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In the late 1960s, the term supergroup was coined to describe "a rock music group whose performers are already famous from having performed individually or in other groups." Supergroups tend to be short-lived, often lasting only for an album or two. Additionally, supergroups are often formed as side projects that are not intended to be permanent.

Some of the most well-known supergroups include: 1960s groups Cream, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, The Dirty Mac, and Blind Faith; 1970s groups Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Humble Pie, Cactus, Toto, and Bad Company; the 1980s & 1990s groups The Firm, Traveling Wilburys, Asia, Power Station, and The Highwaymen; 2000s groups A Perfect Circle, Audioslave, Velvet Revolver, and Zwan. The category is not rigidly defined and the term can be applied subjectively.

History

The term took its name from the 1968 album Super Session with Al Kooper, Mike Bloomfield, and Stephen Stills. The coalition of Crosby, Stills, and Nash (later Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young) is another early example, given the success of their prior bands (The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, and The Hollies respectively). In jazz, notable artists often play together, but the term is rarely used. Music writers have also applied the term to groups that sold huge numbers of albums and headlined massive concerts regardless of the previous fame of their individual members, such as the band Led Zeppelin, wherein only Jimmy Page was well known at the time the group formed. The term is also used to describe existing bands whose members achieved individual fame after the band's founding, such as The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Queen, Genesis and Yes.

There are also instances in which an existing band added a prominent new member or members, where the resulting group might have been considered a supergroup had it not kept its original band name, such as Van Halen after recruiting Sammy Hagar and Gary Cherone, and The Eagles after hiring Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit. In the 1990s, the term began being used to describe Hip Hop collectives.

Criticism

In 1974, a Time magazine article entitled "Return of a Supergroup" quipped that the supergroup was a "potent but short-lived rock phenomenon" which was an "amalgam formed by the talented malcontents of other bands." The article acknowledged that groups such as Cream and Blind Faith "played enormous arenas and made megabucks, and sometimes megamusic", with the performances "fueled by dueling egos." However, while this "musical infighting built up the excitement...it also made breakups inevitable."

Chris DeVille's 2008 article "Super or blooper?", which is subtitled "Supergroups: So much promise, so often squandered", notes that "when well-known rockers get together in new configurations, they're guaranteed lots of attention, but these ego summits rarely bear fruit as fresh as what made these guys famous in the first place." DeVille praises supergroups such as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; Emerson, Lake & Palmer; Fantômas (a post-Faith No More supergroup); and Velvet Revolver. However, he rates a number of other projects as "bloopers", including Blind Faith, the country supergroup The Highwaymen (which included Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson); The Traveling Wilburys (it must be noted that the Wilburys were seriously affected by the death of member Roy Orbison shortly after releasing their first album); Audioslave; Zwan; Eyes Adrift; and The Good, the Bad & the Queen.

Notable groups

This list is of each band's founding line-up, and members who joined within a year of founding.

This list contains only groups which have performed more than a single song or live show together.

Founded Band/project name Members Notes Citations
1966 Cream Albums: Fresh Cream, Disraeli Gears, Wheels of Fire, Goodbye
1968 Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young


Albums: Crosby, Stills & Nash, Déjà Vu, Four Way Street, and more.
1969 Blind Faith Albums: Blind Faith
Humble Pie Albums: Humble Pie, Smokin', and more
1970 Emerson, Lake & Palmer Albums: Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Tarkus, Trilogy, and more
Ginger Baker's Air Force Albums: Ginger Baker's Air Force, Ginger Baker's Air Force 2
1971 Captain Beyond Albums: Captain Beyond, Sufficiently Breathless, Far Beyond a Distant Sun - Live Arlington, Texas and more.
1973 Journey


