Recently, Nirvana re-formed at the induction ceremony of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Ohio, with this year being their first year of eligibility. Although bass guitarist Krist Novoselic and drummer Dave Grohl were present, there was an obvious missing presence in the shape of the late frontman Kurt Cobain. Such absence was filled by female singers including Joan Jett and Lorde who put their own unique spin on Nirvana’s grunge tracks; a decision approved by Grohl and Cobain’s wife, Courtney Love, who pointed out that no suitable male singers were willing. Grohl reuniting with his former bandmate reminded many that before Foo Fighters, he was in one of the biggest bands in the world. He joins a select few musicians who have had success in more than one band and in some cases have had solo success.
Paul McCartney is easily the biggest success in the case of multiple bands, having a music career spanning over fifty years. Originally part of the biggest band of all time with songwriting like no other, The Beatles are one of Britain’s pride-and-joy acts in the music world, with McCartney writing over fifteen of the band’s number one hits. After disbanding in 1970, Paul McCartney formed second band Wings with wife Linda McCartney, with which they produced one of the most successful and famous James Bond songs of all time in ‘Live and Let Die’. Whilst the later project was never going to match the former’s dizzying heights of success, its output in no way tarnished McCartney’s legacy and paved the way for later solo work; his latest album reaching the top three, something which he is probably used to by now.
Despite having a short career of four years, Joy Division were a pinnacle of the English rock scene. They gained cult status similar to Nirvana after vocalist Ian Curtis committed suicide, with ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ reaching no.13 in the charts. Sticking to a pact they made, remaining members Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook and Stephen Morris formed a new band: New Order, one of the 80’s biggest successes. With a more elecronic feel, New Order were a far cry from Joy Division, which is exactly what made them great. They were able to adapt to the sound of the time whilst making a name for themselves and were hugely successful because of it.
Damon Albarn remains, despite a multitude of accolades, an underrated modern great. Part of one of Britpop’s biggest successes, Blur, who, along with rival band Oasis caused one of pop music’s best rivalries in 1995, was dubbed “The Battle of Britpop”. In overall figures, Blur unfortunately lost, with all of Oasis’ studio albums going to number one and the latter having twice as many top 10 singles. Unlike Oasis, Blur were not as well known for the spats of the Gallagher brothers, but have managed to cause controversy in recent years (if cutting off Adele’s acceptance speech at the Brits is considered a controversy). After Blur, Albarn was the vocalist and co-creator of virtual band Gorillaz. Although Gorillaz made a dent on the chart and won significant airtime on the then ailing, now ailed, MTV music, they never quite invoked hysteria in such a massive way as Blur. Albarn has recently released his debut solo album ‘Everyday Robots’ which reached the top 10 in the album charts, showing continual growth as a musician.
Representing the females, Joan Jett famously started out as part of all-female rock group The Runaways, the inspiration behind the mediocre Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning fronted film of the same name. The Runaways had a major cult following and showcased women in the rock genre. However, the band disbanded and Jett managed to create a name for herself in her own right, with her being the main star alongside backing group The Blackhearts. This was huge for Jett with songs like ‘Bad Education’ and ‘I Love Rock and Roll’ showing her unique, growly voice to the masses and showcasing that which makes her the ‘Godmother of Punk’.
When Dave Grohl formed Foo Fighters, he became the monolith of Americana rock he remains to this day. He is the modern pinnacle of not limiting yourself to familiarity.