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Ten WORST Rock and Roll Artists in History

Updated on August 27, 2017
Gene Simmons
Gene Simmons

Rock and Roll was never so annoying, lame and forgettable


Anybody who’s paid any attention to my articles knows that I’ve written plenty of rock and roll lists of one sort or another. Now it’s time to switch from the positive to the negative and poke fun at those boys and girls of rock who compel us to make a cross with our fingers and cry, “NO, EVIL!”

Before you read the list, please keep in mind that Keith Richards once said rock is “music for the neck downwards.” Also Neil Young said: “There’s an edge to real rock ‘n’ roll. It’s all that matters.” And Courtney Love said: “But, you know, all good rock is easy.”

Please enjoy the Ten WORST Rock and Roll Artists in History:

Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen
Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen

10. Sid Vicious


Sid Vicious may have been the most self-destructive rocker of all time – a feat of some magnitude, just ask the media! Vicious was best known as the bass player for the punk rock group the Sex Pistols, even though he couldn’t play bass worth a damn. Nevertheless, manager Malcolm McLaren claimed, “If Johnny Rotten is the voice of punk, then Vicious is the attitude.” Yeah, El Sid had plenty of ‘tude, snarling more than King Kong and picking more fights than Russell Crowe. Vicious and girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, made a dastardly duo, shooting up junk together and attaining status as about-town screw-ups. Then someone murdered Spungen and Vicious was implicated, though he never took the rap. Soon thereafter Vicious followed Nancy to the dead zone, overdosing on a massive slug of pure H at the age of 21. Maybe Vicious has finally learned to play bass at that big jam in the sky, whatdoyathink?

9. Wendy and the Plasmatics


Wendy and the Plasmatics were a shock rock group that hit the scene around 1978. Led by blonde boob queen and former porn starlet Wendy O. Williams (W.O.W), the Plasmatics chainsawed guitars, blew up speaker cabinets, sledgehammered TV sets and blew up cars – before they even tried to play music! I know rock is supposed to kick our asses, but these boys and girls excelled at nausea, not confrontation. At one performance in Milwaukee, Wendy, this vice squad mama, was busted for simulating masturbation with a sledgehammer, and then brawled with the cops when they tried to search her. Yawn. So what? Could they actually play rock? Well, their guitar work was okay, but Wendy screeched, howled and hissed like a turpentined cat stuck in a cement mixer. The band should have flipped off Wendy and had a life without her.

8. Bruce Springsteen


Bruce Springsteen is a great guy – everybody knows that. The Boss is likeable, affable and cool, and gosh darn it, he loves America too. Mr. Blue Collar also seems to have great passion for his work, his beloved rock and roll, and he’s got plenty of soul too. Unfortunately, I find his music monotonous and banal – three-chord rock squared, if you will. If they play “Born in the U.S.A.” at my funeral, thereafter they won’t have to bury me because that tune will put me six feet under. Bruce, it’s not too late to add a Beatle bridge or two to your songs. Or can you turn jazzy? Whatever you do, don’t go through a period where you play that acoustic, low-key, introspective stuff. What’s that you say? You already did? Peace out!

7. The Monkees


The Monkees were America’s answer to the Beatles and perhaps commercialism’s first exploitation of rock and roll. The quartet was created to portray themselves on a TV show of the same name from 1966 to 1968. At first, only two of the band members – Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork - could even play musical instruments. Over time, the Monkees became known in showbiz as the superhype, which they certainly were. For the most part, their music was bubblegum pop, and about as Beatle-like as the music of your typical organ grinder with his monkey. Get it? But I must admit, I liked some of their tunes, though I was very young back then. Please note: the Monkees once toured with the Jimi Hendrix Experience. When you want a belly laugh, just try to imagine it.

6. Ted Nugent


Ted Nugent is not a likable guy - unless you happen to belong to the Ku Klux Klan! Strangely, Nugent’s arch conservative views seem to fly in the face of the peace and love liberalism from which he sprang as a solo performer in the mid 1970s. Oh, and he doesn’t do drugs either. (Insert applause here.) But maybe Ted should try them; maybe he wouldn’t be so conceited and outspoken; maybe he wouldn’t be homophobic or profane; maybe he would play better too. Nugent’s style of frenetic hard rock is hard to listen to, unless you’ve just slugged down a twelve pack of beer, desensitizing your ears in the process. Of course, Ted can play fast, but that doesn’t mean he’s good. Too many, Nugent is a guitar god, but to me he’s just an oddball rocker, for whom, fortunately, there seem to be few imitators.

