Though most musicians tend to evolve musically over the course of their careers, they usually stick to the same genre they started off in. But these seven, great artists — from Pink Floyd to the Beastie Boys — actually started off playing totally different styles of music early in their careers from the ones they eventually became known for.
1. Beastie Boys
The Beastie Boys are known as one of the most influential hip-hop groups in history, but when they first formed, they were actually part of New York's punk underground, playing with legendary punk bands such as The Misfits and Dead Kennedys. After releasing a joke rap track called "Cookie Puss," however, the Beasties decided to pursue hip-hop instead of punk.
2. Bad Brains
Though hardcore punk band Bad Brains was the biggest influence on the Beastie Boys during their early punk days — note the initials — they actually started playing a different kind of music entirely. In 1975, Bad Brains formed as a jazz fusion band named Mind Power, but decided to change their name and sound when punk rock exploded in 1977, inspired by bands such as The Sex Pistols and The Ramones.
3. Pink Floyd
Progressive rock legends Pink Floyd have always incorporated elements of blues into their music — particularly in the guitar playing of David Gilmour — but when they formed in the mid-1960s as the Pink Floyd Sound, they primarily performed blues and R&B covers, even taking their name from two blues musicians: Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. After guitarist Syd Barrett began writing songs, however, the band took on its signature psychedelic style.
4. The Mothers of Invention
When The Mothers of Invention formed in 1964, they were a soul and R&B cover band known as the Soul Giants. When guitarist Frank Zappa joined later that year, however, he quickly became the bandleader, changing their name and writing all of their music, which is, of course, a bizarre meld of rock, jazz, classical, comedy and extreme avant-garde.
Much like Bad Brains, Death was notable for being one of the few punk/garage bands in rock history to be made up entirely of black musicians, but they did not start playing punk. Death formed as a funk band called Rock Fire Funk Express, but decided to switch over to rock music after seeing The Who perform on television.
6. Black Sabbath
Like many of their British contemporaries in the late 1960s, Black Sabbath was mostly concerned with blues music, and originally formed as a blues band named Earth. But after seeing a marquee for the Italian horror film Black Sabbath across the street from their rehearsal space, the band was inspired to write darker, heavier songs intended to be the musical equivalent of horror films.
7. David Bowie
David Bowie does not exactly have one signature sound, but rather a constantly morphing identity consisting of rock, funk, soul, folk, electronic and whatever else he feels like playing at the moment. Despite his penchant for shape-shifting, however, Bowie's 1967 debut still sounds out of character, a collection of whimsical baroque pop tunes with little of the conceptual depth of his later work.
What other artists switched genres early on? Let us know down in the comments section!