35 Rock Stars Like You've Never Seen Them Before
By Sarah Norman | August 14, 2023
Joan Jett In Los Angeles, 1970s
The origins of rock and roll have been fiercely debated by fans and historians of music for many years. Almost everyone agrees that it arose in the Southern United States, the region that went on to produce most of the early rock and roll acts. Through the meeting of various influences that embodied a merging of the African musical tradition with European instrumentation rock 'n' roll was born. Let's take a look at the journey rock 'n' roll has been on and pay tribute to the biggest influences and greatest rockstars we have come to know. As Robert Palmer said:
Rock 'n' roll was an inevitable outgrowth of the social and musical interactions between blacks and whites in the South and Southwest. Its roots are a complex tangle. Bedrock black church music influenced blues, rural blues influenced white folk song and the black popular music of the Northern ghettos, blues and black pop influenced jazz, and so on. But the single most important process was the influence of black music on white.
Prince Rogers Nelson aka Prince was known for his expression of erotic sexual fantasies. The release of his first two (2) albums in 1978 and 1979 respectively, gained him his first top 20 pop hit. His fame grew as his music continued to get top spots on Billboard charts. On April 21, 2016 Prince was found dead at his home in Minnesota, the cause of death was due to a drug overdose.
Stevie Nicks is one fifth of the band Fleetwood Mac. In 1981, she released Bella Donna as a solo artiste, which featured guest vocalists Tom Petty and Don Henley. The album reached No.1 on the Billboard chart, and featured the hit singles "Edge of Seventeen" and "Leather and Lace," as well as a duet with Petty called "Stop Draggin My Heart Around."
In 1994, after detoxing from her addictions she released Street Angel, another solo album. As her health improved and she regained energy, Stevie returned to the studio to record new songs for multiple soundtracks. In 1997, Fleetwood Mac reunited and released The Dance. The related tour earned them $36 million.
David Bowie on the set of The Man Who Fell To Earth, 1976
Die-hard David Bowie fans are bound to remember his performance in The Man Who Fell To Earth. The highly acclaimed movie is best known for Bowie’s performance and the stunning imagery. Here, Bowie sits with the crew, accessorized with a trench coat and fedora hat.
AC/DC at Sydney Airport, mid-'70s
AC/DC are an Australian rock band, formed in 1973 by brothers Malcolm and Angus Young. AC/DC have sold more than 200 million records worldwide, including 71.5 million albums in the United States, adding them to the list of highest-certified music artists in the United States and the list of best-selling music artists.
Born on January 19, 1943, in Port Arthur, Texas, Janis Joplin developed a love of music at an early age, but her career didn't take off until she joined the band Big Brother and the Holding Company in 1966. Their 1968 album, Cheap Thrills, was a huge hit.
She then separated from that group and became known for her powerful, blues-inspired vocals. Joplin’s second project, Pearl (1971), released after her death, was a huge success. The singer died of an accidental overdose on October 4, 1970, at age 27.
The Beatles were made members of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II but John returned his medal, telling the Queen “Your Majesty, I am returning my MBE as a protest against Britain’s involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam and against ‘Cold Turkey’ slipping down the charts. With love. John Lennon."
Robert Anthony Plant was born on August 20 in England. In 1966, he left school and began his musical career. He recorded a few R&B singles for CBS records on his own, but they failed to attract much interest. In 1968, Plant was recruited by guitarist Jimmy Page for the New Yardbirds.
Led Zeppelin experienced great commercial success with 19973’s Houses of the Holy. He also experienced did extremely well with the double album Physical Graffiti, released in 1975. It contained such hits as "Trampled Underfoot."
In 1977 Zeppelin had to cancel the rest of his tour as he had his family had to cope with the tragic loss of his six year old son Karac, who died from a viral infection. In July 2009, Plant received a special honor. He was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his services to the field of music. He has been named one of the greatest singers of all time by Rolling Stone magazine.
Jimi Hendrix at home, blue velvet suited and smiling, cooking up some food and a pot of tea, 1969
Jimi Hendrix was born Johnny Allen Hendrix. He had a difficult childhood, sometimes living in the care of relatives and even acquaintances at times.
