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Solo Side Project

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Sometimes a band member just wants to do their own musical thing. There aren't any problems in the band (at least, not enough to justify a break-up). Instead, this lone member decides to take a break from the band, if it's active, or just get out on their own during a hiatus and write, record, and/or compose music and perhaps release an album or an EP when all's said and done.

Contrast Breakup Breakout, where a band member finds success going solo AFTER the band... well, breaks up.



  • KISS did this, with all four members releasing solo albums at the same time.
  • Fictional example: In That Thing You Do!, Guy Patterson (the drummer) works on his jazz chops during the band's big tour.
  • Brandon Flowers and Ronnie Vanucci of The Killers both released solo albums in the last few years, but the band are still together and working on a new album.
  • Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Phil Selway, and Ed O'Brien of Radiohead—the frontman, lead guitarist/keyboardist, drummer, and rhythm guitarist, respectively—have all released solo work during the band's time together.
    • Thom's got the electronic The Eraser and the Spitting Feathers EP under his belt, as well as remixes of other artists and a contribution to the Twilight soundtrack.
    • Jonny has done work with the BBC as a composer-in-residence, and has done the soundtrack for Norwegian Wood, There Will Be Blood, Film/Bodysong, and We Need to Talk About Kevin.
    • Phil has released both an album (Familial) and an EP (Running Blind).
    • Ed has released a solo album (Earth) under his initials, EOB.
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  • Jonsi of Sigur Rós has released Go, a distinctly more electronic-sounding album than his band's usual Post-Rock output.
  • After the release of Boston's second album, Don't Look Back, songwriter and lead guitarist Tom Sholz got mired in legal conflicts with the band's producers, causing a long delay in the production of their third album. In the meantime, backup guitarist Barry Goudreau, along with singer Brad Delp, recorded a solo album titled Barry Goudreau. Goudreau later went on to split away from the group, forming his own band, Orion The Hunter (which featured the future Boston vocalist Fran Cosmo, and backup vocals from Brad Delp), and, later, with Delp, RTZ.
  • Julian Casablancas of The Strokes has released a solo album.
  • Davey Havok and Jade Puget of AFI started a side project called Black Audio, releasing an album called Cex Cells.
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  • Guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz of Killswitch Engage started a solo project (with former Killswitch Engage vocalist Jesse Leach) called Times of Grace.
  • The list of side projects various Converge members have been involved in is as long as your arm.
  • Graham Coxon of Blur fame wrote and released his own albums while the band was still together, and has continued his solo career post-breakup.
    • Likewise Damon Albarn post-reunion with the release of Everyday Robots. And that's not to mention the numerous musical projects he's also involved with, most of whom revolve around him anyway.
  • For The Beach Boys, Dennis Wilson was the first of the classic 6-man line-up to release a solo album, with the lost classic Pacific Ocean Blue in 1977, which is still held in high regard. He attempted to create a second solo album, called Bambu, but as Dennis's personal life was going downhill, the album was never completed by the time he drowned in 1983.
  • Plenty for The Beatles:
    • Paul McCartney's score for the film The Family Way (1967) would technically be the first solo side project by a Beatle, but since it was more a Cult Soundtrack than an actual solo effort it's usually not regarded that way.
    • George Harrison's Wonderwall Music (1968) was the first official solo side project released by a Beatle. He followed it up later with Electronic Sound (1969)
    • John Lennon was the next Beatle to release albums while technically still a member of the band. His two Unfinished Music albums (Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins (1968), Unfinished Music No. 2: Life with the Lions (1968)), Wedding Album (1969) and Live Peace in Toronto (1969), were all recorded with Yoko Ono. They are arguably the most notorious solo side projects ever released.
    • Ringo Starr's Sentimental Journey (1970) and McCartney's self-titled first solo album, McCartney (1970) were recorded while the Beatles were still technically together.
    • Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison also wrote for and produced a number of other acts.
  • Mono Puff was the side project of John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants. John Linnell had two solo releases as well: The first was the EP House Of Mayors, released on the subscription-only record label Hello Records, and the second was a more widely released full album, State Songs.
  • Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park had the side project Fort Minor.
  • Around 1977-8, all the members of Yes released solo albums.
  • Bill Wyman was the first Rolling Stone to release a proper solo album, with the brilliant and underrated Monkey Grip in 1974. This was followed by the average Stone Alone in 1976, the great but dated Bill Wyman in 1982, and finally the awful Stuff in 1992 (immediately prior to his departure from the Stones). He was also the only Stone to have a major solo hit, with "(Si, Si) Je Suis un Rockstar" in 1981, as well as the minor hits "A New Fashion" and "Come Back Suzanne" in 1982. His first solo single was "In Another Land" from the Stones album Their Satanic Majesties Request in 1967. He also composed and contributed to the soundtracks for the films Green Ice, Phenomena and Terror At The Opera.
