Singer with great voices that smoke cigarettes

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by jakobian1946, Jun 7, 2011.

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  1. jakobian1946

    jakobian1946 Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Sorry for this one. I have a curiousity about this. Are there many singers that actually have great voices with range and holding power that smoke cigarettes ?
    Terrible habit and it will catch up with you.
    The idea here is the fact that most of the great singers from the sixties/seventies smoked cigarettes ( Lets not go where I imagine people want to go. I am referring to cigarettes only )
    It has only been the past twenty-five to thirty years where it has become taboo in the social milieu.
    I know Joni smokes like a chimney and McCartney used to and Lennon did at the time of his death.
    Kieth Richards I would imagine smokes,Jagger used to.
    Rod Stewert NEVER smoked. Go figure.
  2. wolfram

    wolfram Slave to the rhythm

    Berlin, Germany
    Tom Waits
  3. DrJ

    DrJ Forum Resident

    Davis, CA, USA
    Yep, and she's an abject lesson in how years of cigarettes can ravage the voice. I mean I actually quite like her later projects like BOTH SIDES NOW but where Joni's concerned I'm basically a fanboy - objectively, she can't actually sing anymore - she gets by on sheer chutzpah and style. Compare her voice now to some of her remarkable vocal work in the glory days (BLUE, FOR THE ROSES, and HEJIRA for example) and it's quite depressing.
  4. Greg1954

    Greg1954 New Member

    Enrico Caruso used to smoke constantly, cigarettes from sunup to sundown, according to his son, and others. I'm amazed by that, considering how hard that could be on someone with such demands placed on their voice. Far beyond those that rely on microphones.

    In the opera world it seems hard to find smoking singers. Pavarotti used to smoke cigars, but that's not quite the same thing, especially if you don't inhale.

    Bing Crosby used to smoke cigarettes in his early years, then going to pipes. His voice remained pretty unchanged until his very last years.

    Then you look at someone like Sinatra, who's voice changed a great deal, I think owing in large part to lifelong smoking. His voice rarely lost it's attractive resonance though. Except in times of overwork, like in the early 60's.
  5. ziggysane

    ziggysane Active Member

    Jackson, MI
    And yet she still, AFAIK, proclaims that age and not cigarette smoking is responsible for the change in her voice.
    Ray Charles was going strong for a long time. Even when his voice was lessening at the end, I got the sense that it was more from his failing health than smoke damage.
  6. bRETT

    bRETT Forum Resident

    Boston MA
    Robin Zander, Paul Weller.
  7. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Forum Resident

    Boy George had (has?) a great voice IMHO.
  8. jupiter8

    jupiter8 Forum Resident

    NJ, USA
  9. Juggsnelson

    Juggsnelson Forum Resident

    Long Island
    I believe Freddie Mercury smoked back in the day.....
  10. music4life

    music4life Well-Known Member

    South Elgin, IL
  11. dbmay75

    dbmay75 Funk & Guitar Junkie

    Joni can still sing IMO. Smoking may have been a factor, but the albums you mentioned are nearly 40 years old. She came to my mind first when I saw this thread.
  12. direwolf-pgh

    direwolf-pgh Well-Known Member

    sinatra / rat pack
  13. Smartin62

    Smartin62 Forum Resident

    Cleburne, Tx USA
    Robert Palmer (RIP)
  14. DrJ

    DrJ Forum Resident

    Davis, CA, USA
    Well of course she's a die hard smoker, she's going to say it's not the cigarettes. Not likely she'd say "Yeah I was stupid and ****ed up my voice with these things" - especially given her rather sizeable ego ("What, me wrong? Never!") - and again I say that as a worshipping fanboy.

    Definitely there has been some age-related deepening of her voice - happens with most female vocalists - I agree. She wouldn't be singing "California" the way she did 40 years ago even if she had never smoked. BUT age is clearly not the only factor with her; all one has to do is listen. She sounds out of breath half the time (suggesting to me that she probably also has some cigarette-related lung damage) and the quality of her voice is very rough/craggy when it used to be crystal pure (even when she sang down low) - that's not just age-related deepening.

