30 of your favourite music icons from the 70s and 80s through the years
From Cher to Rod Stewart, and The Beatles to Blondie, it’s clear that most of these music icons showed their talents from a very early age. But making music history wasn’t always the plan for some of these huge icons, with newspaper deliveries, waitressing and aspirations of playing professional football taking priority in their adolescent years. Take a look through some of the most legendary names in music, from how they rose to fame to what incredible achievements they have made to this day.
Born in 1946, in El Centro, California, the global icon’s career began in the early 1960s when she moved to LA and met aspiring singer Sonny Bono.
The pair released several singles together, including ‘Let the Good Times Roll’ and ‘Love is Strange’, before Cher released her own debut solo album ‘All I Really Want to Do’, ranking in the Top 20 on the Billboard 200 charts. In the years to follow, Cher enjoyed success both solo and alongside Sonny, who she was married to from 1964-75, dabbling in television as well. Their 1965 single “I Got You Babe” stormed the charts, hitting the top spot on the US Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks, whilst Cher graced us with solo albums ‘The Sonny Side of Ch?r’ and ‘Ch?r’ in 1966.
The 1970s then saw the release of various albums, including Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves, Foxy Lady and Bittersweet White Light. Cher also featured in a few films, including Suspect, Moonstruck and Mask.
Throughout the course of her career, spanning over five decades, the megastar released a whopping total of 26 studio albums, three live albums, 10 compilation albums and four soundtrack albums. More recently, she has featured in smash-hit films like Burlesque (2010) and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018), both acting and singing.
Cher, and her ex-husband Sonny, were honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1998, following him sadly passing away. Cher has won countless awards, from Grammys and Billboard Music Awards – and her talents in the world of acting have not been overlooked either, receiving multiple Golden Globes and Academy Awards as well.
Then: Duran Duran
Duran Duran was formed in the late 1970s by Nick Rhodes and John Taylor in Birmingham. In 1980, the band brought their demo tape to Paul & Michael Berrow, who ran the nightclub Rum Runner.
After the addition of Simon Le Bon, they wrote their first single ‘Sound of Thunder’, and after signing with the Berrow brothers’ new music company recorded their now hit singles ‘Girls on Film’ and ‘Tel Aviv’. Their first album, Duran Duran, was released in 1981, with their first single ‘Planet Earth’ reaching the UK’s Top 20. The rest, of course, was history.
Now: Duran Duran
14 studio albums later, and the addition/subtraction of the odd member here and there, Duran Duran have enjoyed a bountiful career.
With their success spanning across the globe, the megastars have collected plenty of Grammy and BRIT Awards over the years. The gang have also bagged themselves a spot on the Hollywood Walk of Fame!
Then: Electric Light Orchestra (ELO)
In 1969, Birmingham-based musicians Roy Wood and Bev Bevan approached Jeff Lynne about joining them in creating music like no other artist, combining violins, cellos, string basses, horns and woodwinds to change the sound of rock. After initially declining, Roy joined the pair in 1970 and Electric Light Orchestra was born.
Their first album ‘The Electric Light Orchestra’ was released in December 1971, with their first single titled ‘10538 Overture’ reaching Number 9 in the UK charts. As well as their fame growing, so did the group, with Bill Hunt, Andy Craig, Mike Edwards, Wilfred Gibson, Hugh McDowell and Richard Tandy all joining the band, ahead of their debut concert in 1972. Jeff Lynne later became the front-man for the band, after the departure of multiple members of the group.
By 1978, the band had set two music world records, hitting Number 1 in the UK Albums Chart with ‘Discovery’ in the year to follow.
Now: Electric Light Orchestra (ELO)
Many years, awards, band members and band names later, we now have Jeff Lynne’s ELO. Jeff and his band have now played some huge events, including The Grammys in 2015 and Glastonbury in 2016. In 2015, Jeff was presented with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and five years later, in 2020, was awarded an O.B.E. for his services to music.
Then: Culture Club
In London, back in 1981, Boy George, Roy Hay, Mikey Craig and Jon Moss teamed up to create the iconic Culture Club.
Unimpressed by their demos, EMI Records decided not to sign the band. Luckily for all of us, Virgin Records and Epic Records picked up on the gang, collectively releasing their records across Europe and the US. Despite Boy George’s androgynous style catching the eye of the public and the media, the band’s early singles ‘White Boy’ and ‘I’m Afraid of Me’ didn’t make the charts – but, of course, that didn’t stop the gang, with their third single ‘Do You Really Want to Hurt Me’ flying to the Number 1 spot in the UK, and becoming one of their biggest hits.
