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#1
Old 02-28-2011, 07:56 PM
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Best Bass Singers Of All Time?

I've a bit of a bass-oriented voice, and have always liked bass singers in general. Its really no longer in fashion I suppose in terms of the popular music of today, but much like the falsetto of Justin Hawkins with The Darkness, I'd like to see a resurgence of the opposite side of this vocal style.

Richard Sterban of the Oak Ridge Boys has a great voice and the song "Elvira" reintroduced pop music to the bass voice (as did Bowser from Sha-Na-Na back in those days) with his ultra-low "Ooompa-pa-mile-mile" (or whatever the lyric was) back in the early 1980's...but is this now dead aside from gospel music?

I did some searching and I found a pretty amazing video from a guy named JD Sumner who had an amazing bass voice. Apparently he and his vocal group were hired on as Elvis' backup singers from around 1971 until the King died.

Can anyone top this performance of bass vocals?

http://youtube.com/watch?v=mu_wW...eature=related

And who are your favorite bass vocal performers? Examples please.

ETA: yes, JD's hair moves around a lot!

Last edited by FoieGrasIsEvil; 02-28-2011 at 07:58 PM.
#2
Old 02-28-2011, 08:17 PM
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I came in to mention J.D. Sumner. He was amazing.
#3
Old 02-28-2011, 08:39 PM
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How about Barry White?
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#4
Old 02-28-2011, 08:41 PM
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Bill Medley of The Righteous Brothers comes to mind.
#5
Old 02-28-2011, 08:50 PM
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Any love for Johnny Hartman?

Then there's Brad Roberts from the Crash Test Dummies, from the early nineties.

And I have to mention Paul Robeson.
#6
Old 02-28-2011, 09:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Le Ministre de l'au-delà View Post
Any love for Johnny Hartman?

Then there's Brad Roberts from the Crash Test Dummies, from the early nineties.

And I have to mention Paul Robeson.
I was hoping you'd chime in, being a professional vocalist and all. That Johnny Hartman rendition slays (its the song from Spiderman! Eeek!) and shows that a true bass vocalist doesn't have to dip down into the lowest possible register to impress or showcase talent, although I suppose my OP was asking for exactly that.

Thanks for the Crash Test Dummies link...I only knew their "Mmmmm....mmmm" song. I like how that song is a lament.

As for the last...did you just pull Showboat rank? Christ!


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#7
Old 02-28-2011, 09:32 PM
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Leonid Kharitonov is, I think, the name of the guy performing the solo in this song. Paul Robeson actually did a pretty good rendition of it, too.
#8
Old 02-28-2011, 09:40 PM
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Big Mouth Billy?
#9
Old 02-28-2011, 09:58 PM
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Nathan Best from the Fairfield Four in this number http://youtube.com/watch?v=QTIrHBzTyks At about 1:15 is when he hits the really low part.

I also came in to say J.D. Sumner but was beaten to it by the OP.
#10
Old 02-28-2011, 10:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maiira View Post
Leonid Kharitonov is, I think, the name of the guy performing the solo in this song. Paul Robeson actually did a pretty good rendition of it, too.
That is a really interesting video, but I don't hear a bass solo?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny L.A. View Post
While that ther fish can sang, I don't hear a lick of bass (natch) thar either!

Last edited by FoieGrasIsEvil; 02-28-2011 at 10:00 PM.
#11
Old 02-28-2011, 10:04 PM
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There's also the "Oh Brother....Hush" gospel song from all things, a Ralph Macchio movie about the blues...52 seconds in...of course there's Steve Vai too...so..well, I don't know what that means, if anything!

http://youtube.com/watch?v=6CAJtu2nHLw
#12
Old 02-28-2011, 11:29 PM
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Gotta love Thurl Ravenscroft. He sang "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" and was also the voice of Tony the Tiger.
#13
Old 02-28-2011, 11:59 PM
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Thomas Quasthoff has a beautiful low voice. And he is a victim of thalidomyde.

