Hive Five: Musicians Who Outshine Their Lead Singers

Photo courtesy of Arista Records

There’s a scene in Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous where the fictional band, Stillwater, opens a box containing their first official t-shirts. When they do, they find that the band’s guitarist is prominent and in-focus on the shirt, and the rest of the dudes — including the lead singer — are just some blurry guys in the background. Such fate would be a crushing blow to any singer’s ego, but it doesn’t just happen in the movies: Hive presents five non-singing musicians who are more in focus than their vocalist.

1. Carlos Santana

The band bears his name, but Carlos Santana was never the singer. Fifteen other people took the mic for Santana over the years, plus he had an endless array of guest vocalists, coming to define the guitarist-as-band-leader concept.

2. Travis Barker

As much as we like to gaze at a sweet guitar solo, it’s much harder for a drummer to take the spotlight. Whether it’s due to his frenetic drumming style, his turn as a reality TV star on Meet The Barkers, or his guest appearances on records from everyone from Black Eyed Peas to Pink to Britney Spears, Barker is the biggest name in Blink 182. Case and point: Lil Wayne never shouted out Mark Hoppus or Tom DeLonge.

3. Dimebag Darrell

Darrell Lance Abbott, who played guitar in Texas metal heroes Pantera, may have gone neck-and-neck with singer Phil Anselmo for popularity during the band’s run, but the circumstances of Dimebag’s demise — he was shot on stage by a fan in 2004 — guaranteed him a permanent place in fans’ hearts and means he’ll remain the band’s most prominent member. R.I.P. Darrell.

4. Sid Vicious

Johnny Rotten is an icon himself, but as we’ve noted, nothing makes a musician more prominent in a band’s legacy than dying under unfortunate circumstances. Sid Vicious, who died of an overdose a few months after the murder of his partner Nancy Spungen, would definitely be the top answer on Family Feud if the question is “Name a member of the Sex Pistols.”

5. Angus Young

If Bon Scott had lived, maybe he’d be the defining figure of AC/DC, but his death in 1980 meant that lead guitarist Angus Young’s Australian-schoolboy outfit is forever the look of the band — but we’re going out on a limb and saying that Young’s place in AC/DC¬† fans heart comes down to fashion: no one makes shorts look cooler.

RELATED POSTS