There are a few actors that are partial to shredding the metaphorical axe. Some are better than others, but here are nine actors that are awesome guitarists.
1. Jack Black
Ok, let’s get one of the most obvious ones out of the way first. Being one half of Tenacious D means Jack is slick on the guitar. Yes, it’s acoustic with Tenacious D, but remember School of Rock? The musical comedy is now iconic. It features Jack as a failed musician who lands a supply teacher job after posing as his teacher friend. He certainly shows off his skills in that film. He got his big break in the Jim Carrey film Cable Guy but has been wowing us with his acting and guitar skills ever since.
2. Tim Robbins
Actor Tim Robbins was one of the main guys in one of the greatest films ever made. In my humble opinion. The Shawshank Redemption was released to critical acclaim in 1994. And along with Morgan Freeman, Robbins delivered a superb performance. In addition to his acting skills, he’s also an accomplished guitarist. In fact, he’s a songwriter and respected folk artist. His band, The Rogues Gallery Band, have played to many sold-out crowds in recent years. Check him out online, it may just surprise you.
3. Hugh Laurie
As one of Britain’s finest actors, there isn’t much that Hugh Laurie hasn’t done. He’s had a professional partnership with Stephen Fry and was part of the comedy series Blackadder. But he’s also famous for the cynical doctor House, and he does it all with aplomb. But he’s also a fantastic singer/songwriter. With two blues albums under his belt, he plays festivals all around the globe. And he has a superb voice to go with it. Not to mention his obvious ability on the guitar. He has quite the collection of guitars as well, including a Gibson Flying V. I bet you weren’t expecting that. He is also competent on piano, drums, and saxophone.
4. Ricky Gervais
The comedian behind The Office, Extras and Afterlife is also an excellent guitarist. Those of you who are fans of his David Brent character would have seen his guitar skills in the recent film. He’s done a host of tutorials on YouTube as David Brent. He also had an early brush with fame in the early 80s in a New Wave pop-duo called Seona Dancing. Releasing two singles that flopped they quickly disbanded. Although one of the tracks became huge in the Philippines. Strange how life goes!
5. Adam Sandler
Adam Sandler has a long history of combining his talents on guitar and vocals with his comedy movies. His guitar has accompanied him on many movies over the years. Even his stand-up routines had a guitar nearby. If you’re not convinced of his six-string abilities, then check out a recent jam on American talk show Conan. He shreds through the solo of Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven. Another one worth checking out is a jam session he did with Don Cheadle. He can certainly make both the acoustic and electric guitars sing.
6. Kevin Bacon
Another actor who featured in one of my favourite films of all time, Tremors. He’s had a glittering film career over the past few decades, including many blockbusters. But did you know that he’s in a musical duo with his brother, Michael? They have the rather unoriginal name The Bacon Brothers, but there’s nothing unoriginal about the music they make. It’s a mixture of blues, folk, and bluegrass, and it’s rather good. Not only does Kevin have a great voice, but he also has the chops on the guitar. Check out the myriad of videos that are available online of their gigs. Those boys have talent.
7. Kevin Costner
I must admit, this one was a surprise. Who knew that Robin Hood could play the guitar, and play it very well? He’s won Oscars and has made a host of blockbusting films. But since 2007, he’s fronted his own country-rock band, Kevin Costner and the Modern West. As the genre suggests, its country-influenced soft rock, but don’t let that put you off. It’s rather good. The band have released four albums so far. 2012’s ‘Famous for Killing Each Other’ even made the top fifteen of the Billboard Country charts. Their song ‘Outlaws and Legends’ shows off Kevin’s vocal and guitar abilities perfectly.
8. Johnny Depp
Now, if you were going to pick an actor who would be a guitarist in a hard rock band, it would be Johnny Depp. He certainly looks the part. And who better than to form a band with than Alice Cooper and Joe Perry? They even managed to come up with a suitably evil name – Hollywood Vampires. Unlike Keanu Reeve’s band Dogstar (who were terrible), Hollywood Vampires have released one album since their inception in 2015. They’ve even played the Grammy awards. Apparently, Depp is that good on guitar that Joe Perry asked him for some lessons. Check the video on YouTube of him soloing with Alice Cooper. He’s got the skill on the strings.
9. Steve Martin
Ok, so this one is a bit tenuous as comedy acting legend Steve Martin plays the banjo. They can still have six strings, so he makes our list. Steve’s been making comedy albums for years. He’s also won Grammy awards for his bluegrass albums and co-wrote a musical that ended up on Broadway. That’s no mean feat. Check out the videos of him playing the banjo online. He has some serious picking skills that would be worthy of any guitar.
That’s our list of nine famous actors who are excellent guitarists, did we miss any? Let us know in the comments below.
Read about nine drummers who became lead singers HERE.
9 Drummers That Became Lead Singers
It’s widely regarded that drummers are the most important members of a band. That’s what a drummer will tell you anyway. Sometimes though, they move from the drum stool to the front of the stage. Here are nine drummers that became lead singers.
