10 Musical Artists That Deserve More Commercial Success

10 Musical Artists That Deserve More Commercial Success

Feature Photo: Skrammel, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

10 Musical Artists That Deserve More Commercial Success article presents ten rock and roll groups and artists who never achieved the mass cultural acceptance that their loyal fans believed they should have and still have not. We are not talking about local bands that never made it big. We are talking about bands and artists that are well-known among rock fans but should have had more commercial success than they achieved.  It’s not an easy list to put together because many of these bands were well-loved and achieved high praise and popularity among rock critics and fans. Yet, for whatever reason, they failed to achieve mass acceptance and are often ignored by fans who are less knowledgeable about classic rock when looking back over rock history. Of course, hundreds of bands could go on this list. Nonetheless, these are ten that should have been bigger. Some of them may have achieved one or two gold albums, but those same groups should have had multiple platinum albums, in our opinion.

# 10 –  The Good Rats

If you are a rock fan who grew up in the 1970s and you were from New York, chances are you loved this band. The Good Rats earned their reputation in the Tri-State Area (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut) in the 1970s and 1980s as one of the most exciting rock and roll bands in the nightclub scene. The band was signed to Warner Brothers Records and released their debut album in 1969. The band’s most successful single release was a song called “Tasty,” from their second album also titled Tasty released in 1974. The group was led by lead singer and songwriter Peppi Marchello who passed away in 2013. Rock fans who are unaware of the group should check out the albums Ratcity in Blue and From Rats to Riches.  Additionally, check out our story on the Good Rats. This is a great rock and roll band!

15 Essential Good Rats Songs

# 9 – Zebra

Continuing with our 10 Musical Artists That Deserve More Commercial Success list we turn to another band that had tremendous success in the Tri-State area in a simial fashion to the Good Rats. However, both bands sounded completely different from each other, yet they were attracting the same audience night after night in the New York Tri-State area clubs. While the Good Rats had more of gritty sounding Rolling Stones meets Motorhead type of in-your-face rock and roll presence, Zebra was a trio that started out as a Led Zeppelin cover band while also adding more of a progressive rock nature to their sound. While the Led Zeppelin covers first helped them find an audience, it was their originals that really began helping them capture a loyal following.

Originally from New Orleans, lead singer and guitarist Randy Jackson mesmerized audiences night after night with his sensational lead vocals and guitar playing. The band also signed to Warner Brother Records and achieved great success with their debut album which went Gold. The group would follow up with a handful of albums in the 80s and beyond that but never achieved the same commercial success that their debut album did. Nonetheless, the band’s songs and stage performances have their loyal fans always arguing that this is a band that more people should know about. We are one of them.

Top 10 Zebra Songs 

# 8 – Lone Justice

Talk about a band that had tremendous potential. The group’s debut album displayed a sound that was often referred to as Cow-Punk.  The band’s fantastic debut album was fueled by the supremely talented Maria McKee and an album full of great songs. The live shows that Maria put on with the group, in the beginning, were not to be missed. They were easily some of the most exciting rock performances we have ever seen. Nonetheless, that group only released one album. The band’s sophomore album saw a new band lineup with only Ryan Hedgecock and Maria McKee returning.

Steven Van Zandt produced that album and in our opinion made a mistake in trying to turn Maria into the next Springsteen. We love Steven Van Zandt’s sound and talent, but not for Maria. Clearly, she was unhappy with the direction and decided to embark on a solo career. She remains one of our favorite artists of all time. But oh man, that first album and those performances are not to be missed.

Top 10 Lone Justice Songs

# 7 – Steven Van Zandt Solo

And speaking of Steven Van Zandt. Of course, everyone knows Steven Van Zandt from either his role as guitarist in the E Street Band or as the much-loved Silvio from the Sopranos. Yet the man has never really gotten the credit he deserves as a brilliant songwriter and solo artist in his own right. The man left the biggest band in the world in 1984 to embark on a solo career. However, his move into political songwriting after having written some great soulful r&b Stax Records style songs for Southside Johnny and himself in the late 1970s and early 1980s is where he should have stayed. Nonetheless, he followed his spirit, soul, and heart and did what he believed in. The man has released a ton of great solo albums that deserve more recognition. They have gotten it here.

