Originally born as Karen Lynn Greening in Belleville, Ontario, the heavy-hitter vocalist better known by her fans as Lee Aaron first began her singing career at the age of five years old when she sang in school musicals. Then, after singing in a musical production when she was fifteen years old, she was asked to join a local rock-metal group called Lee Aaron. In addition to becoming the lead vocalist, she also performed alto saxophone and keyboards. This is where she adopted the stage name of Lee Aaron for herself as she felt it was a perfect fit.
When she was seventeen years old, Lee Aaron was involved in an automobile accident that badly bruised her face, as well as broke her nose. Three years later, she recorded her debut album, The Lee Aaron Project in 1982 on Freedom Records, which was later reissued on Attic. Well-known musicians from the Toronto, Ontario music scene collaborated with Lee Aaron on it, including artists from Moxy, Santers, and Triumph. Despite the album’s creation being done so by Canadians, it was a UK release only. That same year saw Lee Aaron fly to New York City and pose topless for OUI, a magazine that catered to men’s interests. It was a decision Lee Aaron made she had come to regret as the March 1983 issue of that pose in the magazine seemed to damage her credibility as a musician, especially among the conservative Canadian fans that placed a stigmatic judgment against her. Aside from appearing topless in the magazine, the American audience wasn’t aware of Lee Aaron, the musician.
In 1984, the recording of Lee Aaron’s second studio album, Metal Queen, resulted in a multi-album deal with the label, Attic Records. During the recording, ex-Wrabit guitarist, John Albani joined the band where he and Aaron formed a solid partnership in songwriting that lasted over a decade. Between 1984 and 1992, Lee Aaron toured extensively throughout Europe and made appearances in Japan and the United States. While with Attic Records, she recorded and released six studio albums in Canada and international releases across the European, Asian, and Oceania nations. On three different occasions, she has won Best Female Vocalist at the Toronto Music Awards, as well as earning herself ten Juno Award nominations. Of all these albums, 1989’s Bodyrock was the most commercially successful as it produced the most amount of hit singles and catapulted her name to a new credibility level she never had before.
In 1992, she left Attic Records to start up her own label, Hip Chic Music, in which she’d release two additional studio albums. In addition to Lee Aaron’s musical resume, she also took acting classes for a year before she shifted her hard rock music style to performing jazz and blues in Toronto. Throughout the 1990s, when she toured across smaller Canadian venues, her soft-spoken charm and personality served as a contrast to some of her harder-edged music style but also complimented the comedic, yet humble side of the true Lee Aaron. In comment, all performers on stage are actors, comedians, and musicians in one well-rounded package that has some artists know how to treat it as such, which makes the key difference between someone who has star quality and superstar quality.
This became especially evident in 2000 when Lee Aaron released her first jazz album, Slick Chick. As a means to promote and support the album, Aaron performed extensively across Canada and Europe in various jazz festivals. This feat resulted in an invite to audition in 2002 with the Modern Baroque Opera Company, which saw her cast and appear that same year in 101 Songs for the Marquis De Sade. This earned an ALCAN Performing Arts Award. Afterward, she recorded and released her eleventh studio album, Beautiful Things in 2004.
This time, it was a hybrid of pop and jazz music. Since then, Aaron has continued to play a combination of jazz and rock music at various shows. In 2016, Lee Aaron went back to the recording and release of an all-rock album, Fire And Gasoline, after a twenty-year hiatus from the genre. It is also the first of her album recordings to be officially released in the US. Up to this point, her music has only been released in Canada, Europe, and Oceania.
In total, Lee Aaron has fourteen studio albums to her credit, the most recent being a 2021 release of Radio On! She also has five compilation albums and twenty known singles, aside from the jazz songs that won over critical acclaim that seemed pleasantly surprised the “Metal Queen” had it in her to display such a range of musical talent. Also in 2016, she was inducted into the Brampton Arts Walk of Fame and still continues to make an impression only Lee Aaron can to this day.
Top 10 Lee Aaron Songs
#10 – Barely Holdin’ On
The 1985 power ballad, “Barely Holdin’ On” had become one of Lee Aaron’s best-recognized singles, despite not earning any chart appearances on the top music billboards. It was, however, hugely popular in the UK and its European neighbors who embraced this lyrical ballad more openly than the North American audience ever did. As far as the European fans are concerned, this is one of Lee Aaron’s greatest hits. Lee Aaron’s lyrical storytelling of someone trying to hold on while stuck in a world loaded with expectations won her a loyal fan base among Canadians and Europeans. It was the first of three singles released from her third studio album, Call of the Wild.
#9 – Tom Boy
“Tom Boy” served as the lead single when Lee Aaron made her rock music genre comeback in 2016 with her album, Fire and Gasoline. It served as a sexy and playful tongue-in-cheek song that poked fun at Lee Aaron’s earlier career as a performer while at the same time sending a lyrical message to her then ten-year-old daughter, as well as to any fan that may relate to the song’s message. Inspired by her own daughter to write her a song, the message behind the song was the right to be, as a girl at any age, to be true to one’s own nature, even if it means to be a Tomboy.
“Tom Boy,” was released as a single but did not make a chart appearance. However, it remains a favorite song among men and women who seem to be in agreement what defines a woman doesn’t necessarily mean she has to wear pretty makeup and a dress to do it. In the music video, Lee Aaron’s daughter and her friends appeared as if members of her band, and in a manner that was a visual slapstick mimicking Robert Palmer’s exploitive video, Addicted to Love.
