Stuart Adamson on guitar. Paul Thompson on drums. Derek Forbes on bass. On vocals…? From almost a hundred suggestions we finally came up with this shortlist: Liz Fraser, Alex Harvey, Jim Kerr, King Creosote, Annie Lennox, Billy Mackenzie, Frankie Miller, Paolo Nutini, Bon Scott and Rod Stewart. Voting closes Jan 5, 2010.

Once again, thanks for all the suggestions. As you can imagine, it was a very difficult task to come up with a final shortlist. The poll to the right of this article is open now and will remain open until midnight on Tuesday January 5, 2010.

If you are reading this article after that, then unfortunately your vote wont count, but as always the comments section on this page will remain open and unedited forever.

For Alec Downie’s full list of great Scottish vocalists, have a look at his three articles (‘Best Female Vocalists’, ‘The Frontmen and Singers’, ‘The Popstars Troubadours and Rogues’). But for now, in alphabetical order, the Dear Scotland top ten are as follows:

Liz Fraser

“…she is an indie Super-heroine, who was born out of Punk and stole New Wave from her Grangemouth basis. She was going out with Jeff Buckley when he jumped in the Mississippi, she delivered Massive Attack’s finest moment and turned Tim Buckley’s ‘Song To The Siren’ into a national anthem.” Wan Clan Dan in comments


Alex Harvey

“…if you asked me, ‘who is the greatest ever Scottish frontman’, my answer would simply be ‘Alex Harvey’, and this article would be considerably shorter.” Alec Downie.


Jim Kerr

“Jim Kerr is by far the greatest ever singer and frontman in Scotland…no no I meant in the world. He is the one that has to win this.” Debbie Kerr in comments.


King Creosote

“Kenny (KC) has the unique ability to bare all in a song and the vocal dexterity to make sure his pain tears at your heart.” Alec Downie.

Annie Lennox

“If Scotland can lay claim to having one definitive “Diva” it is Annie Lennox… her solo career has seen her clutch an Oscar, numerous Brits and a glut of Grammys as she has effortlessly transitioned from being a pop-star into an international icon.” Alec Downie.


Billy MacKenzie

“For me, Billy Mackenzie by a country mile. Did Morrisey really write “William, it was really nothing” about him?” Kenny in comments.


Frankie Miller

“The widow of the late great Otis Redding reckoned: “That little ole white boy Frankie, has the blackest voice since Otis”. I rest my case!” Alec Downie.


Paolo Nutini

“Paolo Nutini has one of the greatest voices out there. Only 2 records, only 22 years old but He is brilliant!!!!” Angela in comments.


Bon Scott

“Its Bon Scott. How do I vote?” Innes in comments.


Rod Stewart

“It might not be a fashionable choice, but it would take something to beat Rod (in his prime) on this list.” Wee Jimmy in comments.


By the way, re: Bon and Rod, have a look at our “Are They Really Scottish List” by Kenny McColl.

We’ll have an article on the winner the day after the poll closes on Wednesday January 6, 2010.


Photo Credit: idg


  1. Was a difficult choice between Liz Fraser and Billy McKenzie, however Billy had to win. His vocals are ridiculous, god-like. btw, If you voted for anyone else, go back and listen again.
    ps. According to good sources, yes ‘William it was really nothing’ was written about Billy and in direct response to his song ‘Stephen you’re still really something’.

  2. Between Liz and Billy for me as well, with Billy edging it.

    Was Liz’s chat-up line to Jeff Buckley: “I sang your auld man’s song”?

  3. Alex definitely, even though in this clip he got the words wrong! I said to him once “You sometimes forget the words” and he said “I have NEVER forgot the words!!” but here is proof!

  4. I had to comment her, all choices are great but please do not forget James Dewar, simply the greatest!!

  5. Annie lennox of course!! she he a great voice, she is inspirational. Her voice is getiing better and better.

  6. For his unique singing style, full of authenticity, deepness, sensuality, vibration, that makes me feel high : JIM KERR !!!!!

