5 Shocking Early Versions of Famous Musicians

#2. The Bee Gees Was a Kid Band Doing Acoustic Pop Songs

Leedon Records

The Band You Know:

The falsetto princes of disco known as the Bee Gees are responsible for the only songs from that period of musical history that anyone will actually admit to liking. They are also largely responsible for the career of John Travolta, a fact that is presented here without comment.

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The Band You Don't Know:

Before they grew their face and chest beards out and donned golden jackets infused with the spirit of jaunty dancing, the Bee Gees (or rather the Bee Gee's, for some tragic reason) played Happy Days-style pop ballads while looking like three teenagers selling candy bars to pay for the senior prom.

Leedon Records
Robin Gibb looks like Martin Short playing Robin Gibb in a Saturday Night Live sketch.

The Brothers Gibb started recording way back in 1958, when they were more or less the baby boomer equivalent of Hanson. They spent the intervening 20 years between Buddy Holly and roller skating dance clubs crooning about girls over folksy acoustic guitar arrangements, Barry singing lead, while his two child-laborer brothers provided the backing chorus.

Leedon Records
Luckily, they were skilled enough to take the lead whenever Barry got too embarrassed to continue.

The music isn't necessarily bad (the three brothers could sing, after all), but it is easily some of the blandest music ever recorded, an observation that is supported by virtually every photograph taken of the Bee Gees during that stage of their career.

Leedon Records
"Part of me wants to rip this suit open and expose my rippling, hairy man chest,
but what are the odds of anyone enjoying that?"

Getting older and hitting reverse puberty is unquestionably the best career decision they ever made.

#1. Rick James Fronted a 1960s Garage Band With Neil Young (While Hiding from the U.S. Navy)

David Brady Productions

The Artist You Know:

Depending on who you talk to, Rick James was either the legendarily eccentric funk musician responsible for classics like "You and I" and "Superfreak" (the latter being the accidental reason MC Hammer got to have a career) or the subject of an overblown meme that you didn't even realize was a real person.

Universal Music Group
This is an unflinching documentation of reality.

The Artist You Don't Know:

Rick James' first job in the music business came in 1964, singing for a Canadian garage band called the Mynah Birds when he was 15 years old. Back then, he was known as Ricky James Matthews, and he looked like about as much of a troublemaker as your ninth grade class president. Also counted among the Mynah Birds' lineup was a young Neil Young, which sounds stupid when you say it like that. So, yeah. Rick James was in a band with Neil Young.

Tom Morgan
Neil and the other guitarist look like they forgot they hired Rick, and the bass player looks like he's having an exorcism.

The Mynah Birds don't sound a thing like James' future output, either, with jangly guitars and Beatles-esque harmonies on their planned debut single, "It's My Time":

The band was actually on the fast track to success, with a fat Motown contract and a debut album on the horizon, when Rick James got into serious trouble, an activity he would later make into a secondary career. The thing was, everything he told both Motown and his bandmates about himself was a lie. First of all, his name wasn't Ricky James Matthews. It wasn't even Rick James -- his name was James Johnson, and he was an American hiding out in Canada after deserting from the U.S. Navy. The military, famous for not having a sense of humor about anything, threw James in jail for a year, and the Mynah Birds' album was indefinitely shelved ("It's My Time" didn't finally see an official release until 2006, two years after Rick James' death).

David Brady Productions
"Are we SURE the military won't come after a dead guy? 100 percent positive? OK, fine, let's do this."

Obviously, both Rick and Neil Young recovered from the failure of the Mynah Birds to become wildly disparate musical icons, though they continued to share a common love for cocaine throughout the '70s and '80s.

Jay Telfer
The Cinnamon Girl wasn't carrying around cinnamon, is all we're saying.


Hossey is currently writing his mother's favorite fantasy serial and blog. He also tweets from his girlfriend's favorite Twitter account.

Related Reading: There's all sorts of interesting crap going on in celebrity lives before they got famous. If you do some digging, you'll find that George Romero and Mr. Rogers were buddies. And that James Lipton came up with the theme to ThunderCats. Or you'd know that the incredibly awesome Bill Murray once told Chevy Chase off before kicking his ass.

The world never got a Neil Young / Rick James buddy cop comedy, but they had a band together, and you should click the Facebook share button below so the Internet will never forget it.

Recommended For Your Pleasure

To turn on reply notifications, click here

354 Comments

The Cracked Podcast

Choosing to "Like" Cracked has no side effects, so what's the worst that could happen?

The Weekly Hit List

Sit back... Relax... We'll do all the work.
Get a weekly update on the best at Cracked. Subscribe now!