Now: Culture Club
40 years and six studio albums later, Culture Club have become one of the most successful British bands of all time.
Picking up countless awards, ranging from Best British Group to Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll, the band is no stranger to the odd Grammy or BRIT. Providing huge hits like ‘Karma Chameleon’ and ‘Time (Clock of the Heart)’, the band’s frontman, Boy George, even received recognition from the Royal family.
The band are still together, despite the departure of Jon Moss in 2018.
Then: Olivia Newton-John
Arguably, Olivia Newton-John‘s singing career began when she was just 15-years-old, after forming a girl group with some friends in 1963. After performing at coffee shops and local pubs with her friend Pat, Olivia was offered a solo deal with Decca Records in 1966.
She then released her first song, a cover, named ‘Till You Say You’ll Be Mine’. Olivia soon began to dip her toes in the acting pool, starring in ‘Toomorrow’ in 1970, before releasing her second single ‘If Not For You’, reaching Number 7 on the UK Singles Chart. Throughout the 70s, Olivia really began to make a name for herself as she hosted a popular BBC show, alongside releasing new music.
Whilst at a dinner party, Olivia was introduced to film producer Allan Carr, who went on to offer her the lead role of Sandy in his upcoming film adaptation of the Broadway musical, Grease.
Now: Olivia Newton-John
Olivia gained global stardom, alongside her co-star John Travolta, after Grease became one of the most iconic movie musicals of all time. The star has since received countless awards and recognitions, including an OBE for services to Australian Music, the ARIA Hall of Fame, multiple Humanitarian awards, and has also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Though it’s hard to believe, Sting started out his music career with an abandoned guitar, missing the odd string or two. Real name being Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner, his relentless guitar and music practice aided him in his rise to fame by 1977, when he began to play the bass guitar for popular rock band The Police, who released multiple chart-topping albums in the years to follow.
In 1984, Sting was part of Band Aid’s ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’, before making his official solo debut in 1985 with his album ‘The Dream of the Blue Turtles’. Showcasing even more of his talents, the star began to feature in films, working on soundtracks, acting and doing voice-overs.
Sting has now released 14 studio albums, six live albums, nine compilation albums and seven soundtrack albums. He has won countless awards, including 17 Grammys and 25 American Music Awards.
He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2000, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003, as a member of The Police – the same year he received a CBE from the Queen for his services to music.
Then: Chaka Khan
Chaka Khan, born Yvette Marie Stevens, began her journey to fame featuring in various groups, before landing in the soul-funk R&B band Rufus, in 1972 when she was 18-years-old. Rufus had a large Chicago-area following, and eventually scored a record deal with ABC-Dunhill. The band were responsible for hit singles such as ‘Tell Me Something Good’ and ‘Ain’t Nobody’, before Chaka signed a solo contract with Warner Bros.
Records in 1978. It was in that year that the star released her debut album, including the now internationally-renowned ‘I’m Every Woman’.
Now: Chaka Khan
Almost five decades and 12 studio albums later, Chaka has earned herself the title of the Queen of Funk. The superstar has received 10 Grammy Awards, along with countless other awards.
She bagged herself a spot on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and even has her own day, Chaka Khan Day, and street, Chaka Khan Way, dedicated to her in Chicago.
Then: Bon Jovi
Jon Bon Jovi began his music career at the young age of 13-years-old, when he played piano and guitar in his first band, Raze. When he was 16, he met David Bryan and formed the band Atlantic City Expressway. Over the next few years, Jon formed various other bands, performing at clubs and opening for different bands.
In 1980, he recorded his first single ‘Runaway’ at his cousin’s studio – which made it to the airwaves via local radio stations. When the song began to gain attention, Jon gave his old pal David a call. The legendary band Bon Jovi was then officially formed in 1983, with singer Jon, keyboardist David, drummer Tico Torres, guitarist Richie Sambora and bassist Alec John Such.
Now: Bon Jovi
The iconic band has since welcomed some new members, after the departure of some old ones.
This includes Phil X, who now plays guitar for the group, and Hugh McDonald on bass. The band have made history in the world of rock and roll. With a plethora of awards and recognitions under their belt, from Grammys to World Music Awards and everything in between, it was no surprise when they were inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018.
Then: Diana Ross
At just 15-years-old, Diana Ross became one quarter of a girl-group named The Primettes, alongside fellow teenagers Betty McGlown (soon replaced with Barbara Martin), Mary Wilson, and Florence Ballard.