    • Wyman also formed the short-lived band Willie And The Poor Boys in the mid-80's, and created a self-titled album which had many high-profile musicians, as well as Charlie Watts.
    • Both Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have also released solo albums from the 80's onwards. Mick's solo albums are She's The Boss in 1985, Primitive Cool in 1987, Wandering Spirit in 1993, Goddess In The Doorway in 2001, and the soundtrack to the film Alfie in 2004. He also contributed to the soundtracks of Performance and Ned Kelly, with "Memo From Turner" being his first solo single in 1970. However, his solo career (especially early on) nearly destroyed The Rolling Stones, and has helped destroy Mick and Keith's friendship.
    • Keith Richards also released three solo albums: Talk Is Cheap (1988), Main Offender (1992) and Crosseyed Heart (2015). His earliest solo single, a cover of Chuck Berry's "Run Rudolph Run" dates back to 1978.
    • Ronnie Wood's solo career started in 1974 with I've Got My Own Album To Do (Bill Wyman's Monkey Grip pre-dates it by a few months). This was followed by Now Look in 1975, a soundtrack to the movie Mahoney's Last Stand with Ronnie Lane in 1976, Gimme Some Neck in 1979, 1234 in 1981, Slide On This in 1992, Not For Beginners in 2001, and I Feel Like Playing in 2010.
    • Also, Brian Jones wrote the soundtrack to the film A Degree Of Murder in 1967, and produced the album Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Jajouka, posthumously released in 1971.
    • Charlie Watts also released some solo work, which is of a very different style (Jazz) than the Rolling Stones normally play.
  • Almost all the members of the supergroup Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young released solo albums during the band's tenure.
  • Several members of The Grateful Dead:
    • Guitarist Jerry Garcia released several solo albums, and also had several side projects, including Saunders and Garcia (rock and funk), Old and In the Way (bluegrass), and Wales and Garcia (free jazz).
    • Guitarist Bob Weir put out a solo album, and also had a couple of side-project bands that released albums.
    • Bassist Phil Lesh had a solo album of experimental electronica featuring a wide variety of guests from several San Francisco bands. (His band, Phil and Friends, didn't form till after the Dead broke up, though, and thus does not qualify.)
    • Drummer Micky Hart had a couple of albums with his band Rolling Thunder.
  • Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam did the soundtrack for the film Into the Wild while Pearl Jam were still together. He also released a solo Ukulele album.
  • Phil Collins started his highly successful solo career in 1981. Around the same time, Genesis grew more popular, too, with Collins still as their drummer and lead singer. That way, it was pretty much impossible to avoid his music in The '80s. It wasn't until the late Nineties that Collins left Genesis.
    • Also, guitarist/bassist Mike Rutherford recorded two solo albums before forming his own Solo Side Project, Mike + The Mechanics.
    • Not to mention Genesis' former and gone-for-good lead singer Peter Gabriel.
    • Steve Hackett's first solo album, Voyage of the Acolyte, was recorded before he formally left Genesis.
  • Andrew Horowitz of Tally Hall is "edu" when left to his own devices. He released his debut album only on cassette tape in 2012.
    • Rob Cantor also began a solo career in 2012.
  • Frank Zappa is a special case. When he was part of the Mothers of Invention he released one solo album outside the group's activities, namely Lumpy Gravy. None of the band members appear on it as a group, though a few of them (Jimmy Carl Black, Roy Estrada, Jim "Motorhead" Sherwood and Bunk Gardner) have guest appearances, but only in speaking parts. All music on the record is instrumental and recorded with an orchestra. Seeing that Zappa was pretty much I Am the Band from the start and all of his output nowadays is branded under the name "Frank Zappa" the distinction has disappeared.
  • Freddie Mercury released two solo albums while still part of Queen, namely "Mr. Bad Guy" and Barcelona, in collaboration with opera singer Montserrat Caballé.
  • Tom Barman, lead singer of Belgian rock band dEUS, has released two solo albums, namely "Live" (with Guy Van Nueten) and "That's Blue!", a collection of snippets from interviews with pop art painters, intercut with music. He has also collaborated with CJ Bolland for their duo solo side project Magnus, which is a dance act. Barman is also a special case, because although dEUS still exists most of the early members have left and went on having solo careers themselves, leaving only Barman and Klaas Janszoons as the permanent members.
