Creating a memorable album alongside a group of bandmates takes hard work, dedication, talent and a little bit of luck. Doing it completely alone is even harder.
Throughout rock history, many musicians have tried their hand at being a one-man-band, to varying levels of success. Such an undertaking is rarer than you think. Even when an artist ditches their bandmates and goes “solo,” they’re often joined in the studio by session musicians, backing vocalists, special guests and any number of hired guns to help their material shine.
Still, there are some who are brave enough to take everything on their shoulders, and it’s those artists we’re featuring below. Paul McCartney, Phil Collins, John Fogerty and Dave Grohl are just some of the musical luminaries who have released one-man-band albums throughout their storied careers. Prince was another icon who famously sought to do everything himself, going 100 percent solo on two of his early LPs, while Wolfgang Van Halen proved prodigious talent doesn’t fall far from the tree, recording his debut album entirely himself.
Some artists utilized their one-man status to embrace new musical styles or venture into uncharted songwriting terrain. Others simply shouldered the musical burden as a way to challenge themselves.
We take a look at 17 artists who have released one-man-band albums, along with a handful of honorable mentions, below.