The Musicians That Went Solo But Failed

The Musicians That Went Solo But Failed | I Love Classic Rock Videos

via CBS Sunday Morning / Youtube

Sometimes when a band breaks up or goes on a hiatus, we usually see its members venture on with solo careers. We can name a whole lot of successful solo artists like Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson, or Neil Young, but what about those artists who failed in achieving superstardom much like they were in their respective bands? We’ll take a look at these 10 musicians below who took a shot out of a solo career but didn’t attain the popularity they once had when they were still in a group.


After the breakup of The Smiths in 1987, Morrissey went on to have a successful solo career, even though much of his solo material was mediocre.

Ray Manzarek

After vocalist Jim Morrison’s untimely demise in 1971, the band continued for a period with only Ray Manzarek, Robbie Krieger, and John Densmore. Additionally, Manzarek attempted a solo career but flopped.

Boy George

In 1986, when Culture Club broke up, Boy George was already deeply mired in heroin addiction. During the next several years, he recorded several solo albums after enrolling in a rehabilitation program. However, they were not as groundbreaking as Culture Club, and his popularity quickly faded.

Debbie Harry

Blondie became the face of the pioneering new wave scene in the streets of New York, but by the year 1980, when it died down Debbie Harry tried to make things work still by producing her solo album, yet failed greatly.

David Crosby

David Crosby was a founding member of the Byrds and a member of the folk-rock combo group Crosby, Stills, Nash (& Young) in the ’70s.  Crosby’s solo career was not as fruitful as those of the two groups he was a part of, especially when contrasted with Neil Young and Stephen Stills.

Noel Gallagher

Although Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds enjoyed some success throughout the years, nothing and no band could ever compare to his music with Liam Gallagher and Oasis.


Sting’s solo career began after his band, The Police, disbanded in 1984. Although commercially successful, his solo album’s sound was not on par with that of The Police. Say what you want, but The Police version of Sting was far greater than as a solo artist.

Peter Gabriel

The period Peter Gabriel spent with the progressive rock forerunners Genesis is largely responsible for his rise to fame. Gabriel’s live orchestrations propelled Genesis to stardom as a band known for their dramatic live shows. Despite this, Gabriel left the band in 1975 to devote more time to his family. His solo career, which includes the hits “Solsbury Hill” and “So,” has been successful, but it hasn’t come close to what his ex-bandmate Phil Collins has accomplished or the promise Genesis once possessed.

Roger Waters

According to reports, Roger Waters and the rest of Pink Floyd parted ways in 1985 for artistic disagreements. After that, he released a run of solo albums, yet the mammoth success of Pink Floyd wasn’t mirrored in his solo career.

David Lee Roth

For the most part, David Lee Roth is recognized for his work as the main singer for Van Halen. Since the group’s formation in 1974, he has been a part of it three times, each time contributing vocals and playing an instrument. On the surface, Roth also seems to have achieved considerable financial success through his endeavors. A lot of his solo work, though, sounds terrible.