10 Bands That Had a Standout Member Who Was Crucial to Their Fame

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Everybody loves a frontman or frontwoman in their bands, though not every band is renowned for their lead singer. However, certain rock stars become a group’s figurehead throughout their career, often eclipsing the lead singer entirely.

A recent online discussion asks online users to share their favorite non-singing members — the ones most fans think of when considering the band.

1. Steve Harris, Iron Maiden

Steve Harris Iron Maiden
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Iron Maiden’s lead soprano Bruce Dickinson is a hugely talented frontman synonymous with the English heavy metal pioneers. However, he wasn’t the original singer, and band founder Steve Harris maintains a stronger presence. He is famously a staunch West Ham supporter and even has his own soccer team, Iron Maiden F.C.

2. Ringo Starr, The Beatles

Ringo Starr
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I am not so sure about this one! However, one fan is convinced the Beatles’ drummer is the most important member, as kept their trademark Mersey Beat “anchored and consistent during periods of experimentation.” While this may be true, when I think of the band, each member has a strong appeal. The Beatles were individually irreplaceable.

3. Pete Townshend (and Keith Moon), The Who

Pete Townshend
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The Who was a revolutionary English rock band that bridged the gap between hard rock and pop music. One fan believes “Roger Daltrey is the least important member” of the band. Pete Townshend is famous for smashing his guitar, sliding on his knees, and taking live performances to new levels. He was also the voice of the band and a fan favorite. Keith Moon also deserves mention for inspiring the Muppets’ brilliant character, Animal.

4. Slash, Guns N’ Roses

PRAGUE - FEBRUARY 11: British legendary guitarist Saul Hudson alias Slash during performance in Prague, Czech republic, February 11, 2013
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Like Jagger and Richards, Tyler and Perry, or Mercury and May, the most famous rock bands tend to have amazing singer-guitarist chemistry. Guns N’ Roses’ lead guitarist Slash is by far the most popular member of the Sunset Strip Uber rockers. His ice-and-fire juxtaposition with Axle Rose makes the group devastatingly good.

5. Phil Collins

NEW YORK CITY, UNITED STATES - AUGUST 30 : Phil Collins performs at the 2016 US Open Grand Slam tennis tournament opening ceremony
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Peter Gabriel was Genesis’ founding vocalist and achieved fame with Genesis — even more as a solo artist. But Phil Collins stepped up to the plate — or, from behind the drums at least — to lead Genesis into their ’80s powerpop superstardom. For this reason, drummers love Phil Collins. Dave Grohl also made the leap to frontman — and into drummers’ hearts worldwide.

6. Angus Young, AC/DC

Madrid, Spain, 31 May 2015, Stadium Vicente Calderon, Live Concert of ACDC
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Bands that change their frontman often have a different band member as leader and icon. No musician meets this criterion more than the can-canning AC/DC guitarist Angus Young. So famous is the school uniform-wearing guitar legend that he has become a rock music trope. Hordes of Gibson SG-playing fans mimic his trademark, effervescent style.

7. Eddie Van Halen, Van Halen

WANTAGH, NY-AUG 14: Eddie Van Halen of Van Halen performs onstage at Jones Beach Theater on August 14, 2015 in Wantagh, New York.
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Perhaps the greatest rock guitarist of all time is the beating heart of his namesake disco metal supergroup. “I love Diamond Dave (Lee Roth),” comments a Van Halen lover, “but Van Halen wouldn’t have been Van Halen without my boy Eddie on guitar.” Van Halen was so big he wrote the most famous guitar solo in Michael Jackson’s discography for the smash hit “Beat It.”

8. Keith Richards, The Rolling Stones

East Rutherford, NJ/USA - August 1, 2019: Guitarist Keith Richards performs with the Rolling Stones on their No Filter tour.
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While the perennial bon viveur Keith Richards may not eclipse his contemporary, Mick Jagger, he is more iconic. One Stones fan takes the argument further. “The Stones with Jagger, Jones, or Richards,” they declare. “If they didn’t have one of those, no way they would be where they are in rock’n’roll lore.” Who can argue with that?

9. Jimmy Page, Led Zeppelin

Los Angeles - circa 1993: Rock star Jimmy Page, of the band Led Zeppelin, arrives at The Whiskey a Go-Go nightclub.
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Finally, another supergroup finishes the list: Led Zeppelin. The English band stormed the world in the ’70s with their mystical hard rock bordering on performance art. Lead guitarist Jimmy Page had incredible poise, stage presence, and talent. He is famous for playing with a violin bow to create the wall of beautiful noise fans still love today.

10. Dimebag Darrell, Pantera

DENVER - FEBRUARY 13: Darrell Dimebag Abbott guitarist for the Heavy Metal band Pantera performs live in concert February 13, 2001 at the Coliseum in Denver, CO.
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Although frontman Phil Anselmo was a hulking monster on stage, no guitarist had more presence than “Dimebag” Darrell Abbot. His casual surf shorts, frizzy hair, and huge beard were one thing; his guitar talent was something else. He made the instrument sound like a cosmic space weapon, hitting bone-shaking heaviness and melodic euphonies that earned him legendary metal-god status. Tragically, Dimebag lost his life after an angry fan shot him and several fans at a Damage Plan gig in 2004.

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