Albums: Journey, Look into the Future, Next, and more
Bad Company Albums: Bad Company, Straight Shooter, Run With the Pack and more.
1981 New Race Albums: The First and Last
1982 Asia Albums: Asia, Alpha, Astra, Phoenix
1983 The Glove Albums: Blue Sunshine (1983)
1984 Hindu Love Gods Albums: Hindu Love Gods (1990)
The Firm Albums: The Firm, Mean Business
1985 The Highwaymen Albums: Highwayman, Highwayman 2, The Road Goes on Forever
1985 Gogmagog Albums: I Will Be There
1988 Bad English Albums: Bad English, Backlash
Traveling Wilburys Albums: Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1, Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3
Electronic Occasionally joined by: Albums: Electronic (1991)
1989 Damn Yankees Albums: Damn Yankees (1990), Don't Tread (1992)
1990 Don Dokken
Temple of the Dog
1991 Contraband
1992 Hardline
1994 Mad Season
The Backbeat Band
1995 Me First and the Gimme Gimmes
Cork
1996 Westside Connection
1997 The Firm
1998 Fantômas
Liquid Tension Experiment
1999 Dark Lotus
Broken Social Scene
Dream Evil
Lucy Pearl
A Perfect Circle
Transatlantic
The Transplants
Rebel Meets Rebel Albums: "Rebel Meets Rebel" (2006)
2001 Son of Sam Albums: "Songs from the Earth" (2001)
The Philadelphia Experiment Albums: "The Philadelphia Experiment" (2001)
Audioslave Albums: Audioslave (2002), Out of Exile (2005), Revelations (2006)
Oysterhead Albums: The Grand Pecking Order (2001)
Khanate Albums: Khanate, Things Viral, Capture & Release, Clean Hands Go Foul
The Postal Service Albums: Give Up
Zwan Albums: Mary Star of the Sea
2002 Eyes Adrift Albums: Eyes Adrift (2002)
Velvet Revolver Albums: Contraband (2004), Libertad (2007)
2004 Frost* Albums: Milliontown (2006), Experiments in Mass Appeal (2008)
Wintersun
  • Albums: Wintersun (2004), Time (~2009)
  • Until after the release of their first album, Jari handled all instruments except drums, which were left to Kai. Teemu and Jukka were hired to complete a touring-ready lineup.
The Sound of Animals Fighting Albums: Tiger and the Duke (2005), Lover, the Lord Has Left Us... (2006), The Ocean and the Sun (2008) DVD: We Must Become the Change We Want to See (2007)
Alter Bridge Albums: One Day Remains (2004), Blackbird (2007)
Monsters of Folk Album: Monsters of Folk (2009)
2005 Angels & Airwaves
2006 Heaven and Hell Albums: Live from Radio City Music Hall (2007), The Devil You Know (2009)
  • A re-formation of the 1980-1982 Black Sabbath lineup.
Hellyeah Album: ""Hellyeah"" (2007)
Scars on Broadway Album: Scars on Broadway, 2008
Black President
2007 Cavalera Conspiracy Albums: Inflikted (2008)
Child Rebel Soldier
Northern Kings Albums: Reborn (2007), Rethroned (2008)
2008 Chickenfoot Albums: Self-titled 2009 release
Damnocracy Albums: Chinese Damnocracy, 2008
SMV Albums: Thunder, 2008
Orbs
United Nations Albums: United Nations, 2008
Two Tongues Album: Two Tongues, 2009
2009 Isles & Glaciers Album: TBA, 2009
Tinted Windows Album: Tinted Windows, 2009
The Dead Weather Album: Horehound, 2009
Them Crooked Vultures Album: Them Crooked Vultures, 2009
Dead by Sunrise Album: Out of Ashes, 2009


Project supergroups

These were often one-show or one album projects, though some played more than one show, because all or most members were involved in other bands or groups.

