While creating something you’re truly passionate about, you’re never really sure whether it will work out or not. Throughout history, the biggest success stories almost always have one thing in common – their main goals were never to become iconic, the goal was to create art as well as something people would truly enjoy. So, this list compiled by Bored Panda dives into the past of the most famous bands in history while looking at how all of them looked before fame struck – from the innocent Bee Gees to hardcore partying with Metallica – this list shows how life was for these iconic bands before they ever dreamed about becoming as big as they did.
Just like most of the bands in this list, Linkin Park was founded by high school friends: Mike Shinoda, Rob Bourdon, and Brad Delson. The band later named themselves Linkin Park as an homage to Lincoln Park in Santa Monica. The band wanted to keep the name “Lincoln Park” but since they also needed an Internet domain, they used linkinpark.com. The top photo is actually the first photo of the band ever taken.
John Lennon formed a group with his friends from Quarry Bank High School in Liverpool back in 1957. The first original name of the band was the Blackjacks. They later changed it to the Quarrymen but had to change it once again after realizing there was already a local group with the same name.
This band definitely has a long list of names they tried and experimented with before settling on the iconic name “The Beatles”. As a tribute to Buddy Holly and The Crickets, the band named themselves the Beatals, later changed it to Silver Beetles, then to Silver Beatles, and finally, The Beatles.
This iconic photo of the band is believed to be taken back in 1958, just a year after the band was formed. The Beatles were captured at the wedding reception of Paul’s cousin. At the moment, George has just turned 15, Paul is 15 as well, and John is 17 years old.
Depeche Mode was formed in 1977 by two schoolmates, Vince Clarke and Andy Fletcher, who were influenced by the band, The Cure. Back in the day, the band was called No Romance In China. Funnily enough, Fletcher later commented he was in the band simply because he played the guitar and had a bass so they forced him to play. We bet he did not feel sorry for his decision when later on, Depeche Mode became one of the most influential bands of all time.
The Bees Gees who were first called the Rattlesnakes were formed around 1958. What was first a skiffle/rock-and-roll group, later, in 1957, shifted to harmonizing. There is a story about how the Bee Gees got famous that is believed to be true – the band was planning to lip sync to a record in a local cinema but right before their performance, their record broke so the brothers were forced to sing live. The story is that everybody loved their performance so much, they decided to continue singing live.
The band first began back in 1981 when Danish-born drummer Lars Ulrich placed an ad in a newspaper which stated: “Drummer looking for other metal musicians to jam with Tygers of Pan Tang, Diamond Head and Iron Maiden.” Lars received a response from guitarists James Hetfield and Hugh Tanner. The band was officially formed in October 28, 1981. The band name Metallica was suggested by Ulrich’s friend who was brainstorming names and came up with Metallica and MetalMania.
This American rock band was formed in 1986 by 14-year-old friends Billie Joe Armstrong and Mike Dirnt and they first called themselves Sweet Children. The band first played at a DIY venue called “924 Gilman Street” in California but the venue banned them once Green Day signed a record deal with a major label called Reprise Records. Of course, the band wasn’t really sad about it!
Once again, just like many of the bands in this list, Rolling Stones started between two school friends – Keith Richards and Mick Jagger. The childhood friends were separated in 1950 when Jagger moved with his family to Wilmington, Kent. He met Richards 11 years later in Dartford railway station. Jagger was carrying The Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters records which revealed that the friends shared a great interest in music. Soon after this encounter, their musical career began together.
According to Richards, Brian Jones came up with the band’s name during a phone call with Jazz News. When he was asked what the band is called, Jones saw Muddy Waters – LP on the floor and one of the tracks was “Rollin’ Stone”.
AC/DC was formed back in 1973 by Malcolm and Angus Young with bassist Larry Van Kriedt, vocalist Dave Evans, and Colin Burgess as a drummer. Their first concert was booked at a nightclub on New Year’s Eve, the same year the band started playing together. It took only one year for the band to build a strong reputation and in 1974, they received an offer to perform at Michael Browning’s club called Hard Rock. Browning did not like the band’s glam-rock image that they were carrying at that time. He also believed that Evans was not the right singer for the band. Quickly after this, the band lost their first manager and Browning agreed to become one. They also got rid of their glam-rock image and changed it to more of a blues-rock sound. Finally, all the members agreed that Evans was not a suitable front man for the group.
