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Musicians with best stage presence


Janis Joplin
Grace Slick
Dolly Parton
Peter Gabriel
Frank Zappa
Jim Morrison
Jack Bruce
Bill Bruford
Terry Bozzio
John Bonham
Keith Moon
Adrian Belew
Todd Rundgren
Linda Rondstadt
Stevie Nicks
Steven Tyler
Robert Plant
Freddy Mercury
Ravi Shankar
YoYo Ma
Eubie Blake

Check out the Mitts on the dude.

Eubie wrote the first song, Charleston Rag when he was 16, in 1899. Eubie was on Carson now and then in the 60s-70s. I think there is some confusion on his birthdate. He says 1883, and other sources say 1887. So he was eother 12, or 16 when he composed this. Genius either way though.
A buddy of mne tried to make in Julliard for Piano, but he did make it for Voice. Hes a great Piano player though, and he told me Ragtime was the hardest for him to play of any style.

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Derek Trucks Band in the old days had a bass player named Todd Smallie. I don't recall seeing anyone so happy to lay down a groove and be on stage. That's my kind of player. A fine player, too.
Dino Danelli - amazing drummer and showman.

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Irma Norman

performers that you can't stop watching...
Mick Jagger
and performers when they are performing in sync with their dance troop
Jennifer Lopez
Bruno mars


Nobody can beat Freddie Mercury when it comes to stage presence. Live Aid ended that conversation forever...


Ronnie Janes Dio knew how to own the stage.

Saw him so many times over the years with Rainbow, Sabbath and solo. Never failed to give 100%.
B.B. King had a way of making you feel relaxed.
You felt better after one of his shows.

Someone not often spoken of now, was John Lee Hooker.
He could engage any audience. Like a personal magnetism.

Without Jagger, the Stones may have been just another blues band from the sixties.
Some people just come alive when they're on a stage. Jeckle & Hyde.

I think there are rules of engagement for any public appearance.
Follow them and you'll be successful.
That stage is mighty big and lonely if you ain't got the charisma.

There are countless studio unknowns with talent flowing from their fingers who will never walk a stage. They know better. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.
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Not to be a nerd ... well, i am, so - what are we talking about.
i can tell you from reading the messages that we're all over the place.

So.. What's "Stage Presence"

To me it is NOT "can't help but watch" ... Jim Morrison, for example. that's like saying you can't not watch a disaster unfold, like a train wreck about to happen.
he was totally into himself. the night i saw The Doors,1969, he barely knew we were out there.

whatever Stage Presence is, that ain't it.

and to me, it's not just showmanship either. David Lee Roth had that in spades. But it was nver personal.
Somehow the ones with Stage Presence make it feel personal.

Example: Buddy Guy has all that showmanship too - but he also has the Presence. Like DLR, he'll ham it up - but then laugh he'll at himself ! Or he'll wink at the audience in a solo, and we all feel like we're in on the joke.

the old trope a few still use, when they call out "Yell [whatever]. ... I can't hear you .. Louder" is a canned monologue that's sort of like it. The only people who do much of that are the ones who do NOT have "It".

because - you can't fake real Stage Presence.

I think Stage Presence is
- Engaging with the audience in a way that they feel engaged with you.
- Making a connection to the audience that feels personal. What happens then is, we feel that connection and respond emotionally. Its like a freaking Rally or something !

People who have "it" respond when someone calls out. they're paying attention, and they're playing to you.

interested in any other takes and ideas.

that said, here's a few that click with me:

Peter Wolf of the J, Geils Band. "Everybody UP !", and Wham ! - everybody's Up ! one of the all-time Great party bands.
Mitch Ryder (and the Detroit Wheels). It wasn't the lyrics and it wasn't the chords - it was M Ryder pulling us along for the ride.
Tab Benoit. Whatever song he plays, he makes you feel what he feels. Then he's talking with someone who hollered something, then he's talking with all of us.

And chiming in on some already named:
Bruce: just takes 15 minutes to feel something's happening. The stranger beside you might lean over and say something. ... in a half hour a community has happened, and you feel Bruce has welcomed into it, and you might even feel privileged to be a part of it.
Peter Gabriel: after decades of playing, of touring, somehow hlets you know it still feels fresh for him. I feel lifted and carried by his passion.
Janis: you couldn't Not feel her pain. or the ache under the cackle.
Prince: when he was singing and prancing he was So "in your face". even as he leaned into his solos and seemed so taken in during them, he wasn't just carried away. i felt like he always knew we were still out there, and that it was important to him.
John Mayer: earlier someone said they'd catch flak for naming him. I agree with it, though. at his show I get the same feeling of belonging, of community. HE puts that there ... he invites us into it and we say Hell Yeah, i want to be part of That !
Pre-Dead, Mayer used three modes of performing during the concert: solo "troubadour minstel", guitar hero in his trio, and the full band. His dad was off-stage at Red Rocks and he called him out to give a wave. He said it was his dad's 71st birthday and asked him what song he wanted to hear. he played Stop This Train - for his father - and there wasn't a dry eye in the place.

Jagger used to have it. For quite a while now, though - at least to me - it feels like he's been through all so so so many times that it's become rote. He's going through the motions, but honestly i don't know how he could change it.

... just because i have an opinion doesn't mean i'm right.


mad dog

Gold Supporting Member
Many come to mind. Elvin Bishop first. Loose, funny, warm. John McLoughlin commands the stage in a very different way. Some kind of dark force. Serious, compelling.


Silver Supporting Member
Justin Hawkins. Guy is an amazing showman, killer guitarist and a helluva singer to boot.

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