Friday, April 27, 2007

The Top 6 Music Acts to Come Out of Cleveland

Everyone’s got a draft preview on their sites, so if you want to view mine, it's at the bottom of the blog. It's a given that Cleveland is the Rock and Roll Capital of the Universe, but for my next non-sports related post, I thought I’d take a look at the best/most famous music groups/singers that have come out of Cleveland and rank them in terms of critical and commercial success. The criteria for a band or singer to be considered from Cleveland and ranked are as follows:

- either the entire band or person most associated with the band (usually the lead singer) has to have roots in Cleveland
- if not directly from the city of Cleveland, they have to be within the general vicinity (Akron, Canton, Kent, etc)

Other things things to consider on this list:

- rankings are not based on strictly commercial success, but may also include critical success or the impact on the genre they are based in
- if I personally hate them, then I can leave them off since it’s my list

As I stated before, this is all purely subjective and I’m sure I probably left someone or some group of note off of this list. If you can think of them, please feel free to add them to the comments.

6. Michael Stanley Band – Was a pioneering rocker that emerged from the early 70’s to dominate the charts and – just kidding, he sucks. Now on to the real countdown

6. Devo – formed in Akron, OH in 1972, Devo was a groundbreaking act that ushered in the New Wave scene in the late 70’s and early 80’s. They had experimented with all kinds of different music styles, including punk. They were formed by a group of Kent State Students who, according to Wikipedia, “were deeply affected by the Kent State shootings of 1970. Devo stands for “Devolution” which was probably a more profound statement as a band name than many of their song lyrics would indicate. They never achieved great commercial success, but are best known for their single “Whip It” and the subsequent music video, which received all kinds of air time on MTV. On stage, they are famous for their hazmat outfits and “energy domes”. They are on this list for influencing and ushering in a new music genre (whether you like New Wave or not is a whole different story). They had 3 Gold Albums and 1 Platinum Album for their career.

5. Filter – These guys were one of my favorite groups in college and high school and that was even before I found out I grew up right by the lead singer, Richard Patrick. Filter was an industrial rock act that was heavily influenced by Nine Inch Nails, which is apropos since Patrick was a guitarist for the group (I left off Nine Inch Nails since they are supposed to be a one-man band and Trent Reznor’s roots are in Who Cares, PA). Richard has a very distinct voice that can reach octaves few males should be allowed to reach. They’ve had 2 platinum albums and 2 gold albums as well as 7 singles chart on various billboard tables. They are most well known for 2 singles, “Hey Man, Nice Shot” and “Take a Picture”, which sounds nothing like their other music but is my personal favorite.

4. Gerald LeVert – This soul crooner and son of Eddie Levert (lead singer of the O’Jays) sang in two very successful R&B groups. LeVert, the group he formed with his brother Sean and friend Marc Gordon, and LSG, with fellow R&B superstars Johnny Gill and Keith Sweat (I actually bought this group’s CD). Between his solo career and 2 groups he produced over 10 Gold albums and 4 Platinum albums. My two favorite songs from his career are “My Body” with the group LSG and “Casanova” with the group LeVert. He was born in Cleveland and was living in Northeast Ohio when he passed away at the much too early age of 40 after an apparent heart attack from a lethal (and accidental) mix of prescription and over the counter pills.

3. The Pretenders – I’ll stand by them as my third choice (I can’t believe I just typed that and yes, I am laughing to myself). The founder and one constant member of this group is Chryssie Hynde who was born in Akron, attended Kent State and according to Wikipedia, “experimented with the hippie counterculture, psychotropic drugs, eastern mysticism, vegetarianism and of course, joining or starting a band”. She actually was in a band with Mark Mothersbaugh, who made this list as a member of Devo. She formed the Pretenders in the UK after bouncing around in the UK and France with failed bands as well with Mick Jones from The Clash. There have been two drug related departures by original members of the group, one after Chryssie kicked out and the second died from a drug overdose. They have been steadily recording since 1980 and had a long time in between hits. In the early 80’s they scored hit albums off of the singles “Brass in My Pocket” and “Back on the Chain Gang” and in 1994 had a hit with “I’ll Stand by You”. They have had 2 Platinum albums and 6 Gold Albums.