5. Tin Machine


Tin Machine provided glam legend David Bowie with a vehicle for resurrection after his solo career fizzled in the middle 1980s. In this hard rock assemblage, Bowie sang the lead, sounding like a Sammy Hagar wannabe, yet that David Bowie warbling was unmistakable. Overall, Tin Machine’s music sounded noisy, overproduced and, at best, garden variety. But I will give Bowie credit for reinventing himself a number of times in his illustrious career. At least he’s willing to take a chance and kick out the jams, so to speak. Nevertheless, Tin Machine is destined to be little more than a footnote in a grand career whose overexposure couldn’t mar it to death, although Bowie seems determined to give it a go even if the result sounds, er, uh, tinny.

4. The Cranberries


The Cranberries play what is called alternative rock – alternative to what, beating on tin cans and wooden logs? Led by lead singer Dolores O’Riordan, the Cranberries emerged from Ireland in 1989, playing a brand of soft rock designed to make you think. Or put you to sleep? These folks make the Monkees sound like Led Zeppelin! Oh, to what depths has our beloved rock ‘n’ roll fallen? Anyway, at least the Cranberries don’t play death rock as loud as a volcanic eruption, and I thank them for that! However, at times they actually play a hard rock tune, and the results aren’t bad. Perhaps they should let an old hand such as Pat Benatar beckon them to the rougher side of the tracks, from wince rock came and is hopefully still headed.

3. Jim Morrison


Jim Morrison,  the lady-killer, poet-rocker could really belt-out the raw, thunderous lyric. Just listen: “I’m a backdoor man! The men don’t know, but the little girls understand!” Ya gotta love it! Unfortunately, Morrison was also one of the biggest creeps in the world of rock. One night on a hotel balcony, Grace Slick saw Jim nude, down on all fours and howling like a wolf at the moon; Janis Joplin hated Jim so much she hit him over the head with a whiskey bottle; and Eric Burdon, in order to get rid of Jim and his groupies, had to fire a .44 magnum into the ceiling of his home! After helping the Doors produce two great albums in the middle 1960s, Morrison got potbellied, grew an ugly full beard, started singing pop tunes, got busted for indecent exposure in Miami and then expired in a bathtub in Paris. And many rock enthusiasts think this guy was something special?

2. Prince


Prince is the James Brown/Jimi Hendrix/Stevie Wonder wannabe who plays 25 musical instruments and gyrates all over the stage – well, he used to gyrate until he hurt his hip – that is assuming he had any “hip” to hurt! I know Prince has accumulated a pile of awards that seemingly reach to the moon, but I’ve never liked his sound. Simply put, the chills never come when I hear his music. He’s got soul, I guess, and plays funk okay, but he has no . . . je ne sais quoi. At any rate, he’s no great lead guitarist – just average. I’ve never liked his pretentious attitude as well, his nose always in the air, ya know? Talent, Prince has plenty of, but heart, well who knows?

1. Kiss


Kiss is a band that flashes more clichés than the movie, This Is Spinal Tap, but isn’t near as entertaining. Bass guitarist Gene Simmons once said on National Public Radio that Kiss has sold more records than the Beatles, insinuating that the music of Kiss was better. That’s like comparing the music of the Beatles with that of the Archies! (Remember them?) Simmons is, by the way, the pompous butt of this showy assemblage of elderly pop maniacs. (I refuse to call them rock musicians.) By the way, Simmons, alias “the Demon,” after getting cosmetic surgery, remarked, “Have no second thoughts. I am more stunning now than ever.” Hey, who’s more conceited, Ted Nugent or Gene Simmons? Anyway, when God created Kiss he produced his own mockumentary in human form and gave it to the world. Thank you God! I think.

© 2010 Kelley


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    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 2 years ago from California

      I'm sorry Cynamans, Prince stays on this humble list. He was just a rocker/pop star with a crazy religious bent. Later!

    • profile image

      cynamans 2 years ago

      Please take prince off of your list. He is not a rock artist. He is a pop icon, one of the greatest artists of the 1980's era. R.I.P Prince!

    • profile image

      tardy-the-turtle 3 years ago

      I disagree with you on Ted Nugent and KISS. But, I guess you are entitled to your own WRONG opinion. Bruce Springsteen still, and always will suck!

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 4 years ago from California

      Thanks for the comment, Lybrah. Many people hate the Beach Boys, but I don't. Later!

    • profile image

      Lybrah 4 years ago

      I would add The Beach Boys to this article. I can't stand them.

    • profile image

      Uclans 5 years ago

      Prince is an amazing guitar player, and while I'm no huge Springsteen fan, you are a huge idiot,

    • profile image

      Spell Check 6 years ago

      "Too many, Nugent is a guitar god, but to me he’s just an oddball rocker, for whom, fortunately, there seem to be few imitators." Seriously? "Too many"??

