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The Daltrey-Townshend Effect: Bands Whose Front Men Sing the Lyrics of Other Members


The Zombies Found Success Because of a Collaboration Like That of Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend


Roger Daltrey recently told music-news it is very unlikely that the Who will ever make another album, citing financial and emotional issues from the band's 2020 self-titled album. Although the album was received both by critics and fans, it still ended up costing the Who more than they actually made from sales.

Guitarist Pete Townshend justifiably blamed the current preference for streaming music for the economic setback, alleging artists receive poor dividends from such internet music services. During the band's heyday in the Sixties and Seventies plenty of money was earned through record sales, and even their previous release Endless Wire from 2001 came out when physical formats were still popular.

For those of us who still prefer music on vinyl, we were not disappointed with that latest Who album. The tandem of its only surviving co-founders sounded as strong as ever, especially on tracks like “Hero Ground Zero” and “All This Music Must Fade.”

Evident after six decades is the unique relationship between Daltrey and Townshend, a partnership rarely found in the history of rock and roll. In most bands it is the lyricist who sings the songs, since it is commonly believed that the writer of the words will exude the emotions.

While that approach is certainly rare, there are other bands with a similar relationship. Here are ten other artists whose vocalist greatly enhances the lyrics of another band member.

1. Squeeze

In a book about the new wave group Chris Difford recalls putting each set of lyrics in a box, which Glenn Tilbrook would then set to music and sing into hits like “Black Coffee In Bed”, “Take Me I'm Yours” and “Hourglass.”

2. Rush

Front man Geddy Lee worked high-pitched vocal magic from the words of drummer Neil Peart, resulting in classics such as “Tom Sawyer” and “The Spirit of Radio.”

3. Cheap Trick

“Surrender” and the title track from Dream Police were just two of the many hits written by guitarist Rick Neilson, whose words were enhanced by the singing of Robin Zander.

4. Queen

Even though Freddie Mercury handled his own songs as well, his legendary voice greatly strengthened compositions by guitarist Brian May (“Fat Bottomed Girls”, “We Will Rock You”) and bassist John Deacon (“You're My Best Friend”, “Another One Bites the Dust”).

5. Oasis

Among the most contentious collaborations was that of the Brothers Gallagher, comprised of Noel's lyrics and Liam's Lennon-like delivery.

6. The Rocket Man

Elton John became a legend because of his ability to capture in song the stanzas written by long-time partner Bernie Taupin.

7. The Band

Guitarist Robbie Robertson created nearly all of the lyrics in hits such as “Up on Cripple Creek” and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”, but they would not have been as successful but for the vocal talents of band mates like drummer Levon Helm.

8. Procol Harum

Referred to on liner notes as poet, Keith Reid wrote lyrics that vocalist Gary Brooker turned into hits l like “Whiter Shade of Pale” and “Conquistador.”

9. Kansas

The voices you hear on hits such as “Dust in the Wind” and “Carry On Wayward Son” belong to Steve Walsh and Robbie Steinhart, but the man who came up with the memorable lyrics was Kerry Livgren.

10. The Zombies

Rod Argent penned tunes like “Time of the Season” and “She's Not There”, songs certainly improved by the vocals of Colin Blunstone.

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