10 Rock Gods — Before They Were Famous

Sometimes artists come into the public eye fully formed…other times, not so much.

Below, check out 10 famous musicians who went through some interesting growing pains before becoming hard rock and metal gods.

1. Tony Iommi

Back when Black Sabbath were still called Earth, Tony Iommi stepped out for a moment to play with fellow British rockers (and flute enthusiasts), Jethro Tull. The pairing was short lived—Iommi eventually returned to his own band, which soon changed their name to Sabbath—but not before he appeared with Tull on the Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus in 1968, performing “A Song for Jeffrey.”

2. Eric Adams

Long before the Manowar vocalist donned a loincloth and began declaring war on false metal, he performed with a band called Meet the Kids, who in 1965 recorded a slice of bubblegum pop called “Lovin’ Everyday." Adams, then known by his given name, Louis Marullo, was just 11 years old at the time.

3. Ivan Moody

In the early 2000s, nu-metal act Motograter were known mostly for bizarre body paint and their use of the homemade instrument called the motograter. These days, they're best known as the band that featured a pre-Five Finger Death Punch Ivan Moody on vocals. This track, “Down,” is from their 2003 self-titled debut, their only album with Moody.

4. Bruce Dickinson

Before he joined Iron Maiden and became one of the most renowned singers in all of heavy metal, Bruce Dickinson was Bruce Bruce, frontman for fellow New Wave of British Heavy Metal act Samson. Here he is with the group giving a proto-Spinal Tap performance of “Hard Times” and “Vice Versa,” complete with fighting roadie and masked drummer Thunderstick.

5. Robert Trujillo

Over the years the Metallica bassist has played with everyone from Ozzy Osbourne to Judas Priest guitarist Glenn Tipton to Alice in Chains’ Jerry Cantrell. But he got his start with hardcore thrashers Suicidal Tendencies, joining the band in 1989. This song, “Waking the Dead,” is from his first album with ST, 1989’s ‘Controlled By Hatred/Feel Like Shit…Déjà Vu.’

6. Ronnie James Dio

Ronald Padavona began playing music in upstate New York all the way back in the 1950s. By the early Sixties, he had cycled through several groups before finding some local success with this band, Ronnie and the Red Caps (here performing a cover of Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say”). From there, it was a long road from Ronnie Dio and the Prophets, to the Electric Elves, to Elf, to Rainbow, and finally, Black Sabbath and a legendary solo career.

7. Sebastian Bach

Prior to moving to New Jersey and joining Skid Row, a teenaged Sebastian Bach sang for Canadian act Madam X. And if you think glam bands in the U.S. had big hair in the Eighties, check out the insane lion’s mane Bach is sporting in this 1987 Canadian interview.

8. Maynard James Keenan

In the Eighties, Keenan performed with the Michigan post-rock band Children of the Anachronistic Dynasty. And even though Tool was still a few years away, he was already playing an embryonic version of their breakthrough hit, “Sober.”

9. Mike Patton

These days, Mr. Bungle's cred is well established, but back in the 80s, before Mike Patton was the singer for Faith No More, they were just a bunch of Northern California punk-funk-experimental-music-loving weirdos. Here they are doing a medley that includes Stevie Wonder’s “Superstitious,” Blondie’s “Rapture” and their own “The Girls of Porn,” in a performance from the same year Patton would join Faith No More.

10. Nikki Sixx

In the Seventies and early Eighties, long-running L.A. band London served as an incubator of sorts for plenty of future Sunset Strip royalty, including W.A.S.P. frontman Blackie Lawless, Guns N’ Roses guitarist Izzy Stradlin, Cinderella drummer Fred Coury and, most notably, Motley Crue mastermind Nikki Sixx. Here’s a clip of a young Sixx performing live with the band.

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.