If you drank a glass of gravel and molasses, your voice might sound as deep and rich as that of Tom Waits. With dry humor, a low, crackling lyrical style, and songs about the seedy underbelly of society, Waits dropped out of high school during his senior year and started working in music, starting with jazz but moving on to incorporate blues, rock, and even vaudeville.
Taking inspiration from Bob Dylan and the Beat Generation, he worked as a songwriter in Los Angeles in the early seventies before he got his own contract, releasing his first album, “Closing Time,” in 1973.
Joan Jett of Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
It's hard to come up with a female rock star more tried-and-true than Joan Jett. Tough as nails, brilliantly talented, and with a voice somewhere between heaven and hell, Jett led her band to the number one spot on the charts with “I Love Rock 'n Roll” in 1982.
Born in 1958, Jett received her first guitar at the age of thirteen but gave up quickly because her instructor kept trying to teach her folk songs. She got her glam rock style from Rodney Bingenheimer's English Disco in Los Angeles. She changed her name from Joan Marie Larkin to Joan Jett during the seventies because she thought it had a rock-star quality to it.
Tom Waits Now
Despite being in his seventies, Waits is still active. Neil Young inducted him into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. Waits married his frequent collaborator Kathleen Brennan in 1980, and the two are still married today. They have three children, the youngest born in 1983.
Waits and his family have become almost reclusive, with their privacy and safety becoming more and more important. He doesn't enjoy answering questions about his life and has refused to sanction any biography. He's not only part of the one hundred greatest singers according to “Rolling Stone,” but the one hundred greatest songwriters, as well.
Neil Young Now
Young has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, in 1995 as a solo artist and in 1997 with Buffalo Springfield. “Rolling Stone” named him one of the top one hundred greatest musical artists in 2000.
His long career was defined by his guitar work, personal lyrics, and high tenor singing voice, though he could also play piano, harmonica, and more. He combined folk, rock, and country, and has even been called the “Godfather of Grunge” thanks to the distortion he put on his guitar. A full twenty-one of his albums and singles have been either gold or platinum.
Neil Young of Many Bands and Solo Career
Crazy Horse. Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Buffalo Springfield. If you've been following music for a while, then these names are all going to mean one thing: the singing and playing of Neil Young.
Born in Toronto, Canada in 1945, Young was the child of journalist and sportswriter Scott and housewife Edna. Young suffered from Polio during an outbreak in 1952, and the family moved around a lot. His love of music began as a child when he spent much of his free time listening to the radio. He idolized Elvis, and his first success at music came in the sixties with the single “Flying on the Ground is Wrong.”