Famous Rock Stars Who Look Unrecognizable Today

Many of today’s top musicians wouldn’t exist without the influence of those who came before them. When rock stars such as Mick Jagger, Ozzy Osbourne, and Bob Dylan got their claim to fame, they were youthful performers eager to make their mark in the music industry.

Now, several decades have passed since these and many more classic rock icons first hit it big and their looks have drastically changed. It’s only natural that these stars have aged, but it doesn’t necessarily mean their talents have dwindled. Keep reading for side-by-side comparisons of rock’s most talented individuals.

Neil Young Is Still Making Music

neil young before and after images
Michael Ochs Archives/Gary Miller/Getty Images
Michael Ochs Archives/Gary Miller/Getty Images

Neil Young embarked on his music journey in the 1960s when he moved to Los Angeles and joined Buffalo Springfield. There, he met Stephen Stills who ended up being one of his most frequent collaborators. Shortly after Young’s ventures with Buffalo Springfield, he decided to become a solo artist.

His work has earned him several awards including Grammys and two inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His music style is best described as a combination of folk, rock, and country. As of August 2020, he announced he will be releasing a new EP called The Times.

Grace Slick Ditched Music For Her True Passions

grace slick before and after images
GAB Archive/Mark Sullivan/Getty Images
GAB Archive/Mark Sullivan/Getty Images

Anyone who’s a fan of 1960’s music will remember Grace Slick. She helped pioneer the psychedelic music scene and performed with bands such as The Great Society, Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship, and Starship. Her leading vocals were heard on some iconic songs including “Somebody to Love,” “White Rabbit,” “We Built This City,” and “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now.”

Slick has the distinction of being the oldest female vocalist to earn the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. She retired from music in the early 1990s but has gone on to become an accomplished author and artist.

Elton John Made History With His Music

elton john before and after images
David Warner Ellis/Dave Simpson/Getty Images
David Warner Ellis/Dave Simpson/Getty Images

There aren’t many musicians who’ve lived up to the standards presented by Elton John. He has sold over 300 million records with over 50 Top 40 hits, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time. His record-breaking songs such as “Your Song,” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” and “Candle in the Wind” earned him numerous awards including Grammys, Oscars, and Golden Globes.

Last year John announced his farewell tour because he wanted to spend more time with his children. Although he isn’t actively releasing new music, he was featured on Lady Gaga’s 2020 album Chromatica in a duet called “Sine from Above.”

How Linda Ronstadt Lost Her Voice

linda ronstadt before and after images
Michael Ochs Archives/Michael Kovac/Getty Images
Michael Ochs Archives/Michael Kovac/Getty Images

One artist who proved she could sing any genre was Linda Ronstadt. Over the course of her career, she earned 10 Grammy Awards, three American Music Awards, and countless others for her work in rock, country, opera, Latin, and several other genres. Ronstadt also loves to collaborate with other artists.

Although she hasn’t written any of her work, she has transformed songs written by Dolly Parton, Neil Young, Paul Simon, and Johnny Cash. She was also the first female solo artist with two Top 40 simultaneous singles on the Billboard Hot 100 list. Unfortunately, Ronstadt was diagnosed with progressive supranuclear palsy, which has severely worsened her voice.

Paul McCartney’s Many Musical Honors

paul mccartney before and after images
David Redfern/Mike Marsland/Getty Images
David Redfern/Mike Marsland/Getty Images

One-quarter of all the Beatles’ success is due to co-lead vocalist and bassist Paul McCartney. He along with John Lennon wrote the majority of the group’s songs and their partnership remains one of the most iconic in songwriting history. The Guinness Book of World Records called McCartney the “most honored composer and performer in music.”

After the Beatles disbanded, he released music both as a solo artist and with his band Wings. Many of his songs such as “Yesterday,” “Blackbird,” and “Eleanor Rigby” have become the most covered songs of all time. Currently, he devotes his time to philanthropic causes including music education, poverty, and animal rights.

Joni Mitchell’s Music Is Synonymous With 60’s Counterculture

joni mitchell before and after photos
GAB Archive/Kevin Mazur/Getty Images
GAB Archive/Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

The songs that came from the mind of Joni Mitchell defined a generation. They were often filled with commentary of the nation’s biggest cultural moments such as the Woodstock music festival and the rise of the 1960’s counterculture. Not only were her songs extremely meaningful, but she sang them with a very soulful, folk style.

Mitchell continued to make music for a few more decades but retired in the early 2000s after not liking what the industry had become. In her recent years, she’s undergone some health complications including a Morgellons syndrome diagnosis and brain aneurysm.

