing.
3. Sonic Youth
Though Kim Gordon's recent performance with Nirvana at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony displayed her immense talents as a frontwoman, her band Sonic Youth never had a defined leader. Gordon founded the band with guitarist Thurston Moore in 1981, and when guitarist Lee Ranaldo joined the band soon afterwards, all three served as the band's songwriters and vocalists.
4. Fleetwood Mac
Though Fleetwood Mac has gone through an exhausting number of line-up changes throughout its 45+ year career, the band's music has always been supported by multiple vocalists and songwriters, sometimes as many as four. The band's best and most famous line-up, featuring keyboardist Christine McVie, guitarist Lindsay Buckingham, and vocalist Stevie Nicks, found all three of the band's songwriters splitting lead vocal duties almost evenly.
5. My Bloody Valentine
Other than otherworldly guitar noise, one of My Bloody Valentine's signature elements is ethereal, multi-layered vocals, performed by guitarists Kevin Shields and Bilinda Butcher. During the recording of the band's masterpiece Loveless, Shields would perform nearly every part of the album himself. One notable exception, of course, was Butcher's vocals.
6. Pink Floyd
The role of Pink Floyd's "lead vocalist" went through a few shifts between the late '60s and the late '80s. At first, the band's undisputed leader was Syd Barrett, who wrote and sang most of the band's music. When he left the group in 1968 however, his role as vocalist and songwriter was taken over by three of the band's members: Richard Wright, Roger Waters, and David Gilmour. However, by the late '70s, Roger Waters took over the band, writing and singing most of the music himself. When Waters eventually left in 1985, David Gilmour took his place as lead vocalist until the band's dissolution in 1995.
7. The Beatles
One of the countless aspects of rock music that the Beatles pioneered was the idea of a band being a group of distinct personalities, rather than a leader and his backing musicians. The Beatles never had a leader. Whoever sang a song was usually the one who wrote it, and most of the time it was either John Lennon or Paul McCartney, though George Harrison and Ringo Starr would sing occasionally as well. This was why the Beatles couldn't continue after Lennon quit: the band was a unit, and it couldn't work without all of the pieces in place.
What other bands have more than one lead singer? Let us know in the comments section!