  7. For me it´s definitely JIM KERR !!! Unique voice with a deep sensuality…..He can generate emotions with his voice !!!

  8. you only have to hear oh jungleland for the power of jim kerr’s voice or hunter and the hunted for melodic and sheer emotion ! jim kerr for me !!

  9. Has to be Jim Kerr, just listen to the albums Sons And Fascination and New Gold Dream. Perfect voice for a perfect atmosphere.

  10. For me, Jim Kerr without hesitation! His voice soft and sensual transmits such good feelings in my body and my head! With his voice, Jim takes me to a better world!

  11. Technically he’s not such a good singer!! But bhoy can he front the band!! A dreamer and a great lyricist.With a great back catalogue spanning 30 years +!! It can only be Jim Kerr!!

  12. I have been following scottish voices for some time-there is something that just moves me about them. But I have to tell you, as a visitor this past summer over 3 weeks, I got it. It is the land, the people, the sky, and the angst that tugs at my heart and soul and the voice and lyricist that does it best is James Kerr of Simple Minds, especially when referring to “Scotland’s Greatest Vocalist”.

    When you look at the careers of the artists named above, with the exception of Rod Stewart, it is Jim with his band that has had and continues to have the greatest longevity-giving us little pieces of him and what is happening through the years with a voice that speaks not only something of Scotland but internationally.

    For a better representation of what I’m talking about, listen to this:

  13. Being able to get 1000s of people onto their feets (not in order to run away), charismatic and charming if he wants to be, never forgets that the audience has come to have some hours of joy, no matter how he feels himself and being able to sing (no, it is not any saint!)? Well, than you have to vote for Mr. James Kerr! 30 years singing and getting better by the years!

  14. Has to be The Sensational Alex Harvey-he’s like no one else and besides he put Scotland on the map fer me,coming from the States

  15. Tough choice: Liz Frazer and Annie Lennox deserve it as well, but my vote goes to Jim Kerr. Sometimes out of rythm, too many times forgetting the lyrics, adding la-la-la’s where silence should be, but definitely one of the best singing showmen I have ever seen around Europe. Seeing him transmitting pure joy or drama to the audience is an incredible thing to see.

  16. C’mon, ANNIE LENNOX is far and away Scotland’s finest vocalist! Actually, she’s all of the United Kingdom’s finest vocalist!! Although, I do have to ask why Sharleen Spiteri (of TEXAS) is absent from your choices? Both these ladies are heads and shoulders above Mr. Kerr and Mr. Harvey.

  17. It can only be Billy McKenzie. So good I gave his surname to my first born as a middle name. Ok it was my mums surname as well but if it hadn’t I would still have given her the name as clearly Billy sounds a bit crap.

  18. Jim is the bestest ever… a voice that improves with age and experience in depth,capacity and deliverance… wow… my winner every time x x

  19. so what these polls tend to demostrate is that Simple Minds still have quite a large following….

    who would have thought it!

  20. Jim deserves it more than anyone. He is the bestest frontman in the world…in the Universe in fact. Well Done Jim. 🙂

  21. Hi Gerry, just saw your post, I’m not related to Jim. Changed my name by deed poll in honour of him. He’s my idol. 🙂

  22. Liz Fraser for technical perfection in much of her latter work, but also for sheer ingenuity in her earlier work with the Cocteau Twins.

    Who else could have turned losing the middle part of her range into such a unique art form with her vocals on Blue Bell Knoll and Heaven or Las Vegas?

  23. Yes, Jim Kerr has a great voice but for me the greatest male vocalist has to have a unique voice that belongs to a great “LIVE” and Vinyl performer. That man is Alex Harvey.

  24. i can’t chose between liz and billy mckenzie……both outstanding and both shaped my musical tastes. fantastic voices.

  25. Alex Harvey Simply Sensational

    Met the man in Renfield St in the 70’s and he gave me and a pal free tickets for his gig…at the Glasgow Apollo

  26. Has anyone even mentioned Paul Buchanan? Kerr v Buchanan? That’s a no brainer, Kerr 0 v 36 Buchanan (just like Arbroath in 1886)

  27. If you asked the other singers mentioned, (and what alist it is), they would all tell you the greatest scottish vocalist of all time was James ‘Jimmy Dewar’ ………… contest.