What Fans Should Know About David Crosby

david crosby before and after photos
Michael Ochs Archives/Steve Granitz/Getty Images
Michael Ochs Archives/Steve Granitz/Getty Images

David Crosby is best known for being one of the founding members of the Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash. Some of his most famous songs include “Eight Miles High,” “Almost Cut My Hair,” and “In My Dreams.” His musical work earned him two inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and a place on Rolling Stone’s Greatest Albums of All Time list.

Crosby has tried his hand at a solo career and has done several collaborations with famous artists including Phil Collins and Jackson Browne. Outside of music, Crosby is passionate about sailing, acting, and business.

Why Fleetwood Mac Needed Stevie Nicks

stevie nicks before and after photos
Fin Costello/Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images
Fin Costello/Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

Fleetwood Mac saw a drastic change when Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham joined the band. Their work on Rumours caused it to be the fifth best-selling studio album of all time with over 40 million copies sold around the world. Nicks is also the only woman to get two inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

She is still a part of the band 45 years later, but has also led a fulfilling solo career with hits such as “Edge of Seventeen.” She gives singers Grace Slick and Janis Joplin credit for her vocal style and performance mannerisms.

Bob Dylan’s Biggest Musical Influences

bob dylan befoe and after photos
Michael Ochs Archives/Isabel Infantes/Getty Images
Michael Ochs Archives/Isabel Infantes/Getty Images

Bob Dylan got his first taste for music when he would listen to blues and country stations on the radio. In high school, he formed a few cover bands for artists including Little Richard and Elvis Presley.

He moved to New York in the early 1960s and would play in various clubs around Greenwich Village. Soon after he got a record deal and released his first album. Dylan started to gain a following when he released “protest” songs about the current events of the late 1960s and early 1970s. His work has earned him countless awards including ten Grammys, an Oscar, a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and a Nobel Prize in Literature.

Dolly Parton Was Born In A One-Room Cabin

dolly parton before and after images
Chris Walter/Taylor Hill/Getty Images
Chris Walter/Taylor Hill/Getty Images

Dolly Parton was born on January 19, 1946, in a one-room cabin in Pittman Center, Tennessee. Her music career began when she was a child when she would perform on local radio and television programs. She is a country music legend with credits in singing, songwriting, instrumentals, and producing. Some of her most famous hits include “Jolene” and “Coat of Many Colors.”

Apart from being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, she has also acted in movies, written several books, started businesses, and enjoys doing humanitarian work. Parton is also the force behind the lyrics to the legendary Whitney Houston-performed song, “I Will Always Love You.”

Bono Met His U2 Bandmates In High School

bono before and after photos
Images Press/Ludovic Marin/Getty Images
Images Press/Ludovic Marin/Getty Images

Paul David Hewson, also known as Bono, was born in Dublin, Ireland on May 10, 1960. He met his future wife and his U2 bandmates when they were in high school. U2 first formed when they saw a bulletin board advertisement looking for rock bands and Bono soon started writing new songs for them to perform.

The group has received 22 Grammy Awards and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Not only does Bono write the lyrics and sing as the frontman for U2, but he also does a ton of work for social justice causes.

Most Know Debbie Harry By Another Name

debby harry before and after photo
Brian Cooke/Kevin Mazur/Getty Images
Brian Cooke/Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Debbie Harry is the lead singer and co-founder of the rock band, Blondie, whose songs have topped charts all around the world. Her unique vocal styling on songs such as “Call Me,” “One Way Or Another,” and “The Tide Is High” have made Harry one of the most prolific female singers in history.

After almost five decades in the business, she is still making music and has collaborated with bands such as Fall Out Boy and Arcade Fire. Harry was inspired by Elton John’s philanthropic efforts and gives a lot of her time to various charities.

Mick Jagger Is One Of Rock Music’s Greatest Frontmen

mick jagger before and after photos
Michael Ochs Archives/David M. Benett/Getty Images
Michael Ochs Archives/David M. Benett/Getty Images

One of the people who emerged during the pinnacle of rock music was the lead singer of the Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger. His live performances are filled with tons of energy and distinctive mannerisms causing him to become one of the most influential frontmen in rock history.

All his hard work over the years paid off, which has given him a net worth of $360 million. A lot of his private life has been covered by numerous media outlets, but he doesn’t let it bother him. Outside of music, Jagger gives his time to environmental and music education charities and has dabbled in acting.

Carole King’s Early Start In Music Launched Her Career

carole king before and after photos
Jim McCrary/Steve Granitz/Getty Images
Jim McCrary/Steve Granitz/Getty Images

Someone who knows her way around the music business is Carole King. She started working as a professional songwriter when she was 16-years-old for musicians such as The Beatles and Aretha Franklin. She later became an accomplished solo artist. Her second album, Tapestry, was an instant success earning several awards and rising to the top of the charts.

