The best Rock ‘n’ Roll scream!

It takes many elements to make a great record…Talent, creativity, a great lyric and melody and a healthy dose of spontaneity! A surprising guitar lick, or drum fill, a harmony from nowhere and for us,a searing full-voiced “ROCK AND ROLL SCREAM” whose reverb and echo unit is the singers very soul!

Sooo, it’s here, where we want to know… “what is your favorite Scream, from what song and who did it ?….. We, of course prefer if it’s a 60’s act and it may be a man or a woman ( Janis, for instance is “The Queen Of Screams )

To get things started, we’ll share the scream that we believe defines the 60’s, perfectly punctuates the song and singularly raises the recording to a fevered place!

…..Roger Daltrey’s incredible burst of vocal energy as “Won’t Get Fooled Again” approaches its final crescendo! Simply Superhuman!


Here’s our pick, have a listen…How say you?

( scroll below for some great comments… And leave one of your own! )



  1. The all-time greatest screamed R&R lyric was by Merry Clayton on the Stone’s “Gimmie Shelter”. It made the song 100x as powerful.

    • Hey Greg,
      Most importantly we’d like to welcome you to SMS and thank you for joining in the conversation! Your choice of The Castaways “Liar liar” caught me by surprise, but on reflection you are so very right! The energy in that scream is SOOO Powerful!
      Thanx Greg, Great call!
      Don’t be a stranger Greg, please come back and be part of our on going conversation about the greatest decade of music and more!

  2. Yeah, so WOW: Great question! And first off, my hat’s off to some truly GREAT choices up here. For my money, I’m going to have to cite no less than 2 superlative “screams”: the first being the insane / genuinely fear-inspiring intro scream of the one and only James Douglas Morrison as he wails into his live version of “Back Door Man” (off of–I want to say–“The Doors: Alive She Cried” release from (again–I want to say–1983), one of the definitive live, albeit posthumous, recorded performances of Same. I claim this for personal reasons, since…as I well and truly #think on this subject matter…believe that ones’ choice for a favorite “rock and roll scream” is, well, just that: it’s manifested from deep within us; that is to say, I think that our respective selections for said manifest from somewhere deep in our individual psyche–from some (sometimes–and in my case) dark place waaaaay, waaay down in my mental primordial ooze. Simply put, I just frikken IDENTIFY to Jim’s scream at a very personal level, for I believe it to dwell in equal parts fear, anger, sex, death, and just a dash of insanity (at this point reader really, really should google it and see if you may not agree, lol). And oh–by the way–ISN’T THAT WHAT THE ESSENCE OF ROCK N’ ROLL IS ALL ABOUT, ANYWAY??? That said, my second choice for “all time greatest scream” #HAS to be John Lennon’s live “Mea Culpa” wail / appeal to….ANYONE-EVERYONE in his performance of “Mother” (“Mama don’t GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, Daddy come HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOME!!!!”). I mean….COME ON. Does it get any more vulnerable than that? And yes, once again…a turn of phrase(ing) that hits HOME personally for me, and I imagine a great many other people as well. So Mr. Shoe–I appreciate you lending an ear to my choices here, and again–great question of the week INDEED. Cheers, L’ANdru

    • Hey Andrew..
      Great to see you check in and “Go Deep” on the topic! And this may surprise you, it surprised us, YOU are the only reader to site the great Jim Morrison….We think generally he has a great R & R scream! But, until you showed up, no one has mentioned his name! How about “When The Music’s Over?
      Thanx Andrew for finally shining the spotlight on the much deserved former lead singer from The Doors!
      Come back soon…

    I even watched a GREAT DOCU. about Back Up Vocalists — “12 FEET FROM STARDOM”!!!! Mary is geatured promenently!!!

    • OH YES, Mr. Wood,
      AND back in the day, the only thing better than listening to Mary Clayton, was watching her ! ! !

  4. Quick non 60’s coolest EVER VOCAL is in GIMMIE SHELTER!….WOW
    .. When Mick’s back up singer comes in PURE GOOSE BUMPS!!!!
    the wood

    • Hey Wood,
      You are so right, and…..that back up singer was the AMAZING Mary Clayton….”The Queen of them all y’all…

  5. I must say that in the 60’s JOHN LENNON did some awesome “SCREAMING” in some Bestle tunes…WOW As I type this the hair stands up behind my neck just trying to HEAR AND REMEMBER the songs he screamed soooo good in!!! Maybe: Long Tall Sally and Twist snd Shout or I’m Down!!! I admit I have to pull out my early Beatles compilations and give them a good listen NOW!!!
    P.S. I ran accross something new to me but I’m assured you are totally aware of but anyway John’s song MOTHER I have learned has a connection with Dr. Janov’s “Primal Thrarapy” process. The Dr. Practiced the theory of actually putting your “repressed feelings” of hurt and pain into sound and VOCALIZING THEM INTO BIG HUGE SCREAMS!! WOW.. I had a roommate that did do some of this work!!
    Thanx “SHOE”
    the wood

