How old were your favourite rock stars when they had their first hit?

29 December 2023, 13:00

Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys, Liam Gallagher of Oasis and Kate Bush
Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys, Liam Gallagher of Oasis and Kate Bush. Picture: ZUMA Press, Inc. / Rob Watkins / Pictorial Press / Alamy

The year is almost over - how much did you achieve? See if you had done as much as Alex Turner by the time you were 19...

Radio X

By Radio X

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

A great man once said: “Youth is wasted on the young.” We say: Shut up, grandad! Some of the greatest tracks ever released were recorded by young whipper-snappers.

  1. Paul Weller - 18

    The budding Modfather was a few weeks shy of his 19th birthday when The Jam had their first Top 40 hit in May 1977 with In The City.

    The Jam - In The City

  2. Tim Wheeler - 18

    Born on 4 January 1977, young Tim was a mere youth of 18 when Ash had their first Top 20 hit with Girl From Mars in the summer of ’95. The band were still waiting for the results of their A Levels when they released their album 1977!

    Ash - Girl From Mars (UK version) (Official HD Video)

  3. Kate Bush - 19

    Young Catherine Bush was just six months shy of her 20th birthday when she topped the charts with Wuthering Heights, making her the first female artist to get a UK Number 1 with a self-written song. She'd penned it the year before, when she was just 18!

    Kate Bush - Wuthering Heights - Official Music Video - Version 1

  4. Alex Turner - 19

    That’s right, the Arctic Monkeys frontman wasn’t even into his twenties when I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor was released. Only just though - the single was released in October 2005, and Alex hit the big 2-0 in January.

    Arctic Monkeys - I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor (Official Video)

  5. Gaz Coombes - 19

    Before Supergrass, Coombes was in the school band The Jennifers, but he had his first top 20 hit with Mansized Rooster when he was a very mature 19 in February 1995.

    Supergrass - Mansize Rooster (Official HD Video)

  6. John Lydon - 20

    Then going under the punkier pseudonym of Johnny Rotten, the Godfather Of Punk was only a few weeks away from his 21st birthday when Anarchy In The UK snuck into the lower reaches of the Top 40.

    Sex Pistols - Anarchy In The UK

  7. Paul McCartney - 20

    Sir Fab Macca was born in June 1942, making him a fresh-faced 20 when Love Me Do got into the UK top 20. He was still 20 when The Beatles had their first Number 1 the following Spring.

    Love me do - The Beatles (HD-HQ)

  8. Bono - 21

    U2 formed at school in Dublin, and had been knocking around together for a few years before they had chart success. Their first UK hit was Fire, taken - incredibly - from their second album, October, in July 1981.

    U2 - Fire (live from Werchter 1982)

  9. Liam Gallagher - 21

    The younger Gallagher had the key of the door at 21 when he smashed into the Top 40 with Supersonic. He was in the biggest band in the country by the time he was 22.

    Oasis - Supersonic (Official Video)

  10. Robert Smith - 21

    The Cure frontman spent his 21st birthday on his first tour of the US, then flew back to the UK to perform his first chart hit A Forest on Top Of The Pops.

    The Cure - A Forest (Official Video)

  11. Caleb Followill - 21

    The Kings Of Leon frontman was just 21 when the What I Saw EP (led off by Red Morning Light) made Number 22 in the UK charts in March 2003. Although he looked a lot older, thanks to the Old Man Beard he wore at the time.

    Kings Of Leon - Red Morning Light (Official Music Video)

  12. Dave Grohl - 22

    When Smells Like Teen Spirit catapulted Nirvana into the stratosphere, young Dave was just a boy of 22.

    Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit (Official Music Video)