In 1960, an old neighbour of Diana’s helped the group land an audition with their local upstart label Motown, who eventually signed them in 1961 – however, at this point the girls renamed themselves The Supremes. The group’s 1964 song ‘Where Did Our Love Go?’ was a hit, and the group enjoyed years of success. Diana, however, parted ways with the band in 1970, releasing her first solo single ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’.
The star then began to feature on television specials and magazine covers, as her solo career skyrocketed.
Now: Diana Ross
Diana has achieved a globally ground-breaking solo career in music, television and film. Providing us with smash hits such as ‘I’m Coming Out’ and ‘Upside Down’. A whopping 27 of her singles reached the Billboard top 40 in the US, with 12 of them in the Billboard top 10, and six of those reaching the Number 1 spot.
Gaining herself countless awards, including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, the superstar even bagged herself a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Mike Barson, Chris Foreman and Lee Thompson originally formed the band back in 1976, under the name of the North London Invaders. Recruiting three more members, the band lasted a year as a six-piece before gaining the attention of Graham McPherson (AKA Suggs) at a garden party, in 1977, who then joined as lead vocals. Over the course of the next year, the band went through a flurry of members departing and joining the group, and after temporarily changing their name to Morris and the Minors, they officially renamed themselves Madness in 1979, with seven members.
1979 proved quite the year for the group – whilst gaining a following in London, the band recorded their first single ‘The Prince’, which was a surprise hit, getting to Number 16 in the UK charts. They then toured with the Specials and the Selecter, before recording their debut album.
The band have changed their sound over the years, providing us with huge global hits such as ‘It Must Be Love’, ‘House Of Fun’ and ‘Our House’. Despite breaking up in 1986, half-way through their seventh album, the band have had various reunions and re-releases of their classic songs.
Gaining various awards over their impressive career, including the Ivor Novello Award from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, for Outstanding Song Collection, it’s no surprise the band became the second ever act to be honoured on the Music Walk Of Fame in London.
Then: Tina Turner
Anna Mae Bullock, who we now know as THE Tina Turner, began her rise to fame when she joined the R&B group Kings of Rhythm after spending a lot of her early teens at Club Manhattan. The first track of theirs that Tina featured on, ‘A Fool in Love’, was an R&B hit, and led to group member Ike Turner and Tina becoming a duo, aptly named Ike and Tina Turner. After achieving great success with the group, Tina branched off into a solo career in the late 1970s.
Her solo career started off slow, as she performed in lower-profile venues and made appearances on other artists’ tracks. It wasn’t until 1983 that Tina’s career skyrocketed, with the release of her greatly anticipated debut album ‘Private Dancer’.
Now: Tina Turner
‘Private Dancer’ went on to achieve four Grammy Awards, and set the star up for an incredible career ahead. Almost four decades, a book and her own musical later, Tina has countless American Music, Billboard, Grammy, World Music and Rolling Stone Awards.
She made history in the Guinness Book of World Records from 1988 to 1997, and has featured four times in the Guinness Book of British Hit Singles & Albums. The ‘What’s Love Got to Do with It’ singer is featured in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, as well as on the world-renowned Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Then: Kim Wilde
Kim Wilde, born Kim Smith in 1960, was introduced to the world of music at a young age, being the daughter of 1950s rock ‘n’ roll star Marty Wilde. She was just 20 years old when she was signed to RAK Records in 1980, and a year later released her first single ‘Kids in America’.
The song was an instant hit, reaching Number 2 in the UK Singles Chart and the Top 5 in other countries. She released her debut album a few months later, containing hit singles ‘Chequered Love’ and ‘Water on Glass’.
Now: Kim Wilde
Kim has enjoyed a varied career. Famed for her hit debut single ‘Kids in America’, which aided her in winning the Brit Award for Best British Female solo artist, she has gone on to become a DJ, author and television presenter, selling over 10 million albums and 20 million singles worldwide.
She has provided us with a whopping 14 studio albums, four compilation albums and 60 music videos over four decades, with her latest album release being in 2018.
Then: Annie Lennox
Annie began her rise to fame back in 1977 as a member of the British rock and pop band The Tourists. Three years later, Annie and her fellow bandmate David A. Stewart parted ways with the group, and formed a duo named Eurythmics.
They enjoyed great success together, providing hit songs such as ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)’, ‘The Miracle of Love’ and ‘Love Is A Stranger’. Over a decade later, Annie parted ways with David and embarked on a solo career, releasing her debut album ‘Diva’ in 1992. This proved a promising start for the singer, shooting to the Number 1 spot on the UK Albums Chart.
Now: Annie Lennox
Six studio albums later, Annie Lennox is not only an extremely talented singer-songwriter, but is now recognised as a political activist and philanthropist.
