Music
6.4k voters

The Best Solo Artists Who Used to Front a Band

Updated August 26, 2020 89.7k votes 6.4k voters 123.2k views178 items

List RulesOnly musicians who were the lead singers of other bands. Rank them on their solo careers.

Music groups, no matter how successful they may become, tend to have an expiration date. When a rock band or rap group eventually breaks up, not too many of its members go on to have solo success. This list, however, celebrates that small group of musicians who have managed to break out as a solo artist and reach the top on their own. From Sting to Stevie Nicks, every musician on this list are solo artists who used to front a band.

Icons like Neil Young, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Joan Jett and Ozzy Osbourne are great examples of musicians who had success with an earlier outfit but continued on to achieve success on their own as well. All of these artists have been critically and commercially lauded for their solo work and sometimes, their solo material is greater and more popular than the output they had with their original band. The aforementioned artists are great examples of this.

There are plenty of great solo singers on this list who had varying degrees of success with their first band or group or collective. But, we're trying to measure who had the best solo career, not overall career. That's why the frontmen or frontwomen on this list should be judged primarily on their solo careers.

This is the list of the best solo artists who used to front a band. If you notice someone is missing from the list, feel free to add him or her as you deem fit. Vote or re-rank this list according to the artist's solo career only.
Photo:
...more
  • Phil Collins1
    1,164
    925
    Genesis
    Amazon buy button

    More Phil Collins 

    The Best Phil Collins Songs of All Time#36 of 532 The Best Drummers Of All Time

  • Paul Simon2
    1,658
    953
    Simon and Garfunkel
    Amazon buy button

    More Paul Simon 

    The Best Paul Simon Solo Songs of All Time#172 of 542 The Greatest Guitarists Of All Time

  • Stevie Nicks3
    Fleetwood Mac
    Amazon buy button

    More Stevie Nicks 

    Fascinating Stories From Stevie Nicks’s Love Life#108 of 199 Famous Women You'd Want to Have a Beer With

  • Michael Jackson4
    1,454
    1,296
    The Jackson 5
    Amazon buy button

    More Michael Jackson 

    The Best Michael Jackson Songs of All TimeThe Most Bizarre Things At Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch

  • Paul McCartney5
    1,264
    1,131
    The Beatles
    Amazon buy button

    More Paul McCartney 

    The Best Paul McCartney Songs#85 of 269 The Most Trustworthy Celebrities in the World

  • Lionel Richie6
    The Commodores
    Amazon buy button

    More Lionel Richie 

    The Best Lionel Richie Albums of All Time#222 of 355 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

  • Sting7
    922
    775
    The Police
    Amazon buy button

    More Sting 

    #12 of 94 The Best Singers Who Only Need to Go By One Name#341 of 403 Famous Role Models We'd Like to Meet In Person

  • Rod Stewart8
    The Faces, Jeff Beck Group
    Amazon buy button

    More Rod Stewart 

    The Best Rod Stewart Albums of All Time#489 of 904 Celebrity Death Pool 2021

  • Eric Clapton9
    1,045
    957
    Derek and the Dominos, The Yardbirds, Cream
    Amazon buy button

    More Eric Clapton 

    All the Drugs, Murder, Adultery, and Disaster Around Eric Clapton's Layla#24 of 139 Bands Or Artists With Five Great Albums

  • Peter Gabriel10
    Genesis
    Amazon buy button

    More Peter Gabriel 

    The Best Peter Gabriel Songs of All Time#129 of 383 The Greatest Musical Artists of the '90s

  • George Michael11
    Wham!
    Amazon buy button

    More George Michael 

    #46 of 525 Which Artist Would You Bring Back From The Dead To Write One More Song?#27 of 271 The Sexiest Musical Artists of All Time

  • John Lennon12
    1,165
    1,105
    The Beatles
    Amazon buy button

    More John Lennon 

    28 Facts You Didn't Know About John Lennon#64 of 136 Famous Accordionists

  • Neil Young13
    CSNY, Buffalo Springfield
    Amazon buy button

    More Neil Young 

    The Best Neil Young Albums of All Time16 Interesting Facts About Neil Young You May Not Know

  • Ozzy Osbourne14
    Black Sabbath
    Amazon buy button

    More Ozzy Osbourne 

    Inside Ozzy Osbourne's Rough-And-Tumble Youth#258 of 439 Famous Men You'd Want to Have a Beer With

  • Roy Orbison15
    Amazon buy button

    More Roy Orbison 

    The Best Roy Orbison Albums of All Time#139 of 291 The Top Country Artists of All Time

  • Don Henley16
    The Eagles
    Amazon buy button

    More Don Henley 

    The Best Don Henley Albums of All Time#854 of 1,355 The Greatest Minds of All Time

  • Diana Ross17
    The Supremes
    Amazon buy button

    More Diana Ross 

    #294 of 349 The Best American Actresses Working Today#22 of 100 The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time

  • Billy Idol18
    Generation X
    Amazon buy button

    More Billy Idol 

    #116 of 603 The Best Rock Vocalists#221 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

  • Freddie Mercury19
    1,091
    1,120
    Amazon buy button

    More Freddie Mercury 

    All About Mary Austin, The Love Of Freddie Mercury's Life#1 of 739 The Best Singers of All Time

  • George Harrison20
    The Beatles, Traveling Wilburies
    Amazon buy button

    More George Harrison 

    The Best George Harrison Albums of All Time#32 of 639 The Greatest Lead Guitarists Of All Time

  • Alice Cooper21
    Amazon buy button

    More Alice Cooper 

    The Best Alice Cooper Albums of All Time#5 of 66 The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever

  • Justin Timberlake22
    'N Sync
    Amazon buy button

    More Justin Timberlake 

    The Best Songs Ft. Justin Timberlake#304 of 339 The Funniest People Of All Time

  • Tina Turner23
    Amazon buy button

    More Tina Turner 

    The Best Tina Turner Songs#25 of 602 The Best Female Vocalists Ever

  • Pras24
    219
    145
    The Fugees
    Amazon buy button

    More Pras 

    #162 of 235 The Best New York Rappers#27 of 30 A Definitive Ranking of Rappers as Actors

  • Beyoncé25
    802
    864
    Destiny's Child
    Amazon buy button

    More Beyoncé Knowles 

    The Best Songs Ft. Beyonce#3 of 213 The Best Current Female Singers