  • Five albums from four members of The Cars during a couple of breaks in 1982 and '86.
  • While other members focused on other solo work such as variety shows, CN Blue leader and main vocalist Jung Yonghwa made his solo debut in 2015 with the album "One Fine Day" which is full of his self-compositions and collaborations. It allowed him to produce and release music outside of the band's usual style.
  • After fun. went on hiatus, which they insist is NOT a break-up, frontman Nate Ruess embarked on a solo career as an Indie Pop artist. If fun. hasn't truly broken up, it can be assumed that Nate's solo career is this.
  • Similar to Kiss, the members of Melvins also released three solo EP's at the same time - As a Shout-Out, the cover art was even done in a similar style to the solo Kiss albums. Later on, King Buzzo released an acoustic solo album called This Machine Kills Artists, and Dale Crover had his own album The Fickle Finger Of Fate.
  • Alabama frontman Randy Owen released the solo album One on One in 2008 without interrupting the career of the now semi-retired-but-still-occasionally-touring band.
  • Sugarland's two members, Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush, released solo projects in early 2014 and early 2015 respectively. Both have been emphatic about the fact that both solo albums are only a side project, and that Sugarland is not broken up, merely on hiatus.
  • When Big & Rich went on hiatus in 2008 so that Big Kenny could recover from a neck injury, both he and John Rich released solo albums. Big Kenny only did one, but Rich did a full one followed by two EPs.
  • Aaron Lewis, frontman of the rock band Staind, has released two albums of Country Music.
  • William Lee Golden of The Oak Ridge Boys did two albums after Executive Meddling resulted in him temporarily getting kicked out of that band. (He later rejoined.)
  • Curtis Rx of Creature Feature started a solo project under the name Rufus Rex. This spawned one album: Dead Beat (2011).
  •'s vocalist, Stefan Poiss, runs a side project under the alias "THYX". Like, THYX is futurepop, but is overall faster paced and lacks the overarching narrative of's discography.
  • After Lady Antebellum went on hiatus in 2015, both lead singers did this. Charles Kelley released the solo album The Driver, while Hillary Scott put out a Christian album featuring her parents and sister.
  • Butthole Surfers have had several:
    • Gibby Haynes had the group P (also featuring Johnny Depp), who released a single self-titled album in 1990, as well as the later solo project Gibby Haynes And His Problem.
    • Haynes and bassist Jeff Pinkus had the short-lived electronic duo The Jack Officers, with 1990's Digital Dump as their only release.
    • Guitarist Paul Leary's album The History of Dogs is a "solo project" in the truest sense, since he both wrote all the songs and performed all the instruments (which primarily consist of vocals, guitar, drum machine and synthesizers).
    • Drummer King Coffey led the group Drain, who released albums in 1992 (Pick Up Heaven) and 1996 (Offspeed And In There)
  • Both "heads of the band" of Die Ärzte have done this. Farin Urlaub being a prolific songwriter initially credited this to the fact that his output was much larger than the gentleman's agreement of a roughly 50:50 share of songs written by him and Bela B. on each album. Bela has however also started a solo-career since and Farin's music is notably heavier on trombones and has stronger ska and funk influences than the pretty mainstream rock the band usually does.
  • As for ABBA, both singers Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad recorded solo albums while the group was still around.
    • Agnetha recorded two albums in Swedish: Elva kvinnor i ett hus in 1975 and Nu tändas tusen juleljus in 1980, this one with her daughter Linda Ulvaeus. She also recorded Never Again, a duet with Tomas Ledin released as a single in 1982.
    • Frida also recorded two albums in the meantime: Ensam in 1975, and Something's Going On in 1982, the first in Swedish and the latter in English.
  • All the members of Fleetwood Mac have recorded solo albums during band hiatuses, with Stevie Nicks having the most success.
  • Future Islands keyboardist Gerritt Welmers has a synthwave side project under the name Moss of Aura.
  • Princess Century is this for Maya Postepski of Austra.
  • Destiny's Child officially broke up in 2005. All three of the members released solo songs/albums during their various hiatuses, the most successful being Beyoncé's 2003 album Dangerously in Love. However, Beyonce was actually the last of the three to release a solo project: Michelle Williams released a gospel album in 2002 and Kelly Rowland collaborated with Nelly in his hit single "Dilemma".
  • In 1983, while Soft Cell were still active as a duo, Marc Almond released an album titled "Torments and Toreros" under the name Marc and the Mambas. It was panned by critics, leading to Marc (in a drug-fueled rage) confronting a music journalist while armed with a whip; he then announced that he was quitting the music industry, only to retract the statement shortly after.
