10 One-Man Bands Who Didn’t Want Anybody Else

With one-man bands, it’s in all probability finest to erase the picture of chimney-sweeper Dick Van Dyke prancing about within the film Mary Poppins. As an alternative, consider proficient multi-instrumentalists akin to Stevie Surprise, not solely the most effective one-man bands to take a seat behind a equipment, keyboard, and harmonica, however one of many coolest, most proficient individuals in music.

Hundreds of top-class musicians are in a position to play a number of devices – amongst them Curtis Mayfield, PJ Harvey, Dave Grohl, Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, Geddy Lee of Rush, Alicia Keys, Roy Wooden, Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones, Jack White, Beck, Trent Reznor of 9 Inch Nails, and Bruno Mars, to call only a dozen – however with so many nice session musicians round, it takes a sure kind of boldness to play all of the devices by yourself document.

Listed here are 10 of the perfect one-man bands in historical past.

Sidney Bechet

When engineer John Reid informed Sidney Bechet in regards to the prospects of multi-tracking, the jazz maestro devised a plan to work out the person components on six totally different devices and memorize the timing and melody of every. Bechet’s daring enterprise got here within the days earlier than tape recording, so every effort needed to be recorded on a 78rpm wax unique and superimposed on to the remaining. On April 19, 1941, Bechet performed six devices – soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone, clarinet, piano, string bass, and drums – for a recording of “The Sheik Of Araby.” He additionally recorded 4 components for “Blues For Bechet.” Bechet later stated he was in a “chilly sweat” in regards to the challenge, recalling, “Desirous about this session was giving me nightmares. I dreamt I used to be enjoying components for the entire Duke Ellington band.”
Hear: “The Sheik Of Araby” (1941)

Paul McCartney

From one of many world’s finest bands to the most effective one-man bands on this planet: simply earlier than Christmas 1969, Paul McCartney, working throughout The Beatles’ break up, started engaged on McCartney, his personal solo album, at his residence in London’s St John’s Wooden. He stated that he determined to sing and play all of the devices – acoustic and electrical guitars, bass, drums, piano, organ, percussion, Mellotron and toy xylophone – as a result of “I feel I’m fairly good.”

McCartney later admitted to having fun with working as a solo artist, saying, “I solely had me to ask for a choice, and I typically agreed with myself!” After its launch, the album reached No.1 on the Billboard charts in America and No.2 within the UK. McCartney’s experimental album additionally impressed Emitt Rhodes, of the band Merry-Go-Spherical, who performed each single instrument and sang all the vocal components on three baroque pop albums launched within the early 70s.
Hear: “Possibly I’m Amazed” (1970)

Todd Rundgren

On his third solo album, 1972’s One thing/Something, Todd Rundgren wrote, organized, sang, and performed every thing from the piano to guitars on an array of songs. He was simply 23. The previous producer and engineer stated that, regardless of not having the ability to learn or write music, he had a exceptional reminiscence for taking part in components by ear.

He would start with a drum monitor after which overdub different devices on prime, typically creating melodies on the spot. The album yielded a few of Rundgren’s best songs, together with “I Noticed The Mild,” “It Would not Have Made Any Distinction,” and “Couldn’t I Simply Inform You.” {A photograph} contained in the album cowl confirmed Rundgren alone in a room filled with tools, guitar strapped to his shoulder, arms flung vast, and fingers flashing victory indicators. He was proper to be assured in his talents as one of many world’s finest one-man bands: the album stayed within the charts for 48 weeks and ended up going gold.
Hear: “I Noticed The Mild” (1972)

John Fogerty

After leaving the massively profitable Creedence Clearwater Revival, singer and guitarist John Fogerty opted for full management over his debut solo album, The Blue Ridge Rangers, a sequence of canopy variations of his favourite songs. His bass and snare drumming on a model of Hank Williams’ “Jambalaya (On The Bayou)” labored a deal with, and his common vibrant guitar was supplemented by steel-guitar enjoying, banjo licks and a few robust fiddle enjoying.
Hear: “Jambalaya (On The Bayou)” (1973)

Mike Oldfield

Only one month after John Fogerty’s solo effort got here the prog epic Tubular Bells, from England’s Mike Oldfield. On the album, Oldfield performed a exceptional array of devices, together with acoustic guitar, bass guitar, electrical guitar; Farfisa, Hammond, and Lowrey organs; flageolet, fuzz guitars, glockenspiel, mandolin, piano, percussion, timpani, and, in fact, tubular bells.