Here is his version Old Man River.

Amazing man.

Last edited by notfrommensa; 02-28-2011 at 11:59 PM.
#14
Old 03-01-2011, 12:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FoieGrasIsEvil View Post

http://youtube.com/watch?v=mu_wW...eature=related

And who are your favorite bass vocal performers? Examples please.

ETA: yes, JD's hair moves around a lot!
Is it just me or does everyone in that video kinda look like Conway Twitty?
#15
Old 03-01-2011, 12:24 AM
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I saw this thread and immediately thought of JD Sumner, but I see that several others have already been there. He was truely one of the greats. He originally sang with a gospel group called the Blackwood Brothers (surprisingly still around, though of course not with any of the original singers.) My parents were great fans of the Blackwoods and I heard them in concert several times as a young lad. As I recall, Sumner also had a very humorous and personable stage presense. The Blackwoods BTW also had one of the best piano players - a guy named Wally Barner.
#16
Old 03-01-2011, 07:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joey P View Post
Is it just me or does everyone in that video kinda look like Conway Twitty?

Its that hair!

Quote:
Originally Posted by SeldomSeen View Post
I saw this thread and immediately thought of JD Sumner, but I see that several others have already been there. He was truely one of the greats. He originally sang with a gospel group called the Blackwood Brothers (surprisingly still around, though of course not with any of the original singers.) My parents were great fans of the Blackwoods and I heard them in concert several times as a young lad. As I recall, Sumner also had a very humorous and personable stage presense. The Blackwoods BTW also had one of the best piano players - a guy named Wally Barner.
Neat! I too, think JD is awesome, even though I just heard him for the first time yesterday (well...I probably heard him before on an Elvis song, but not in the context of a headliner).
#17
Old 03-01-2011, 07:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by missred View Post
Nathan Best from the Fairfield Four in this number http://youtube.com/watch?v=QTIrHBzTyks At about 1:15 is when he hits the really low part.

I also came in to say J.D. Sumner but was beaten to it by the OP.
I'm pretty sure that's Isaac Freeman singing there, who I highly recommend. I bought his album 'Beautiful Stars,' which he released shortly after O Brother Where Art Thou brought him into the public eye. It's gospel, so it might not be everybody's cup of tea, but he's a great vocalist no doubt.
#18
Old 03-01-2011, 08:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eonwe View Post
I'm pretty sure that's Isaac Freeman singing there, who I highly recommend. I bought his album 'Beautiful Stars,' which he released shortly after O Brother Where Art Thou brought him into the public eye. It's gospel, so it might not be everybody's cup of tea, but he's a great vocalist no doubt.
Yep, excellent album. "You Must Come In At The Bottom" is his joking self-reference to going from "the highest voice around" as a boy to one of the deepest bass voices in the business. Snippet here.

And of course one must mention Thurl Ravenscroft. Don't know Thurl? Oh yes you do.


ETA: Bah - missed the Ravenscroft reference already mentioned.

Last edited by Gyrate; 03-01-2011 at 08:24 AM.
#19
Old 03-01-2011, 09:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FoieGrasIsEvil View Post
While that ther fish can sang, I don't hear a lick of bass (natch) thar either!
Well, he is the only actual bass in this thread.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joey P View Post
Is it just me or does everyone in that video kinda look like Conway Twitty?
That was my first impression, too. But Conway Twitty had an enormous forehead that made his eyes look funny.
#20
Old 03-01-2011, 10:24 AM
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If you don't want to sit through the whole video in the OP, just fast forward to about the 2:50 mark...jeez, JD had some pipes! That's ridiculously low.
#21
Old 03-01-2011, 10:29 AM
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Ron Raylor, a/k/a Bleeding Gums Murphy
#22
Old 03-01-2011, 11:11 AM
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Maybe not strictly bass, but definitely sings in the lower registers, and one of my favorite singers in general.... Mark Lanegan.