After several decades of making a mark in the industry, King announced her retirement in 2012. Many of her songs have been covered by famous artists including Barbra Streisand, Linda Ronstadt, and Mandy Moore. Her life was also turned into a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical called Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.

Ozzy Osbourne Still Makes Music Despite Recent Diagnosis

ozzy osbourne before and after photos
GAB Archive/Kevin Winter/Getty Images
GAB Archive/Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The emergence of heavy metal in the 1970s was partly due to “Prince of Darkness” Ozzy Osbourne. He was the lead singer and iconic frontman of Black Sabbath who went on to have a successful solo career after getting fired from the band. He gained a whole new fan base when he and his family starred in their MTV reality series The Osbournes.

Even though it’s been almost 50 years since he started out in the industry, he is still releasing music and occasionally performs with Black Sabbath. After recovering from pneumonia and a serious fall it was revealed that Osbourne was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Cher Is Always Reinventing Her Image

cher before and after photos
King Collection/Bruce Glikas/Getty Images
King Collection/Bruce Glikas/Getty Images

Cher has constantly been redefining her musical identity for decades. She began as part of a singing duo with ex-husband Sonny Bono in the 1960s and shortly after, she transitioned to being a solo artist. Her contralto singing voice combined with her wildly spectacular costumes have made her one of the top performers in the world.

Her life didn’t stop with music. She is also an accomplished actress having done multiple Broadway shows and films. Cher has the distinct honor of being the only artist to have a number-one single on the Billboard charts for six consecutive decades.

Steven Tyler Hasn’t Lost His Sense Of Style

steven tyler before and after photos
Richard E. Aaron/Jean Baptiste Lacroix/Getty Images
Richard E. Aaron/Jean Baptiste Lacroix/Getty Images

The best thing a musician can do is set themselves apart from the others and that’s exactly what Steven Tyler has done throughout his career. He is best known as the lead singer of Aerosmith. Tyler can usually be heard singing with high-pitch screams and wearing bright, colorful outfits.

Songs such as “Dream On,” “Sweet Emotion,” and “Walk This Way” put Aerosmith on the map and earned them worldwide success. Tyler continues to tour with the band and has released some music as a solo artist. He loves to ride motorcycles during his free time and has even designed a line of them called Dirico Motorcycles.

How Tina Turner Got Her Nickname

tina turner before and after photos
Michael Ochs Archives/Walter McBride/Getty Images
Michael Ochs Archives/Walter McBride/Getty Images

Nicknamed “The Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” Tina Turner has paved the way for hundreds of artists in the music industry. She first gained stardom after performing with ex-husband Ike Turner in the Ike & Tina Turner Revue and transitioned to an inspiring solo career.

Over the course of her musical journey, Turner has won 12 Grammy Awards, sold over 100 million records, had her life turned into a Broadway musical, and earned several other accolades. Most recently, she announced the publication of her third book called Happiness Becomes You: A Guide to Changing Your Life for Good.

Robert Plant Influenced So Many Famous Rock Stars

robert plant before and after photos
Dick Barnatt/Per Ole Hagen/Getty Images
Dick Barnatt/Per Ole Hagen/Getty Images

Rock music wouldn’t be the same without the influence of Robert Plant and Led Zeppelin. Plant auditioned to be the lead singer of the band in 1968 and he along with Jimmy Page found immediate success. Fans loved to watch him perform live where he would give all his energy to the music.

Plant’s on-stage persona influenced numerous iconic rock stars such as Freddie Mercury, Axl Rose, and Sammy Hagar. After Led Zeppelin disbanded in 1980, Plant pursued a solo career and formed several other new bands. He has reunited a few times to perform with Led Zeppelin, but his ongoing disputes with Page have prevented more recent reunion shows.

What Patti Smith Brought To The Punk Rock Genre

patti smith before and after photos
Suzan Carson/Johnny Louis/Getty Images
Suzan Carson/Johnny Louis/Getty Images

One of the first performers to lend a hand to punk rock was Patti Smith. Her 1975 album, Horses, fused both rock and poetry giving her the nickname “punk poet laureate.” Michael Stipe of R.E.M. admitted Horses was the reason he started a band.

Smith hasn’t slowed down after all these years. She’s released 11 studio albums, 25 books, several journalism pieces, and has been recognized as a social activist. Her musical influence has earned her a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and she was named one of Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Artists. She will be receiving the International Humanities Prize from Washington University later this year.