Home Blog 30 famous singers and bands you may not know are from Michigan – MLive.com

30 famous singers and bands you may not know are from Michigan – MLive.com


Photos by Neil Blake | MLive, Julia Hatmaker | Pennlive, Emily Rose Bennett | MLive
Some of the biggest singers in music history are from Michigan and you may not even realize it. You know Madonna, Eminem, Bob Seger, Kid Rock, Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper and many of the Motown greats are from this state, but it may surprise you to learn some other big musicians were born here.
From some Rock and Roll Hall of Fame artists, to some legends in the music biz, to some newer artists, here are 30 famous musicians you may not know are from Michigan.
30. Gregg Alexander (New Radicals) Alexander was the lead singer of this alternative rock band popular in the late 1990s. He was born in Grosse Pointe in Metro Detroit. You know New Radicals from their biggest hit, “You Get What You Give," which reached number 30 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 8 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart.
29. Doug Fieger (The Knack) Fieger was the lead singer of The Knack. He was born in Oak Park near Detroit in 1952. He died in 2010. The Knack’s biggest hit was their number one smash, “My Sharona,” from 1979. Fieger was also the younger brother of high profile attorney Geoffrey Fieger.
28. Ray Parker Jr. Born in Detroit in 1954, you know Parker from his huge hit “Ghostbusters,” from the 1984 movie of the same name. Before going solo, Parker was the frontman for the band Raydio. They are known for the songs “You Can’t Change That," “Jack and Jill" and “A Woman Needs Love.”
27. Rare Earth Formed in Detroit, Rare Earth signed to Motown in 1969. Although they were not the only Motown band featuring all white members, they are the first one on the Motown label that had a hit song. You know their hits “Get Ready,” “I just Want To Celebrate" and “(I Know) I’m Losing You.”
26. DeBarge This musical family formed their group in Detroit in the mid 70s and later moved to Grand Rapids. DeBarge was on the Motown label in the 80s and had numerous hits including “Rhythm of the Night,” Who’s Johnny," and “Who’s Holding Donna Now?” They released a total of six studio albums, four with Motown’s Gordy Records.
25. Ready For the World Formed in Flint in the early 80s, Ready For the world released six studio albums. Their biggest hit, “Oh Sheila,” reached number one. You may also know some of their other songs, “Love You Down" and “Digital Display.”
24. Lizzo Born in Detroit, Lizzo was the most nominated music artist at the 2020 Grammy Awards. She won three of those awards: Best Pop Solo Performance for “Truth Hurts," Best Urban Contemporary Album for “Cuz I Love You” and Best Traditional R&B Performance with “Jerome." She’s also known for her huge hit “Good As Hell.”
Grammy winning singer Lizzo was born in Detroit. (Photo by Julia Hatmaker | Pennlive)
23. Glenn Frey Born in Detroit in 1948, Frey grew up in Royal Oak before becoming a founding member of one of the biggest bands in the history of music, the Eagles. Frey also had a successful solo career with hits “The Heat Is On,” “You Belong to the City” and “The One You Love." He died at age 67 in January 2016.
Glenn Frey of The Eagles grew up in Royal Oak, MI. (Photo by T.J. Hamilton | MLive)
22. Sonny Bono Born in Detroit in 1935, Bono was a singer and actor. He and his second wife, Cher, formed a musical duo known for the hit “I Got You Babe.” Bono passed away in 1998. Bono was also mayor of Palm Springs, California and congressman for California’s 44th district.
21. Anthony Kiedis (Red Hot Chili Peppers) Born in Grand Rapids in 1962, Kiedis is the lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The band has sold more than 80 million albums worldwide. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012 and have won six Grammy Awards. Some of their biggest hits include “Under the Bridge,” “Otherside,” “Californication,” “Give It Away” and “Scar Tissue.”
20. D’arcy (The Smashing Pumpkins) Born in South Haven in 1968, D’arcy was the original bass player of The Smashing Pumpkins. The band was formed in 1988 by frontman Billy Corgan, D’arcy, James Iha and Jimmy Chamberlin. D’arcy is no longer with the group. They are known for such hits as “1979,” “Tonight Tonight" and “Bullet With Butterfly Wings.”
19. The Romantics Formed in Detroit in 1976, The Romantics are known for hits “Talking In Your Sleep,” and “What I Like About You.” Lead singer Wally Palmer was born in Hamtramck in 1954. The band still tours with three of its original members: Palmer, Mike Skill and Rich Cole.
18. NF Born in Gladwin, Michigan in 1991, NF graduated from Gladwin High School in 2009. The rapper has released five studio albums since 2010 with two of them reaching number one. His 2017 album, “Perception,” went Platinum.
17. Mike Posner Born in Detroit in 1988, Posner has five solo albums to his name. He has also written numerous big hits for other artists, including “Sugar” by Maroon 5, and “Boyfriend” by Justin Bieber. His debut album, “31 Minutes to Takeoff,” includes the top 10 single “Cooler than Me.” A remix of his 2015 singler, “I Took a Pill in Ibiza,” reached the top 10 in 27 countries.
16. Bill Haley Born in Highland Park near Detroit in 1925, Bill Haley and the Comets had numerous hits including “Rock Around the Clock,” See You Later, Alligator," and “Shake, Rattle and Roll." The group had nine singles in the top 20 in the 1950s. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by fellow Michigander, Smokey Robinson, in 2012. Haley died in 1981.
15. Brownsville Station Formed in Ann Arbor in 1969, Brownsville Station is known for the hit song “Smokin’ in the Boys Room.” The song reached number three on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. The band has released nine studio albums.
