Playing bass is hard enough on its own.
Even if I didn’t sound like a croaking frog, I don’t think I’d be able to sing and play my bass at the same time.
That’s why I am incredibly impressed by any lead singers who play bass.
Of course, I am talking about those who do both things well.
I can do both poorly.
Keep reading for a list of artists who are amazing at both the bass and at singing.
Lead Singers Who Play Bass
Many of the following bassists who also sing are artists who have undoubtedly heard of. But probably not all of them. Hopefully you’ll discover some amazing new music in this article as well.
Apart from his work in The Beatles, Paul McCartney has also had a huge career as a solo artist. One thing always stayed the same — he’s an incredible bassist and a songwriter.
Although he is not considered to be a virtuosic player, his choice of notes is incredibly innovative and subtly steers every song he’s been a part of. That’s McCartney’s greatest strength as a bassist. And he’s a pretty good singer, too. He is a big reason the Beatles released some of the best pop music albums ever.
It’s just mind-blowing how someone can be so incredibly skilled both at singing and playing their instrument. Rush frontman Geddy Lee is an absolute all-around legend.
Not only does he have complete control of his voice, even while singing so high up his vocal range, but he also manages to play impressive bass lines at the same time. And let’s not forget his great writing skills as well. We included a rundown of his gear in our article on bass rigs the professionals use.
Phil Lynott is one of those musicians whose talents are best presented in subtle ways. Listening to any of the Thin Lizzy songs, you may not feel like they’re too difficult to perform.
However, once you dive deeper into them, you realize that Lynott was nothing short of a genius. Not only was his bass playing impeccable, but his vocals fit his music perfectly.
Additionally, Lynott was responsible for inspiring countless hard rock and metal bands that came after him.
If you want straight-up metal with zero compromise, it doesn’t get any better than Slayer. Even their slowest songs were just incredibly heavy and energetic.
And a crucial component in this relentless metal machine was frontman Tom Araya. Although he is better known for his vocals, you should not overlook his bass playing. Those who have attended Slayer shows know what I’m talking about — the bass keeps punching all throughout the show.
It’s incredibly difficult to precisely categorize Mastodon within a genre or subgenre. They’re like their own category of music and Troy Sanders’ voice and bass playing are a huge part of it.
Although the band technically has three lead vocalists, Sanders’ voice is so memorable and powerful. It fits perfectly with the music that Mastodon has put out over the years.
Once again, we have a band that’s difficult, if not impossible, to classify. Primus is like a genre of its own and Les Claypool is the man calling all the shots. But what he’s remembered the most for is his bass playing. And Primus has a long list of songs with bass guitar front and center.
No matter the genre, all bass players seem to adore Les Claypool and his work. He is regarded as one of the best bassists ever. If you really want to hear what he’s capable of, we recommend Tommy the Cat from Primus’ 1991 record Sailing the Seas of Cheese.
Although he is no longer a member of the band, Marko Hietala was a very important part of Nightwish. Between 2002 and 2021, Hietala sang male vocals, complementing Tarja Turunen, Anette Olzon, and Floor Jansen.
Along with that, he did an incredible job on bass, and he contributed his writing talents to some of the band’s songs. Apart from his work in Nightwish, Hietala is also known for his band Tarot.
Jack Bruce is an absolute legend. To this day, it’s difficult to fully explain the extent of the impact that he and his band Cream have made on modern music.
Along with Eric Clapton, one of the most skilled blues guitarists in history, and Ginger Baker, Bruce’s bass playing and vocal works just shined perfectly in the band’s music
Over the years, he also became famous for his use of fretless basses. And knowing that he sings and plays at the same time…it is incredibly impressive that he made this transition.
Almost everything that we love about Pink Floyd was Roger Waters’ idea. Although he is a great bassist and a co-lead singer with a very distinct voice, Roger’s artistry is best shown with his writing and arrangement skills.
To this day, he continues to perform live and make new music. His most famous bass line is probably the one in Money, but there are also other great ones, including riffs in Have a Cigar, Echoes, and Atom Heart Mother, just to name a few.
For lovers of straight-up rock ‘n’ roll but with a heavier twist, Motörhead is one of the best bands to listen to.
Despite being a simple trio formation for most of Lemmy Kilmmister’s time, he managed to make things sound full with his incredibly heavy bass tone and harsh vocals. Any song from Motörheead’s discography is proof of this.
On the more sophisticated end, we have Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner, popularly known as Sting. Of course, Sting is an incredibly versatile musician who plays more than just the bass guitar.
However, with his work as the frontman of The Police, it’s exactly his bass work and vocals that made him so incredibly popular. That and his great sense of writing music.
There’s just something impressive about trios in heavier music, especially when the bass has the task of filling up so much sonic space.
Al Cisneros, the frontman of stoner doom metal band Sleep, manages to pull this off using his deliberately monotonous vocals and thundering heavy distorted bass. Although it sounds straightforward and simple, doing this is far from an easy task.
Although Jason Newsted made his name as the bass player for Metallica between 1986 and 2001, don’t overlook his other works.
During his days with the metal titans, Jason proved that he’s capable of providing backing vocals. However, the best example of his singing capabilities was with his own band, Newsted. It’s a bummer that he didn’t do more than just one album, but there’s still some great stuff on there.
Another important name to mention is Mike Kerr, the frontman of Royal Blood. What’s incredibly impressive is how he and drummer Ben Thatcher manage to create this stable sonic fort between just the two of them.
They manage to pump out incredible jams, even in live settings. Doing everything as a duo is a challenge, but doing it the way Kerr and Thatcher do is just something else.
Bass Players Who Are Lead Singers: Final Thoughts
I know there are many more lead singers who play bass. There are even many more who do both well, although that is definitely a much smaller number.
If you know of any other singers/bassists you feel belong on this list, please let me know in the comments below. Similarly, let me know if you feel one of the people above does not belong on this list.