Founded Band/project name Members Notes Citations
1966 Eric Clapton's Powerhouse The band did not release any albums, in fact, they recorded only three singles featured on the Elektra compilation What's Shakin'.
1967 The Super Super Blues Band Albums: Super Blues, The Super Super Blues Band
1968 The Dirty Mac Albums: The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus
1969 The Plastic Ono Band Albums: Live Peace in Toronto 1969, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band, Sometime In New York City
1979 The Greedies Originally known as The Greedy Bastards, recorded one Christmas single, "A Merry Jingle."
1990 The Gak Played two charity concerts in 1990.
1992 Praxis Albums: Transmutation , Sacrifist, Metatron, Live in Poland, Transmutation Live, 1984, Mold, Warszawa, Collection, Tennessee 2004, Profanation
1994 BBM Albums: Around the Next Dream
1999 Avantasia Albums: The Metal Opera, Avantasia, The Metal Opera Part II, Lost in Space Part I, Lost in Space Part II, The Scarecrow
2002 Planet Us Songs: "Vertigo" and "Peeping Through a Hole". "Vertigo" was originally intended for the first Spider-Man movie, but it was turned down.
2004 Probot Albums: Probot
2004 Tak Matsumoto Group Albums: TMG I
2005 Roadrunner United Albums: The All-Star Sessions. Released October 11, 2005 to commemorate Roadrunner's 25 anniversary.
2006 Tipton, Entwistle & Powell Albums: Edge of the World. The album was released in 2006, but was recorded in the mid-1990s.
2006 Unnamed Band Albums: The Good, the Bad & the Queen
2007 Liquid Trio Experiment Albums: Spontaneous Combustion
2007 S.K.I.N. The band gave its debut performance on June 29, 2007 at the Anime Expo in Long Beach, Californiamarker.Albums: As of mid 2009, neither an album release date nor a full-time bass player have been announced.
2009 Operation Aloha
  • Dajon Everett (Gomez)
  • Ian Ball (Gomez)
  • Olly Peacock (Gomez)
  • James Valentine (Maroon 5)
  • Jesse Carmichael (Maroon 5)
  • Sam Farrar (Phantom Planet)
  • Fil Krohnengold (All Spots To Black)
  • Nadav Kahn (Kahn Brothers)
  • Charles Danek
  • Mathew Chaney
  • Maureen Wray-McCann
  • Saam Gabbay
  • Will Nash
  • Christopher Wray-McCann (Photographer)
Albums: Operation Aloha
2009 Blakroc Albums: Blakroc, 2009


Charity supergroups

These are usually one-shot projects, organized to create a charity record to raise money or awareness for a cause or charity. Notable examples are Band Aid ("Do They Know It's Christmas?"), USA for Africa ("We Are the World") and Northern Lights ("Tears Are Not Enough").

