SNC’S 10 BEST ITALIAN-AMERICAN ROCK VOCALISTS
1. RONNIE JAMES DIO – BLACK SABBATH, RAINBOW AND DIO
It takes cajones the size of Texas to fill Ozzy Osbourne’s boots, and Ronnie James Dio proved he had the chops to keep Black Sabbath’s legend alive on two stellar Sabbath albums, 1980’s Heaven and Hell and 1981’s Mob Rules. Before that the former Elf singer created future metal classics as a guest vocalist on Deep Purple bassist-songwriter Roger Glover’s 1974 concept album The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast and as frontman for guitar god Ritchie Blackmore‘s Rainbow.
The former Ronald James Padavona’s 1983 solo debut, Holy Diver, is unarguably one of the greatest metal albums of all time, and it’s all thanks to Dio’s supreme vocals, which remain unmatched by any other vocalist three decades later. We hold up a two-fisted devil’s horn salute to Dio every time we crank up “Rainbow in the Dark.”
2. JON BON JOVI – BON JOVI
As one of the best and most badass rock singers-songwriters on the planet, Jon Bon Jovi has earned his famous Superman-inspired tattoo. His anthems are timeless, and every track on his band’s self-titled debut sounds just as stunningly kick-ass today as it did in 1984. Plus, we’re sure that the former John Francis Bongiovi, Jr. is probably the only dude with Francis for a middle name who can still kick your ass without breaking a sweat!
3. STEVEN TYLER – AEROSMITH
Aerosmith‘s Steven Tyler, the artist formerly known as Steven Victor Tallarico, is the best thing to happen to rock n’ roll since the invention of the Stratocaster. And we’re not just saying that because he wrote one of the best pro-tolerance anthems ever inspired by 1992’s L.A. Riots, “Living on the Edge.” Although that certainly gets him some extra points.
4. GLENN DANZIG – MISFITS, SAMHAIN AND DANZIG
New Jersey’s Glenn Allen Anzalone, known better as Glenn Danzig, not only created three of hard rock’s greatest bands — Misfits, Samhain and Danzig – but his first one inspired some of the best musicians out there, from Henry Rollins to Metallica. And it’s not every dude who can carry off that Chippendale’s hairstyle for over three decades and remain one of the most badass vocalists in rock history.
5. RIVERS CUOMO – WEEZER
This former Tower Records Sunset clerk not only fronts one of the best L.A. bands to ever surface from the Sunset strip scene, Weezer, but he also played a pivotal role in showing the world that heavy metal fans are smarter than Tipper Gore ever gave us credit for by earning a degree in English from Harvard in 2006! He may look just like Buddy Holly, but he’s also as smart as Stephen Hawking!
6. GARY CHERONE – EXTREME AND VAN HALEN
Because, as frontman for Extreme, Gary Francis Caine Cherone also gave us killer metal anthems like “Kid Ego,” “Mutha (Don’t Wanna Go to School Today),” “Get the Funk Out,” “Hip Today” and, of course, “More Than Words,” it’s easy to forgive him for Van Halen III.
7. GERARD WAY – MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE
Even before starting up one of the coolest art-rock bands of the 2000s, MCR’s Gerard Arthur Way had already earned piints with us after revealing that his stellar music career was inspired by his love of fellow Italiano Bon Jovi. Also, like smartie Rivers Cuomo, Gerard and his younger bro Mikey helped up respect for metalheads everywhere by naming their band after a respected novel, Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy: Three Tales of Chemical Romance. Plus, 2006’s The Black Parade and its successive music videos remain some of the most awesome art-rock to ever hit the charts.
8. DAVEY HAVOK – AFI
Even if the former David Paden Passaro didn’t front one of the best ’90s bands out of NorCal, we’d still give him a two-handed devil’s horn salute just for his role as a straight-edge and vegan activist. In addition to AFI’s “Silver and cold” and “Love Like Winter,” Davey Havok also dropped some of our favorite guest vocals on timeless tracks by some of our other fave bands, including The Transplants’ “Quick Death” and The Dance Hall Crashers’ “I Don’t Wanna Behave.”
9. RICHIE SAMBORA – BON JOVI
Although we are still feeling a bit angsty about Richie Sambora’s split from Bon Jovi and his recent maybe/maybe not trashing of Jon Bon Jovi in his latest song, we’re still man enough to admit that we kind of liked his three solo outings, especially 1991’s Stranger in this Town. While Sambora is no JBJ, his backup vocals and co-songwriting duties definitely made Bon Jovi the band that it became. And, hey, Italians can be a bit too passionate with their emotions sometimes, so we’re gonna give his feud with Jon some time to cool down because we think these two rock icons will eventually patch things up. In fact, we’ve already said a couple prayers to the patron saint of forgiveness, St. Maria Goretti, in hopes that they reunite soon!
10. NIKKI SIXX – MOTLEY CRUE AND SIXX: AM
OK, we know it’s sort of a stretch to include Nikki Sixx in the vocalist category, but we didn’t want to have a chart about Italian rockers without somehow including its most badass addition to the heavy metal scene, the former Frank Carlton Serafino Feranna Jr. Plus, Nikki’s backup vocals on Motley Crue’s classics give the timeless tracks an extra edge, and we totally dig his lead on “Rocketship,” too.