    I quite like her current vocals for what they are - to me they typify how a truly great artist is going to find a way to get the message across and make their "weaknesses" into virtues - but again objectively there is simply no way she has the vocal chops now that she had in her prime. Cigarettes played a role in that - it's obvious. I'm not trying to be a public health message or anything but one of the procedures I do is rhinolaryngoscopy - where you look directly at the vocal cords with a fiber optic scope - and believe me you can generally tell immediately if someone smokes heavily, without even asking them, just by looking at the vocal cords - inflamed, edematous, not pretty. That affects the voice.

    Nicotine Attack!
    Nicotine, Nicotine!
    Try Another
    Try Another
    Try Another
    Empty, empty
    Try another...
  15. Cassiel

    Cassiel Sonic Reducer

    NYC, USA
    Nick Cave, PJ Harvey.
  16. MYKE

    MYKE Offended By The Easily Offended

    Thomas Earl Petty
  17. celtic1

    celtic1 New Member

    United States
    Totally disagree. I find her early high pitch voice irratating.
  18. srsch

    srsch Forum Resident

    NJ USA
  19. Belsnickel

    Belsnickel Well-Known Member

    Hitsville USA
    Aretha Franklin ruined her voice to an extent.

    Diana Ross broke the habit in the late 70's I believe.

    Jon Anderson smoked well into the 70's, even while on a health food kick.
  20. DrJ

    DrJ Forum Resident

    Davis, CA, USA
    Well you're confusing personal preferences with objective vocal technique/chops.

    I never said everyone would necessarily prefer her earlier vocals, but in terms of vocal abilities (technical chops) the young Joni could literally sing circles around the older Joni.

    I like non-technically gifted vocalists as much as anyone - big Dylan fan for example, way underrated as a singer (in my opinion). I was just discussing the undeniable fact that cigarettes have affected Joni's voice. In other words - Dylan never had the gift (technical) that Joni had as a singer - so he just made the very most of what he had - but I hate to see a gift destroyed. Your personal preferences obviously may be for the later, smoke-damaged voice. In the right mood I even prefer those recordings myself, but I also miss the pristine early Joni voice on many other occasions.

    Ah, see I didn't know she smoked but it makes perfect sense - same thing you hear in Joni's voice - roughening, and breathlessness in her later work - beyond the expected age-related deepening.

    Anyway I give up - you all are right - smoking is great for the voice, all that accumulated medical evidence is just "blowing smoke" - years of upper airway inflammation doesn't do a bit of harm to anyone's voice - smoke 'em if you got 'em. :)
  21. bartels76

    bartels76 Forum Hall Of Fame

    Adele just quit smoking unless she fell back into the habit.
    Eddie Vedders still smokes.
  22. JuanTCB

    JuanTCB Forum Resident

    Brooklyn, NY
    Stipe still smokes the hand-rolls, as far as I know.

    And just because someone has to do it...

  23. Belsnickel

    Belsnickel Well-Known Member

    Hitsville USA
    Aretha did manage to quit, but the resulting weight gain made the upper range impossible and she resorts maddeningly to falsetto. But she is still the honest-to-Gawd Almighty Queen of Soul so it matters not. But, yes, that "cake batter" effect in her 80's recordings was the result of smoking.
  24. Greg1954

    Greg1954 New Member

    Nat King Cole used to like smoking so much (3 packs a day I've heard) because it gave his voice a slightly rougher edge that he liked.
  25. Belsnickel

    Belsnickel Well-Known Member

    Hitsville USA
    I would never say it's great for a voice. I think that singers can be great IN SPITE OF smoking. Or, the smoking may produce the desired effects upon a voice. But, eventually it's bound to take it's toll on not just the voice, but the skin, teeth, sexual functioning, and general speed of aging. Is there anything about smoking that can in reality benefit a person over time?
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