10 Famous Rock Stars' Pre-Fame Bands

Videos Of Famous Rock Musicians' Bands Before They Made It Big

Most famous musicians don't "make it" with their first band. As AC/DC sang, "It's a long way to the top if you wanna rock 'n' roll." Here are ten videos, from camcorder videos to Public-access television videos to well-produced MTV videos, that show now famous musicians in bands that weren't quite ready for "the big time."

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Eddie Vedder's pre-Pearl Jam band Bad Radio

Eddie Vedder. Mick Hutson-Redferns-Getty Images

Eddie Vedder's San Diego pre-Pearl Jam band Bad Radio played a blend of rock and funk. This 1989 rendition of Vedder's "Better Man" deviates very little from the 1994 Pearl Jam classic released on the Vitology album. This early live video rendition of "Better Man" is truly remarkable. It shows that Vedder's song was completed 5 years before it was a hit. 

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Maynard James Keenan's pre-Tool band Children of the Anachronistic Dynasty

Maynard James Keenan. Tim Mosenfelder-Getty Images

Maynard James Keenan was the lead singer for the pre-Tool band Children of the Anachronistic Dynasty (C.A.D.) that combined rock and funk. The early Red Hot Chili Peppers funk-rock style influenced about a third of the bands on this list. This psychedelic 1987 C.A.D. Public-access TV video features some early lyrics later used for Tool's breakthrough 1993 hit "Sober."

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Chester Bennington's pre-Linkin Park band Grey Daze

Chester Bennington. Frank Micelotta-Getty Images

Back before he started shaving his head, singer Chester Bennington sang for the Phoenix, Arizona alternative band Grey Daze. This 1996 video captures Bennington with long dead locks at one of Grey Daze's club shows. Although Bennington is virtually unrecognizable in this video, his powerful voice is unmistakable. After Grey Daze dissolved in 1998, Chester flew to Los Angeles in 1999 to audition for the band Xero. After Bennington nailed the audition, Xero soon changed their name to Hybrid Theory then Linkin Park. The band kept Hybrid Theory as their debut album title and it became the best selling debut album of the 21st Century.

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Tom Morello's pre-Rage Against the Machine/Audioslave band Lock Up

Tom Morello. Lindsay Brice-Getty Images

Tom Morello played guitar with the funk-rock band Lock Up from 1989 to 1990. In this 1990 video Lock Up have more in common with the Spin Doctors than Rage Against the Machine or Audioslave. Tom sports his trademark "Arm The Homeless" blue guitar before he took a Sharpie marker to it. Tom was still a serious riffmeister even if Lock Up wasn't the ideal band for him. It took Tom one more year to fully realize his talents in Rage Against the Machine. 

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Trent Reznor's pre-Nine Inch Nails band Exotic Birds

Trent Reznor. Frank Micelotta-Getty Images

Trent Reznor delved into synthpop with his early band Exotic Birds who are featured in this 1985 Cleveland, Ohio local news profile video. In 1988 Reznor tired of collaborating and decided to work as a janitor in exchange for free late night studio time to record his own music. Recording all the instruments and vocals himself Reznor created his own unique blend of industrial rock calling his solo project Nine Inch Nails.

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Pre-Pearl Jam/Mudhoney band Green River

Green River reunion. Lee LeFever-Creative Commons

Before Mother Love Bone, Temple of the Dog, and Pearl Jam, bassist Jeff Ament and guitarist Stone Gossard played in Green River with future Mudhoney frontman Mark Arm. Due to Ament and Gossard wanting to pursue a major-label record deal and Arm wanting to remain on an independent label Green River dissolved in October 1987. Green River released their only LP Rehab Doll in June 1988 and have become an influential Seattle band. The band played reunion shows in 2008 and 2009. This 1986 live video is a good example of Mudhoney's sound. 

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Dave Grohl's pre-Nirvana/Foo Fighters band Dain Bramage

Dave Grohl. Michel Linssen-Getty-Images

In the Washingtin D.C. post-punk band Dain Bramage sixteen-year-old Dave Grohl's drumming talents were already fully realized as shown in this 1985 camcorder video recorded by Dave's Mom. One year later Dave quit high school to tour with the post-hardcore band Scream. In 1990 Grohl joined Nirvana. In 1994 he recorded the first Foo Fighters album by himself and the rest is history.

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William DuVall's pre-Alice In Chains band Comes with the Fall

William Duvall. Nigel Crane-Getty Images

Current Alice In Chains vocalist/guitarist William DuVall previously lead the Atlanta, Georgia based hard rock band Comes with the Fall as shown in this 2002 video. Comes with the Fall served as Jerry Cantrell's backing band for his 2002 Degradation Trip tour. DuVall joined Alice In Chains for their reunion shows in 2006 and became an official band member in 2008. He has toured with and recorded two studio albums with Alice in Chains.

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Shriley Manson's pre-Garbage band Angelfish

Shirley Manson. Steve Eichner-Getty Images

Producers/musicians Butch Vig (Nirvana, Foo Fighters, et. al.), Steve Marker, and Duke Erikson were looking for a female singer for their new band. Marker saw this 1994 video by Scottish band Angelfish on MTV's "120 Minutes" Alternative Music program the only time it was aired and was impressed by singer Shirley Manson. After a lengthy audition and courting process Shirley became Garbage's lead singer. 

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Pre-Red Hot Chili Peppers/Queens of the Stone Age members band What Is This

What Is This. Dar4765-Creative-Commons

The band What Is This was led by singer/guitarist Alain Johannes (Queens of the Stone Age, Chris Cornell, Them Crocked Vultures, Eleven) and included Red Hot Chili Peppers' guitarist Hillel Slovak and drummer Jack Irons. Since What Is This got a record deal before the Chili Peppers, Hillel and Jack left RHCP for Alain's band featured in this 1984 video. Consequentially The Red Hot Chili Peppers' 1984 debut album was recorded with a different guitarist and drummer. When What Is This didn't take off, Slovak and Irons both eventually returned to the Chili Peppers.