Media

10 Least Popular Classic Rock Artists According to Baby Boomers: Ranked

Michael Ochs Archives / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

Of the 10 least popular classic rock artists according to baby boomers: ranked, fully half of them are among this boomer’s favorites. And the other half?  They’re almost certainly on another baby boomer’s list of faves because what makes a classic rock artist popular is highly subjective. Musical genres, despite being associated with specific generations, are a deeply personal aspect of one’s identity. The notion that musical tastes are strictly bound by age overlooks the diversity of influences and experiences that shape an individual’s relationship to music. So, with that in mind, 24/7 Wall St. combed the internet, culling information from a variety of social media sites, including many subreddits, and survey sites, like YouGov, as well as quizzing fellow boomers. Our list is chock full of surprises. Continuing reading to see if your favorite classic rock artist made 24/7 Wall St.’s list!

10. Brian Wilson

Source: public Domain/Wikimedia Commons
Though Dick Dale is credited with the invention of surf rock, Brian Wilson took the genre to another level altogether.
  • Years active: 1961 –
  • Net worth: $100 million
  • Known for: Lead singer and principal songwriter for the Beach Boys

Beach Bummer

Source: Kevin Winter / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images
The music isn’t complex, just uptempo, upbeat fun. The perfect soundtrack to a summer romance.

Though Dick Dale is credited with the invention of surf rock, Brian Wilson took the genre to another level altogether, shaping the sound that would become synonymous with the Southern California beach scene. By the time I, an end-stage boomer was in high school, Wilson’s band, The Beach Boys had been regulated to golden oldie AM radio.

It was the 1970s and Wilson was in the throes of his mental health crisis. My classmates were listening to Skynard and Floyd; the Beach Boys weren’t considered cool. However, my BFF’s handsome older boomer brother, fresh out of college, loved the Beach Boys and played them to the exclusion of any other artists. And because I thought he was the bee’s knees, I too became an aficionado. The music isn’t complex, just uptempo, upbeat fun. The perfect soundtrack to a summer romance, even if it was all inside my head.

9. Robert Palmer

Source: public Domain/Wikimedia Commons
Robert Palmer provided lead vocals for The Power Station, the supergroup he formed with the Taylor brothers of Duran, Duran.
  • Years active: 1964-2003
  • Net worth: $10 million (2003)
  • Known for: Addicted to Love/ Lead singer for The Power Station

Low Energy, Low Rizz

Source: Fin Costello / Redferns via Getty Images
Palmer simply didn’t have enough rizz to break on through to the other side…

So far, we’re batting .1000. Who doesn’t like to bounce to Robert Palmer’s Addicted to Love? And Sneakin’ Sally Thru the Alley? That album rocked, even if Rolling Stone only gave it 3 stars. So, why isn’t Robert Palmer more popular with the boomer set? Referring to him as low-energy Mick Jagger or Mr. Fancy Pants, it’s more the artist than his music. Palmer simply didn’t have enough rizz to break on through to the other side…

8. Lenny Kravitz

Source: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons
Kravitz’s fusion of rock, funk, and soul doesn’t appeal to the majority of baby boomers.
  • Years active: 1981-
  • Net worth: $80 million
  • Known for: Songwriter/Media advertising

Fly Away

Source: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons
Beyond the music, boomers have a lot to say about Kravitz’s personality.

I’ll admit it I’m a fan. I believe Lenny Kravitz is a talented musician. However, Kravitz’s fusion of rock, funk, and soul doesn’t appeal to the majority of baby boomers. Beyond the music, boomers have a lot to say about Kravitz’s personality, describing him as flamboyant and ostentatious. Well, he is a rock star, after all… Others view him as a sell-out thanks to his television spots for Stella Artois and YSL. Who knew boomers were such a tough crowd?

7. Glenn Frey

Source: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons
Loads of boomers blame Frey for the demise of The Eagles.
  • Years active: 1966-2015
  • Net worth: $120 million (2016)
  • Known for: Guitar/keys/vocals for The Eagles

The Heat Was On

Source: jeaneeem/Wikimedia Commons
Though he was certainly a party to the Eagles disbandment, it takes two to tangle.

Coming in at number 7 on our list of the 10 least popular classic rock artists is Glenn Frey. Frey is the first artist on the list that I get. Like, he’s no Don Henley, you know? AND, and this is a really big AND, loads of boomers blame Frey for the demise of The Eagles. And though he was certainly a party to their disbandment, it takes two to tangle. Regardless, it’s difficult to shake that image, just ask Yoko.

6. Elvis Costello

Source: Public Domin/Wikimedia Commons
Elvis Costello’s Punch the Clock produced his first U.S. top 40 hit, Everyday I Write The Book.
  • Years active: 1970-
  • Net worth: $70 million
  • Known for: Songwriter/ documentary maker

Punch The Clock

Source: Larry Busacca / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images
According to some boomers Costello’s music is jangly and he ripped off Buddy Holly’s trademark style.

