Better Luck Next Time: 10 Weird Musical Past Lives Of Famous Rock Stars

by (@JordanRuntagh)

8. Rick James was in a Motown band…with Neil Young (1966)

A two-fer! Back in 1965, young Rick James (then known as Big Jimmy) was gigging around the Toronto area with his group and in dire need of a guitarist. That’s when bass player Bruce Palmer called upon fellow Canadian Neil Young, who was trying to make his name as a folk singer at the time. Thus began one of the oddest collaborations in rock history.

James got the group signed to the mighty Motown and they recorded sixteen tracks for a proposed album in February ’66. But the whole thing was shelved when James was busted for going AWOL from the Navy. It’s a shame, because James’ Jagger-like vocal would have been a unique contribution to sixties pop, especially with Young’s hooks.

But with every end comes a new beginning. Neil Young and Bruce Palmer apparently sold the dying band’s equipment and headed west to Los Angeles, where they met up with Stephen Stills and Richie Furay and formed the seminal group, Buffalo Springfield, which in turn later spawned Poco and Crosby, Stills Nash (and sometimes Young). It’s all connected…

Oh yeah, and Rick James got sprung from the clink after a year and went right to being a Super Freak.


7. Lana Del Rey was a folkie Jewel sound-alike called May Jailer (2005-2006)

The songstress born as Elizabeth Woolridge Grant has gone through several incarnations on the way to super-stardom as Lana Del Rey. She famously released an EP Kill Kill in 2008 as Lizzy Grant (followed by a full length album in 2010), but in recent months tapes have surfaced that seem to be of her unreleased debut. Called Sirens, the all acoustic record was made under the name May Jailer. It’s pretty charming, and made even cooler by the fact that she wrote all of the titles herself.

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