Ugliness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder and everyone has a different opinion on what constitutes “ugly” I recently asked some of the Internet’s top music sites to answer the following question:
“Who do you think the ugliest musician/band ever to walk the planet
is and why?”
I took the responses I received and shared them with a large group of music loving friends who then voted on the submissions. After the votes were counted I put the selections in order from ugliest to least ugliest. The resulting list contains the top dozen ugliest musicians, or the real “Dirty Dozen.”
Please remove all sharp objects and children from the room before viewing the pictures displayed below. (Click images for expanded versions)
1. Shane MacGowan (The Pogues)
Looking for the ugliest rock star is something of a fool’s adventure. After all, rock isn’t about being pretty. If Keith Richards looked like Hugh Grant, the Rolling Stones might’ve gone the way of Herman’s Hermits. Ugliness denotes disregard for the bourgeoisie ideas of beauty, it suggests defiance in the face of the photogenic, it is emblematic of “listen to the music, man”. Beautiful people seldom make stirring music, in much the same way as the handsomest jock and prettiest cheerleader seldom had anything interesting to say in high school. So with these caveats in mind, I’ll say the most heroic rock performer is none other than Irishman Shane MacGowan of the Pogues. The Irish have produced many a handsome lad, and many a fair lass, but MacGowan got one of the most asymmetrical heads, biggest flappy ears, and worst teeth from his genetic pool. Makes me all that more convinced the Pogues were a great band.
Selected by uao of Freeway Jam
2. G.G. Allin
GG (born Jesus Christ Allin) started out sort of homely, but through a lot of effort, made himself truly ugly – which was a reflection of the world as he saw it. He often performed naked and would cut huge gashes in his face and body on stage. He’d urinate and deficate on stage, and then throw his feces at the crowd. A self-described asshole, GG didn’t just do this as a performance, he lived his life that way. A friend was a potential enemy, but the audience was the ultimate enemy. He was famous for endurance, in the amount of damage he would inflict on himself. He once bashed a microphone against his mouth repeatedly until his front two teeth were knocked in. He promised suicide on stage, but ended up dying in a friend’s apartment in 1993, of a heroin overdose after escaping naked from a police-raided show nearby.
Selected by drake of thus spake drake
3. Gene Simmons (Kiss)
True ugliness lives on the inside, although in Simmons’ case, it clearly seeped outward rather early on. Homeslice’s abhorrent, dismissive attitude, lamentably huge ego, evil and ruthless business sense and purportedly nasty views on women, minorities and gays makes him a clear winner for Uggo King. How any dipshit has ever fucked him is a mystery to me-and to top that, as a young lad, he was studying to be a Rabbi! Led off the path, indeed.
Selected by Joan Hiller/Publicist, Sub Pop Records
4. Lemmy (Motörhead)
Maybe I just have an unfortunate, politically incorrect bias against giant carbunkles, especially when they adorn the face. Or maybe I am spot on. Lemmy (Ian Kilmister) of Motörhead fame has been rockin’ his ugly self for decades. He started in the music biz as a roadie for another famous unpretty boy, Jimi Hendrix in 1967. Lemmy has that haggard look that only decades of hard livin, venereal diseases and Rock & Roll can produce to such an excessive degree. The man has taken no prisoners in his life, his music or his look. I raise my glass to you Lemmy, Rock Diety of the unseemly throngs.
Selected by Robert Burke of musicradish.com
5. Thom Yorke (Radiohead)
But I think it is perhaps fitting for a band like Radiohead to have a leader who, while full of a certain charisma, falls completely outside of what would normally be considered attractive by many. Thom Yorke is hell-bent on the public respecting him for his music and not for his image… and luckily, his face is perfect for that. Nothing quite lines up on it, you know? Sorta under-, or maybe over-, cooked.
But when he’s on that stage and pouring his emotions out over the crowd, he is nonetheless mesmerizing and easy to look at… kinda transcends the whole good looking/ugly thing.
Selected by Chris Anderson of worthy<-MUSIC
6. Jim Skafish (Skafish)
Rock ‘n’ roll and ugliness go together like Sonny and Cher – I mean when they were actually together. Part of the visceral appeal and importance of rock ‘n’ roll has always been its power to transgress and shock, and “ugliness” — both audio and visual — is integral to this power.
