Music is a major part of all of our lives. It doesn’t matter what type of music you listen to, it’s a daily thing that helps you get through the day. Some people use it to deal with certain things going on in their lives, and some people use it to get fired up. Even the government uses it for several different reasons.
Music is something that lasts forever. A great song can live on long after the death of the artist that performs it. We all had our favorites growing up, but unfortunately a lot of those stars are no longer with us. Thankfully we will always have their music.
Just like with regular everyday people, when musicians get old it’s hard to recognize some of them. So today we are going to do something a little bit different. We are going to play the “Can You Recognize Them?” game. We will show you what the star looks like now and a few hints about them. Like who was a champion BMX rider before their music career, or who once dated a sitting Governor. You can scroll down to see the answers, as well as get a really cool photo of the celebrity when they were young and performing. How many can you guess? No cheating!
20 Singer That Chose His Name As a Joke, Former Guitarist
This rocker was born in Middlesex, England on November 30th, 1955. The 60-year-old told BBC in an interview that he came up with his name as “a bit of a goof” while he was in school. When he was two years old his family moved Long Island, New York but returned to the United Kingdom just four years later when they settled in London.
As a boy, he was part of a group of Sex Pistols fans that were called the Bromley Contingent. They followed the band whenever they were close by.
In 1976, he joined the band Chelsea as a guitarist but didn’t stay with them long. He left the band with another member and started another band called Generation X. It’s here that he changed over from a guitarist to strictly vocals. The punk band was one of the first ever to appear on the BBC TV show that was called Top of the Pops.
19 Guitarist, Met His Future Singer On A Train, Lots Of Hits
This guitarist is the founding member of one of the most popular rock bands of all time. He was born on December 18th, 1943. The now 72-year-old learned his first guitar chords by listening and learning solos that were played by Chuck Berry.
One day while riding on a train, going to the London School of Economics, he met the man that would become the lead singer of his future band for over forty years. The guitarist soon joined the band that the singer was in that called themselves Little Boy Blue and the Blue Boys.
In 1963 he dropped out of Sidcup Art College to focus on music full time. About a year later history was in the making as the new band that he had formed with the singer was signed to Decca Records.
18 Guitarist, Voted #1 Guitarist of All Time, Four #1 Albums
This guitarist was born on January 26th, 1955 in the Netherlands. The now 61-year-old is considered by many to be the best guitarist in the world. To back that up, in 2011 Rolling Stone magazine ranked him at #8 on their list of 100 Greatest Guitarists. In 2012 the honor was taken to another level when he was voted by Guitar World magazine as the #1 guitarist on their list of The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.
In 1962, along with his drummer brother, the family moved to California where they both started playing piano at just six years old. His brother started out as a guitarist before moving over to the drums and this legendary guitarist started out playing the drums himself.
He formed his first band with his brother that was called The Broken Combs.
17 Musician, Actress, Former Stripper, Has Ties to Nirvana
This musician and actress was born on July 9th, 1964 in San Francisco. She formed her most famous band in 1989 and she was married to the lead singer of another huge band during that time. She actually got her start as an actress and after her band hit the big time for several years, she went back to acting in addition to performing.
She played a role in the 1996 movie The People vs. Larry Flynt. She was also in Man on the Moon and Trapped and more recently she had a part in the television series Empire.
While her band was still trying to gather a following she worked as a stripper to pay the bills.
She was once in a band that was called Sugar Babylon. The band later changed their name to Sugar Babydoll.
16 Singer, Has Two Songs on Top 500, Swore on Live TV
This singer, songwriter, and musician was born on October 30, 1939, in Chicago, Illinois. She was in the music business for over 40 years and after seeing a famous local band play live she started her own band. She fronted The Great Society for a while before actually joining up with that band that gave her the influence to start her own. She brought two songs with her to the new band that she had written for the old band. Both songs became legendary hits for her new band.
The now 76-year-old saw both of her songs later be named to Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.
She was known for being free with her words and was the first person to ever say “mother**ker” on live television.
15 Singer Known For Being Bald, Tore Up Pic of The Pope
This singer/songwriter was born on December 8th, 1966 in Ireland. Her rise to fame came in the 80s and during the 90s she became a worldwide name. Though this was not just because of her music. This woman said whatever she wanted to, whenever she wanted to, and it didn’t matter if cameras were nearby.
The 49-year-old women’s bald head should give her away instantly, even though we have a surprising photo below, and she once shocked the world on live television by tearing up a picture of the Pope. She may have had a lot of hit songs in her genre of music but she is certainly better known for that act than any song she has ever written.
14 Singer, Dated a Sitting Governor, Had 21 Top 40 Hits
This iconic female singer was born on July 15th, 1946 in Arizona. The 69-year-old had one of the most successful female singing careers of all time. She released more than 30 studio albums and put out 21 songs that reached the Top 40 charts. She also had ten songs reach the Top 10, three songs that went to #2 and she had one lone #1 hit.
