The essence of a rock star, just what is it? An ideal combination of passion and love for the music - maybe not necessary, but sure. More importantly, it’s that flawless, only acquired through more than a few jaunts around the block, zero-f*cks given look that they emanate through their pores in everything they do. You can look far and wide across today’s artists and they’re easily spottable: Rihanna, Anthony Kiedis, Kanye, Beyoncé, Bono, Miley - or, wait, she’s just being 21.
From the looks of it now, you’d never guess these superstars were ever “normal” - and that’s because they were destined to be bigger than life from the start. Check out some of the humble beginnings of these musicians when they were in the Ones To Watch phase.
Before she would go on to make “Vogue,” kiss Britney and Christina in front of millions, and shatter record sales and sexual norms, Madonna was drummer for a little new wave dance group called Breakfast Club, fronted by her bf at the time, Dan Gilroy. Madonna then left the group (and the guy) to form her own band, Emmy and the Emmys, before realizing that marketing herself as a solo act was the way to go.
Photo: Paul Slattery
4. Joy Division
The band that defined a generation of post-punk music recorded an entire album as Warsaw in 1978, but were ultimately disappointed in RCA’s post-production handling of the tracks. Warsaw was left in the dust bin, but Joy Division would use four songs off of it in an EP titled An Ideal for Living. In other words, good one, RCA!
While Matt Bellamy & co. may be the quintessence of smug rock stars selling out arenas these days, the group trooped along for a good while before making a mainstream breakthrough. Bellamy and guitarist Dominic Howard won a local battle of the bands at Teignmouth Community College under the name Rocket Baby Dolls before deciding to drop out and officially start Muse.
Photo: Philip Swift
2. The Black Keys
While Dan Auerbach was making his dropped-outta-college-for-music rounds in the local dive bar scene around Akron, future bandmate Patrick Carney Carney played in Deprogrammers, Example Figure 3 and Christopher Whispers - yes they’re all band names - in Kent, Ohio, before the two formed The Black Keys.
1. Lana Del Rey
Behind the fake lips and perfectly botoxed chin, cheeks, and forehead of indie queen Lana Del Rey lies a grungey blonde who went by Lizzy Grant and made her own DIY music videos.