    • profile image

      dannyd 6 years ago

      Hello good sir, I beg to differ about Bruce Springsteen. His music is incredibly versatile. He is one of the greatest musicians of his generation and I am very sorry that you do not have the sense to appreciate the musical gifts he has given all of us. I am disappointed in you and your lack of judgment.

    • profile image

      Dan 6 years ago

      You sure like exclamation points.

    • profile image

      Jack 6 years ago

      haha Have you ever listened to any Springsteen album besides Born In The USA? Springsteen's first four albums are FULL of musical depth.

    • profile image

      rat 6 years ago

      can't see why sid vicious is on here. i'm sure a lot of people would disagree with what you've written. for example, he could play bass. this list sucks.

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 7 years ago from California

      Do you really think Elvis was one of the worst?!... Why not put the Beatles here too! This list is supposed to be more fun than anything else, so what the heck. Later!

    • MickS profile image

      MickS 7 years ago from March, Cambridgeshire, England

      How come Elvis Presley isn't in the list?

    • ChilliWilly profile image

      ChilliWilly 7 years ago from Kaunas, Lithuania

      Great hub, excellent top 10

    • Noetown profile image

      Noetown 7 years ago from Kentucky

      I totally agree on this, good work :)

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 7 years ago from California

      Hey, seanorjohn, I'm glad we have similar likes and dislikes. Thanks for the comment. Later!

    • seanorjohn profile image

      seanorjohn 7 years ago

      Yup, you sure nailed these shocking rockers.I would put them in more or less that order too. Good job , voted this up and awesome.

    • JayDeck profile image

      JayDeck 7 years ago from New Jersey

      He was a head case!

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 7 years ago from California

      Yeah, dude, I liked the Doors too. Please notice the band itself wasn't on this list, only Morrison, who tore it up for their first two albums and then became a drunken head case people wanted to avoid. Later!

    • JayDeck profile image

      JayDeck 7 years ago from New Jersey

      I am in total agreement on all of your assessments save one. I liked The Doors. Morrison was a headcase, sure, and was not terribly prolific before his expiration date, but what they produced before he wasted himself was a pretty unique thing. I would say Strange Days wasn't great, but the rest are more than listenable.

      Nice Hub.


    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 7 years ago from California

      I must admit I also liked the Monkees, though I realize they make a big target because of the hype surrounding them. As for Jim Morrison, I only liked his singing on the Doors first two albums, after which he became ordinary and, of course, Jim Morrison as a person was a creep, especially when he drank too much. Later!

    • Literature Fairy profile image

      Holly Jackson 7 years ago from England, UK.

      I'm with you on most of those, but the Monkees & Jim Morrison??? They were awesome! (Although as great as The Monkees were, I suppose calling them Rock is kinda like calling Avril Lavigne... well Rock...)

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 7 years ago from California

      Legbamel, I'm glad you agree with me about Jim Morrison and Bruce Springsteen, both heavily overrated talents. However, we disagree about Nirvana; I like their music. But I can understand why some people don't like Kurt Cobain. His screaming voice turns many people off as well. Later!

    • legbamel profile image

      legbamel 7 years ago

      I'm thrilled to find someone else who hates Jim Morrison and Bruce Springsteen. The latter is utterly overrated and the former was a stoned narcissist. If one more neo-hippie tells me how deep his poetry was I'll throw up on him. Thanks for the day brightener!

      But you forgot Nirvana.

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 7 years ago from California

      Thanks for your comment, CMCastro. You're right about the Monkees, more or less; if they hadn't actually toured as a band, I would agree that they shouldn't even be on a "worst of" list. Later!

    • CMCastro profile image

      Christina M. Castro 7 years ago from Baltimore,MD USA

      I would like to remove the Monkees off your list, I believe they were created especially for children who wanted to listen to R and R music in the day of my youth. And I am pretty much agreeable to the other picks you have given. Its good to review history of music, because it reflects the changes in time.

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 7 years ago from California

      Although I'm not a big country fan, I also like those outlaw country guys, particularly Waylon Jennings, may he rest in peace. (Wasn't Johnny Cash in that bunch?) I also like Bruce Hornsby's style of country, particularly his first album, "The Way It Is." What a classic! Later!

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 7 years ago

      ...well actually it's Mars via the frozen tundra of Canada. My lake of Erie is so hard and cold right now that I could drive a golf ball all the way to Newfoundland.

      And Billy Joe Shaver - he's my uncle of course.