  • Tones On Tail was the side project of Bauhaus guitarist Daniel Ash, later including their drummer Kevin Haskins, while Bauhaus was still active.
  • God Module's Jasyn Bangert created the solo act Hexheart to to explore musical ideas and styles that did not fit into his main band.
  • Andy Deane of darkwave band Bella Morte went solo as The Rain Within, which has a more Synthwave influenced sound.
  • Bruce Springsteen had an odd case with Nebraska. Springsteen originally recorded a sparse set of acoustic tracks by himself with the intention of giving them to the E Street Band and making them into an album with the full band. However, both Springsteen and the record label felt the original demos had a certain intimate, "haunting" quality that couldn't be replicated, and the demos were cleaned up and released as a Springsteen solo album. The E Street Band recorded more albums with Springsteen afterwards however, making Nebraska an unintended solo project.
  • Marty Raybon, lead singer of Shenandoah, recorded a gospel album in 1995 while his band was still active. He also did an album with his brother Tim as the Raybon Brothers in 1997 before his previous group had disbanded.
  • Chicago keyboardist Robert Lamm has released several solo albums, and guitarist Terry Kath was preparing to record one at the time of his death. Peter Cetera also released a solo album prior to leaving Chicago.
  • iamamiwhoami frontwoman Jonna Lee performs solo under the moniker ionnalee.
  • The members of Talking Heads all began their own side-projects while the band was still active:
    • David Byrne released his Brian Eno collaboration My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, his soundtrack to Twyla Tharp's dance project The Catherine Wheel, and his solo debut Rei Momo while the band was still officially around. He would continue his solo career after Talking Heads announced their breakup at the end of 1991, released his solo album Uh-Oh just a few months later, and still makes music to this day.
    • Jerry Harrison's three solo albums were all released during the 1981-1990 period.
    • Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth's side-band Tom Tom Club released their first three albums between 1981 and 1988, with the third featuring Byrne and Harrison as backing vocalists on a cover of the Velvet Underground's "Femme Fatale". Like Byrne, Tom Tom Club's career would also outlive Talking Heads, though their output is comparatively more sporadic.
  • Justin Hayward (both by himself and with John Lodge), Ray Thomas, and Graeme Edge released solo projects during The Moody Blues' commercial hiatus in the 1970's.
  • Hayley Williams of Paramore has released two solo albums outside of the group, Petals For Armor and FLOWERS for VASES/Descansos.
  • Paul Hartnoll of Orbital has produced two solo albums while separated from his brother Phil; The Ideal Condition under his own name, and a self-titled album under the alias 8:58, which he considered a Spiritual Successor to Orbital's works (although they reunited for a second time a couple years after its release).
  • All four members of the classic line-up of The Who also released solo albums, to varying degrees of success: the most commercially successful was Roger Daltrey's self-titled debut, while Pete Townshend is easily the most prolific. John Entwistle released several solo albums majoring on his trademark black humour which went largely unnoticed. Keith Moon made only one solo album, the more generous reviews of which label it So Bad, It's Good.
  • Tyler Glenn, lead singer and keyboardist of Neon Trees, released Excommunication in 2016 during a six-year album hiatus for the main band. That album is much more deeply personal, as it deals with his decision to leave the LDS Church.
  • Xeno & Oaklander co-founder Sean McBride has the solo act Martial Canterel.
  • Drew Daniel of Matmos has a microhouse/experimental techno side project called The Soft Pink Truth.
  • In 2000, while indie rock band Creeper Lagoon were still active, founding member Sharky Laguana released an album of instrumental Trip Hop under the name Sly Doc.
  • During Information Society's hiatus as a group in the 1990's, singer Kurt Harland used the name as a solo act, while producer Paul Robb went solo as Think Tank.
  • Alphaville lead singer Marian Gold released two solo albums in the 90s: So Long Celeste and United. So Long Celeste was written and recorded in the aftermath of Alphaville's The Breathtaking Blue, which had such a tumultuous production that the band members stopped speaking to each other despite not officially breaking up. United on the other hand, which was recorded after Alphaville regrouped for Prostitute, is a sort of "lost" Alphaville album, as Alphaville member Bernhard Lloyd was one of the mastering engineers, and other Alphaville member Ricky Echolette co-wrote several songs, as did frequent Alphaville collaborator Rainer Bloss.
  • Pink Floyd members Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Richard Wright, and Nick Mason all released solo projects while part of the band.


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