#8 – If You Don’t Love Me Anymore
2016’s “If You Don’t Love Me Anymore” was a melancholy song that featured Lee Aaron’s lyrical performance dealing with a potential breakup. According to Aaron, it was not meant to serve as a breakup song, but it was subject to interpretation, and that’s how the fans looked at it. For Aaron, it was about looking at the love interest one day with little interest, only for the next day to remember why that love is there in the first place. The single focused on the test of true love being able to stand the test of time. It was one of the most touching songs from her eleventh studio album, Fire and Gasoline. Although it was not released as a single, it has since become a fan favorite due to how they responded to the song with its content.
The positive reception Lee Aaron received from the music critics agreed her ability to drop the glam metal genre in favor of grunge, then jazz and blues, then make a comeback to the rock genre simply pointed out how talented she is an artist. This song, like the rest of the album, showed a new level of maturity that won her rave reviews that were rightly deserved.
#7 – Goin’ Off the Deep End
On the Canada Singles Chart, “Goin’ Off the Deep End” charted at number ninety-three as the second of two hits from her self-titled album. As far as the critics from AllMusic were concerned, this single, along with the rest of the album, illustrated Lee Aaron’s best work as a singing-songwriting artist when it was released in 1987.
The guitar riffs were hard and heavy, true to glam-rock style, while Lee Aaron’s melodic vocals demonstrated the artist’s ability to add an extra element of class to a genre of music that was heavily saturated by hair bands that all sounded too much like each other. While “Goin’ Off the Deep End,” may not have earned top-of-the-chart success, it did become a solid favorite among hard rock fans, at least among Canadians and Europeans.
#6 – Sex With Love
From Lee Aaron’s sixth studio album, Some Girls Do, “Sex With Love” was released as a single in 1991 and climbed as high as number fifty-five on the Canada Singles Chart. As for the album, it earned a Canadian Juno Award nomination in 1992 for Rock Album of the Year, but the win went to Roll the Bones by Rush. “Sex With Love’s” heavy guitar riffs, along with Lee Aaron’s melodic vocals, served as a comedic jab revolving around romance, as well as bringing out the obvious that such relationships, whether it’s exploited on the screen by actors, or behind the scenes, is what it is. Due to the subject matter, many radio stations and billboards were reluctant to play “Sex With Love.” As for the fans, that was a different story.
#5 – Do You Know What I Mean (featuring Myles Goodwin)
The original “Do You Know What I Mean” was a popular 1971 single released by Lee Michael that became a top ten hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 at number six. The version performed by Lee Aaron in 1988 turned this song into a collaboration with Myles Goodwin that peaked as high as number forty-seven on the Canada Singles Chart. For Goodwyn, “Do You Know What I Mean,” was recorded for his self-titled debut album. Although Lee Aaron’s vocals are not featured in this track, the instrumentals performed by the band were, which contributed to the heavy synth sound that was so popular during the 80s.
#4 – Only Human
In 1987, the incredible ballad, “Only Human” charted on the Canada Singles Chart at number forty-four. This single had a focus on the self-acceptance that people are only human and that this should not be considered a bad thing. Singing as a woman who believes in the strength of one, it’s meant as a triumphant single, which Aaron’s lyrical tale executed with excellence. This single came from Lee Aaron’s self-titled album, which was her fourth studio recording. Of all the albums Lee Aaron produced, it was this one that was a full European release, as well as Canadian.
In Sweden and Switzerland, the album was the twenty-sixth and twenty-eighth best-selling in 1987, respectively. It was also popular enough in Germany, which charted at number fifty-one. On the Canadian Albums chart, it was number thirty-nine. As for the single, it has remained a solid favorite among music fans who find themselves immersed in the song’s message, as well as Aaron’s vocals.
#3 – Hands On
“Hands On” was the second single that was released from Lee Aaron’s certified platinum album, Bodyrock. In 1990, it charted as high as number thirty-eight on the Canada Singles Chart, despite the fact it received limited airplay at the time. The belt of Lee Aaron’s declaration of hands-on served as the intro of guitar riffs led to a power-hitting single that became a favorite among Canadian music fans that simply couldn’t get enough of Aaron’s vocal talent. The single matched the theme of the entire album, exactly as Hands On was meant to do.
#2 – Metal Queen
Whether it was intentional or not, “Metal Queen” became the most identifiable song for Lee Aaron as a recording artist. Her manager at the time, the very same that convinced her to post topless in a men’s magazine, was a devout fan of old-style metal music and had her perform a single as a sword-wielding, female version of Conan the Barbarian. This heavy-hitting single failed to chart on any of the Canadian music charts as the radio stations at the time, but it won over music fans who didn’t just fall for the on-screen presence of the woman who technically became Canada’s answer to a heavy metal queen, they fell for the power of her incredibly talented voice.
Americans and Canadians who didn’t limit their music listening styles according to the whims of radio stations saw this single as something like a signature song for Lee Aaron as it served as an introductory portrayal of the petite singer that seemed to be underestimated by an industry that was still too hung up on whatever it felt deserved more attention.
#1 – Whatcha Do to My Body
“Whatcha Do to My Body” came from Lee Aaron’s most successful album to date, Bodyrock. It is also the highest-charted single to her credit as it peaked at number twenty-five on the Canada Singles Chart in 1989. This single was instrumental in the album becoming a twice-certified platinum seller with Music Canada and had been nominated for three Juno Awards.
Aside from all that hard-rock belting sound that came from this performance, Lee Aaron’s vocal talent was undeniable, especially when hitting the long extended notes that melodically carried itself out very few artists are capable of. Both the single and the album received praise and critical acclaim, even by the American audience, which wasn’t meant to have this single, nor the album officially released into that nation. Because it wasn’t released as a single in the US, it did not chart, but it has since become a favorite song played on stations that cater to hard-rock and heavy metal music.
Top 10 Lee Aaron Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
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