Great Overall Career Arc -- Group/Solo

I'm interested in opinions on great artist who started out in a great band(s) and then went on to have equally great or better solo careers. The starting band can be relatively short-lived (at least 2 albums), but the solo career should be long-lived, or vice versa.

An obvious example would be John Lennon, but after thinking about it I don't think he qualifies. Is his solo work really as good or better than his original group work? I think the same applies to Brian Wilson, Smokey Robinson, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, George Clinton or Sting.

I'm thinking more along the lines of Neil Young (Buffalo Springfield), Bryan Ferry (Roxy Music), Gram Parsons (Byrds & Flying Burrito Bros.), Jeff Beck (Yardbirds), Micheal Jackson (Jackson 5), Dave Alvin (Blasters) or even Robin Trower (Procol Harum).

Who would you include on this list?
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I'll play!

Karl Wallinger started with The Waterboys then formed World Party as his "solo" vehicle (think Paul McCartney's Wings)

Richard Thompson started with Fairport Convention and now enjoys a great solo career after a stint performing with his wife, Linda

Sonny Landreth started out with Zachary Richard's zydeco band, then joined John Hiatt, then started a great solo career

My own personal quirk would add Lindsey Buckingham, whose last 3 solo records and 2 live solo records are personal favorites while he maintains the on and off gig with Fleetwood Mac.

Mark Knopfler(Dire Straits)
Natalie Merchant(10,000 Maniacs)
Ozzy Osbourne(Black Sabbath)
Gerry Rafferty(Stealers Wheel)
Steve Winwood(Traffic)
Toscanni started out a violin player in opera orchestra and had a 60 yr career after that as a solo.
Van Morrison (Them)
Peter Gabriel from Genesis
Steve Hackett from Genesis
Phil Collins " " EDIT: oops - strike him per the OP's criteria and prior mention

Brian Eno from Roxy Music
Stevie Nicks (Fleetwood Mac)

Don Henley (Eagles)

Joe Walsh (James Gang, Eagles)

Linda Ronstadt (Stone Poneys)
Judith Durham (The Seekers)

If two people count as a group, certainly Paul Simon should be mentioned.

And depending on how one defines "great" these might be included:

Kim Carnes (The New Christy Minstrels)
Kenny Rogers (The New Christy Minstrels)
Ben E. King (The Drifters)

Best regards,
-- Al
I guess you'd also have to think about Alejandro Escovedo of The Nuns, Rank and File, True Believers, and Buick MccCane, Todd Rundgren of The Nazz, Paul Westerberg of The Replacements, Jeff Tweedy (if Wilco can count as a "solo" career) from Uncle Tupelo, and possibly Chris Stamey of The dbs.

Jimi Hendrix (Casuals, Isley Brothers)
Some nice calls, but also some clunkers. My criteria are great group and great solo careers.

Hendrix - undistinguished before the experience
Todd R. - were the Nazz a great group?
Kim Carnes - a great solo career?
L. Rondstadt - the Stone Ponies a great group?
And honestly, I would have come up with Toscanini before thinking of Gerry Rafferty.

Just my opinions.

May I also suggest Duke Robillard (Roomful Of Blues), Annie Lennox (Eurythmics) and Robbie Robertson (The Band).
Point taken, re Hendrix, you are correct.

Most that go out on a solo career end up as soppy, MOR artists cranking out ever more boring and derivative records, vide Natalie Merchant, Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart, Aimee Mann and, most of all, Sting.
My criteria are great group and great solo careers.

ok, just to be a little more provocative, by this criteria I think many of these listed would be disqualified. I had thought of Robbie Robertson - and I like him a lot, but has he really had a great solo career? I would for sure think Van Morrison belongs on the list, but was "Them" a great band?

Further, why disqualify folks like Eric Clapton, Phil Collins (I don't like his solo albums but really like his other project work like "Brand X"; none the less, his solo albums were very popular), and maybe even Sting, other than you're not a fan? It's hard to argue that they haven't had great solo careers, or played with great, successful bands.
Al Anderson/ NRBQ
Scott Miller/ V- Roys
David Byrne/ Talking Heads
Fair point re The Nazz. I'll pull my nomination of Todd.
I think Robbie Robertson's solo work is of superior quality. I could see where some people would add Levon Helm to this list. I also rank Jack Bruce's solo career higher than Eric Clapton's, but both pale when compared to their work with Cream.