With various Academy Awards and Golden Globes under her belt, the icon has also been presented with the American Music Award of Merit for her humanitarian efforts. It, therefore, came as no surprise when she was appointed an OBE by the Queen for her “tireless charity campaigns and championing of humanitarian causes”.
Then: Billy Joel
Born William Martin Joel in 1949, Billy Joel began studying piano at just four-years-old.
10 years later, he joined his first band The Echoes, which was later renamed The Lost Souls. Despite recording albums with various bands over the next few years, it wasn’t until 1971 that he signed a solo recording contract, releasing his first album ‘Cold Spring Harbor’.
Despite keeping a low profile following a reported contractual dispute, Columbia Records tracked the singer down in 1973 and signed him – it was this year he then recorded his legendary album ‘Piano Man’. He went on to record multiple albums with the label, including his 1977 release ‘The Stranger’, which became Columbia’s best-selling release, selling over 10 million copies and providing countless hit singles, such as ‘Just the Way You Are’ and ‘Only the Good Die Young’.
Now: Billy Joel
Billy Joel has gone onto record a whopping 13 studio albums, achieving numerous awards and becoming an icon in the world of music. Gaining himself the nickname ‘Piano Man’, due to the roaring success of his single of the same name, Billy was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
He was also inducted into the Madison Square Garden Walk of Fame, before receiving his very own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. After his 1985 compilation album, ‘Greatest Hits Vol.
1 & 2′, became one of the best-selling albums in the United States, it’s no surprise that the legend has also won countless Grammy Awards, as well as American Music, Billboard and People’s Choice Awards.
Then: Donna Summer
LaDonna Adrian Gaines‘ rise to stardom began in the 1950s, when she was just 10-years-old, performing at church and in school musicals. Before graduating, Donna headed to New York where she joined blues rock group Crow.
After parting from the group, she moved to Munich to perform in a musical, Hair, and became fluent in German, taking part in other productions. Three years later, she moved to Vienna where she joined the Vienna Volksoper opera house, and briefly toured with a group named Family Tree. Despite releasing various singles in the years to follow, it wasn’t until 1974 that Donna signed her first big record deal, releasing her first album, ‘Lady of the Night’, that same year.
Despite initially signing as Donna Sommer, an error on the record cover changed the spelling to Donna Summer – and the name stuck!
Now: Donna Summer
Donna Summer went on to become a global icon, gaining herself the nickname the ‘Queen of Disco’. Throughout her career she provided huge hit songs such as ‘Love to Love You Baby’, ‘I Feel Love’ and ‘Hot Stuff’. Understandably, she picked up plenty of awards over her career – including Grammy Awards for Best Inspirational Performance, Best Dance Recording and Best Female R&B, as well as Rock, Vocal Performance.
She was also awarded plenty of American Music Awards, as well as being inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Donna sadly passed away in 2012, a year before she was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Barack Obama led Donna Summer tributes following her death, along with huge names such as Dolly Parton, Dionne Warwick and Sir Elton John.
In paying tribute to the star, Barack said, “Her voice was unforgettable, the music industry has lost a legend far too soon.”
Then: Bryan Adams
Born in 1959 in Canada, Bryan Adams spent his early life travelling to various diplomatic postings with his parents. He bought his first guitar when he was 12-years-old, and left school to join a band named Shock. His love for music flourished from this young age, going on to use his college funds to buy a grand piano.
He soon started working with bands in the Vancouver music scene, dabbling as a studio session singer. At 15-years-old, he became the vocalist for pub band Sweeney Todd. Despite releasing a relatively successful album with the band, Bryan left when he was 16, and began co-writing recordings with Jim Vallance for some huge names throughout the 1980s.
Bryan began to find solo fame after he signed to A&M records, for one dollar, in 1979. He then released his debut solo album in 1980, which was certified gold in Canada in 1986.
Now: Bryan Adams
Byran Adams has gone on to lead an incredibly successful career, producing huge hits such as ‘(Everything I Do) I Do It For You’, ‘Heaven’ and, of course, ‘Summer Of ’69’. He has received the prestigious Order Of British Columbia Award, as well as being made an Officer of the Order of Canada for his contributions to popular music and philanthropic work through his foundation, helping improve worldwide education for people.
He’s also received the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award, as well as the Allan Waters Humanitarian Award for his charitable concerts and campaigning over the years. In 2002 and 2012, he became a recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal and Diamond Jubilee Medal. Adding to the list, Bryan was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame, as well as multiple Canadian Walks of Fame.
Of course, he also picked up plenty of Grammy, Billboard and Juno Awards over the year (to name a few).