9. Dave Grohl
The often labelled ‘nicest man in rock’ is the first on our list. Starting life as a drummer in hardcore bands he then joined Nirvana and changed music history. His drumming with them was solid, and perfectly complemented the chaos of Kurt Cobain’s manic guitars. You’d think the legacy he left with Nirvana would be enough. But after Kurt’s tragic suicide, he set up Foo Fighters and departed the drum stool for lead vocals and guitars. And what a fine job he does as the Foo’s are one of the biggest rock bands on the planet. Imagine being that talented and nice. We’re not jealous. Ok, maybe a little.
8. Don Henley
Not content with being a founding member of one of America’s greatest bands, The Eagles, Don decided to go solo in 1980 after the band split. Ok, this one is a bit tenuous as Don shared vocal duties with fellow Eagle Glenn Frey, but bear with me. In 1980 he went out front into the bright lights of a solo artist and released a slew of cracking songs. Boys of Summer being his most well-known, and what a gem that was. It was a wise choice to leave those sticks behind.
7. Phil Collins
Perhaps one of the most famous names on our list, Phillip David Charles Collins started life behind the kit with prog-rockers Genesis. Although he did lead vocal duties whilst drumming after the departure of Peter Gabriel in 1976, it’s his solo career that really took off. Genesis had some big hits throughout the 80s with Collins’s drumming and singing. But the bigger hits came with his solo career from 1981 onwards. There’s no denying he has some great chops behind the kit, but his voice is as familiar as your favourite shoes. And so are his hits. ‘In the Air Tonight’ was his debut solo single. It doesn’t get much better than that.
6. Roger Taylor
The legendary Queen drummer is known for his ability to hit those falsetto notes on many a Queen hit throughout their career. But he also had a string of solo albums don’t you know? Since 1981 he has released five solo albums. His last being from 2013, so maybe there are more to come? He sang and played most of the instruments on the albums as well. That’s impressive. They are also pretty good albums too. Although he still performs behind the kit with Queen and Adam Lambert, he’s shown he can be centre stage as a lead singer.
5. Todd La Torre
If you’re not a fan of progressive metal, then this one may have passed you by. Todd La Torre is the current singer for the progressive metal band Queensryche. But it wasn’t always that way as he started off in his career behind the kit. Having started playing at fourteen, he spent the next twenty-four years playing in a variety of local original and cover bands. It was only in 2010 when he joined Florida-based metal band, Crimson Glory, as their lead singer. He then replaced Geoff Tate as the frontman of Queensryche in 2012, continuing to this day. Although he’s been at the front of the stage for twelve years, he says that he still feels like a drummer who likes to sing. You can take the drummer away from the kit, but he’ll always be a drummer.
4. Karen Carpenter
Although Karen sadly passed away at aged thirty-two, she managed to achieve a lot of success in such a short space of time. There had been various musical iterations with her brother Richard, but success came when they settled on The Carpenters. Karen was a very accomplished drummer and played live during the early years of the band. It was the success of her vocal abilities that ultimately took away from the kit and to the front of the stage. Not to mention the fact her small stature made it hard for fans to see her behind the kit on stage. If you want to be reminded of her drumming prowess, just have a look on YouTube. An incredible talent taken too soon.
3. Taylor Hawkins
Most famous for being the man behind the kit for the Foo Fighters, Taylor Hawkins has recently gone to the front. I wonder where he got that idea from? He’s released solo efforts with his own band Coattail Riders, and more recently, The Birds of Satan. There’s no denying Hawkins’ love of Queen and Roger Taylor, and his solo albums reflect that. He has a rather good voice and is certainly a showman. That is obvious from his energy behind the kind. I guess the natural progression is to take that to the front. I’m sure Mr Grohl gave him plenty of advice about going solo.
2. Ringo Starr
Ok, so John Lennon once said that Ringo wasn’t even the best drummer in The Beatles, but that’s a bit unfair. Ringo was great at what he did, holding the beat and keeping that groove. Serving the song is one of the most important things a drummer can do. And Ringo did that perfectly. He’s also gone on to release an astounding sixteen solo albums. Yes, his vocal range is limited, but a discography that big is impressive. He also secured two back-to-back number one hits in the US. Go Ringo!
1. Levon Helm
Levon Helm was the drummer in the critically acclaimed American roots rock band The Band. They backed Bob Dylan in the 60s but went on to have success under their own name. An innovative and creative drummer, Levon also had a deeply soulful and country-tinged voice. He used that voice to good use with six solo albums through the ’70s, ’80s and 2000s. He won not one, but two Grammy awards for his albums and was also a film actor. Sadly, he died in 2012, but what a musical legacy he leaves behind.
That’s our list of nine drummers who became lead singers, did we miss any? Let us know in the comments below.
Read about seven underrated rock albums that defined the 2000’s HERE.
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