How about Donald Fagen (Steely Dan), Robert Fripp (King Crimson) and Jorma Kaukonen/Jack Casady (Jefferson Airplane). While technically Kaukonen and Casady are two different people, career wise they really can be thought of as a single entity.

It's all just opinion.
Bdgregory, the question regarded "great artists", which is, of course, completely subjective. So I might disqualify Clapton and Sting, based on a belief that they are not great artists, and yet they might be at the top of the next guy's, or gal's, list. That's what makes horse racin'.
Yeah, Genesis produced FOUR successful solo careers!


Banks is still out there as a highly regarded composer and musician mostly these days as well, I believe,but less known as a solo act alone compared to the others. Anthony Phillips has also maintained a long and prodigious solo career since leaving Genesis early on but is least well known overall perhaps.

Can anyone beat that for quality and amount of musical output seeded from one act originally? Yardbirds or BEatles maybe?
thanks Viridian - I think that's exactly the point. We just won't reach a consensus on who's careers were great, nor on which bands were great. eg, I would clearly have Clapton on this list before I would have Robbie Robertson. I can agree with you that Sting doesn't belong.

While I'm at it - I think I have all of Robert Fripp's solo albums, as well as all of King Crimson's - I thought I was probably the only one who did though. Glad none the less to see him listed.

Mention of Jorma Kaukonen caused me to think of Bert Jansch and John Renbourn - both I think started with "The Pentangle" (a great group) and have a pretty great solo output.
Diana Ross- The Supremes- then solo
Steve Winwood--Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Blind Faith then a big solo career.

Alejandro Escovedo, really? I didn't think people outside of Austin had heard of Rank & File or True Believers. Most have never heard of AE himself.
I agree that Alejandro Escovedo (and all of the bands he's played with) have flown well below the radar. I guess he had his 15 minutes when Springsteen jumped on his bandwagon, but there's no question we're not talking household name here.

OTOH, I also think that the music has (pretty) consistently been great and, often, astonishing. He's one of those rare beasts with both a right brain rocker gift and a left brain songwriter gift. I'd put his career output up against anyone listed here, but that is certainly reflective of my personal taste.

Tom Petty - "Mudcrutch?" , then TP&the heartbreakers, then solo, then back. Does he qualify?
Emmylou Harris. Two albums with Gram Parsons then an outstanding solo career marked by grace, humor, integrity and great music.
Peter Frampton/Humble Pie
Rod Stewart/Faces/Jeff Beck Group
Jack Pastorious/Weather Report
Frank Sinatra/Tommy Dorsey
Janis Joplin/Big Brother
Beyonce/Destiny's Child
Ricky Skaggs/Emmylou Harris Band
Hasn't happened yet but inevitable;
Adam Levine/Maroone 5
Was Janis Joplin ever a true solo performer(Kozmic/Full Tilt)? Beyonce and Adam Levine(yikes)!
Jst playin' with the theme of the thread! I don't own a single Beyoncé song but I'll admit to owning the 1st 2 Maroone 5 CD's (bought 'em used though!). When they 1st came out I heard a serious 'Police' influence in their music. Since than, they've opted for the $ and have become kid stuff. Janis was a successful solo artist when she passed. I was never a big fan of hers, I don't think she would've had longevity in her career. In my mind I always put her next to Joe Cocker, another 'soulful' screecher!
I was wrong by being too stringent. John Lennon, Brian Wilson, Eric Clapton and Smokey Robinson belong. They've had wonderful and long lasting post group careers.

I can't believe no one mentioned Lou Reed!

It's a little bit of a stretch, but I'd also nominate Mick Taylor. In his post Rolling Stones career he's generated two really good albums (Mick Taylor & A Stone's Throw), appeared in Dylan's greatest band (opposite Mark Knopfler) and on rare occasions delivered blistering concert performances. When you think about it his work outside of the Stones is far better than any other member of the group (Ronnie Woods excepted).