It is quite interesting to watch the fanfare around musical groups. Unlike the medieval times when individual composers such as Mozart and Beethoven were the most renowned, the public started shifting their attention to musical groups rather than solo artists during the beginning of the 20th century. A major reason for this could be the surplus energy that four individuals create on stage as compared to one person musing away.
The counterculture movement of the 60s furthered this phenomenon and started a long era of popular musical bands in all genres of music – rock, blues, soul, jazz, country – everything. Musicians were getting together and contributing to each other’s work. The most successful artists of all time, such as the Beatles, Pink Floyd and Queen were at the top of their glories during this period. This trend had to fade away, however, when artists started realising the limitations of working as a group. Personal commitments, creative differences, and sometimes simply the intoxication of sudden fame, were some of the primary reasons for bands to break up. As one can notice, we are again in a world where individual artists fare better than musical groups. Not everyone from the era of musical bands was able to transform themselves, adapt to the changing times, and have a successful solo career, but those who did, etched their names into the hearts of their listeners. These musicians met, and sometimes surpassed, the fame and acclaim that they acquired as part of a successful musical group. Let’s take a look at some of these musical giants.
1) Michael Jackson
No list about musicians making it big on their own can start without mentioning the King of Pop. Michael Jackson personified the glam and fame of a pop star, set the standard for future pop musicians, and became one of the most successful individual artists of all time. But before his rise to global recognition, Jackson was a part of his family pop band called The Jackson 5. The youngest of the group, Michael Jackson joined the band in 1965 at the age of 5 as a conga player, but quickly shifted to vocals and helped the group snatch their first talent show the very next year. The band went on to receive global acclaim and popularised Michael Jackson’s sensational vibe.
2) Paul McCartney
Next up on the list, is a close friend of Michael Jackson and a member of the highest-selling musical group of all time. After enjoying a decade-long fandom as one of the four most popular artists of his time, one would have expected McCartney to take a musical hiatus after leaving the Beatles. But he formed the band Wings with his wife Linda and although Paul lost her to cancer, the band still tours around the world and McCartney is still seen jumping around on the stage – even in his 70s. The most apparent proof of his successful solo career is the recognition he received for that work. Of the eighteen Grammys that he has won, eleven have been clinched by him during his solo career as a part of Wings. Moreover, he is the richest musician in the world, with a net worth of $1.3 billion.
It is not just rock bands that give birth to outstanding solo artists, there are also girl groups and boy bands. Destiny’s Child gave the world a lot of successful divas but the most popular of them all is definitely Beyoncé, the group’s lead singer. She transformed the way female artists are perceived and treated in the music industry. Beyoncé moved across genres and went on to appear in movies, television shows and even musical stage productions, not only as a performer but also as a director and producer. Her magnificent talent has been well appreciated and she holds several records for her accomplishments. While most artists only dream of winning a Grammy, Beyoncé currently holds the title of the most nominated and the second-most awarded female artist in the history of the Grammys.
4) Justin Timberlake
Another popular artist who emerged from a non-conventional group, like Beyoncé, is Justin Timberlake. Timberlake started his career at a very young age when he appeared on the hit television talent show Star Search. His amazing vocal performances on the show at the age of eleven bagged him the role of the ‘Mousekeeper’ on the popular kids entertainment show The All-New Mickey Mouse Club. A year after the Disney show, Timberlake formed a band called NSYNC and started touring Europe. They stuck together for seven years before the group hiatus in 2002, which paved the way for Timberlake’s solo career. He performed at the MTV Video Music Awards that year and never looked back after that. With hits after hits like ‘Cry Me A River’ and ‘Rock Your Body’, Timberlake brought R&B to the spotlight and inspired several artists to follow in his footsteps.
5) Dr. Dre
This list cannot be complete without mentioning one of the most successful musical personas of all time. Even though he has only released two solo albums in his entire career, at a current worth of almost $800 million, Dr. Dre is one of the top five richest musicians of the world. As a part of the famous hip-hop group N.W.A, Dre sparked the West Coast hip-hop culture and performed several political songs highlighting the issues faced by the African-American community – which was mostly police brutality. While all the members of N.W.A had great solo careers, only Ice Cube and Dre achieved massive global fame. Dre contributed to the music industry immensely by launching and producing some of the most successful rappers like Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar and the rap God himself, Eminem. However, he made most of his fortune by merchandising his brand. ‘Beats by Dr. Dre’, the most expensive and arguably the best headphones of its time, was bought by Apple for a record $3 billion, which quickly pushed Dre up the success ladder.