Top 10 Steven Van Zandt Songs

# 6 – Southside Johnny And The Asbury Jukes

And speaking of Southside Johnny. The success that Bruce Springsteen had in the mid-1970s surely helped his friend and fellow bar musician performer score a record contract with Columbia Records in the 1970s. It didn’t hurt that Bruce Springsteen was also writing songs for Southside Johnny. Along with Steven Van Zandt, Bruce Springsteen wrote many songs for Southside Johnny over the course of his first three albums with the Jukes. The band had success being on Columbia Records with the label’s big-time promotion team. However, Southside Johnny and The Jukes decided to begin writing most of their own songs in the 1980s and after being dropped from Columbia Records, any sort of commercial success just evaporated.

Top 10 Southside Johnny Songs

# 5 – Diane Birch

This is probably the one artist on this list that most people have not heard of. We caught Diane Birch performing in an episode of Daryl’s House with Daryl Hall and his band. She completely blew us away. Her singing and songs sounded like they could have been released between 1967 and 1972. Yet it wasn’t just the style of the songs, it was how great these songs were. How in the world did this artist and her album Bible Belt never reach any sort of success in the United States is just mind-blowing. Bible Belt stands as one of the most enjoyable albums we have heard over the past twenty five years. We are pretty sure you probably never heard of it. Take a listen, and you will know what we are talking about.

# 4 – Billy Falcon

You might not have ever heard of Billy Falcon, but you have heard many of his songs. Billy Falcon released his debut album for Columba Records in the late 1970s, Many hailed him as the next Bruce Springsteen. He would gain a loyal following in the New York area with his exciting live shows. He was dropped by Columbia after only one album. In the early 1990s, he had a minor hit with his beautiful song “Power Windows.” While he never became a household name he did find commercial success writing songs with Bon Jovi that were released on multiple Bon Jovi albums.

Top 10 Billy Falcon Songs

# 3 – Willie Nile

Just as Billy Flacon was hailed as the next Bruce Springsteen, Willie Nile was hailed as the next Bob Dylan. Yet, when Willie Nile arrived on the scene in the early 1980s he was more a punk Greenwich Village style Bruice Sprintseen than a 60s Soho Dylan. Nonetheless, the man has released a magnificent body of work over the years and has really excelled especially in the past two decades releasing some extraordinary albums like House of a Thousand Guitars and Streets of New York. The man has shared the stage with the likes of Bruce Springsteen and opened for the Who when he first started out. He is a legend among his rock star peers. Willie Nile is a brilliant songwriter musician and performer. We just need him to become more of a legend among the masses. He is most deserving of it.

Top 10 Willie Nile Songs

# 2 – Garland Jeffreys

Garland Jeffreys does have a large fan base among classic rock fans. The man is a journeyman with a minor hit called “Wild In The Streets” in the early 1970s. He would release many highly praised albums from Ghost Writer to Escape Artist to Don’t Call Me Buckwheat to 14 Steps To Harlem. Garland Jeffreys came close to mass cultural stardom when he had a top 100 hit in 1981 with a cover of the classic song “96 Tears.” He defines the meaning of the word cult artist. One of our all-time favorites. We highly recommend that fans who don’t know him check out his grand catalog.

Top 10 Garland Jeffreys Songs

# 1 – The Smithereens

We close out 10 Musical Artists That Should Have Had More Commercial success with New Jersey’s The Smithereens. For many, this is one of the most loved bands in classic rock history. The band did have some commercial success, scoring a top 40 hit in 1989 with the song “A Girl Like You.” They also made it back into the top 40 with their track “Too Much Passion” in 1991. However, looking at their incredible catalog of over a dozen fabulous studio albums filled with spectacular rock and roll, one can’t help but wonder why this band wasn’t bigger than they were. Led by the late Pat DiNizio, The Smithereens stand as one of the all-time great rock and roll bands that should have had more commercial success than they did; in the end, it doesn’t matter because they released so much great music like every other artist on this list.

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4 Comments

  1. Avatar Baybluesman December 8, 2022
    • Avatar Brian Kachejian December 8, 2022
  2. Avatar Billy Fitz February 16, 2024
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