Then: Bee Gees
The iconic Bee Gees were formed back in 1958, initially made up of brothers Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb. The brothers first began performing in order to raise pocket money, and were soon hired by Bill Goode to entertain the crowd at the Redcliffe Speedway in 1960. The crowd would throw money onto the track for the boys during performances, with them keeping any money that they collected.
They soon began to feature on television shows, before gaining their first record deal in 1963. Their debut album ‘The Bee Gees Sing and Play 14 Barry Gibb Songs’ was later released in 1965.
Now: Bee Gees
Spanning over five decades, the band created an impressive 22 studio albums over the course of their career, including four soundtrack albums, including the iconic ‘Saturday Night Fever’. Honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the boys were also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, Florida’s Artists Hall of Fame, ARIA Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The Bee Gees were also appointed as CBEs for their contribution to music. Sadly, Maurice passed away in 2003 and Robin Gibb passed away in 2012. Huge names such as Sir Cliff Richard and Ringo Starr paid tribute to the stars.
In 2018, Barry Gibb paid tribute to his late brothers, after being knighted by Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace.
Then: The Beatles
It was back in 1957 that the legendary Beatles formed, and it all started with a blossoming friendship between John Lennon and Paul McCartney. The two began performing together when John, who was just 16-years-old at the time, was performing the folk/jazz/blues band the Quarrymen. He was introduced to Paul, who was 15-years-old at the time, by a bandmate whilst setting up for a gig, and they played in the band together for a few years.
After John’s original Quarrymen band-mates left the group, members such as George Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe and Pete Best joined the group, officially naming themselves The Beatles. It wasn’t until 1962, after Stuart and Pete’s departure, that Ringo Starr officially joined the crew.
Now: The Beatles
The Beatles made music history during their 10-year reign, making a huge cultural impact with their influences on music, fashion and even film. Throughout their years, they provided us with timeless classics such as ‘Here Comes the Sun’, ‘Hey Jude’, ‘Come Together’ and ‘Let it Be’.
Nominated for well over 100 awards, it’s no surprise that members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr were knighted for their services to music. The band set numerous World Records, including Most Recorded Song, Most US Number One Albums, and Most US Number One Singles, and reigned in countless Grammy Awards. The Beatles appear in the Grammy Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the UK Music Hall of Fame (to name a few) – and, of course, have their very own shiny star of the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
2016 even saw the release of their very own documentary, The Beatles: Eight Days a Week, about their touring years in the 1960s. Sadly, John passed away in 1980, and George passed away in 2001.
Then: Paul McCartney
Paul rose to fame as the co-vocalist in the legendary British rock band The Beatles. But it all started when Paul was just 15-years-old, when he met John Lennon and joined his band named the Quarrymen, in 1957.
It was just three years later that The Beatles were formed, enjoying their first hit single ‘Love Me Do’ in 1963. Beatlemania soon took over, with Paul being referred to as the ‘cute Beatle’. Despite only staying together until 1970, the band made true music history and Paul continued with a solo career.
Now: Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney has gone on to become one of the most successful music composers and performers of all time.
His services to music have led him to being knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, as well as being appointed as a Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH) the Order of the British Empire (MBE). Winning close to 20 Grammy Awards, Paul has also been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame twice – as a solo artist and as a member of The Beatles. Of course, he has had his fair share of BRIT, NME, American Music and Critic’s Choice Awards over his impressive career.
Then: Rod Stewart
It’s hard to imagine, but Rod Stewart started off his working life as a newspaper delivery boy, with dreams of becoming a professional footballer.
It wasn’t until he was around 16-years-old that he became involved with instrumental rock band The Raiders in 1961. Over the next couple of years, Rod began to don his now iconic ‘spiky rooster’ hairstyle (thanks to a mixture of sugar water and his sister’s hair spray) and was a member of several bands, including the Dimensions, Steampacket, Soul Agents, Shotgun Express and The Jeff Beck Group. After recording his first single in 1964, he was officially signed as a solo artist in 1968, and released his debut album ‘An Old Raincoat Won’t Ever Let You Down’ in 1969 – whilst also performing as a vocalist in the band Faces.
Now: Rod Stewart
Today, Rod Stewart is one of the best-selling artists of all time, creating an astounding 30 studio albums in his time and a whopping 22 compilation albums.
His latest album, ‘Blood Red Roses’, hit the Number 1 spot in the UK Albums Chart in 2018, showing that even after five decades he sure hasn’t lost his touch! The icon’s services to music and charity have led to him being knighted, as well as him being appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). He has been inducted into the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as well as the UK Music Hall of Fame, and has his very own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
It all began back in 1973, when Chris Stein joined a band named the Stilettoes, as their guitarist, and began a relationship with one of the band’s vocalists, Debbie Harry.