Other supergroups

Richard Patrick (Filter), Robert DeLeo & brother Dean DeLeo (both of Stone Temple Pilots), Ray Luzier (David Lee Roth, various others).
Graham Bonnet (Rainbow, Michael Schenker Group, Impellitteri), Yngwie Malmsteen, Gary Shea (New England), and Jan Uvena (Alice Cooper). Malmsteen was later replaced by Steve Vai (Frank Zappa, Whitesnake, David Lee Roth).
Power trio formed by guitarist Jeff Beck with Vanilla Fudge's Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice.
Ben Folds, Ben Kweller, and Ben Lee.
Gothic/alternative rock band consisting of Wes Borland (Limp Bizkit, Big Dumb Face, Eat the Day), Danny Lohner (Nine Inch Nails), Josh Eustis (Telefon Tel Aviv), and Josh Freese (The Vandals, A Perfect Circle)
Death metal supergroup consisting of Dan Swanö (Edge of Sanity); Jonas Renkse and Anders Nyström (Katatonia); Martin Axenrot (now Opeth) (former members: Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth), Peter Tägtgren (Hypocrisy).
Buckshot, Smif-N-Wessun, Heltah Skeltah and O.G.C.
Simon Townshend (The Who), Bruce Foxton (The Jam, Stiff Little Fingers), Mark Brzezicki (The Cult, Procol Harum, Big Country) and Bruce Watson (Big Country).
Layne Staley (Alice in Chains); Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine); Stephen Perkins (Jane's Addiction); Martyn LeNoble (Porno for Pyros)
Les Claypool (Primus); Brian Mantia (Primus/Guns N' Roses); Buckethead (Guns N' Roses); Bernie Worrell (Parliament/Funkadelic)
A folk supergroup of Richard Shindell, Dar Williams, and Lucy Kaplansky
cEvin Key & Dwayne Goettel of Skinny Puppy, with Bill Leeb of Front Line Assembly/Delerium.
A quartet of prominent industrial musicians; Chris Connelly, Martin Atkins, Jah Wobble and Geordie Walker.
Brett Gurewitz (Bad Religion); Gore Verbinski (Little Kings); Dean Opseth (Medicine); Josh Freese (The Vandals)
Brett Hestla of Virgos Merlot, Troy McLawhorn of Doubledrive, Clint Lowery of Sevendust, Corey Lowery of Stereomud, and Will Hunt of Skrape.
David Lee Roth (ex-Van Halen), Steve Vai (of Frank Zappa, Whitesnake, Alcatrazz), Billy Sheehan (of Talas, Niacin), and Gregg Bissionette (of Joe Satriani). Later, Vai and Sheehan were replaced by Jason Becker (of Cacophony) and Paul Baron.
Redman, Erick Sermon, and Keith Murray
Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian); Jon Schaffer (Iced Earth).
Sludge metal supergroup consisting of Phil Anselmo (ex-Pantera, Pepper Keenan (Corrosion of Conformity, Kirk Windstein (Crowbar, Kingdom of Sorrow), Jimmy Bower (Eyehategod, ex-Superjoint Ritual) and Rex Brown (ex-Pantera, Rebel Meets Rebel). Formerly including Todd Strange (Crowbar).
Brendan Kelly (guitar and vocals) and Neil Hennessy (drums) of The Lawrence Arms, Dan Andriano (bass) of Alkaline Trio, and former Rise Against member Todd Mohney (guitar).
A multinational supergroup whose greatest his Led Zeppelin cover Stairway to Heaven.
Jazz fusion supergroup consisting of guitarist John McLaughlin, keyboardist Chick Corea, (both veterans of Miles Davis electric band as well as founder members of The Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return to Forever, respectively), saxaphonist Kenny Garrett (also a veteran of Miles Davis electric band), bassist Christian McBride and Frank Zappa alumni Vinnie Colaiuta on drums. Drummer Brian Blade is also a member of the Five Peace Band for some live performances.
Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth): Julie Cafritz (Pussy Galore): Mark Ibold (Pavement): Yoshimi P-We (Boredoms)
Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and various other guitarists, including Yngwie Malmsteen, Robert Fripp, Eric Johnson, and John Petrucci
While recording the group's final album, "Kiss Me Deadly," the band at one point included former Sex Pistols members Paul Cook and Steve Jones. However, the two left after recording one track, and the group was joined by Terry Chimes, formerly of The Clash (whom is formally credited on drums)
