Most rock bands have a shelf life. For every Rolling Stones there’s ten Led Zeppelins – bands that shot through the universe for a finite period of time and made their mark. But that doesn’t mean the musicians in those bands don’t have anything else to say, so they continue their careers in different ways.
Other times, those musicians no longer fit in the group they helped start, or just need another outlet for their art – a side project. In all cases, it results in the ever-popular solo career. Some crash and burn, while others flourish and become just as popular as the original band or even more so.
Here’s a look at some of the most successful solo careers by artists who were also members of legendary bands.
DAVID LEE ROTH
The charismatic frontman didn't waste much time moving on from Van Halen. He released an EP of covers that included "California Girls" a year after VH's 1984, then put together a supergroup of backing musicians including Steve Vai to score hits like "Yankee Rose" and "Just Like Paradise."
Nicks released her first solo albums in between Fleetwood Mac albums. She proved she could stand on her own then, and she's doing it again now by carrying Fleetwood in a post-Lindsey Buckingham era.
JOHN LENNON & PAUL McCARTNEY
All four Beatles enjoyed distinguished solo careers, but we have to draw the line somewhere and Lennon and McCartney get the nod. Lennon was arguably the most experimental and thought-provoking of the group, while McCartney is still going strong at age 77.
There were Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and Crazy Horse, and even Pearl Jam have backed him up, but Young always comes back to himself, his guitar and a harmonica.
JOAN JETT & LITA FORD
The Runaways were one of the first successful all-girl rock groups, but Jett and Ford didn't stop there. The former kept the punk-inspired thing going, while the latter broke down even more barriers by infiltrating the Sunset Strip metal scene in the 80s.
Ozzy has released more solo albums than albums with Black Sabbath and he has another one on the way. Confused 80s parents may have misunderstood his barking at the moon, but Ozzy teamed with some stellar guitarists to create more magic post-Sabbath.
DON HENLEY & GLENN FREY
The Eagles ran out of gas as the seventies came to a close, but remarkably, Henley and Frey went on to help soundtrack the 80s with entirely different sounds. Henley thought deep on tracks like "End of the Innocence" and "Boys of Summer," while Frey went pastel on soundtracks for "Miami Vice" and "Beverly Hills Cop."
Everything Clapton touched turned to gold as he was getting his start: The Yardbirds, Cream, Derek and the Dominos, Blind Faith. Then all he did was launch a solo career that has been successful in every decade since with songs like "Wonderful Tonight," "Pretending" and "Tears in Heaven."
PHIL COLLINS & PETER GABRIEL
Collins and Gabriel left Genesis at different times and took different but equally essential career paths. Collins leaned pop, while Gabriel stayed experimental on their way to a string of memorable songs. Gabriel got off to a good start with "Solsbury Hill" and progressed to his 1986 masterpiece So. Collins announced his presence with the drum fill everyone waits for on "In the Air Tonight," before selling 12 million copies of 1985's No Jacket Required in the U.S. alone.