Ok, so we’re back to what the heck, fellow boomers? Elvis Costello? Another one of my favorites, Costello’s music blends elements of punk, new wave, and rock with intricate wordplay and socially conscious lyrics to splendid results. Or so I thought. According to some boomers his music is jangly and he ripped off Buddy Holly’s trademark style.

5. Jeff Beck

Source: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons
Prior to going solo, Jeff Beck was a member of the Yardbirds, along with a cat named Jimmy Page.
  • Years active: 1964-2023
  • Net worth: $25 million
  • Known for: Yardbirds/solo work

Yardbird

Source: Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images
Jeff Beck was simply a bit too avant-garde for many boomers.

While the critics adored Jeff Beck, consumers were less effusive. Characterized by his innovative approach to the guitar and his willingness to experiment by pushing musical boundaries beyond their formerly adhered-to limits, Jeff Beck was simply a bit too avant-garde for many boomers, especially those who had been fans of his group the Yardbirds, which was a more conventional rock group.

4. Michael Bolton

Source: public domain/Wikimedia Commons
The boomers I queried felt Bolton would be more at home on an easy-listening/jazz list.
  • Years active: 1975-
  • Net worth: $80 million
  • Known for: singer/songwriter/collaborator/ television personality

Easy Now

Source: alan-light / Flickr
A child musical prodigy, Bolton parlayed his music career into an equally lucrative career in television.

Number 4 on 24/7 Wall St.’s list of the 10 least popular classic rock artists according to baby boomers: ranked is Michael Bolton. Not that I get around much anymore, but even when I did? I don’t recall ever meeting a Michael Bolton fan. Dude’s worth $80 million, so, they’re out there. A child musical prodigy, Bolton parlayed his music career into an equally lucrative career in television. So, why don’t baby boomers think more of him? Placing him in the classic rock category is a bit of a stretch. The boomers I queried felt Bolton would be more at home on an easy-listening/jazz list. Can’t say I disagree.

3. Gene Simmons

Source: Public Domain/ Wikimedia Commons
Gene Simmons without KISS just isn’t as popular as Gene Simmons with KISS.
  • Years active: 1970-
  • Net worth: $400 million
  • Known for: bassist for KISS/ television personality

Kiss

Source: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons
From their iconic makeup and catchy hard rock tunes to their theatrical pyrotechnics, KISS earned their status as one of the most recognizable and influential hard rock bands of the 20th century.

I’ll admit it, I was never a KISS fan, and by extension, not a Gene Simmons fan, either. But a boomer neighbor of mine gets decked out in a custom outfit and full Ace Frehley make-up most weekends to play in a KISS cover band. From their iconic makeup and catchy hard rock tunes to their theatrical pyrotechnics, KISS earned their status as one of the most recognizable and influential hard rock bands of the 20th century. But what’s the saying? The whole is greater than the sum of its parts? Gene Simmons without KISS just isn’t as popular as Gene Simmons with KISS.

2. Axl Rose

Source: Kathryn Koehler/ Courtesy of 24/7 Wall St
Every rose has its thorn, and Axl is no exception.
  • Years active: 1983-
  • Net worth: $200 million
  • Known for: Guns and Roses

 

Source: Robert Cianflone / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images
Axl Rose never recovered the momentum of Appetite For Destruction, GNR’s breakthrough album.

Axl Rose, the lead singer and primary songwriter of Guns N’ Roses, is a polarizing artist. Every rose has its thorn, and Axl is no exception. From erratic, sometimes violent behavior, to spending 15 years on a less-than-stellar album (Chinese Democracy), Axl Rose never recovered the momentum of Appetite For Destruction, GNR’s breakthrough album.

1. Frank Zappa

Source: Pubic Domain/Wikimedia Commons
Frank Zappa: He’s #1.
  • Years active: 1955-1993
  • Net worth: $1 million (1993)
  • Known for: Satirical lyrics and strong opinions

Zapped

Source: Evening Standard / Getty Images
Frank Zappa, a visionary born too soon.

Coming in at number one on 24/7 Wall St.’s list of the 10 least popular classic rock artists according to baby boomers: ranked is none other than Frank Zappa. The appeal of Frank Zappa varies wildly among baby boomers. His music was unconventional and could be challenging to the unaccustomed ear. Zappa’s sharp wit, and fearless approach to tackling societal and political issues through his controversial, often satirical lyrics, coupled with his critique of mainstream culture simply did not resonate with the majority of boomers. For these very same reasons, Gen Z has discovered Zappa and they are digging his message.

Take This Retirement Quiz To Get Matched With An Advisor Now (Sponsored)

Are you ready for retirement? Planning for retirement can be overwhelming, that’s why it could be a good idea to speak to a fiduciary financial advisor about your goals today.

Start by taking this retirement quiz right here from SmartAsset that will match you with up to 3 financial advisors that serve your area and beyond in 5 minutes. Smart Asset is now matching over 50,000 people a month.

Click here now to get started.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us?
Contact the 24/7 Wall St. editorial team.