Ugliness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder and everyone has a different opinion on what constitutes "ugly". Sometime last year I asked some music blogger friends and music biz insiders to answer the following question:
"Who do you think the ugliest musician/band ever to walk the planet is and why?"
I took the responses I received and shared them with a large group of music loving friends who then voted on the submissions. After the votes were counted I put the selections in order from ugliest to least ugliest. The resulting list contains the top dozen ugliest musicians, or the real "Dirty Dozen."
Please remove all sharp objects and children from the room before viewing the pictures displayed below. Each pick contains the reason why the artist was chosen in the selector's own words.
1. Shane MacGowan (The Pogues)
Looking for the ugliest rock star is something of a fool's adventure. After all, rock isn't about being pretty. If Keith Richards looked like Hugh Grant, the Rolling Stones might've gone the way of Herman's Hermits. Ugliness denotes disregard for the bourgeoisie ideas of beauty, it suggests defiance in the face of the photogenic, it is emblematic of "listen to the music, man". Beautiful people seldom make stirring music, in much the same way as the handsomest jock and prettiest cheerleader seldom had anything interesting to say in high school. So with these caveats in mind, I'll say the most heroic rock performer is none other than Irishman Shane MacGowan of the Pogues. The Irish have produced many a handsome lad, and many a fair lass, but MacGowan got one of the most asymmetrical heads, biggest flappy ears, and worst teeth from his genetic pool. Makes me all that more convinced the Pogues were a great band.
Selected by uao of Freeway Jam
2. G.G. Allin
Selected by drake of thus spake drake
3. Gene Simmons (Kiss)
Selected by Joan Hiller/Publicist, Sub Pop Records
4. Lemmy (Motörhead)
Selected by Robert of the Radish of Rhadish.com
5. Thom Yorke (Radiohead)
GROUNDBREAKING? Almost always.
ONE OF THE GREATS OF MY GENERATION? Totally.
ONE OF MY FAVORITE MUSICIANS? Certainly.
PRETTY? Uh… no.
But I think it is perhaps fitting for a band like Radiohead to have a leader who, while full of a certain charisma, falls completely outside of what would normally be considered attractive by many. Thom Yorke is hell-bent on the public respecting him for his music and not for his image… and luckily, his face is perfect for that. Nothing quite lines up on it, you know? Sorta under-, or maybe over-, cooked.
But when he's on that stage and pouring his emotions out over the crowd, he is nonetheless mesmerizing and easy to look at… kinda transcends the whole good looking/ugly thing.
Selected by Chris Anderson of worthy<-MUSIC
6. Jim Skafish (Skafish)
But there is ugliness and there is UGLINESS, and while the examples of natural and nurtured butt ugliness may be rife in the annals of rock 'n' roll, I don't think anyone has ever quite reveled in their physical freakishness quite like Jim Skafish. Skafish was the leader, singer/songwriter and namesake of the luxuriously quirky Chicago band of the late-'70s and '80s, which had a sensational self-titled debut album for IRS in 1980 wherein Jim dwelled quite artfully and painfully into the uncomfortable realities of being a sensitive and misunderstood outcast on classics such as "Disgracing the Family Name."
I mean ugly: the guy has a beak like a toucan, had a bowlcut that Three Stooges-Moe would have scoffed at (now shaved clean), and translucently pale skin over an oddly androgynous 6′ 3″ frame. Beat that with a stick and walk away.
Selected by Eric Olsen of Blogcritics
Someone like Madonna, who constantly changes her physical look to sell more albums and/or stay popular is far more repulsive to me than the Elephant Man singing reggae ever could be.
Selected by David of Largehearted Boy
8. Alex Van Halen (Van Halen)
those huge sunglasses off maybe twice. As David Lee Roth once said: "No, no, no. Don't take them off, don't take them off. Leave them on, leave them on!"
Selected by J Shifty of Ribaldry & Schmaltz
Selected by Pantagruel of the Radish Message Board
Selected by Amanda of Rhapsody in Blog
11. Roger Waters (Pink Floyd)
Since then, well…on the one hand he gets less horrifying as he ages, but on the other hand, now he's both old AND ugly. Rarely a good combination.
Oh…and his nasal shriek when he sings is almost as hideous as his face. That's what truly places him in the Hall of Homely.
Selected by Michael J. West of Popular Music Musings
butts. Frontman Steve Perry, amazingly enough, wasn't even the ugliest dude in the band. They couldn't even find decent photos of themselves to use on their self-titled arcade game.
Fun fact #1: Journey made three mostly instrumental albums before hiring Steve Perry.
Fun fact #2: Journey still tours but with a different singer named Steve who's even uglier than Perry.
Selected by Jake Brown of Glorious Noise
Honorable mentions include Iggy Pop, Mick Jagger, Lyle Lovett, Ric Ocasek, Joey Ramone, Geddy Lee, Amy Winehouse and Jimi Hendrix. Please add your own nominations to the comments.