      But seriously folks - and I know I may get into a lot of trouble here with Kosmos and others but I love the older country and western music and cowboy music - and Billy Joe Shaver is one of the original outlaws of that particular songwriting genre from the 70's along with Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson.

      When in doubt either google Billy or better yet go to You Tube - he is a songwriter's songwriter! And his son was a white hot guitar player (Eddy Shaver) but died from a drug overdose.

      signed, Ripley's Believe it or Not

      Ever heard of two wacky bands called The Residents and The Shaggs - again when in doubt go to You Tube!

      See ya later aligator!!

    • omcj1234 profile image

      omcj1234 7 years ago

      Bold picks. Can't agree with them all but I respect your cojones.

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 7 years ago from California

      Thanks for the input, Cheeky Girl. By all means, go listen to the Monkees and the Plasmatics - if you dare! Yeah, lots of people adore Prince. Whatever. Yeah, I'm also puzzled by Billy Joe Shaver, but keep in mind that Mr. Epigram is from the . . . UK. Yikes! Later!

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 7 years ago

      ..well Kosmo ... this gives me even more good reason to hang out here - the one and only Cheeky Girl - gee whiz and life is good ...just got off work - or did work get off on me - god I love Tom Waits, Nick Cave and the late great Warren Zevon - can't ya tell ... here goes - gotta gotta gotta gotta exlore sum morea dat righteous hubs of yours ....

    • Cheeky Girl profile image

      Cassandra Mantis 7 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

      Uh, I love the Hub and I rather do like Prince moi self, as I think he rocks for me at least! I have heard of all these bands and groups and individuals, except for one who appears in the comments. Who the hell is "Billy Joe Shaver"? I'm lost. Is he made up, epigramman? Just checking. Cool hub! Great research! But your hub makes me want to go listen to some of them now to see are they as bad as you make out. Is that a good or bad thing? Doh!

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 7 years ago from California

      Thanks for the writing compliment - I can certainly use all of those I can get. I'll check out "Mojo" and "Uncut" right now. Later!

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 7 years ago

      ..yeahbut - you notice I made that one word - yeahbut the other hubbers don't write like you ....pity the poor hubber who wish he/she did! Did ya check out Mojo and Uncut online?

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 7 years ago from California

      Other hubbers have written about the worst rock songs of all time, etc, but I'm sure another hub about such wouldn't be too much. Have at it, Colin. Later, gator!

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 7 years ago

      ..yes you're right - when in doubt check out You Tube - or just google the name - you can find Gary Glitter on You Tube no doubt - heck you can find anyone on You Tube - even that little twerp Justin Biber - lol lol - as for the Beach Boys - I mean - as they are now - the current edition of the band without the three brothers Wilson - Dennis, Carl and Brian.

      I agree with Pet Sounds - one of my favorite albums of all time - along with Brian's Smile - and yes I simply adore - I simply love their music - it has been a big part of my music life - But I am just sorry about what the current band has turned into - but then again a lot of bands have fallen into that trap of not knowing when to stop - look at Jefferson Airplane - they morphed into Jefferson Starship and gave us one of the absolute worst songs of all time - We built this city on rock' and roll - which gives me an idea - why not do a hub on the worst songs of all time!! See ya later aligator!!

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 7 years ago from California

      Thanks for the list, Mr. Epigram! I almost picked Barry Manilow but, as you indicated, he's no rocker. I almost put Britney Spears on the list too, but she's no rocker either. As for Nickelback, many people like them. Guess I'll have to go to YouTube to check them out. Hey, don't pick on the Beach Geriatrics! Nobody did surf music better and their album "Pet Sounds" is a classic. Everybody gets old, eh?

      Gary Glitter, who in the hell is he? Other possibilities for this list would be girl bands such as the Bangles and the Go-Go's. + No, evil!!!

      Chuck Neil Diamond into that stack too. Yeah, he's a popster as well. Later!

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 7 years ago

      ..I had to go away for another brown pop and call to nature and change the turntable to ....... Billy Joe Shaver .... okay who is number one:

      1. Gary Glitter - but here's another irony - one of the greatest rock 45's of all time: Rock and Roll Part 2 - go figure!

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 7 years ago

      ....okay now it's time for me to write a top ten of the worst acts of all time - fueled by brown pop and Motorhead at I:30 am in the morning:

      10. because I am Canadian and ashamed: Nickleback

      9. Barry Manilow - he ain't rock ' roll but who cares?

      8. Bay City Rollers

      7. Kiss - one good song - Rock and Roll all nite

      and perhaps Gene Simmmons' tongue for 5 million girls

      6. The Beach Boys - as they are NOW!!!

      (and god this breaks my heart because I absolutely adore and cherish the memory of what they used to be!)