Project led by Anton Fier, with varying personnel that has included Bill Laswell, John Zorn, Fred Frith, Michael Stipe, John Lydon, Syd Straw, Richard Thompson, Jack Bruce, and many others.
Damon Albarn (Blur), Paul Simonon (The Clash), Simon Tong (The Verve), Tony Allen (Fela Kuti)
Formed by guitarists Steve Hackett (Genesis) and Steve Howe (Yes and Asia).
A Paisley Underground tour de force that consisted of Steve Wynn of Dream Syndicate, Stephen McCarthy of The Long Ryders and Brian Harvey and Johnny Hott of House of Freaks.
Dan the Automator and Prince Paul with various guest artist.
Pop-rock collaboration between Quan Yeomans of Regurgitator and partner Janet English of Spiderbait. The original name of the band was to be "The Shits", but was renamed for "commercial reasons".
  • HARP
Folk group taking its name from the initials of Holly Near, Arlo Guthrie, Ronnie Gilbert, Pete Seeger. The latter two were in The Weavers.
Formed by Toby Morse, Freddy Cricien, David Kennedy, Hoya and Mackie James.
Composed of Richard Hell, Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan
Jeff Beck, Rod Stewart, Ron Wood, Mick Waller, Nicky Hopkins
John Myung (Dream Theater), Ty Tabor (King's X), Rod Morgenstein (Dixie Dregs, and previously played with Derek Sherinian as Platypus)
Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac; Ray Dorset of Mungo Jerry; Vincent Crane of Atomic Rooster
Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones), Bernie Worrell (Parliament, Funkadelic), Sarah Dash (Patti LaBelle & the Bluebelles), Ivan Neville (The Neville Brothers, solo), Steve Jordan (Stevie Wonder, The Blues Brothers), Charley Drayton, Waddy Wachtel
Rex Carroll (Whitecross), Jimi Bennett (Sacred Fire), Tim Gaines and Robert Sweet (Stryper)
Phil Lewis (Girl), Tracii Guns (Guns N' Roses), Steve Riley (W.A.S.P.), Kelly Nickels (Faster Pussycat), Mick Cripps (Faster Pussycat)
Jimmy Chamberlin (The Smashing Pumpkins); Kelley Deal (The Breeders); Jimmy Flemion (The Frogs); Sebastian Bach (Skid Row)
Latin American supergroup
Gene Eugene, Terry Scott Taylor, Mike Rowe, and Derri Daughtery
Members included Mike Rutherford (Genesis); Paul Carrack (Ace, Squeeze); Paul Young (Sad Café).
Conor Oberst, M. Ward, Jim James, and Mike Mogis
Eric Martin (415), Paul Gilbert (Racer X), Billy Sheehan (Talas, Niacin), Pat Torpey (Impellitteri), and Richie Kotzen.
Glen Phillips (Toad the Wet Sprocket), and Chris Thile, Sean Watkins and Sara Watkins (Nickel Creek), who were joined by John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) and Pete Thomas (many bands including The Attractions). This may have been a one-shot tour.
John Zorn: Joey Baron: Fred Frith (Henry Cow): Bill Frisell: Wayne Horvitz: Yamatsuka Eye (Boredoms)
Greg Hawkes and Elliot Easton of The Cars, Todd Rundgren of Utopia and solo, Prairie Prince of The Tubes.
Kate Pierson (The B-52's), YUKI (Judy and Mary), Mick Karn (Japan)
Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys, Krist Novoselic of Nirvana, Kim Thayil of Soundgarden
  • Oceans 7
Jermaine Dupri, Usher, Trey Songz, Johntá Austin, Nelly, Bryan-Michael Cox, Tyrone Davis, Bow Wow
John Cafiero (The Misfits), Jerry Only (The Misfits), Dez Cadena (Black Flag, The Misfits), Marky Ramone (The Ramones, The Misfits, The Voidoids), Ivan Julian (The Isley Brothers, The Foundations, The Voidoids), Daniel Johnston
Jim Matheos (Fates Warning), Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater), Kevin Moore, (Chroma Key), Sean Malone (Gordian Knot, Cynic), and Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree).
The industrial supergroup. Martin Atkins (Ministry), Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails), Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys), Steve Albini, Nivek Ogre (OhGr, Skinny Puppy).
Virgil Donati, Tony MacAlpine and Derek Sherinian.
