List of musicians changed career with better success...

Hi I followed musicians from certain bands that were much higher class and caliber than the band they used to play and here’s my nominees:

1. Mike Stern -- Blood Sweat and Tears reached his prime as virtuoso fusion guitarist and set up quite a few interesting projects
2. John Paul Jones -- Led Zeppelin. He can play various instruments and created great projects especially one with Diamanda Galas which is far more creative than his carreer in Led Zeppelin.
3. Andy Summers -- Police became jazz guitarist and created great albums in 90’s
4. Gary Brooker -- Procol Harum -- pianist and vocal of Procol Harum. His solo albums are more interesting than ones with Procol Harum
5. Colin James Hay -- Men At Work -- multi-instrumentalist, bassist and vocal released very few albums that are definitely beyond the class of Man At Work
6. Steve Stevens -- guitarist who performed with Billy Idol created great solo albums...
7. Finally among the Beatles, I believe the most successful solo career that goes beyond the Beatles I believe belongs to George Harrison.

Welcome to chip-in...
I just can't agree with "that were much higher class and caliber than the band they used to play" for John Paul Jones, Gary Brooker or George Harrison.  They all did interesting work after their group efforts, but it wasn't of a different caliber, at least IMO.  The recordings of LZ, Procol Harum and the Beatles are hard to beat.

Along those line I would offer Robbie Robertson's solo catalog as at the same level of his work with The Band.

Neil Young's solo output is certainly far larger than his work with Steve Stills in Buffalo Springfield and CSN&Y, but it's at least equal in quality.

Richard Thompson's solo career is equal to his work in Fairport Convention.

Ditto Dave Alvin vs. The Blasters.
Klaus Schulze became an icon of Electronic Music once he left Tangerine Dream, for me he is on the same level as Mike Oldfield in terms of never quite breaking into "mainstream" (thanks God!) but opening new ways for the youngsters who did.

Wow cz, that’s some bold assertions, for which I applaud you. To say that Harrison’s post-Beatles career surpasses McCartney’s or Lennon’s means you are speaking in artistic terms, not commercial ones. I agree about Harrison; though he put out some dreck, I like his best stuff more than Paul’s or John’s (especially The Wilbury’s).

I for some reason have never heard Brooker’s solo stuff, but I sure liked PH. I guess I need to check him out.

I detested Zeppelin from the instant I heard them, so Jones’ stuff HAS to be better!

onhwy61, taste being what it is, I agree with you on some of your examples, but for me Robertson’s albums are absolutely unlistenable. Unbelievably pretentious, and he can’t sing to save his life. But Richard Thompson is a different matter---a great solo career. Dave Alvin I have mixed feelings about. I like his brother Phil’s singing in The Blasters much more, but Dave wrote those songs.

Nick Lowe’s solo work is a LOT better than Brinsley Schwartz were. Same goes for his bandmate, Brinsley himself, whose work with Graham Parker is excellent. Also in BS was Ian Gomm, who made some cool solo albums.

The great Dave Edmunds was in a late-60’s band named Love Sculpture, who were sort of progressive. His ’71 solo album started him on an absolutely fantastic Rock ’n’ Roll career, before and after he and Nick Lowe joined forces for Rockpile, who put out one superb album, though all four members are on many of Dave's and Nick’s solo albums.

Peter Case is liked by a lot of my friends, but I prefer his Plimsouls stuff more than him solo. He was also in The Nerves prior to The Plimsouls, as was Paul Collins, whose post-Nerves band The Beat made a couple of great albums.

There are many examples in Country music, but I won’t subject ya’ll to that :-).

The recordings of LZ, Procol Harum and the Beatles are hard to beat.
That’s very general and trivial statement.
Hard to beat commercially -- true;
Hard to beat in terms of musical complexity and creativity -- not true at all.