King Kasuals, a duo of himself and soldier Billy Cox performed regularly at a club in Nashville, Tennessee. Hendrix then signed a contract with Knight's manager, Ed Chalpin and later formed his own group, Jimmy James & the Blue Flames, and shifted base to New York. The group then performed its first hit single, titled "Hey Joe” in a stage show at London.
Jimi Hendrix and his girlfriend Carmen Borrero
The first album from the band was named Are You Experienced? The band's next album was titled Axis: Bold as Love. His third and last album was Electric Ladyland.
In June 1967 he also won over American music fans with his stunning performance at the Monterey Pop Festival, which ended with Hendrix lighting his guitar on fire.
Debbie Harry AKA Blondie
In 1970, Debbie Harry became the lead singer of rock band Blondie, and quickly rose to fame when the band became successful. The award winning band became well known for its stylish rock, with elements of disco pop and reggae.
Pink Floyd rehearsing at Broadhurst Gardens, West Hampstead, London, early 1967.
In 1965 Pink Floyd was founded by students Syd Barrett on guitar and lead vocals, Nick Mason on drums, Roger Waters on bass and vocals, and Richard Wright on keyboards and vocals. By performing in London's underground they gained popularity in the music scene during the late 1960s. Things really got interesting when guitarist and vocalist David Gilmour joined in December 1967. Sadly Barrett left in 1968 due to deteriorating mental health and Waters became the band's primary lyricist and conceptual leader. He devised the concepts behind their best selling albums The Dark Side of the Moon (1973) and Wish You Were Here (1975) along with their other albums; Animals (1977), The Wall (1979) and The Final Cut (1983).
In the early 1970s, Patti Smith, already a regular on the New York scene as a poet, performance artist, began to set her poetry to Lenny Kaye's electric guitar playing. She was born Chicago in 1946 and was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness. In 1974, she released her first single “Hey Joe”. Soon, she had a full band, whose rough, clattering sound made a perfect match for Smith's shrieked, soaring vocals. She became the key leader of the punk movement when she stated that "Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine" on her reworked version of Van Morrison's "Gloria" in 1975.
In 2004, Smith signed to Columbia Records and released “Trampin”, a collection of spoken poetry and anti-war songs.
On March 12, 2007, Smith was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alongside friends and frequent collaborators R.E.M., one of countless acts she had influenced over the past four decades.
Joni Mitchell won her first Grammy Award in 1969, for her album, “Clouds”. Her third album, “Ladies of the Canyon”, was a mainstream success for the folk singer, becoming her first gold album, which included the hits "The Circle Game" and "Big Yellow Taxi." She began experimenting with pop and rock genres during this time.
Her album Court and Spark made in 1974, became her most commercially successful project to date and she was nominated for four Grammy Awards, of which she won for best instrumental arrangement accompanying vocalist(s).
In April, 1970, the talented singer formed a band named 'Queen', along with English drummer, Roger Taylor, and guitarist, Brian May. He renamed himself from Farrokh Bulsara to Freddie Mercury.
On October 26, 1981, Queen released 'Greatest Hits', which is a compilation of songs from various albums of the band. Out of the seventeen singles featured on the album, ten were penned by their lead singer, Mercury. In 1990, Freddie, as a part of 'Queen', received the 'Brit Awards' for 'Outstanding Contribution to Music'. In 1992, after his death, he received the 'Brit Award' for 'Outstanding Contribution to British Music'. Freddie, along with other members of 'Queen' was inducted into various Halls of Fame, posthumously.
The Grateful Dead
The Grateful Dead was founded in the San Francisco Bay Area during the rise of the counterculture of the 60s. Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Ron McKernan, Phil Lesh, and Bill Kreutzmann are the founding members who originally called their band The Warlocks before they became The Grateful Dead. Jerry Garcia sadly died in 1995, and since then the band has continued to tour under different names and with different performers filling in for Jerry. Right now they are touring as The Dead And Company with John Mayer as Jerry's replacement.
Mick Jagger, the pouty-lipped, hip-shaking front-man of the Rolling Stones, was born Michael Philip Jagger on July 26, 1943. His singing career started out like most; in church. In the Sixties, Jagger established ironic detachment as a hallmark of British Invasion-era rock and began turning heads with his not-so-subtle double entendre and sinuous dance moves. He is said to have sounded ad bored, and horny.
In 1984 Jagger did a duet with Michael Jackson on the Jacksons' Number Three single "State of Shock." The following year, more than two decades after the Rolling Stones formed, Jagger released his first solo album, She's the Boss.