14. Royce da 5′9″ Born in Detroit in 1977, Royce da 5′9″ is known for his work with Eminem and Dr. Dre along with his solo career. The rapper has released eight solo albums and six collaborative albums. He’s also part of the groups Slaughterhouse and PRhyme.
13. Uncle Kracker Born in Mt. Clemens in 1974, Uncle Kracker is known for his hit songs “Smile,” “Drift Away,” and “Follow Me.” He started as a turntablist for Kid Rock’s backing group, Twisted Brown Trucker Band. He’s released five studio albums.
Singer Uncle Kracker was born in Mt. Clemens. (Photo by Neil Blake | MLive)
12. Marshall Crenshaw Born in Detroit in 1953, Crenshaw is known for his hit “Someday, Someway”, which reached the top 40 in 1982. The singer grew up in nearby Berkley and graduated from Berkley High School in 1971.
11. Pop Evil Formed in North Muskegon in 2001, this band won the “Radio Contraband” Rock Radio Award for “Song Of The Year” for “Trenches” in 2013. They’ve released five studio albums and two EPs since 2004. You might know their songs “Torn to Pieces” and “Footsteps.”
10. Tommy James and the Shondells Formed in Niles, Michigan in 1964, Tommy James and the Shondells had numerous hits including “I Think We’re Alone Now,” “Mony Mony,” “Crimson and Clover,” and “Crystal Blue Persuasion.” They had two number one songs and twelve more top 10 hits. They still tour as of 2020 with 72 year old James as their lead singer.
9. The Verve Pipe Formed in East Lansing and West Michigan in the early 90s, The Verve Pipe are known for their huge hit “The Freshmen.” The song reached number five on the Billboard Hot 100. The band has released six studio albums since 2003. Lead singer Brian Vander Ark recently jokingly tweeted “FYI anyone planning on attending my funeral, I’ve instructed the executor of my will that “The Freshmen” not be played.”
8. Jack White (The White Stripes & The Raconteurs) The White Stripes formed in Detroit in 1997. The Raconteurs formed in Detroit in 2005. Both feature Jack White on lead vocals. White has won twelve Grammy Awards. All three of his solo albums have reached number one on Billboard. He’s released six albums with The White Stripes and three with The Raconteurs.
7. Freda Payne Born in Detroit in 1942, Payne is known for the big hit “Band of Gold.” The 1970 hit song reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100 and number one in the UK. In 2017, Payne was inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame.
6. Iggy Pop Born in Muskegon in 1947, Iggy Pop is the lead singer of The Stooges and also had a long solo career. The Stooges were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010. He’s released 18 solo studio albums and five studio albums with The Stooges.
Iggy Pop of The Stooges was born in Muskegon. (Photo by Dave Killen | Oregon.com)
5. Grand Funk Railroad They’re not only an American band, they’re a Flint band who became popular in the 1970s. Don Brewer, who was born in Flint, is still with the band. Mark Farner, also from Flint, is no longer with them. You know this band from their songs “We’re An American Band,” “Some Kind of Wonderful,” and The Loco-Motion."
4. Question Mark & the Mysterians Formed in Bay City in the early 1960s, Question Mark & the Mysterians are known for their number one hit “96 Tears.” Released in 1966, the song reached number one on Billboard. Rolling Stone Magazine once listed “96 Tears” as the number 210 song on its 500 greatest songs of all time list.
3. Carl Carlton Born in Detroit in 1952, Carlton is known for the songs “Everlasting Love” and “She’s a Bad Mama Jama.” He graduated from Murray Wright High school in Detroit in 1970. He released eight studio albums over his career.
2. Del Shannon Born in Grand Rapids in 1934, Del Shannon was known for such hits as “Runaway,” “Hats Off to Larry,” and “Little Town Flirt.” He died in 1990. Shannon was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.
1. Jackie Wilson Born in Detroit in 1934, Wilson was known as “Mr. Excitement.” He earned fourteen top 20 hits on the Billboard Hot 100. Wilson died in 1984. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and the National Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame in 2013. You know him from his hit songs “Higher and Higher,” “Lonely Teardrops,” “Night,” “To Be Loved” and more.
More artists from Michigan:
Don Was Born in Detroit in 1952, he formed the group Was (Not Was) and had a big hit with “Walk the Dinosaur” in the 80s. Don Was has also produced songs and albums for many popular recording artists.
Sufjan Stevens Born in Detroit in 1975, he is best known for his 2005 album “Illinois” which went number one on the Billboard Heatseekers chart, and for the single “Chicago” from that album.
Suzi Quatro Born in Detroit in 1950, you may remember her from her recurring roles on “Happy Days” as Leather Tuscadero. Her hits include “Can the Can,” “48 Crash,” “Daytona Demon,” “Devil Gate Drive,” and “Your Mamma Won’t Like Me.”
I Prevail Formed in Southfield in 2013, this metal band has been nominated for two Grammy Awards.
MC5 Formed in Lincoln Park in 1964, MC5 is known as a pioneer of hard rock music. They are not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame despite being nominated five times.
Greta Van Fleet Formed in Frankenmuth in 2012, these rockers won the 2019 Grammy Award for Best Rock Album. They’ve released one EP and one studio album with a second one expected to be released in 2020.
Robin Wilson (Gin Blossoms) Born in Detroit in 1965, Wilson is the lead singer of Gin Blossoms, known for their hits “Hey Jealousy,” “Found Out About You,” “Until I Fall Away" and “Allison Road.”
Sixto Diaz Rodriguez (Sugar Man) Born in Detroit in 1942, Rodriguez was the subject of the 2012 Oscar winning documentary, “Searching for Sugar Man.”
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