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#23
Old 03-01-2011, 11:37 AM
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While waiting for some of the opera singing Dopers to chime in, I'll just mention a few basses and baritones I've liked listening to: Samuel Ramey (bass), Raymond Aceto (bass), Dmitri Hvorostovsky (baritone), Joshua Winograde (bass---though I don't know if he performs anymore)

Does BRIAN BLESSED! count?
#24
Old 03-01-2011, 01:05 PM
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Mentioned this elsewhere, but these Orthodox singers on Google-Youtube are fairly amazing: Russia in Winter.


BTW, the girl is Keira Knightley, from a Zhivago film if you winder.
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#25
Old 03-01-2011, 01:12 PM
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Thanks so much for this thread; we basses need to wrestle the spotlight from the tenors. And I was totally unaware that Thomas Quasthoff had been a thalidomide baby. What an amazing voice!

I'm also a big fan of the basses in Chanticleer.
#26
Old 03-01-2011, 01:19 PM
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+1 on Samuel Ramey

and for quirky a capella lovers, who better than "Richard Bob" Greene of "The Bobs"?
(besides being a killer song-writer)
#27
Old 03-01-2011, 01:58 PM
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Current on the country charts: Josh Turner
#28
Old 03-01-2011, 02:22 PM
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No mention of the late Jerome "Chef" McElroy, also known as Isaac Hayes?
#29
Old 03-01-2011, 02:29 PM
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Gratuitous Muppet Show link.
#30
Old 03-01-2011, 04:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by panache45 View Post
we basses need to wrestle the spotlight from the tenors.
Viva la bassion!
#31
Old 03-01-2011, 06:00 PM
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Ivan Rebroff EOS.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=a6DOUB3O35E
#32
Old 03-01-2011, 09:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eonwe View Post
I'm pretty sure that's Isaac Freeman singing there, who I highly recommend. I bought his album 'Beautiful Stars,' which he released shortly after O Brother Where Art Thou brought him into the public eye. It's gospel, so it might not be everybody's cup of tea, but he's a great vocalist no doubt.
Odd...the liner notes attribute the music to the Fairfield Four. Whoever it is, he has an awesome bass voice.

Another that I like is Harold Reid of the Statler Brothers. Gospel quartet beginnings, like many others, but translated into country music. http://youtube.com/watch?v=KiyXx3T3Igc
#33
Old 04-24-2011, 11:46 PM
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Bill Pinkney of the Drifters

http://youtube.com/watch?v=d9dW6wkA-s0

I love this song too. My favorite Christmas song but not by much.
#34
Old 04-25-2011, 01:43 AM
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How about Larry Hooper on the early 60's era Lawrence Welk Show?

.
#35
Old 04-25-2011, 03:27 AM
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Louis Armstrong is alone at the top for me.
#36
Old 04-25-2011, 10:13 AM
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Satchmo isn't really a "bass singer" in the sense we're talking about. Unless you mean a different Louis Armstrong...
#37
Old 04-25-2011, 10:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gray Ghost View Post
While waiting for some of the opera singing Dopers to chime in, I'll just mention a few basses and baritones I've liked listening to: Samuel Ramey (bass), Raymond Aceto (bass), Dmitri Hvorostovsky (baritone), Joshua Winograde (bass---though I don't know if he performs anymore)
Died on stage FTW: Leonard Warren
Russian bass: Nicolai Ghiaurov
#38
Old 04-25-2011, 11:35 AM
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I'll put up Harold Reid of the Statler Brothers. Now, their brand of coffe may not be your cup of tea, but bass is bass.

Check him out here, at 0:57+. And here.
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#39
Old 04-26-2011, 12:07 PM
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FTW

Larry Graham (of Sly and the Family Stone / Graham Central Station)

Sings Bass. http://youtube.com/watch?v=MYycDyAxgb0

Plays Bass. http://youtube.com/watch?v=67Cjz...eature=related

Last edited by ministryman; 04-26-2011 at 12:09 PM.
#40
Old 04-26-2011, 12:59 PM
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Billy Eckstine could get way down there.

