Great frontmen who are actually terrible on guitar

24 January 2021, 11:00

Freddie Mercury playing guitar during Queen's performance at the Rock in Rio festival, Brazil, January 1985.
Freddie Mercury playing guitar during Queen's performance at the Rock in Rio festival, Brazil, January 1985. Picture: Dave Hogan/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Stick a microphone in their hands and they literally can't be stopped. But with a guitar? They're hopeless. Move back, please, and leave the axe to the axeman.

  1. Liam Gallagher

    If there's anyone who couldn't care less about playing an instrument it's Liam - which makes it so much stranger when he does. To be fair to him, compared to the others on this list at least he's giving it a proper go, but maybe leave the strings to Noel?

  2. Bono

    We feel a little guilty for this one because Bono ALWAYS gets a hard time about playing guitar. This, however, is really quite something. We can get over the fretboard buzz and the highly auto-tuned vocal, but when Bono kicks the chair, we're done.

  3. Mick Jagger

    Rather than being "bad," Mick just doesn't really play the thing. At almost every Stones gig, you're guaranteed to see Jagger pick up a guitar and dance around with it, but little else. Which is a shame really, because he's probably alright at it. Here's a clip of him showing off in front of Ike and Tina Turner in 1969.

  4. Ian Curtis

    The consummate frontman, Curtis never touched the guitar unless under duress from his bandmates. But where the Stones man would at least attempt a bit of picking and dancing, Ian would just stand dead still. in the iconic Love Will Tear Us Apart video (which is awesome, we're not disputing that) Curtis plays exactly one chord. Was it worth plugging in for that?

  5. Julian Casablancas

    In the above video Julian struggles through an acoustic rendition of his solo track 11th Dimension. It's abysmal. We can't help but think that maybe Julian should try some simple chords before attempting all that intricate picking. But it's up to him. And if a couple of rough takes on the acoustic leads to a great tune, then who are we to complain?

  6. Freddie Mercury

    Fred himself admitted that he only knew three chords, but if you're in a band with Brian May, why bother? Here he is at Queen's greatest moment, Live Aid, playing all three - and even a fourth, according to the online chord charts.


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