Bob Dylan And Johnny Cash Rare Recordings
Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash two legends and two musicians who had a mutual admiration for each other even before they met. Dylan had this to say:
Of course, I knew of him before he ever heard of me. In ’55 or ’56, ‘I Walk the Line’ played all summer on the radio, and it was different than anything else you had ever heard. The record sounded like a voice from the middle of the Earth. It was so powerful and moving.
Cash on the other hand was impressed when he heard the young Dylan in 1962:
I was deeply into folk music in the early 1960s, both the authentic songs from various periods and areas of American life and the new ‘folk revival’ songs of the time, so I took note of Bob Dylan as soon as the Bob Dylan album came out in early ’62 and listened almost constantly to The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan in ’63. I had a portable record player I’d take along on the road, and I’d put on Freewheelin’ backstage, then go out and do my show, then listen again as soon as I came off.
Jim Morrison was born James Douglas Morrison, on December 8, 1943 in Florida. The singer and songwriter was the charming front man of the Doors; the rock group in 1965, alongside Ray Manzarek, Robbie Krieger and John Densmore to form a band. The group’s first single, "Break on Through," achieved only modest success. It was their second single, "Light My Fire," which catapulted the band to the forefront of the rock and roll world, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard pop charts.
In 1967 they released their sophomore album, Strange Days, which featured the Top 40 hits "Love Me Two Times" and "People are Strange" as well as "When the Music's Over."
Blondie and Bill Murray
Debbie Harry and Bill Murray in studio recording the songs Polyester and The Best Thing for John Waters movie Polyester.
Everything changed when she was introduced to Neil Giraldo, a hard-charging rock guitarist whose licks gave Benatar the exact sound she'd been looking for.
David Bowie was born David Robert Jones in Brixton, London, on 8 January 1947. His family moved to Bromley when he was just six years old. In 1970 when Bowie briefly formed The Hype, everyone in the band dressed up as superheroes. They were booed off everywhere they played.
Bowie co-produced some of the best tracks on Lou Reed's legendary album Transformer. He was in ten bands! The names are as follows; The Konrads, The Hooker Brothers, The King Bees, The Manish Boys, The Lower Third, The Buzz, The Riot Squad, The Hype, Tin Machine and Tao Jones Index.
He was born James Paul McCartney on June 18 1942.
He is in the “Guinness Book of World Records” for having sold the most records, most number 1, and for most covered song “Yesterday”.
He was part of the group The Beatles. Paul McCartney's solo output was varied, yet also variable in quality. In August 1971 he formed Wings, and in 1977 released Mull Of Kintyre, which remained the UK's highest selling single until 1984. In the 1980s he collaborated with Elvis Costello, and in 1991 released his first classical work, the Liverpool Oratorio. Since then he has released a wide range of albums in a variety of styles, and has undertaken a number of world tours.
Kurt Cobain was the most important artist of the 90s even though he lived for less than half of the decade. When the Nirvana rocketed into popular consciousness in 1991 with "Smells Like Teen Spirit," Cobain became the face and enduring icon of alternative rock.
His coarse and grainy wail was the prototype for later alt-rock singers, and his tangled leads and hurricane-like power chords influenced countless subsequent rock guitarists. In his lyrics, he refers to his struggles with the thorny discomfort of growing up and railed about his inner demons. His name has been rapped about several times due to the way he decided to take his own life.
Debbie Harry making even a simple white tank look so so cool.
Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen, born on September 23, 1949, is an American songwriter, singer, and guitarist. He is widely known for his brand of "heartland rock" infused with pop hooks and poetic lyrics. He has sold over 65 million albums in the US alone.
Springsteen's eloquence in expressing ordinary, everyday problems has earned him numerous accolades, including 18 Grammy Awards, ranging from 1984's to 2007's, and an Academy Award. He had a notoriously devoted global fan base.
William Bruce Rose Jr
In the 1970’s he joined the heavy metal band “Black Sabbath” but was fired from it in 1979. Osbourne went solo and became a great success, selling over 100 million albums and is now known as the “Godfather of Heavy Metal”.
Jazz and blues, which share similar roots and rhythm, helped create the rock and roll music that we know today. Rock derives from ‘country blues”. The bass, guitar and drums were first common to blues then rock music.