But not as low as Arthur Prysock.
#41
Old 04-26-2011, 01:59 PM
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My favorite Thurl Ravenscroft performance: "Asleep in the Deep"
#42
Old 04-26-2011, 04:13 PM
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Thanks for this thread! As a bass/basso It is blasted hard to find anything for us to perform, though it doesn't stop me from simply singing popular songs an octave down or so.

Type O negative's singer the late Peter Steele could reach quite low when he felt like it. Anybody know of some other guys out there other than the operatics and a little fresher than the voices that came before?
#43
Old 04-26-2011, 05:49 PM
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That song brings back a memory of an "Our Gang" episode where one of the kids, the big fat one whose name I can't recall, was singing it and put himself to sleep.
I must've been 6 years old at the time and found it hilarious. In fact, I haven't heard it since.
#44
Old 04-26-2011, 06:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Acid Lamp View Post
Thanks for this thread! As a bass/basso It is blasted hard to find anything for us to perform, though it doesn't stop me from simply singing popular songs an octave down or so.

Type O negative's singer the late Peter Steele could reach quite low when he felt like it. Anybody know of some other guys out there other than the operatics and a little fresher than the voices that came before?
Yeah...what's that song of theirs that had that "A cross upon her bedroom door" lyric in it?
#45
Old 04-27-2011, 12:42 AM
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Okay, not the best. Really not even terribly good. But Bev Bevan doing Ben Crawley Steel Company is a lot of fun.
#46
Old 04-27-2011, 08:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FoieGrasIsEvil View Post
Yeah...what's that song of theirs that had that "A cross upon her bedroom door" lyric in it?
"Black No. one"

As an aside, How does one acquire that hollow boominess that Ravenscroft had? I can easily reach all the notes, but only some of them are produced with resonance. tips?

eta, I seem to be able to get that tone by using what feels like the back of my throat and chest together... Perhaps I simply need more practice speaking theatrically.

Last edited by Acid Lamp; 04-27-2011 at 09:01 AM.
#47
Old 04-29-2011, 09:38 PM
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Originally Posted by apewty View Post
http://youtube.com/watch?v=d9dW6wkA-s0

I love this song too. My favorite Christmas song but not by much.
Excellent, but let's not forget Jimmy Ricks of the Ravens. Actually, let's not forget anything by the Ravens.

The Ravens - White Christmas

I mostly listen to Doo-Wop and R&B, and I have recently come to realize that I really dig anybody who can pull off a bass lead. I sent an e-mail to Jim the Curator over at the internet oldies station Destination Doo-wop, and he had a few suggestions to add to my own list. Check out these other bass leads you should know about:

Billy Faison of the Corvairs:

The Corvairs - True, True Love

Gerald Gregory of The Spaniels:

The Spaniels - Heart and Soul

George Hollis of The Flairs:
The Flairs - Steppin' Out

Will "Dub" Jones:
Cadets - Stranded in the Jungle
The Coasters - Brazil [Not on YouTube, but fantastic]
The Coasters - Zing Went the Strings of my Heart


Ellison White of the Four Jacks:
The Four Jacks - Last of the Good Rockin' Man

James DelLoach:
The Blendairs - Memories of You

Bill Brown of the Dominoes:
Dominoes - Sixty Minute Man
Dominoes - Pedal Pushin' Pappa
The Checkers - White Cliffs of Dover
The Checkers - Don't Stop Dan

Al Conterera of the Mystics:
The Mystics - White Cliffs of Dover
#48
Old 04-30-2011, 02:00 PM
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A.P. Carter
#49
Old 07-18-2017, 02:23 PM
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Best Bass singer

James "Big Chief" Wetherington
#50
Old 07-19-2017, 01:02 AM
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Tim Foust of Home Free here or (with Avi Kaplan of Pentatonix) here.

Yes, I realize this is a zombie.
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