Formed in 1981, Beastie Boys managed to reach a worldwide success and 4 years later they were already touring alongside Madonna. The band managed to sell 26 million records in the United Sates and 50 million records worldwide which made them the biggest-selling rap group.
Nine Inch Nails
Nine Inch Nails was formed back in 1988 in Cleveland, Ohio. The band was formed by the talented multi-instrumentalist Trent Reznor who remained the band’s only official member until 2016 when Atticus Ross joined him. While working on his early recordings, Reznor was unable to find a band that would exceed his expectations so inspired by Prince, Reznor played all of the instruments himself except for drums.
The band was formed in 1985 and it was first called “On a Friday” referencing their usual rehearsal day in their school’s music room. Oh, and fun fact, the vocals of the song “Planet Telex” were recorded while lying on the floor as the lead singer Thom Yorke was completely drunk on wine at the time.
Iron Maiden was formed back in 1975 on Christmas Day by bassist Steve Harris. The name of the band comes from a film adaption of The Man in The Iron Mask from the novel by Alexandre Dumas. It took four years for Iron Maiden to receive any recognition.
Formed in 1976, the English rock band The Cure managed to succeed a worldwide success, but the road was not easy. After releasing their album “Pornography” in 1982, the band was aiming to move past their gloomy reputation and they sure succeeded. Their album received a more commercial popularity which lead to a growing fame. The Cure is also one of a few bands in the list who still manage to remain relevant in today’s music industry. Currently, they are creating their 14th album and hope to release it by the end of the year.
R.E.M. first performed their show on April 5, 1980 in deconsentrated Episcopal church in Athens, at that time the band did not have a name. Before settling for R.E.M. the band chose between such names like Twisted Kites, Cans of Piss and Negro Eyes. Finally, the band decided to stay with R.E.M. which stands for “rapid eye movement” which is the dream stage of sleep, the name was selected randomly from a dictionary.
U2 formed in 1976 when Larry Mullen Jr, a 14-year-old student from Dublin posted a note on the school notice board while searching for musicians for his new band. Mullen received six responses to his note, and on September 25th the band began their practice in Mullen’s kitchen. Paul Hewson “Bono” was chosen as the lead vocals, David Evans “The Edge” and his older brother Dik Evans played the guitars, Adam Clayton played the bass guitar. Mullen later described the band as “The Larry Mullen Band” but after Bono showed up and blew everyone away he quickly realized there is no chance of him being the front-man of the group.
Back in 1964, Steven Tyler formed his own band called Strangeurs, later changing the name to Chain Reaction. Meanwhile, Perry and Hamilton formed a band called Jam Band. In 1970, both of the bands played at the same gig and Tyler was amazed by Jam Band’s sound so he came up with the idea to combine the two bands. Before combining the bands, Tyler had one rule – he will no longer play drums and he would take part as the frontman and lead vocalist of the band.
Krammer came up with the name “Aerosmith” after listening to Harry Nilsson’s album, Aerial Ballet.
High school friends Rick Savage, Tony Kenning and Pete Willis formed their band called Atomic Mass in 1977. Joe Elliot auditioned for the role of guitarist at the band but during his audition it was decided that he is better as a lead singer. The name “Def Leppard” was proposed by Elliott… well, not exactly. Actually, he proposed the name “Deaf Leopard” – a name he came up with while writing reviews for imaginary rock bands in his English class. The name was modified in order to make it sound less like that of a punk band.
Pixies were formed in 1986 in Boston, Massachusetts by Black Francis, Joey Santiago, Kim Deal and David Lovering. The band did stop their career from 1993 until 2004. Interestingly enough, Pixies’ popularity grew after the band broke-up which led to a sold-out tour the same year they reunited.
Back in 1969, the band Judas Priest was formed. The band’s bassist Brian “Bruno” Stapenhill came up with the band’s name from Bob Dylan’s song “The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest”.
The Sex Pistols
Sex Pistols is definitely one of the most iconic and most controversial bands in this list. While their initial career lasted just two and a half years, the band did manage to be remembered as one of the most influential bands in the history that also initiated the punk movement in the UK. Fun fact, Sex Pistols were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but they did not attend the ceremony and called the museum “a piss stain”.