Every music star had to start somewhere. Whether in the church choir, playing at tiny clubs, or school talent shows, those early performances eventually led to fame and fortune. After seeing that several of the performers below recently celebrated their 50th anniversary, or have that milestone coming up in the next year or two, we dug around and found these classic rock performers from their earliest days.
10. Jimi Hendrix (1965)
That would be a 22-year-old Jimi Hendrix playing guitar behind a duo known as Buddy & Stacey on a Nashville TV show, Night Train. Everyone sharing that stage with the future guitar hero has probably spent the years since telling anyone who would listen they were in a band with Hendrix.
9. U2 (1978)
U2 formed in 1976, and gave this performance in 1978 on the weekly Irish children’s show Youngline. They actually auditioned for the show under their original name, Hype, but changed it to U2 by the time the show taped.
8. Scorpions (1972)
The future heavy metal stars made this video in support of their first album, Lonesome Crow. They didn’t hit it big in the U.S. until the early 1980s. Watching this video reminds us of that scene in This is Spinal Tap where the ’80s spandex rockers watch that old video of their 1960s roots.
7. Bob Seger (1968)
Seger toiled for years in the Detroit area and Midwest before finally finding fame in the 1970s. That corny show host introducing the Bob Seger System won’t remind anyone of Dick Clark or Ryan Seacrest.
6. Heart (1976)
The group had just released their debut album the previous year. There’s a lot to like about this performance in the KWSU TV studios in Pullman, Wash. — if you can overlook bass player Steve Fossen’s ridiculous outfit.
5. Pink Floyd (1967)
It’s mind-boggling that the group went from this loose, unfocused mess to the structured brilliance of Dark Side of the Moon a few years later.
4. Jimmy Page (1958)
When the announcer asks 14-year-old James Page what he wants to do after he finishes school, Page tells him, “biological research.” Instead, he wrote Stairway to Heaven and a bunch of other classic rock hits. Not a bad fallback plan.
3. Fleetwood Mac (1976)
No video here, only a raw, emotional first take of Fleetwood Mac’s hit Go Your Own Way, with different lyrics, and only Lindsey Buckingham’s vocals. While Fleetwood Mac had been around since 1967, it didn’t reach its peak of commercial success until the addition of Buckingham and lead singer Stevie Nicks in 1975.
2. Bruce Springsteen (1972)
A year before he released his debut album, the man who would one day be known as “The Boss” gave this live performance. He would have been 22 or 23.
1. Rolling Stones (1964)
It’s surreal watching entertainer Dean Martin make fun of the then-unknown Rolling Stones after their performance on the Hollywood Palace variety show. As the Stones leave the stage, Martin cracks, “Rolling Stones, weren’t they great?” while rolling his eyes.