Know of any popular bands where the backing vocalists are as good as/better than the lead singer?
As I listen to more and more classic rock repertoire, I realize that there are many bands such as The Who, The Cars, Van Halen, and CSNY where the backing vocalists are sometimes better singers than the lead vocalists. For example; Benjamin Orr of The Cars, known as the singer for Just What I Needed, RARELY sang lead on any of The Cars, though it can be argued he had more range and a more radio-friendly singing tone than their lead guitarist/lead singer. Many people won't realize this, but John Entwistle, bassist for The Who, had a fabulous voice, which can be heard on My Wife from the Who's Next album. For a lowish baritone, he has a ton of range and it's a shame he didn't sing on more tracks. Michael Anthony of Van Halen is the most glaring example: why didn't this man sing lead on any tracks??? He has an amazing tenor voice comparable to Brad Delp of Boston.
Also, I know of many singers on here like Bob who play an instrument such as drums and do backing vocals/sometimes lead in their own bands. I think any band with a KTVA graduate worth his salt should use him as a primary singer IMHO xD
Then again, I can't argue because I do sing lead in my band lol
My band is a three-piece, and we all three sing lead, so we do a round-robin, and I sing a third of the lead vocals. We're also known for our harmonies, and so when I'm not singing lead, I'm the main harmony singer, singing above the lead and above the other harmony singer. My job is to help them sound even better when it's their turn to sing.
At break time, different people are always confiding to me "I like your voice the best" and "you sing up above the others, that sounds really good..." I just thank them. It's not a contest. I sing all of the high rockers and more challenging melodic tunes, AND all the grit and grunge tunes, Tom Jones, Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond, Beatles... on and on...
James Taylor always had fantastic backup singers. I saw Michael McDonald a couple of months ago, and he had a wonderful backup singer, plus the band's vocals, too. I went to Paul McCartney at Candlestick Park also. "New", Pauls backing band, provide GREAT backup vocals. I'm sure they can sing their sox off individually, but we only hear them doing Paul McCartney and Beatles backups. They do them better than those songs have ever been done live.
Generally, auxiliary singers are hired to go on the road with the main star, and may not even be introduced during the show, let alone given any solo or lead parts. They are hired guns, and we would be amazed and blown away by many of them. The good news is that they got to experience being part of a larger production than many will ever see.
But yeah... Just think of all the great singers out there, even on stage, that never get the lead vocalist spot... until... things change.