In 1974, the pair parted ways with the band, forming a new group with Fred Smith and fellow ex-Stilettoe member Billy O’Connor. The group played just two shows under their band-name Angel and the Snake, until renaming themselves Blondie by the end of the year. Legend has it we can thank catcalling truck drivers for the now world-renowned band-name, who would shout “Hey Blondie” at Debbie as they drove past.
By 1975, the band saw the addition of members such as Ivan Kral, Clem Burke and Gary Lachman, and were also playing regular gigs at popular New York venues, including Max’s Kansas City and CBGB. The band made their first recording that same year, with their debut album ‘Blondie’ being released the next (1976).
11 studio albums and an estimated 40 million album sales later, Blondie has become one of the most influential bands in music history, famed for their eclectic mix of musical styles, including disco, pop, reggae, and early rap. Famed for hits such as ‘Call Me’, ‘Heart of Glass’, ‘One Way Or Another’ and ‘Maria’, the band were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006, as well as being inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2016.
They have, of course, picked up their fair share of awards, including the NME Godlike Genius Award and Q Music Award for Q Inspiration Award. Debbie Harry even made it into the Guinness World Book of Records in 1999, age 53, as the Oldest Female Singer to Reach No.
1 in the UK Chart.
Then: Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen was born in 1949, and was around 15-years-old when he bought his first guitar for £18.95, after being inspired by seeing The Beatles live. It wasn’t long before he joined a band named the Rogues and began playing for live audiences.
Later in 1964, his mother took out a loan to buy him a £60 Kent guitar, which helped him on his way to become the lead guitarist, and later lead singer, of a band named the Castiles. The band recorded two singles, and played live at various venues in New York. Bruce spent the next few years performing in various bands and trios, before being signed to Columbia Records in 1972, forming a new band named the E Street Band in order to record his debut album, ‘Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.’, which was released in 1973.
Now: Bruce Springsteen
By the release of his third album, ‘Born to Run’, Bruce had achieved worldwide fame.
Almost five decades later, he has released 20 studio albums, 23 live albums and even a soundtrack album. Bruce has produced huge hits over his time, including the epic track ‘Born in the U.S.A.’, ‘Dancing In the Dark’ and ‘I’m On Fire’. Inducted into both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Bruce has bagged himself 20 Grammy Awards, two Golden Globes and an Academy Award over the years.
Bruce was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. Proving his endless talents, he even picked up a Tony Award in 2018 for Springsteen on Brodway, which was held at the Walter Kerr Theatre in New York City.
Then: Cyndi Lauper
Inspired by artists such as The Beatles and Judy Garland, Cyndi Lauper was just 12-years-old when she began writing songs and playing an acoustic guitar, which was given to her by her sister. From a young age, she began to express herself through eccentric clothing and a variety of hair colours.
She was just 17-years-old when she left home, and began performing as a vocalist with various cover bands. In 1978, Lauper met saxophone player John Turi and formed a band named the Blue Angel. Cyndi’s voice on their demo tape began to gain attention, however she was not willing to sign a solo deal due to wanting the band to be involved.
Sadly, Blue Angels’ album was not a success, and the band ended up splitting. Cyndi then spent 1981 working in retail stores, waitressing and singing in local clubs. She was eventually signed as a solo artist later that year, and released her debut album ‘She’s So Unusual’ in 1983.
Now: Cyndi Lauper
Cyndi went on to have one of the most successful music careers of all time, with 11 studio albums, six compilation albums and five video albums.
She is thought to have sold approximately 50 million albums, singles and DVDs during the course of her career. Citing her sister Ellen as a role model, Cyndi is also a passionate activist, having campaigned for LGBT rights and equality through various charities and gay pride events around the world. Huge hits such as ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’, ‘Time After Time’ and ‘True Colors’ aided her in being inducted into both the Hollywood and Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Her massive influence on the music industry has also bagged her a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and she also featured in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum’s ‘Women Who Rock’ exhibit. Cyndi has multiple Grammy Awards, as well as Emmy and MTV Video Awards. She even picked up a Tony Award for Best Original Score for composing the Broadway musical Kinky Boots, which itself picked up the Tony Award for Best New Musical.
Then: Dire Straits
Dire Straits was formed in London back in 1977, under the name the Caf?
Racers, by Mark Knopfler, David Knopfler, John Illsley and Pick Withers. Brothers Mark and David are from Newcastle upon Tyne, with Mark working as an art college teacher and David working as a social worker at the time of the band’s formation. Pick had spent most of the 1970s playing the drums for various bands, so was no stranger to the world of music when the band formed.