Agree that Neil Young became better commercially than with CSNY, but in terms of music and creativity not. To me he's perfect rectangle with no curves or mis-shapes. Longer story short -- boring.
Skunk Baxter - a cool guitar player with a very interesting change of career.  He's an expert in missile defense technology; works as a consultant and chairs a congressional advisory board.  
The "better" or "worse" thing is not going to get anyone anywhere, so I'll go with both "different and interesting" after a change in bands.

Karl Wallinger made very different music after leaving The Waterboys to found World Party.

Jeff Tweedy did something very different with Wilco after leaving Uncle Tupelo.

Peter Gabriel took a pretty sharp left turn after leaving Genesis.

I'm probably a bigger fan of Lindsey Buckingham's solo material than his Fleetwood Mac stuff, tho I love both.

You could make a pretty good case for Neil Young (after leaving Buffalo Springfield and CSNY) and a quirkier one for Stephen Stills.

I'm sure that there are plenty of others that I'd need a little time to think of.

On a related note:  Many good choices here already.  I actually kinda agree with the selection of George Harrison.  It's not that his solo career was better than the Beatles, it's more a case of him finding his voice after leaving and producing more confident solo material than the Harrison material from his time with the Beatles.  Certainly debatable, tho.
I would submit Natalie Merchant after leaving 10,000 Maniacs.
Diana Ross after she left The Supremes.
Rod Stewart after leaving The Jeff Beck Group and The Faces.
Eric Clapton after time with John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers , The Yardbirds, and Cream.
I personally put the early work of Clapton in a very high place. Every bit of it.  Some of the post-Blind Faith solo work hits me but I find so much of it to be over-commercialized and totally disposable.  Different strokes.
And I feel somewhat the same about Rod.
David Sylvian since he left (or disbanded?) Japan.
Phil Collins post Genesis is a good  example of commercial success and (for my tastes) musical degradation...

Ministry - went from synth pop to thrash metal/punk and never looked back. 

sevs - Speaking of Japan, did you ever hear their first LP?  It was a really bad arena rock attempt.  Nothing like the New Romantic sound they went for afterwards.

Also, sevs, I think Peter Gabriel moved in a great direction after Genesis.

Chrissie Hynde went from music reviewer to lead singer of the Pretenders.

Oh, - Robert Gordon did fair as a punk rocker, but his career improved once he embraced Rockabilly.
David Sylvian solo albums are almost all with Japan members so it seems he never left Japan only changed everything to his name. Japan as band had a few mishaps releasing some pop rock cuap. 
Clapton's "Cream" career is the best and his solo album live "Rainbow Concert" revealed his best qualities. Also "Slowhand" album can get kinda similar attention. 
Diana Ross had larger commercial success, but with Supremes the material was substantially more creative and interesting. She downgraded her music to become more pop and make more money.
@czarivey thank you for clearing my brain. I "discovered" Japan long after falling in love with Sylvian and never paid attention that his bandmates are still with him and that I actually hunt down their solo efforts as well. Thanks again!!!
@bondmanp No, I do not have Japan first three albums, but I really love how Sylvian is evolving. Just hope he wont "evolve" as far as Bjork did! ;-(
Love Peter Gabriel, have all his albums in heavy rotation! I was talking about Phil Collins whom I love as part of Genesis but not as a solo money-making machine.
David Sylvian solo albums are almost all with Japan members
Hmmm, well Steve Jansen is his brother so is he not allowed to work with him without it being Japan? Frankly it was the influence of other musicians such as Sakamoto, Fripp and Czukay that helped take him in a different direction from Japan

Also no former Japan members on any of David's most recent five albums (RIP Mick Karn) 

Anyway do go see him live if you get a chance, one of the best shows I've ever been to
Robert Gordon did fair as a punk rocker, but his career improved once he embraced Rockabilly. 
I saw him perform with my one of my fav rockabilly bands back in the day in Detroit, the Twistin' Tarantulas. One of the best live shows I'd ever seen.  

