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Tuesday, November 23, 2004

GOING SOLO

How often we hear about band members embarking on a ‘solo career’. Whether in an effort to gain creative control, or just to get out of a bad ‘marriage’, it seems singers and guitar players are always looking for that greener grass. How often, however, are they successful in the endeavor? ‘Diamond’ David Lee Roth, though he got off to a decent start, failed to sustain his solo career. Mick Jagger’s efforts outside the Stones have been lackluster to say the least. Keith’s two solo records are great, but it’s evident that he never really had his heart set on a solo career, he was just killing time until Mick was ready to get back to work. I guess Neil Young and Joe Walsh fit the bill, though their former bands (Buffalo Springfield, James Gang) are more of a footnote in their respective careers at this point. Lou Reed certainly has had a successful solo career. Since there was an Elvis Costello prior to the Attractions, he doesn’t count. John Lennon did a good job of it, as did George. The best thing about George’s solo career is that he didn’t put out shitty records just to be putting out records, he worked in his garden until he had a good record to put out. Paul seemed to lose the ability to write a good song sometime around the time Denny Laine left, but I’ll still call him a successful solo artist. Ringo, well he tried, and with a little help from his friends he did well. I hear he’s got a new record coming out, and I hope it’s good, but, well, if anybody has heard his 1982 release ‘Stop And Smell The Roses’ then they too will be a little apprehensive about a new Ringo record. Bjork is a successful solo artist, whose output surpasses that of her old band, the Sugarcubes. I guess Ritchie Blackmore had success post Deep Purple, but less than ten years down the road he was putting out crap (‘Straight Between The Eyes’). Ozzy Osbourne definitely qualifies as a successful solo artist, and I guess Ronnie James Dio does as well, though I could never take him seriously on his own, too many swords and burning torches…..I draw the line at chain-mail. Johnny Rotten did well, as did Morrissey, though I still can’t figure out the whole Smiths/Morrissey thing, not my cup of tea I guess. If I give Joe Walsh credit I suppose the same goes for Sammy Hagar, though nothing he has done tops the Montrose record. Both Mick Jones and Joe Strummer had solo careers after The Clash. Mick’s Big Audio Dynamite was more successful Than Joe’s Mescaleros, but both of them seemed to have been more involved with the Clash post Clash, than they were with their respective solo ventures. After Bauhaus broke up Peter Murphy had success, but not as much as his former band mates who became Love And Rockets. Roger Waters has put out some really good records as well as launching some of the more successful tours in recent years, which is more than Syd can say. Does Luna count as Dean Wareham solo? I don’t know. Bob Mould and Paul Westerberg have had marginal success, more critical acclaim than record sales, but they’re still at it. Bob Marley never really ‘went’ solo, but the result was the same, and he was very successful, I only wish he could have lived to see all the royalties come in. Gwen Stefani is breaking out, and I’ll go on the record as saying that in five years people will be asking; ‘Who’s No Doubt”. Peter Gabriel did very well outside Genesis, and I suppose I have to say the same about Phil Collins though it pains me ever so much to do so. Alice Cooper, one of the best examples of a singer making it solo. Beck and Clapton count as successes. Clapton has outsold Beck consistantly, but as we know taste counts for very little. Some people like boring old farts. Are the Foo Fighters merely a Dave Grohl solo act? I say yes, yes they are, and a good one too.
I’m sure there’s more to say about this, so please comment away….

Comments:
You forgot the highly aclaimed and successful "Whitford/St. Holms", and Pete Way's "Wasted". These acts should be a comfort and inspiration to the future success of Gwen Stefani.
 
If not to her, then at least a comfort to her ex-band, and let us not forget Fastway....
 
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