But there is ugliness and there is UGLINESS, and while the examples of natural and nurtured butt ugliness may be rife in the annals of rock ‘n’ roll, I don’t think anyone has ever quite reveled in their physical freakishness quite like Jim Skafish. Skafish was the leader, singer/songwriter and namesake of the luxuriously quirky Chicago band of the late-’70s and ’80s, which had a sensational self-titled debut album for IRS in 1980 wherein Jim dwelled quite artfully and painfully into the uncomfortable realities of being a sensitive and misunderstood outcast on classics such as “Disgracing the Family Name.”
I mean ugly: the guy has a beak like a toucan, had a bowlcut that Three Stooges-Moe would have scoffed at (now shaved clean), and translucently pale skin over an oddly androgynous 6′ 3″ frame. Beat that with a stick and walk away.
Selected by Eric Olsen of Blogcritics
Not being a supermodel myself, I can’t really name an “ugly” musician without being overly hypocritical. Physically. we all have our charms. What bothers me about musician’s appearances is when they are not
Someone like Madonna, who constantly changes her physical look to sell more albums and/or stay popular is far more repulsive to me than the Elephant Man singing reggae ever could be.
Selected by David of Largehearted Boy
8. Alex Van Halen (Van Valen)
As a youngster growing up in the late seventies I didn’t really care what musicians looked like as long as they rocked. Then I saw a picture of Alex Van Halen. His mug instinctively made made my skin crawl worse than Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees combined. It was the face I imagined staring down at me in my nightmares from the side door of a beat-up
van, asking if I wanted some candy and could I help him find his puppy. A creepy, ugly dude. I’m only thankful that for the last thirty years he’s taken
those huge sunglasses off maybe twice. As David Lee Roth once said: “No, no, no. Don’t take them off, don’t take them off. Leave them on, leave them on!”
Selected by J Shifty of Ribaldry & Schmaltz
A few months ago, I noticed that a European heavy metal label called, “Black Lotus” release a number of albums onto rhapsody. Most of these releases were from bands coming from Greece and Sweden and they were chock full of quality headbanging. It actually proved to be quite a rewarding surprise. I even compiled a Radish list called Greek Power Metal which can be found in the Rhapsody Radish archives. Among the bands I discovered was probably the ugliest looking group I have ever seen called, “Haterush.” These guys can jam pretty well but MAN OH, MAN…These guys are ugly!
Selected by Pantagruel of the Radish Message Board
Because I just can’t bring myself to call an actual person “the ugliest musician ever,” how about an entire band? I selected GWAR as the ugliest band to walk the earth. Anyone in their mid- to late-20′s will remember GWAR as the object of Beavis and Butthead’s eternal adoration and worship, which probably got them the recognition they still enjoy today. Categorized in Rhapsody as “Comedy Rock,” it’s easier to laugh at the ridiculous getups these guys wear than the actual music. Especially known for showering their audiences with fake blood, vomit and other bodily fluids, the erstwhile “aliens bent on destroying earth” attempt to destroy and/or corrupt humans whenever possible. Their heavy-metal theater act has been going on for 20 years now, but the sheer monstrosity that is GWAR will go on…forever.
Selected by Amanda of Rhapsody in Blog
11. Roger Waters (Pink Floyd)
Despite everyone who’s ever been identified as a Rolling Stone, I’m always shocked to see Roger Waters’s face, particularly in the early photos (like the one on the Piper at the Gates of Dawn cover): his face looks as though it’s been squeezed through a soda bottle and smushed. What really shocked me after I saw that photo was when I discovered that it hadn’t been distorted or psychedelicized. That was actually what he looked like!
Since then, well…on the one hand he gets less horrifying as he ages, but on the other hand, now he’s both old AND ugly. Rarely a good combination.
Oh…and his nasal shriek when he sings is almost as hideous as his face. That’s what truly places him in the Hall of Homely.
Selected by Michael J. West of Popular Music Musings
Journey was without a doubt the ugliest band in the history of rock and roll. Sure, their songs sound fun on “Laguna Beach” and “Family Guy,” but have you seen their videos? Calling them butt ugly is an insult to
butts. Frontman Steve Perry, amazingly enough, wasn’t even the ugliest dude in the band. They couldn’t even find decent photos of themselves to use on their self-titled arcade game.
Fun fact #1: Journey made three mostly instrumental albums before hiring Steve Perry.
Fun fact #2: Journey still tours but with a different singer named Steve who’s even uglier than Perry.
Selected by Jake Brown of Glorious Noise
Honorable mentions include Iggy Pop, Mick Jagger, Lyle Lovett, Ric Ocasek, Jimi Hendrix and Gillian Welch. Please add your own nomination to the comments.
Robert Burke spends much of his time lovingly crafting thematic playlists at the Rhapsody Radish.