After the band had been turned down by a record label, the group sought out advice from DJ Charlie Gillett, the presenter of Honky Tonk on BBC Radio London, on their demo track. When he liked what he heard, he decided to play the band’s track ‘Sultans of Swing’ on his show. It was just two months later that they signed their first record deal, releasing their debut album ‘Dire Straits’ in October 1978.
Now: Dire Straits
Now, Dire Straits are one of the world’s best-selling music artists, with six studio albums, three live albums and three compilation albums, their estimated album sales are over 100 million.
The group was active from 1977 to 1988, then once more from 1991 to 1995, providing us with huge hit songs such as ‘Romeo and Juliet’, ‘Walk Of Life’ and ‘Money For Nothing’, and welcoming members such as Alan Clark and Guy Fletcher. They have won countless awards, including Grammys, BRIT, Juno and MTV Awards, and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018. They were even commemorated with a Heritage Award from PRS for Music, with a plaque placed at the location where they played their first gig in Deptford, London.
The English synth-pop duo, consisting of Andy Bell and Vince Clarke, formed in London back in 1985.
Vince was inspired to make electronic music from a young age, having been influenced by synth back Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. This led him to co-forming the electronic music band Depeche Mode, writing their first three singles, including ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’. Vince departed the group in 1981, furthering his career in the synth-pop group Yazoo.
He left Yazoo, however, in 1983. It was after this that Vince placed an advert for a vocalist in the weekly music magazine Melody Maker – a move he would not regret, as he soon got a call from Andy Bell, who was quickly chosen by Vince. They soon released their first single ‘Who Needs Love Like That’ in 1985.
Erasure proved hugely popular, making a whopping 18 studio albums and releasing 54 singles in their time.
They are said to have penned over 200 songs, as well as selling over 28 million albums worldwide! From 1986 to 2007, they achieved a huge 24 consecutive Top 40 hits in the UK, and even picked up the BRIT Award for Best British Group. They also have the AIM Independent Music Award for Best Live Act under their belt, along with the Ivor Novello Award for Most Performed Work, following their single ‘Blue Savannah’.
Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks, Anthony Phillips, Mike Rutherford and Chris Stewart were all members of a school band at Charterhouse School, in Surrey.
By 1967, the disbanding of these groups led Anthony and Mike to form a new band, and thus, Genesis was born. Using a friend’s home-made studio, the group recorded a demo tape, consisting of six songs, including ‘Don’t Want You Back’ and ‘Try a Little Sadness’. Seeking to record professionally, the group sought the help of Charterhouse alumnus Jonathan King, who himself had achieved a UK Top 5 single with ‘Everybody’s Gone to the Moon’.
This proved a good move by the band, as Jonathan immediately helped them sign a one-year recording contract with Decca Records, later releasing their debut album ‘From Genesis to Revelation’ in 1969. The boys were aged just 15 to 17-years-old at the time!
15 studio albums later, and a few changes of the line-up later, Genesis have become one of England’s most successful rock bands. The group have spent 21 weeks in the UK Top 10, with over 20 UK Top 40 singles.
Some of these iconic tracks include ‘I Can’t Dance’, ‘Land Of Confusion’, ‘Follow You Follow Me’ and ‘Mama’. They have received Grammy, AMA and Progressive Music Awards in their time, as well as being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010. Genesis’ success has inspired a number of tribute bands, which is no surprise with an estimated 150 million albums sold worldwide.
Various members of the group have continued incredibly successful careers since leaving Genesis, including Peter, Phil and Mike – who formed Mike and the Mechanics in 1985.
Then: Peter Gabriel
Peter Gabriel was born in 1950, and from a young age his teachers and peers could tell he was musically gifted. Despite having measurable singing talents, Peter opted for piano lessons and soon developed an interest in drumming – with his mother purchasing him his first floor tom when he was just 10-years-old. He wrote his first song, ‘Sammy the Slug’, when he was 12-years-old, and the following year he joined the Charterhouse School’s band the Milords, on drums and vocals.
By 1965, Peter and future band-mate Tony Banks were bonding over their love for music and disinterest in school activities, writing their first song together named ‘She is Beautiful’. It was just two years later that the pair, along with Anthony Phillips, Mike Rutherford and Chris Stewart, formed the now world-renowned Genesis.
Now: Peter Gabriel
Peter rose to stardom in Genesis, however departed in 1975 and launched an incredibly successful solo career. Described as one of rock’s most ambitious and innovative musicians, Peter has supplied us with nine studio albums, releasing over 40 singles.