While Robert Gordon is not considered an especially distinguished Rockability singer by hardcore Rockabilly aficionados (he’s kind of stiff, and without his own identifiable style. Get a Johnny Burnette Rock ’n’ Roll Trio collection to hear one of the Rockabilly greats), he has had three incredible guitarists in his band over the years. First Link Wray, then Chris Spedding, and finally the astounding Danny Gatton (I guarantee you the best guitarist lots of you probably have yet to hear. When Vince Gill’s road band started thinking they were pretty hot, Vince---himself an excellent player---made a tape of Danny’s guitar playing for the bus, and entitled it "The Humbler").
Duke Robillard also played with Robert Gordon.  Apparently there were some shows with both Robillard and Gatton.  I don't think there's any recordings of that band.
@folkfreak thats how I personally "discovered" Sylvian: thru his collaborations w/Fripp and Czukay! Good call!!! His last efforts are sublime!!!!

I hadn’t heard that onhwy61---that’s some guitar power! Duke’s a great player, having recorded and played live with both Dylan and Lucinda Williams, and many others.

I neglected to mention Emitt Rhodes, who was a member of The Palace Guard at 16, and The Merry-Go-Round (hit song "Live", covered by The Bangles) at 17. He put out his fantastic debut solo album in 1970 (which sold well), and two more in the next two years (neither of which did). Unfortunately, he had signed a terrible contract requiring those two follow-up albums be delivered to his record company in six month intervals! When he didn’t deliver them on time, the company sued him for breach of contract, and withheld all future royalties. He had received not a dime in royalties until after "Lullaby" from the first album was used in The Royal Tenenbaums movie in 2002. An Emitt fan who happened to be an attorney filed suit on his behalf.

I remember long ago hearing The Byrds called America’s Beatles. I didn’t see the truth in that statement then, but I do now. Hugely influential Group, and not just with Tom Petty and R.E.M. The individual members (well, four out of five anyway. Drummer Michael Clarke was not much of a musician) possess more talent than any other Group/Band I can think of, save The Band. Unlike the members of The Band (except for Levon Helm, whose last album garnered him a well-deserved Grammy Award), however, the various Byrds made a lot of great music post-Byrds, some of it doing very well commercially, some not.

Jim/Roger McGuinn has made several solo albums, and continues touring for a living. Gene Clark left The Byrds in ’66 and made many albums, though none did very well. David Crosby is of course better known as a member of Crosby, Stills, & Nash (and sometimes Young), as well as a few solo albums and duets with his buddy Graham Nash.

Chris Hillman’s post-Byrds career has been a very fruitful one. I think of Chris as The Byrds’ George Harrison. He brought Gram Parsons into the Group as a replacement for Crosby, then left with Gram in ’68 to start The Flying Burrito Brothers. When that Band ended after two albums, Gram put out a couple of highly influential solo albums, developed a close relationship with Keith Richards and heroin, and died of an overdose. Fortunately for us he brought Emmylou Harris to our attention before doing so. Chris made a few great Bluegrass albums for the Sugar Hill label (audiophile quality recordings, original LP pressings readily available at better record stores), was a member of The Souther/Hillman/Furay (Richie, from Buffalo Springfield) Band, and then The Desert Rose Band, who were Country stars in the 90’s. He and DRB member Herb Pedersen have made several albums together as well. All great music by Chris, the best body of work by any of The Byrds imo.

When Chris and Gram left The Byrds, Roger brought in Clarence White, an astoundingly great and influential guitarist (as player of the B-Bender Telecaster, invented by drummer Gene Parsons---no relation, replacement for Mike Clarke in The Byrds). Clarence had been a professional musician from an early age, as member of the Bluegrass Group The Kentucky Colonels. He had also done a lot of session work, recording with The Everly Brothers, Ricky Nelson, Linda Ronstadt, Joe Cocker, Randy Newman, Jackson Browne, Arlo Guthrie, even The Monkees! While loading his guitar into the van after a Byrds show he was hit by a car, and died. What a drag.

I can’t think of another Group/Band with so many members going on to do so much after their original entry into the music business.

@jmcgrogan2  I totally and fully-absolutely agree with you! But what exactly r u talking about?!