    • Hey Wood,
      First, THANK YOU for being the only reader to reference The Beatles ! For us they could have their own sub-category ! Jeeze, Paul’s screams during the fade at the end of ” Hey Jude ” could take the prize !
      Speaking of Paul, that’s him, not John on “Long Tall Sally” and “I’m Down” However you are correct with John “Killing” Twist and Shout ! AND it’s a great piece of Beatle Lore…. The day John was to record his lead vocal he arrived at the studio with a nasty cold, producer George Martin could here how badly his voice had been compromised…..Martin said, ” John, you get one take” or your voice will be ruined” ! Of course John didn’t care, he attacked the vocal, got it in one take and went home to bed !
      And we’ve all enjoyed John’s “Flu induced vocal” since that day !
      Lastly, thanx for raising the intellectual bar here at SMS with the detail of Dr. Janov’s work…
      As usual, Great stuff Woody…


  6. Hi Rick,

    Great category…I wish I had thought of it!

    I’m partial to strangled screams, for which my favorite is half-buried under the last “You better think it over” in the Shargri_las “Never Again”…more audible in some mixes than others of course (with the Shangri-Las, nothing is ever straightforward).

    That’s followed closely by Wilson Pickett’s truncated scream coming out of the bridge on “Don’t Let the Green Grass Fool You.” (Followed by ever more epic screams in the fade!)

    For SUSTAINED screams? James Brown on the long version of “Cold Sweat” hands down. It’s like “The Hallelujah Chorus” of soul screaming.

    • Hey John,
      Gotta say, YOU get the prize for going deepest on the topic ! And we gotta admit, your inclusion of The Shangri Las caught us off guard, in fact we had to go back and listen to “Never Again” a half dozen times before we could actually find the scream! But we did, and it was worth the effort.
      Thanx John, it’s always great when you show up with your unique and experienced perspective !

  7. Hey Mark,
    Great to see you back again
    Wow, you hit on so many high points, and it’s never a problem “Straying a bit from the rules, especially when your talking about The five blind boys, Howlin Wolf and of course “The hardest working man in Show Bizz-ness….James Brown ! Hell his opening scream to “I Got You” alone takes the prize !
    As for your reference to Screaming Lord Sutch, his picture adorns this week’s column more as a mascot with a name that includes the word “screaming”….and we liked the photo ! Not his ability’s or lack thereof
    Thanx Mark, check out some of today’s comments, and please come back again soon

  8. gonna stray a bit from the rules…clarence fountain of 5 blind boys of alabama, anything he sings…eddie hinton, 70s muscle shoals master, anything on “very extremely dangerous” lp, like “shout bamalama”…howlin’ wolf (chester burnett),had a roar..
    james brown of course! (dishonorable mention to screaming lord sutch and his heavy friends, the british blooze opportunist)

    • Hey John…Yet again, we’re on the same page….However I don’t think it’ll be to hard for YOU to come up with an alternate title or two !
      There certainly plenty out there……

  9. Top ‘O the List for me has got to be Screamin’ Jay Hawkins “I Put A Spell On You” without a doubt. Classic tune, hits the proper notes, SCREAMS and all from THE MAN! Let’s go for it right now, shall we:

    Little Richard gotta be somewhere in there, a close second.

    • Hey Jimmy….Yeah, You win Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, and you’re right he screams the entire lyric to “I Put a Spell On You and he doesn’t miss a note….
      I’ll share a fond memory, in 1965 my then girlfriend and I were laying on the floor with the radio blasting, when “Spell” came on the radio, my girlfriend tiurned to me and said “RICK” “This guy scares me”…….Mission accomplished !
      Thanx Jimmy, haven’t heard “I Put A Spell On You” in way to long, so thanx so much for posting it!

      P.S. Here’s something you may not know, it was rumored that Hawkins father’d over 50 children ! In the late 90’s a foundation was established to find them…. ” Watch Out, I ain’t Lyin'”

  10. How about Wilson Pickett? I was hanging out in Las Vegas with my friend and great pianist Joanne Grauer and I overheard Billy Joe Royal tell her that Wilson Picket woke up with a scream in the morning.

    • Hey Libbie Jo,
      Great to see you and Yes, Wilson Pickett! For Mustang Sally alone he takes the prize The truth is, even when he talks he sounds like he woke up that morning and started screaming.
      It reminded us of the story about McCartney….As the story goes, on the day he was to record his vocal for “Oh Darlin”, he showed up at the studio several hours early and spent his time alone in a studio “SCREAMING”……. He wanted to get a more husky ragged edge to his voice for the song !
      Lastly we just have to comment on Billy Joe Royal! We believe he is a very overlooked talent, most folks know him from his huge hit “Down In The Boondocks” But it’s his follow up is what sets him apart! “I Knew You When” explodes with his incredible three part harmony “YEAHS” from the very first note!…..
      Thanx Libbie Jo, Great story !

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. “Let There Be Drums” - Sixties Music Secrets

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.