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6 Mind-Blowing Early Music Careers of Famous Musicians

#3. Vampire Weekend Used to Be a Rap Group

The Band You Know:

Vampire Weekend is one of those bands that people like to hold up as an example of why an entire segment of the American population sucks. In this case, let someone rant about trust fund hipsters for more than 30 seconds, and you will hear this band's name. You can attribute that to lead singer Ezra Koenig and company's conscious decision to appear in public looking like this ...

Getty
The sweater is the lead singer.

They also have a member whose name is basically Batman, and they named one of their albums Contra, inspired by the classic NES game that popularized the most famous cheat code in gaming history. So how bad can they really be?


Hint: The code will not make slightly puzzled women appear at your door.

Besides, if you think you hate them now, just wait until you see what kind of band they were before they set Paul Simon's music to a Tommy Hilfiger ad and found success.

The Band You Don't Know:

Vampire Weekend began as what could have developed into one of the worst rap groups of all time. They were called L'Homme Run and they made absurd songs like this one:

It's a song about ordering pizza. It's called "Pizza Party." The band members were enrolled in an Ivy League school when they recorded it.

Shockingly, the project stalled because people just flat out refused to believe that the entire thing wasn't one big joke. Koenig bemoaned this fact in an interview, saying, "It was hard for me to take seriously because no one else would take it seriously."

That's probably because they took "promotional" photos that looked like this:

fuckyeahlhommerun
If the Taliban shopped at J. Crew.

It's easy to see why, to this day, people still don't believe that L'Homme Run was an entirely ironic act. But the band has evidence on their side. In 2010, Vampire Weekend had a hit with a swinging tune called "Giving Up the Gun," a song they promoted with a slick video that awesomely featured the Wu-Tang Clan's RZA as a tennis umpire:

But fans with lower standards who have been following the band since their "rap" days will recognize that single as nothing more than a reworking of a song by L'Homme Run called "Giving Up Da Gun."

You can tell that's the rap version because they substituted "the" with "da." That's how you do it in the streets. Other than that, the songs are damn near identical. If Vampire Weekend cared enough about this holdover from the L'Homme Run days to rework it and release it as a single, how much of a joke could that shitty rap group have really been?

#2. Kenny Rogers Was a Hippie

The Artist You Know:

Kenny Rogers is kind of a walking punchline these days on account of his "plastic surgery gone horribly awry" good looks, but don't let the fact that his face is pulled way too tightly against the surface of his skull discount the man's legacy. Kenny Rogers is nothing short of a stone cold country legend. If you respect him for no other reason, you at least must respect "The Gambler."

Keep his music close to your heart, because it will soon be all we have left of this long-standing country music icon. We're not speaking of his inevitable mortality, mind you, but rather the fact that there is only one Kenny Rogers Roasters left in the nation ...

kennyrogersroasters
But it's bizarrely popular in East Asia.

Kenny Rogers' accomplishments in the fields of country music and healthier fast food options have left such an impact on people that nobody even remembers that Kenny Rogers was on a path that went nowhere near Nashville when his career started.

The Artist You Don't Know:

Kenny Rogers was a dirty hippie. Before he made cowgirl panties drop for a living, K-Rog was the lead singer of a psychedelic band called the First Edition. Here's a screenshot of a First Edition television performance that features Kenny Rogers sitting on a gigantic psychedelic silhouette of a cock and balls.


Like the man said, you gotta know when to hold 'em.

Clearly, the First Edition was a pretty groovy bunch. That screenshot is taken from a performance of a song called "Just Dropped In." It begins with a backward guitar loop and was used in a dream sequence in the movie The Big Lebowski.

And when Kenny Rogers isn't sitting on that tie-dyed schlong, he and the rest of the band are rocking out on a gigantic bed, because acid is the shit.


So what led Kenny Rogers to make the switch from Born on the Fourth of July to "God Bless the USA"? It was pretty simple. Guitarist Mike Settle wrote a country-ish tune called "But You Know I Love You" that turned out to be a hit for the band. They immediately made the switch to all country all the time, leaving Kenny Rogers with a massive country fan base at his disposal with which to pursue a solo career. And that's too bad, because going back to his roots and releasing his version of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band upon going it alone is a twist in the Kenny Rogers saga that we're sad we never got to see.

#1. Parliament Funkadelic Was a Doo-Wop Group

The Band You Know:

If you've somehow made it this far in your life without hearing Parliament Funkadelic, the following video should tell you everything you need to know.

If our analysis of the technology depicted here is accurate ...


... this scene depicts the exact moment when the funk returned to the earth. That's what kind of band Parliament Funkadelic was. There was a guy in the band whose costume was nothing but an adult sized diaper, and he was the one who looked the most normal in the bunch.

originalfunkmusic
"Hey, we got some giant novelty glasses from the dollar store, who wants--" "Ooh, me!"

What a pack of weirdos, right? Can you imagine what they must have looked like back when they were younger and even more prone to questionable fashion decisions?

The Band You Don't Know:

newmediacreative
Whoa, guys! Dial it back a bit. Bow ties are the devil's necklaces.

Whoa, looks like somebody gave up the funk! Or more accurately, someone had not yet found the funk. Or the funk hadn't, like, descended from the skies or whatever. You get the gist. Anyway, what you're looking at is Parliament Funkadelic back when they were just a doo-wop group called the Parliaments. Back then, they were less about the funk and more about your right to live life on the straight and narrow.

That song is called "Poor Willie," and it tells the story of the band playing the "I told you so" role when some guy named Willie's hard living ways lead to a bad outcome. Man, that's just not funky at all. That's more like funk's less fun but more responsible cousin who won't stop telling funk that they can't party forever and need to just grow up already.

There isn't even a hint of the band that would eventually emerge, and it stayed that way for around a decade, until George Clinton realized that doo-wop was on its way out and the band needed to switch their sound. They adopted a funk persona and started adding musicians at a rate that would overwhelm even the likes of Earth, Wind and Fire or MC Hammer's traveling band of leeches from the early '90s.

greenobles
"Collins, grab a tramp and throw some glitter on him. We need more tie-dye."

In no time at all, they were making songs like "Maggot Brain" and influencing scores of rappers for decades to come, most notably Flavor Flav, who adopted not only George Clinton's outlandish fashion sense, but also his mastery of the art of the arrest for crack cocaine possession.

gigwise
The face of a man who has never touched a drug in his life.

But damn if those maniacs don't come from a couple of great bands.

You can follow Daniel on Twitter, if you're into that sort of thing.

For more people whose former selves you may not recognize, check out 5 Celebrity Careers Launched by Ethnic Makeovers and 5 Artistic Geniuses Who Only Became Great After Selling Out.

If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out The Surprisingly Dark Origin Story of Chuck E. Cheese.

And stop by LinkSTORM to discover what Brockway looked like before he grew the beard.

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