Britpop Masters Gary Mounfield (Stone Roses), Bobby Gillespie (The Jesus and Mary Chain), Kevin Shields (My Bloody Valentine), Martin Duffy (The Charlatans).
Rene Farrait, Johnny Lozada, Ray Reyes and Xavier Serbia; all former members of Menudo, Reyes substituted Serbia at Projecto M.
A supergroup consisting of members of Psychopathic Records taking on various aliases. Current members include Violent J, Shaggy 2 Dope (Insane Clown Posse), Jamie Madrox, Monoxide Child (Twiztid), and Blaze Ya Dead Homie.
Named after the notable song 'House of the Rising Sun': Ry Cooder, Taj Mahal, Kevin Kelly (later in The Byrds), and (briefly) Ed Cassidy (later in Spirit). Their one album was recorded in 1965... and then shelved... to be released in 1992! Cooder was also in the two-album band Little Village and would later hit paydirt by organizing "The Buena Vista Social Club" album.
Gilby Clarke of Guns N' Roses, Jason Newsted of Metallica and Voivod, Tommy Lee of Mötley Crüe and Methods of Mayhem, and Lukas Rossi, winner of Rock Star: Supernova
Members of XTC, The Pop Group and Gang of Four
Formed by Alexi Laiho of Children of Bodom and Roope Latvala of Stone together with former Dimmu Borgir keyboardist Kimberly Goss.
Formed by bassist Nikki Sixx, with guitarist (and producer) James Michael and DJ Ashba (of Guns N' Roses)
Classical guitarist John Williams, with other classical performers
Hip-hop group consisting of Joell Ortiz, Crooked I, Joe Budden, and Royce Da 5'9".
Syd Barrett, Twink, Jack Monck
John Nolan and Shaun Cooper (Taking Back Sunday), Will Noon (Breaking Pangaea), Michelle Nolan.
Carey Mercer (Frog Eyes and Blackout Beach), Daniel Bejar (Destroyer and The New Pornographers); Spencer Krug (Wolf Parade and Sunset Rubdown).
Reported collaborative project of Trent Reznor, Danny Lohner, and Charlie Clouser (Nine Inch Nails), Maynard James Keenan (Tool), Atticus Ross (12 Rounds), and many others. Existed for 8 years, but disbanded without releasing any music.
All members of Skinny Puppy and The Legendary Pink Dots.
Involves members from 19 bands including: Killing Joke, Funeral for a Friend, Hundred Reasons, SikTh, Fightstar, Pitchshifter, Earthtone9, Carcass, Napalm Death, Send More Paramedics, Therapy?, Hiding Place, Amen, Murder One, Charger, The Ghost of a Thousand, New Model Army, 36 Crazyfists.
Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle); Duane Denison (The Jesus Lizard); Kevin Rutmanis (The Cows, The Melvins); John Stanier (Helmet, The Mark of Cain).
Side project fusion supergroup. Consists of renowned banjo player Béla Fleck, legendary bassist Stanley Clarke (Return to Forever), and violin virtuoso Jean-Luc Ponty. Toured in 2005 but have yet to record an album.
Eddie Jobson, Terry Bozzio, John Wetton, Bill Bruford and Allan Holdsworth
Sid Vicious of The Sex Pistols , Rat Scabies of The Damned, Glen Matlock of The Sex Pistols and Rich Kids, Steve New of The Rich Kids.
Fusion side project supergroup. Consisted of bassist Victor Wooten (Béla Fleck and the Flecktones), guitarist Scott Henderson (Tribal Tech), and drummer Steve Smith (Vital Information/ Journey). Made 2 albums but never appeared live.
Consisting of Nic Cester (Jet), Chris Cheney (The Living End), Kram (Spiderbait), Davey Lane (You Am I/The Pictures) & Pat Bourke (Dallas Crane), and featuring guest vocals from Bernard Fanning (Powderfinger) and Phil Jamieson (Grinspoon).
Rock/country/pop duo consisting of Michelle Branch noted American country/pop/rock artist and songwriter and Jessica Harp, one of Branch's backup singers and friends who released an independent album "Preface" in 2002.
A New York Citymarker-based hip hop group. Wu-Tang Clan consists of nine Americanmarker rappers: RZA, GZA, Raekwon, U-God, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, Method Man, Masta Killa, and the late Ol' Dirty Bastard.


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