Of course, I guess I should mention the late, great, David Bowie, who changed his stage personality and musical styles so many times it’s hard to count them all. Did the changes improve his career? How does one improve on perfection?

An artist who flipped for the worse was Annabella Lwin, former lead singer of Bow Wow Wow. She went for Brit-pop singles on her first solo album, and it was a near-total fail (except perhaps for the cover of "Fever"). This former Malcolm McLaren product’s career mostly vanished after that one solo effort.

Adam Ant also went from British New Wave/punk to pop, with mixed results. He disappointed his original fans, and made new ones in the Brit-pop world.

Spandau Ballet went from New Romantic to pop. They sold more records as a pop act, but many fans like me missed the edginess of their New Romantic sound.

One of the more dramatic shifts was that of Colleen Ann Fitzpatrick of Eve’s Plum, a power-pop/punk act in the early 1990s, who resurfaced as Vitamin C. Again, while a commercial success, she abandoned her original fan base.

Members of CAN, Japan and King Crimson are very creative by nature. They had equally successful times within and outside their bands.
Robert Fripp, 
Bill Brufford (Earthworks)
Steve Jensen
Richard Barbieri
David Sylvian
Ruichi Sakamoto
Mick Karn
Mark Isham
Holger Czukai
Irmin Schmidt
Michael Karoli
Rebop Kwaku Bah
Damo Suzuki

Check their solo albums. They've been also collaborating tight with Brian Eno as well.

Another genius outside of Roxy Music is actually Phil Manzanera who's skills are far beyond the qualities of Roxy Music. He also formed his own band "Explorers".
None mentioned Pat Metheny and Mike Brecker who started with Joni Mitchel... 
@folkfreak Good call re: David Sylvian! One of the most under-appreciated musicians IMHO. Secrets From the Beehive is a desert island disk for me for sure. Cheers,

David Sylvian is very appreciated. He didn't have any large commercial goals and obviously wasn't "King of Pop" or "King of Swing".
>Pat Metheny and Mike Brecker who started with Joni Mitchel...

That's some bad info there.

@czarivey Really? He never got radio airplay, not even on college radio. Hell, most people never even heard of the band Japan. When Sylvian played live, he rarely could get any venue >500 seats. Most record stores wouldn't even give him his own plastic divider card. IMHO, that is UNDER-appreciated considering his great talent, both musically and as a singer. 
Sometimes I think you just enjoy disagreeing. Cheers,
Post removed 
sbank1,413 posts09-17-2016 10:51am@czarivey Really? He never got radio airplay, not even on college radio.


His (Dave Sylvian’s) music was never radioplay standard. The venues he booked were always full EVERY time I purchased ticket for his live performance. Similar to David Sylvian, I went to Nina Hagen who performed at substantially smaller venue Joe's pub and another time Coney Island High in NYC. Both of these standing venues were full of people... I remember her lipstick smooch on my cheek after flowers and signature on my records :-) This under-appreciation than is I guess typical for all obscure bands.

I might not disagree, but perhaps lost in definition. Now I know that bands or artists that never got into radio play are all UNDER-appreciated right?
@raymonda Got to give Lou Reed this, he has good taste in women let alone his own successful musical endeavors.

Actually, the only musician listed here that had a career change is Skunk Baxter. The rest just started another job with an different group. They did not change careers.

So here is another.......Stan Ricker. I believe he started out as a serious bass player.....well, you know the rest of the story!
@hifiman5, how do we know they're all women??  ;>) ...sorry, couldn't resist.... (But seriously, I am not knocking Reed, I'm a fan). 

Seem to recall an obscure little band called The Eagles that produced a few solo careers...Frey, Henley and Walsh (my fave of them). 

Spectacular failure award might go to the late Scott Weiland whose much anticipated debut album Twelve Bar Blues went bust right on the heels of him having been for so long such a fabulous frontman for Stone Temple Pilots (saw them in Atlanta and they were so great live).