The Rundown: Amazing Artists… And The Groups You Forgot They Were In

Do you ever have that moment where you’re listening to music and a song comes on that reminds you about a group that disappeared into the ether when one member of the group went solo?

Of course you do because there are tons of amazing artists that started off in bands or groups that you don’t remember at all or that have completely faded from your memory. Here are 10 such artists.

Joan Jett – formerly of The Runaways

Before she didn’t give a damn about her reputation, Jett rocked out with The Runaways, an all-girl outfit that didn’t have any real major success in North America, yet still ended up being the subject of a Hollywood biopic. The group officially broke up in 1979; she hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts with “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” four years later.

Lionel Richie – formerly of The Commodores

Current generations might only know him as Nicole Richie’s dad and if they do know about his musical background, it probably doesn’t extend beyond “Hello” and the rest of his hits from the ‘80s. What they probably don’t know is that Richie also compiled a collection of hits with The Commodores, including “Brick House” and “Easy ,” staples that your parents may or may not have made you listen to in the car when you were growing up.

Eric Clapton – formerly of a bunch of different bands

Clapton is the patron saint of this rundown because before he was making classic his MTV Unplugged album and everything that came after it, he was part of two bands that have been inducted into the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame (The Yardbirds and Cream), plus he fronted Derek and the Dominos, who gave the world “Layla,” which Clapton later rocked on the aforementioned acoustic MTV album.

George Michael – formerly of WHAM!

Quick – what was the name of the other guy in WHAM!? Don’t know? Of course you don’t because George Michael went on to be a major solo star (and then a tabloid star) and Andrew Ridgeley faded from memory. Even though people remember the group’s biggest hit – “Wake Me Up (Before You Go-Go)” – Michael’s solo success makes you forget he started in a group.

Robbie Williams – formerly of Take That

Speaking of British popstars… the interesting thing with Williams is that he wasn’t even the frontman for Take That, who enjoyed North American success with “Back for Good” in 1995. As a solo artist, Williams’ first seven albums all reached No. 1 in the UK and he had a whack of worldwide hits, including “Rock DJ,” “Angels” and “Feel.”

CeeLo Green – formerly of Goodie Mob

Before he was telling girls “Forget You” and even before he was teaming up with Danger Mouse to form Gnarls Barkley and unleash “Crazy” on the world, Thomas DeCarlo Callaway was part of the southern hip hop group Goodie Mob, whose debut album, Soul Food, was a classic. Look them up and thank me later.

Darius Rucker – formerly of Hootie & the Blowfish

Currently, Rucker is a country music star. In a previous life, he was the lead singer of the biggest band in the world. People can joke all they want about Hootie, but they blew up and busted out a ton of hits from their debut album, Cracked Rear View.

Michael Jackson – formerly of The Jackson 5

It’s not so much that people “forget” about The Jackson 5 because songs like “ABC” are eternal, but no one really connects that Michael to Thriller Michael or the guarded man he became later in life. Still, if you can name the other four members of The Jackson 5, I’ll give you a dollar. Go!

Justin Timberlake – formerly of *NSYNC

Do you think JC Chasez, Chris Kirkpatrick, Lance Bass and Joey Fatone knew deep down that the group’s hiatus and Justin releasing a solo album was going to mean the end of the group? They had to, right? When Timberlake debuted “Like I Love You” at the MTV VMA’s, that was it – *NSYNC was done, finished, kaput.

Beyonce – formerly of Destiny’s Child

Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams know what those NSYNC boys were feeling because when “Crazy in Love” hit, that was the end of DC too. There’s no going back after you drop something that fierce. The trio had a ton of success (after the group’s original success as a foursome), but when those horns hit… game over.

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte is a freelance journalist based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, where he lives with his wife and dog. In addition to his work here, he writes about sports for Complex Canada and covers the UFC for various outlets. His mom also still tells him what to do on a regular basis, even though he’s nearly 40. He tweets from @spencerkyte.

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