Before They Were Heavy: Surprising Starts in Metal Music

A lot of legendary hard rock and heavy metal performers had their start in decidedly un-heavy bands. Especially for musicians who came of age when The Beatles rose to fame, boppin' in a '60s boy band was a surprisingly common first taste of musical fame. Here are a few heavy icons who had surprisingly easy-listening starts... and a couple of easy-listening icons who started off surprisingly loud!

Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister

Lemmy, like many rockers of his era, namechecked The Beatles and Little Richard as his earliest influences. Though there are no shades of the speedfreak gravelpit sound he'd helm for 40 years, in 1966 he was slinging his bass for The Rockin' Vickers on this toe tapper, "Dandy":

Ronnie James Dio

Before he became a heavy metal Dio (Italian for "god"), Ronnie James Padavona had more in common with another Italian American crooner, Dion, singing sweet songs with his group. Initially known as The Vegas Kings, then Ronnie and the Rumblers, and eventually Ronnie and the Red Caps, you'll get a cavity from their 1961 track, "An Angel is Missing":

Bon Scott

The original, and still mourned, lead singer of AC/DC seemed surprised by the screaming girls as he provided backup harmonies on this cover of "Build Me Up Buttercup" performed by his Perth, Australia boy band The Valentines in 1969:

Alice Cooper

Before he was Alice, teenaged Vincent Furnier once competed in his high school talent show as a member of The Earwigs, a Beatles parody band. That band eventually became The Spiders, a respectable garage rock outfit, as evidenced on this 1966 track called "Don't Blow Your Mind":

Iggy Pop

Speaking of talent shows, this punk progenitor got his start drumming in a garage rock band created for that same purpose. The Iguanas had a mild amount of fame in Iggy's home state of Michigan, but he soon went on to much heavier things. Check out his 1965 cover of Bo Diddley's "Mona" here:

Trent Reznor

Though you can hear the faintest shades of what was to come, there's something disconcerting about seeing Trent Reznor's mid-80s New Romantic hairdo bounce in time to his early band. Leaning into that trendy synthpop sound, this is a 1985 TV report on Exotic Birds:

Billy Joel

Before becoming your granddad's favourite, the Piano Man was in a proggy psych metal duo called Attila. Things were peachy until Joel ran away with his collaborator's wife, but we still have this 1970 self-titled record to remind us of what could have been:

Michael Bolton

Michael Bolton wasn't always makeout music for the adult contemporary set. In fact, he used to be a hard rock singer, and opened for Ozzy on tour. Here he is, hair in full effect, on "Everybody's Crazy" from 1985, before his sound took a different direction:

Have any other secret heavy metal starts to share, or any other non-metal "before they were famous" tidbits you know about? Share with @CJLO1690AM on Facebook or Twitter!