She also wrote a book in 2013 that debut in the Top 10 of The New York Times Best Sellers List. Everything this woman did during her career had great results. In her younger years, she was big news for a personal relationship that she was involved in. While her career was skyrocketing she was also dating the then Governor of California.
When she was 14 years old she was in a band that was called The Union City Ramblers and then The New Union Ramblers.
13 Singer That Once Wrote Three Hits While Sick in Bed
This singer/songwriter icon was born on November 12, 1945, in Toronto. The now 70-year-old was part of several successful groups and during his career, he won countless awards for his work.
His career lasted over 45 years and he recorded 35 studio albums with three groups as well as solo work.
Many people don’t know that he is also a very successful screenwriter and director or co-director.
When he was a kid he was involved with bands called The Jades and The Squires. It was when he left that second band that he decided to go solo and along the way he met a few people that would become major inclusions in his career.
His first success as a songwriter came when he penned a song for The Guess Who that was called “Flying on the Ground is Wrong”. The tune was a Top 40 hit in Canada.
12 Guitarist, Champion BMX Rider, Rejected By Poison
This world famous guitarist was born on July 23rd, 1965 in London. The now 50-year-old was listed at #2 in 2009 on the Time Magazine 10 Best Electric Guitar Players list and in 2011 Rolling Stone Magazine ranked him at #65 on the list of The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. In 2004 one of his famous guitar riffs was also voted #1 on Total Guitar’s list of The 100 Greatest Riffs.
He started out as a bass player because of his friend and future famous drummer band mate was playing guitar. But once he decided that he wanted to play guitar full time he gave up his career as a champion BMX rider.
Before he reached fame he played in bands called Tidus Sloan and Road Crew.
He even auditioned for Poison but was rejected by the band. Instead, they went with C.C. DeVille. Oh, what could have been. But who knows what might have happened. If he had joined Poison we may have never heard all the great songs that were coming up with his future famous band.
11 Singer, Voted #76 Greatest Voice, Quit the Business
This legendary singer was born on January 22nd, 1949 in California. He reached huge heights of success in the 80s and 90s with the band that he fronted. He also put together a pretty successful solo career in between stints with his famous band.
Jon Bon Jovi has claimed that this singer had “THE Voice” and Rolling Stone Magazine ranked him at #76 on their list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.
The singer got started in a band called Ice but a lack of management interest led to their break up. He then started another band, Pieces, but they broke up after two years together. He joined up with Alien Project but when their bass player was killed in a car wreck the singer decided to quit the business.
He had received a phone call from a manager about joining up with a struggling band in San Francisco but he wanted out of the business. His mother convinced him to talk to the manager and it’s a good thing that she did. The world would have been robbed of many great songs had this singer not returned that one phone call.
10 Billy Idol
Billy Idol moved back to the United States in 1981 and started working with Bill Aucoin, who had brought KISS to stardom. His first solo album was called Don’t Stop. It contained one of his biggest hits ever as a solo artist, the cover of theTommy James & The Shondells’ song entitled “Mony Mony”.
9 Keith Richards
Keith Richards formed The Rolling Stones with Mick Jagger, whom he had met on a train, and it wasn’t long before they were cranking out top hit after top hit. Popular songs such as “Start Me Up”, “Brown Sugar” and “Honky Tonk Women” were credited by Richards as having come about by his interest in tuning banjos.
The band went on to mega-stardom and pumped out hits like “Angie”, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “Sympathy for the Devil”. Whenever they go out on tour every single show sells out in a matter of minutes and it’s amazing that they have lasted on top for as long as they have.
8 Eddie Van Halen
Eddie Van Halen, along with his brother Alex, was in another band when they met David Lee Roth and eventually formed Van Halen. The band released six albums with Roth as their front man. All of them were huge hits and were titled Van Halen, Van Halen II, Women and Children First, Fair Warning, Diver Down and 1984. The last one contained the monster hits “Jump” and “Hot For Teacher”.
After Roth left the band Eddie brought in Sammy Hagar for what is known as the “Van Hagar” era. With Sammy, the band reached heights that they never thought they could. They teamed up for four consecutive #1 albums. 5150, OU812, For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge and Balance all reached the top of the charts. On these albums, Eddie also showed off his keyboard skills more prominently as you can hear in songs like “Love Walks In” and “Dreams”.
7 Courtney Love
Courtney Love is the leader of the band Hole and she was married to Kurt Cobain, who was the front man for Nirvana before his suicide.
Hole became very popular in the punk world and Love used her connection to Cobain for most of that notoriety. The band was featured on the cover of Flipside, which was a magazine dedicated to the coverage of punk bands. They put out popular singles like “Retard Girl”, Dicknail” and “Teenage Whore”.