Huge hits such as ‘Solsbury Hill’ and ‘In Your Eyes’ aided Peter in becoming one of the best-selling artists in the world, picking up countless awards such as Grammys, MTV and World Soundtrack Awards. He even won a record nine MTV Awards at the 1987 MTV Video Music Awards for his hit track ‘Sledgehammer’. It’s no surprise, therefore, that Peter was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice (as a member of Genesis and as a solo artist).
Then: Phil Collins
Phil Collins was born in 1951 and was just five-years-old when he began playing the drums, after being gifted a toy drum kit for Christmas.
It was clear from then that Phil had a gift for music. At that same age, after entering a talent contest at Butlins, legend has it that Phil had to stop his accompanying orchestra half way through his performance, informing them that they were out of key. It wasn’t long before his uncle made him a real set, with his parents buying him more complete sets as the years went on.
He studied drum rudiments as a teenager, as well as reading and writing conventional musical notation, soon forming a band called the Real Thing. It was while being a member of a band called the Freehold, however, that Phil wrote his song ‘Lying Crying Dying’. It wasn’t until the mid 1970s that Phil then joined the English rock band Genesis, after the departure of their drummer John Mayhew.
Now: Phil Collins
After spending years enjoying fame within Genesis, Phil began to enjoy solo fame in the 19080, before leaving the band in 1996.
He then embarked on a chart-topping and historic solo career, releasing huge hit songs such as ‘In The Air Tonight’, ‘You Can’t Hurry Love’ and ‘Another Day in Paradise’. Known for his distinctive drum sound, Phil was recruited to write and perform songs for Disney’s Tarzan in 1999. The songs were huge hits, with his track ‘You’ll Be in My Heart’ winning him an Oscar, Academy and Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.
His work on the soundtrack also led him to receiving the Disney Legend Award in 2002. Dabbling in the world of film and television, Phil also made appearances on the big screen. He had a cameo appearance in Steven Spielberg’s Hook, as well as starring in British rom-com Buster.
Phil has been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, as well as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (once as a member of Genesis and again as a solo artist). Phil’s iconic work has also bagged him his very own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, whilst his charity work led him to being appointed a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order (LVO).
The Swedish pop-rock duo, consisting of Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle joined forces back in 1986 after they both left their previous music groups. Per fronted a band named Gyllene Tider, which Marie began singing with in 1981.
It wasn’t until five years later that Marie and Per began to sing together, after Rolf Nygren, Managing Director of EMI at the time, suggested doing so. Marie was around 28-years-old, while Per was around 27-years-old. Later in 1986, released their first single, ‘Neverending Love’, which featured on their debut album ‘Pearls of Passion’, under the name Roxette.
Roxette have become Sweden’s second-best-selling music act, with ABBA taking the top spot.
They have provided huge hits such as ‘It Must Have Been Love’ and ‘Listen To Your Heart’, which have accumulated over 5 million radio plays and both with BMI Awards. The duo are thought to have sold over 75 million records worldwide, achieving both gold and platinum certifications for multiple albums. They also won countless awards, including Grammis, MTV and World Music Awards.
Sadly, Marie passed away in December 2019. On the day of her death, the music video for ‘It Must Have Been Love’ reached over 430 million views on YouTube.
Then: Tears For Fears
Tears for Fears was formed by Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith in 1981, after the disbanding of their first group Graduate. The group started out as a new wave synthesizer band, slowly branching out into mainstream pop.
The pair met when they were just teenagers, and as Graduate released an album named ‘Acting My Age’ and a single called ‘Elvis Should Play Ska’. The releases performed moderately well, however in 1981 Roland and Carl departed from the band and created their own, named History of Headaches. Their new band would follow the influence of artists such as Talking Heads and Peter Gabriel, and after the addition of surrounding musicians they changed their name to Tears For Fears.
1981 proved a monumental year for the group, with them being signed to Phonogram Records and then releasing their first single ‘Suffer the Children’.
Now: Tears For Fears
The group achieved huge worldwide success, with their debut album ‘The Hurting’ reaching Number 1 in the UK Albums Chart, their second album ‘Songs from the Big Chair; reaching Number 1 on the US Billboard 200 and their third album ‘The Seeds of Love’ going platinum.
The duo have won BRIT and MTV Awards, as well as having been nominated for a Grammy Award, thanks to huge hits such as ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’, ‘Shout’ and ‘Mad World’.
Despite taking various breaks throughout their career, the band have toured consistently and played popular music festivals, such as the Newmarket Nights festival in 2016 and the Forest Live festival in 2019.
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