As a new year dawns, let us take a minute to thank the members of Green Day and Offspring for all they've accomplished in recent months. No, we're not talking about how they managed to break a genre of music (punk) that PR folks have been struggling to keep under lock and key for nearly two decades. Rather, Billie Joe, Dexter Holland and their respective bandmates deserve credit for serving as poster children for Ugly Rock Musicians everywhere.
Perhaps it would be more politically correct to describe these performers as "beauty impaired" or "attractively disadvantaged." But no matter how you slice it, URMs are in short supply on the Billboard magazine sales rosters. Albums by musical lookers such as Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men are the top sellers: There's nary a Steven Tyler in the bunch. Aside from the aforementioned punks, the only artist waving the ugliness banner in the current Top 10 is shnozzola king Joe Walsh of the Eagles--and he's surrounded by Glenn Frey and other aging pretty boys.
It's truly remarkable, then, that so many howlers have succeeded in the image-conscious world of rock and roll. Below is our list of the ten most unsightly--the musicians who've made a name for themselves in spite of their obvious handicaps. No doubt you'll be inspired.
In the meantime, we invite you to compile your own slate of URMs at home. It's fun, it's safe, it's a tremendous way to kill time--and it beats looking in the mirror and discovering that you belong on the list, too.
10. THE ARTIST FORMERLY KNOWN AS PRINCE
Sure, he's a genius. Sure, he's slept with more gorgeous models than Rod Stewart and President Clinton combined. But take away the Parliament riffs and the frilly purple pantaloons and what do you have? A wilted Little Richard impersonator with a prepubescent mustache and an ego that could play center field for the Minnesota Twins.
9. GRACE JONES
Were Jones and Manute Bol separated at birth? You be the judge. The co-star of Conan the Destroyer is considered (by a decided minority) to be beautiful "in an exotic sort of way"--but the truth of the matter is that one glance from her could scare stray dogs away from a dumpster at Monfort. We've never really had a thing for Amazonian androids with crew cuts, but maybe if she dyed her hair green...No, then she'd be a ringer for Dennis Rodman.
8. IGGY POP
As they get older, most rock stars begin to resemble Macy's Thanksgiving Day balloons. By contrast, Mr. Pop, aka James Osterberg, looks the same as he did twenty years ago--deceased. Powder his hair and dress him in an expensive suit and he still could be mistaken for an anatomical chart with hair. A small bit of advice, Iggy: Stop washing with those Brillo pads. It's only going to make things worse.
7. MICK MARS
Before you ask, "Who the hell is Mick Mars?" check out a vintage Motley Crue video. Yep, that's Mars hiding in the shadows and looking like a neglected, heavy-metal version of Carnie Phillips as he watches Vince Neil, Tommy Lee and Nikki Sixx hog the spotlight. Such slights are appropriate, since Mickey hardly fits the mold of the womanizing bad boy. In fact, when he's decked out in tight leather pants and black puffy shirts, the pint-sized guitarist could pass for Elizabeth Taylor's delirious half-sister. Rumor has it that the Crue holds on to Mars because he's the only member who can remember the words to "Shout at the Devil." Lord knows it can't be his sex appeal.
6. JAMES BROWN
Believe me, I admire Brown's work as much as the next guy. But let's face it: Being the hardest-working man in show business for forty years has taken its toll on America's super-bad sex machine. Maybe it's the Mary Tyler Moore hairdo or the nasty edge he's developed since that brief stretch in the Big House--ask his soon-to-be ex-wife about that. Either way, James ain't feelin' as good as he used to. And it shows.
5. KEITH RICHARDS
It may come as a shock to some of you that Richards made the cut while his Rolling Stones cohort Mick Jagger fell by the wayside. The reason has everything to do with Jagger's exercise regimen: On any given day, he aerobicizes, lifts weights and meditates before most of us can drag ourselves to the breakfast table. Richards, on the other hand, is continually taking the easy way out. Whenever he's feeling a little wrung out, he simply makes a trip to the blood bank and swaps corpuscles. Judging from this recent photo, the last transfusion didn't take. Keith, you're a hell of a guitar player, but try eating some vegetables once in a while.
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4. FLAVOR FLAV
Our dental-hygiene award goes to Flav, the jester in the militant rap-and-roll army known as Public Enemy. No doubt Enemy leader Chuck D has noticed. You can practically hear the backstage banter now: "F.F., baby, we can forgive the big clock and the funny hats--a guy's got to have an angle if he's going anywhere in this business. But the gold-capped dentures have got to go. They're frightening people, for Christ's sake." Indeed, the real public enemy in this scenario is the dentist who sold Flavor that mouthful of glimmering metal.
3. LEMMY KILLMEISTER
Poor Lemmy hears no end of comments about his appearance--at one point, his group, Motorhead, was named the "Ugliest Band Ever" by Creem magazine. But Killmeister deserves the honor: With his sloped forehead, greasy hair and cantaloupe-sized warts, he isn't exactly a lock to win People's "Sexiest Man Alive" contest. That's probably fine by him, however: Even if he is missing a chromosome or two, you can be certain that his girlfriend is better-looking than yours will ever be. Which pretty much sums up the point of this entire article, don't you think?
2. G.G. ALLIN
Allin may have been the single most repugnant human being ever to walk the face of this or any other planet. When he wasn't setting people on fire, sodomizing himself with a microphone or rolling in broken glass, he spent his time ingesting large amounts of grain alcohol and slurping up his own excrement. He died of--surprise!--a cocaine overdose last year, but his scarred torso and crude, prison-issue tattoos will remain in our nightmares for years to come.
1. THE NELSON TWINS
Okay, we know that some of you believe Matthew and Gunnar Nelson are as lovely as the average Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. But this pair is actually so attractive that it hurts to look at them. Are they the by-product of some bizarre genetic experiment gone awry? Or are they simply breastless Barbies brought to life like the killer doll in Child's Play? No one knows, which is why FBI agents Mulder and Scully will be looking into the various theories during a future episode of The X Files. Still, there's a lesson we can learn from these Greek clods: Sometimes ugliness isn't so bad. Just consider the alternative.