The band’s first studio release, Pretty on the Inside, was known for its brutal lyrics and it was released shortly after Courtney had met Cobain. They got married in 1992. Shortly after his suicide she took her band on tour for several controversial shows. The tour was complete chaos and she later said that she was doing drugs heavily at the time.
6 Grace Slick
Grace Slick left The Great Society to join Jefferson Airplane, the band that she had seen several years earlier that made her want to become a musician. With the band her songs “White Rabbit” and “Somebody to Love” became legendary. They were named on the list of the 500 best songs of all time.
They went on to release several other top hits over the years including “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” and “We Built This City”. Over the years, the band saw several different changes in their lineup that led to name changes to Jefferson Starship and then just to Starship. Slick was the leader of all three factions.
She was married to Jerry Slick from 1961 until 1971 and then in 1976 she married Skip Johnson and they were together until 1994. She has a daughter with former Jefferson Airplane guitarist Paul Kantner. They had a relationship from 1969 until 1975. Do the math on that one and you can see why her marriage to Jerry Slick came to an end.
5 Sinead O’Connor
Sinead O’Connor is the woman that ripped up a picture of The Pope during an appearance on Saturday Night Live. At that time, she was gaining popularity around the world for her music and her ability to speak freely and not care about what people thought. But this one act defined her career and she will always be known more for doing that than any song she writes.
Her albums The Lion and the Cobra and I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got had both seen great success around the world at the time. But it was that fateful night in 1992 that sealed her legacy.
During the dress rehearsal for the show O’Connor held up a photograph of a refuge child and NBC had no idea what she had in mind.
4 Linda Ronstadt
Linda Ronstadt cranked out top hit after top hit during her career. “You’re No Good”, “Blue Bayou”, “Long, Long Time”, “When Will I Be Loved” and “I Can’t Help It” were just a few of the multiple hits that she recorded.
She was the first woman to achieve star status in “arena rock” and she was voted as the Top Female Pop Singer of the 1970s. At the height of her popularity, she appeared on the covers of Time magazine, Newsweek and Rolling Stone.
During her career, Ronstadt said numerous times that it was difficult to find a good backing band because so many male musicians didn’t take her seriously because she was a woman. She had a great one though at one point. She had a backing band of future Eagles: Don Henley, Bernie Leadon, Glenn Frey and Randy Meisner.
3 Neil Young
Neil Young was a member of Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Crazy Horse, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, and several versions of solo acts. He has been enshrined into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice and their website describes him as “one of rock and roll’s greatest songwriters and performers.”
He has co-directed or directed several movies under the name Bernard Shakey. A few of his better-known movies are Journey Through the Past, Human Highway, Rust Never Sleeps, Greendale and CSNY/Déjà Vu.
While a member of Crazy Horse, Young once wrote three songs in a single day, while sick in bed with a fever of 103 degrees. “Cinnamon Girl”, Down By the River” and “Cowgirl in the Sand” which all turned out to be very popular songs for the band.
Some of his other more famous tunes are “Tell Me Why”, “Don’t Let It Bring You Down”, “Old Man”, “Like a Hurricane”, “Lotta Love” and “Rockin’ in The Free World”.
Slash went on to global recognition with the band Guns N’ Roses. His guitar riff for the song “Sweet Child o’ Mine” was voted the #1 riff of all time and his solo in the song “November Rain” was ranked #6 by Guitar World on their 100 Greatest Guitar Solos list.
His long time friend Steven Adler would become the drummer for Guns N’ Roses after giving up on playing the guitar.
Slash would later leave the band and form a band called Slash’s Snakepit before forming the popular group Velvet Revolver. He has also released several solo albums that had decent success.
When he was in the band Road Crew they brought in Duff McKagan to play bass and the three later joined up with a band called Hollywood Rose that already had members Axl Rose and Izzy Stradlin, who also played guitar. The rest, as they say, is history.
1 Steve Perry
Steve Perry had quit the music business when he got a phone call from Journey’s manager, asking him to come join the struggling band. But the band had a singer, Robert Fleischman, and they didn’t want to let him know that they wanted to go in another direction. The band was on tour so they brought Perry along as a “roadie” so Fleischman wouldn’t know who he was. Finally at a concert in Long Beach, California during a pre-show sound check the current singer had left the stage. They brought Perry up to do a song with the band and that was all it took, and he became the new frontman for Journey.
Perry wasn’t fully accepted by the band or their fans right away and nobody was really digging the new direction that the band was taking musically. But when Perry’s song “Lights” hit the airwaves everything turned golden and suddenly nobody had any issues anymore. Success will do that to you.
Their album Escape went to #1, and a single from the album, "Open Arms" went all the way up to #2.
Over the years, Journey released many top hits including “Faithfully”, ”Don’t Stop Believin’”, “Any Way You Want It, “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’”, “Who’s Cryin Now”, “After The Fall” and “Send Her My Love”. Can you imagine what we would have missed out on if Perry didn’t return that one phone call? Great job Mrs. Perry!
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