The album was recorded at The Manor in Oxford, and its success and iconic standing was confirmed when music from “Tubular Bells” was used within the hit horror movie The Exorcist.
Hear: “Mike Oldfield’s Single (Theme From Tubular Bells)” (1973)


In September 1977, on the pioneering Sound 80 recording studio in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Prince started engaged on his debut album, For You. It was an album which bore the soon-to-be iconic credit score “Produced, organized, composed, and carried out by Prince.” Like the perfect one-man bands, the late Prince, then simply 17, was nearly obsessive about getting the sound he needed. When he was requested by Dick Clark about what number of devices he performed on the album, Prince responded with “1000’s.” He really performed 27 devices on For You (29 for those who embrace hand claps and finger snaps).
Hear: “Gentle And Moist” (1978)

Steve Winwood

Steve Winwood was ranked by Rolling Stone as No.33 in its 100 Biggest Singers Of All Time checklist, however the man who was a part of seminal bands akin to Spencer Davis Group, Site visitors, and Blind Religion was additionally a wonderful multi-instrumentalist. Along with his first solo album, he took full artistic management, and on Arc Of A Diver, launched by Island Data, in December 1980, he took cost of every thing at a studio he had constructed on his personal farm in Gloucestershire.

Winwood performed acoustic and electrical guitars, mandolin, bass, drums, percussion, drum machines, pianos, synthesizers, and organ, in addition to singing lead and backing vocals. Only for good measure, he produced, engineered, and blended all seven tracks. Each the album and its lead single, “Whereas You See A Likelihood,” had been Prime 10 hits.
Hear: “Whereas You See A Likelihood” (1980)

Phil Collins

Phil Collins admits he was going by means of a troubled time when he recorded Each Sides at his 12-track residence recording studio. It was within the wake of his second divorce, when he even took refuge in enjoying the bagpipes (he took classes from a Scottish piper). Each Sides, launched by Virgin, in 1993, began as residence demos which Collins then determined to show right into a full album launch after engaged on it fully by himself.

Collins earns his place among the many finest one-man bands for taking part in all of the devices on the album in addition to taking over the primary manufacturing duties. He even wrote the sleevenotes. The previous Genesis star stated, “Each Sides is my favourite album, from a songwriting and artistic perspective. It was very a lot a solo album. I performed every thing, the songs simply streamed out of me, and as a author that is the sort of factor that you simply dream of.”
Hear: “Can’t Flip Again The Years” (1993)

Sufjan Stevens

When he was a schoolboy in Detroit, Sufjan Stevens took music classes within the oboe and English horn. He would play each on his 2003 idea album, Michigan. It additionally options the singer-songwriter – who has an Oscar track nomination to his credit score – on piano, electrical organ, electrical piano, banjo, acoustic and electrical guitar, bass guitar, vibraphone, xylophone, glockenspiel, recorders, wooden flute and whistles, drum equipment, percussion, shakers, sleigh bells, tambourine, and cymbal.

Nevertheless, Stevens, like the perfect one-man bands featured right here, has some approach to go to beat the document set by the late Roy Fortress. The tv star and trumpeter performed the identical tune on 43 totally different musical devices, together with the world’s smallest violin, in simply 4 minutes.
Hear: “For The Home windows In Paradise, For The Fatherless In Ypsilanti” (2003)

Dave Edmunds

Dave Edmunds rose to fame within the 70s – particularly after his fantastic hit “I Hear You Knocking” – and made a couple of albums the place he took artistic management and performed all of the devices. He returned to that format in 2013 with the album … Once more, although this time it was a Twenty first-century digital manufacturing. Edmunds stated, “I’ve been making information by myself because the mid-60s, after I began in a tiny, ill-equipped studio in a barn… I did … Once more on my laptop computer in my spare bed room. I acquired myself a MacBook Air, it got here with one thing referred to as GarageBand, and I did one monitor on there after which I purchased its massive brother, 130 quid or so, pressed a button and inside 30 seconds I had the studio in entrance of me, an infinite quantity of tracks and results.”
Hear: “Standing At The Crossroads” (2003)

Uncover extra about how musicians embraced DIY ethics and created music on their very own phrases.

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