2. Scott Weiland – Although he was born in California, he spent much of his childhood in Chagrin Falls, so he gets to be on my list (lucky him). He was the frontman for one of the most popular bands of the Nineties and the genre of alternative rock: Stone Temple Pilots. They have had huge hits such as: “Interstate Love Song”, “Vasoline” and “Big Empty”. STP has always been derided by critics and loved by their fans, so I guess they are kind of like the Adam Sandler of Alt Rock. They also won the Grammy for Best New Artist in 1994. According to wikipedia, Stone Temple Pilots is not the original name of the band and you should check the site to find out what it originally was. Unfortunately for Scott, his drug use and run-ins with the law have made him almost as popular as being a singer has. When STP disbanded, Scott formed Velvet Revolver with a bunch of former Guns N Roses members and has had commercial success with them as well. Between the two groups, Scott has 7 Gold Albums and 5 Platinum Albums (with Core and Purple going 8 and 6 times over, respectively).

And my number one choice for a music group/artist to come from Cleveland is………..

1. Bone Thugs N Harmony – There really can’t be too much debate with this one. Regardless of what your opinion of Hippity Hop is, there is no denying the lasting impact these 4 rappers from the Streets of Cleveland (“it’s mandatory we leave you bleedin”) have had. They are easily the most commercially and critically successful music group to come from this city. To date, they have over 30 million albums sold (holy reefer, Batman!) and it looks like another big hit coming in Strength & Loyalty, due out next month. Among a few of their career highlights include:

- at the time, the highest and fastest selling single of all time with “Tha Crossroads”
- collaborations with both the Notorious BIG and 2Pac
- 2 Grammys and an AMA
-15 singles on the charts, including 5 #1s
-Platinum status for all their albums with multiple status for almost all of them

Not only did they achieve great commercial success, they also introduced a new style of rap that was more sing-song and rapid fire and incorporated melodies and harmonies (hence the name). They have also embraced the fact that they are from Cleveland and state it multiple times on many albums. I absolutely love the single “Cleveland Rocks” from the album Thug World Order.

There you have it folks. Some others that I did not include on this list but deserve honorable mention are: Macy Gray, Avant, the O’Jays and Marilyn Manson. Please let me know if I forgot anyone.


Dwayne Rudd said...

I have no reservations about calling Nine Inch Nails a Cleveland Musical Act. I know differences in taste won't necessarily put them high on everyone's list, but I'd put them at #1 on my list.

Hardaway Hates Pittsburgh said...

I know a lot of people like him, but after seeing that he spent pretty much all of his childhood and high school in PA, I couldn't put him on the list (and I hate his music for some reason...don't ask me why because I don't know).

Metamorphosis of Life said...

Am I the only one that finds it sad that the home of the Rock Hall has to go to Akron and Kent to find the musical acts that we are known for? And since this encompasses *all* genre, then the Cleveland Orchestra should be #1 with a bullet.

Hardaway Hates Pittsburgh said...

That's definitely one I forgot. Severance Hall is second to none to hear classical music, but it's been a few years since I've been there. I consider Akron and Canton glorified suburbs.

Top Dawg said...

I think STP should have stuck with the original name ;) Edgy...I like edgy

Bad Becks said...

Nice list. See'ing some of the acts on this list reminds me of just how goofy some people can get b/c of who came from their town. The example I'm thinking of is when I was living in SoCalifornia for a about 3 years, Afro-Man came out with "Because I got high." He was from Palmdale...which is like Parma...except in the desert. It was a strange time to be stuck living up in that shithole.

Hardaway Hates Pittsburgh said...

Sounds kind of like us and Drew Carey. Does anyone really care anymore that he's from Cleveland?

Anonymous said...

nice list, but you missed out on a whole category of music that came out of our town in the 70s -- bands like pere ubu and dead boys and rocket from the tombs. i know they didn't have quite the profile of some of the other acts, but their impact was pretty enormous on other bands.