      5. the hair bands of the 80's like FOOK OF SEAGULLS

      - I like the word fook because it's sound so Irish and not dirty - and by the way that's FLOCK OF SEAGULLS.

      4. AC DC - because they never wrote a ballad - but oddly enough they are probably in my greatest rock bands of all time too - at least they would make the cut in the top 100!

      3. did I mention Nickleback - I'm ashamed that I'm Canadian .....

      2. overindulgent guitar or drum solos which last over one hour ......


    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 7 years ago from California

      Yes, I'm a rebel "with a cause." I like the sound of that. Time to write a screenplay. Later!

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 7 years ago

      ..yes good point and then you cause a fuss and gain attention - absolutely brilliant strategy on your part - you have the heart and mind of a rebel - with a cause!

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 7 years ago from California

      epigramman, there's no sense in doing such a list unless you include some illustrious names like Prince and Kiss, et al. I could have dug up a list of one-hit-wonder rock bands and left it at that, but what fun would that be? If you're going to trash, trash the best. Hahahahahahahaha! Later!

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 7 years ago

      ......well music is like food and comedy - it's a very personal and subjective genre - for me to argue against your inclusion of Bruce Springsteen and Jim Morrison (and even Prince) on this list is like arguing for 'apples and oranges' - REMEMBER NOW you're talking about the WORST acts of ALL TIME - that's quite a lofty title to say the least and in particular THESE THREE ARTISTS do not deserve to be here.

      For example the Replacements sound sloppy and unrehearsed but yet they are a critic's darling type of band, so too were the Talking Heads in their day ......

      Music like food is immediate - you either like it or you don't - it's also very emotional .....and as a musical genre we are talking about rock and roll here, not the most subtle and refined art form around - but in conclusion I take my hat off to you for writing such a daring and dare I say - fun hub!

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 7 years ago from California

      I think Prince is wrong about the Internet - it's definitely here to stay. Maybe he should stop filling his head with that Jehovah Witness stuff. Sorry! Thanks for the response. Later!

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Hilarious! And I couldn't agree more - although now we both may be run out of town. Now I did love and adore early Prince. Prince by the way once predicted that the web would be the next big thing. Now he predicts that it is due to crash and burn - and I tend to agree. Can you imagine?

      Great hub - and rated way up!

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 7 years ago from California

      Hey, eilander1542011, we seem to be on the same wavelength. All of those folks on this list have talent, but just don't cut it with many rock purists such as you and I. How's that for being conceited? Hahahahahahahahaha! Thanks very much for your long critique. Later!

    • eilander1542011 profile image

      eilander1542011 7 years ago from Everywhere

      Kiss sucks ROYALLY, they are a disgrace to musicians everywhere.

      Prince plays great tunes, but yes he doesn't live life on the level we see a lot of musicians living. He is too conceited.

      The Doors broke ground in rock, but Morrison was something of a fruitcake. I like the Doors, but if they played instrumentals instead I think I would like the more. The dude was on to something in his brain though, that can't be denied.

      The Cranberries are hit or miss. Any of their songs can make or break your day, it all depends on your mood when you hear them.

      I don't know much about Tin Machine, but I love David Bowie, so I will leave it with this, if it isn't in the realm of Ziggy Stardust then it ain't David Bowie.

      Ted Nugent does alright, but he does pull that concreted card like Prince. In addition his songs are about nothing, can't respect an artist that works in only one realm of existence.

      The Monkees, suck! It just goes to show that no matter how much we try, capitalism will never be able to capture the soul of art.

      I like Bruce Stringbean, I agree most of his songs are the same thing, but it works. He has good messages and I feel like that is what counts in art.

      Never even heard of Wendy and the Plasmatics, but that name and picture are enough to turn me off to them before I even here them.

      The Sex Pistols are OK. I never got into them too much, I have this thing about Punk Rock, its not as creative as they want us to believe. I used to work at 4th Street Recording in Santa Monica and they are huge Vicious fans there. He did a lot of sessions with them back in the day, but he didn't lead much of a life to look up to.

      Overall I'd say "good list." Just having Kiss as the number one worst Rock N' Roll artist is enough to make me like the list.

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 7 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Interesting list. I kind of like Kiss though. They are freaky but entertaining (to me). Great Hub.

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 7 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Most of them I've never heard, fortunately for me. But I sure enjoyed reading your critique? slam? whatever. Well written and lots of fun. Oh yeah -- I do remember the Monkees, but only because my little sister was addicted to the show. Fun hub. Lynda


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