New York City is so huge and diverse, and such a magnet for musicians, that it’s hard to narrow down the best bands from New York. But we’re going to try! Here are six of the most famous and talented bands that got their start in the Big Apple:
Kiss formed in 1973 in New York City, when Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley connected with Ace Frehley, an excellent guitarist who had taken classical music lessons from his parents since he was a small child. The band’s most well-known show during their early days was at the Academy of Music in Brooklyn in 1973; at the show, Simmons made quite a scene by setting his hair on fire mid-performance. Within a few years, Kiss became the giants of rock, and their superhero personalities were what set them apart, with their iconic black-and-white face paint and black leather outfits.
Blondie got together in the mid-’70s in New York. They used the striking looks and sultry voice of their blond lead singer, Deborah Harry, to get attention at famous New York clubs, like CBGB. The co-founder of the band, guitarist Chris Stein, along with the other members, fused elements of new wave and early punk music to climb the charts higher than any punk band ever had, with hits like “Heart of Glass”. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.
3. Beastie Boys
Hip hop was just beginning as a form of music when Michael Diamond, Adam Yauch, and Adam Horovitz teamed up in New York to become the Beastie Boys in 1981. They started as a hardcore punk band, but switched to rapping within a few years and soon became one of hip hop’s biggest acts. Their seven platinum albums, beginning with the massive success “Licensed to Ill” and various hits, including “No Sleep Till Brooklyn”, made them another easy choice for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
4. Simon and Garfunkel
Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel met in 1957 when they were just 11 years old as classmates in Queens, New York. Simon had early musical training from his father, who was a band leader, and Garfunkel loved to sing from the time he was a small child. The pair were already recording songs together by their mid-teens, but it wasn’t until 1965 that they would become legends, with the release of “The Sound of Silence”. Remarkably, Simon and Garfunkel are still touring together as of recent years, serenading audiences with their soft and soothing folk ballads.
5. The Velvet Underground
Managed by famed artist Andy Warhol, the Velvet Underground was destined to be great from the start. Garage band rocker Lou Reed met John Cale in 1964, laying the foundation for the band. Cale was a trained musician who had come from Wales to study classical music in New York. The two young men started as the house band in Warhol’s New York City studio, The Factory, and worked with other musicians to create one of the most innovative bands from New York. Like the other bands on this list, they too have a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
6. The Strokes
This band shows that New York is still inspiring great music! These kids weren’t even born when most of the other bands from New York got their start, but they’ve since made a name for themselves on the list of New York greats. Julian Casablancas studied music at the Dwight School in Manhattan, along with two other friends who would help him form The Strokes, a band inspired by ’60s garage rock. They quickly became international rock heroes with their 2001 debut “Is This It”. They even fulfilled the dream of every New York band, playing Radio City Music Hall in 2002. They continue to knock out hit albums today, and show no signs of slowing down.
These six bands from New York have made it big and there are sure to be many to follow! Will your band be next?
Photo by momentcaptured1