Undoubtedly the breakout star from '90s-'00s girl group Destiny's Child, Beyonce Knowles has transformed from a Texas-bred teen to a bona fide queen. Bey sells out stadiums, shills for Pepsi, maintains fashion icon status and even while keeping her personal life fiercely private, sends the Internet into a tailspin with her every move.
While her career began singing in the 1960s trio The Supremes, Diana Ross became iconic when she began her solo career in 1969. Since then, the “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” singer released several albums and reached a career total of 70 hit singles. On top of that, Ross branched into an acting career, resulting in an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress and starring roles in several films, including Lady Sings the Blues (1972) and The Wiz (1978).
Though Fergie's solo career didn't quite compare to her success with The Black Eyed Peas, Fergie has found success through a variety of outlets including film, television and fashion. But if it's Wild Orchid, Fergie's former girl group, we're talking about... Stacey Ferguson is certainly the success story there.
Starting as a member of the pop duo Wham!, George Michael used his success to launch a solo career that garnered over 100 million album sales worldwide. While the English pop icon created five solo albums -- including 1987’s Faith -- to date, Michael donates to a variety of charities, including those that help those victim to AIDS.
Gladys Knight began her rise to stardom in a family-formed 1960s musical group The Pips. The “Empress of Soul” entered her solo career to record 9 studio albums. While singing may have brought her to success, Knight has used her stardom to work as a humanitarian for a variety of charities as well as branching her work into film and television, including cameos in the NBC comedy 30 Rock and the Tyler Perry film I Can Do Bad All By Myself.
Although the majority of her musical success lies in her role as lead vocalist for the rock band No Doubt, Gwen Stefani’s solo efforts did garnered momentous success on their own. While the band reunited in 2012 released a new album -- arguably making the band more popular than ever before -- Stefani relishes in her work in other fields, including launching her clothing lines L.A.M.B. and Harajuku Lovers, creating several fragrances and pursuing acting.
Known for his ability to master both acting and singing, Justin Timberlake became an international star as a member of the ‘90s pop group *NSYNC. Timberlake, who pursued a solo career in 2002, has released three studio albums, including his most recent The 20/20 Experience -- which moved 968,000 in its first week on the market. Though to some, Timberlake’s fame lies in his successful pursuit of an acting career, including a role in the acclaimed film The Social Network and five memorable stints on NBC’s Saturday Night Live.
As a member of the hip-hop, soul and R&B group the Fugees, Lauryn Hill balanced her life as a student, actress and performer. Hill reached stardom after her first solo album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998), which garnered her five Grammys. Outside of her singing career, Hill works as an activist for underprivileged youth and as a mother. However, in May 2013, Hill was sentenced to three months in prison for not paying taxes on around $1 million in earnings.
As a breakout star from the 1960s R&B group the Commodores, Lionel Richie began his solo career in 1982. The “Truly” singer reached international fame with his music and has made 10 studio albums. Richie has more recently appeared on several television shows, including Canadian Idol, and raised his adopted daughter, fashion designer Nicole Richie.
Starting his iconic career at five years old in the Jackson 5, Michael Jackson began his rise to his “King of Pop” status when he began his solo career in 1971. The late singer became the most-awarded artist in the history of popular music after winning hundreds of awards, including 13 Grammys and 26 American Music Awards. Jackson’s life buzzed with controversy, however, despite his role as a musical icon and humanitarian. Jackson’s perhaps most controversial incidents occurred in the mid-1990s when he was accused of child sexual abuse and in 2005 when he was tried and acquitted for further child sexual abuse allegations. In 2009, while preparing for his upcoming tour This is It, Jackson died due to acute propofol and benzodiazepine intoxication.
The English rock star Ozzy Osbourne became famous worldwide as a member of his popular band Black Sabbath but left the group at the height of its popularity in 1978 to pursue a solo career. Osbourne's first two albums garnered huge success and furthered his persona as a misfit and rebel. More recently, Osbourne revamped his celebrity status in the MTV reality series The Osbournes, which followed his family life, ending in 2005. Since then, Osbourne's wife, Sharon, and children, Jack and Kelly, have all gone on to pursue individual careers in entertainment.
When the revolutionary English band The Beatles disbanded in 1970, member Paul McCartney aspired to continue his musical career, releasing a solo album in 1970 and forming the band Wings. While his former band mates George Harrison and John Lennon pursued successful musical careers after the split as well, Lennon’s sudden assassination halted McCartney’s tour in the 1980s, but he continued to work on his music and create collaborations. More recently, McCartney continues to perform and create music with no intention of retiring any time soon.
While Peter Frampton spent his teenage years performing with a variety of bands, the singer found success when he began his solo career in 1972. His popularity and enthusiastic performances lead to his 1976 work Frampton Comes Alive! which garnered him the title of Artist of the Year by both Billboard and Rolling Stone magazines. While his popularity lost steam in the 1980s, Frampton revamped his career with the release of another album and a 25th anniversary recording of his 1976 album in 2001.
While British singer Peter Gabriel mastered the art of performance and creativity as frontman for the rock band Genesis, his specialties expanded after he left the band in 1975 to begin a solo career. The singer’s solo albums continued Gabriel’s success as he became heavily involved in activism and multimedia, where he participated in a 1986 tour on behalf of Amnesty International and advocates for technology as another creative outlet for artists to use.
After replacing Peter Gabriel as lead singer for their band Genesis in 1975, Phil Collins began his rise to fame. Collins followed Gabriel footsteps again when he decided to pursue a solo career in 1981. The singer released albums as well as wrote the title song for the film soundtrack to Against All Odds and branched into the acting field. In March 2011, Collins announced his retirement from music due to health issues hindering his ability to play the drums as well as his desire to focus on his family.
As one of the founding members of the Wu-Tang Clan, RZA reached fame after the release of their first album. RZA has produced nearly all of the Wu-Tang Clan albums and released several solo albums under the name Bobby Digital. However, it is RZA’s expansion into the film industry that revamped his notoriety, appearing in many movies including American Gangster and G.I. Joe: Retaliation, as well as directing his first feature film -- The Man With the Iron Fists -- in 2011.
While his role as lead vocalist in the rock band The Police lead him to fame, Sting began a successful solo career in 1985. While he has released 10 studio albums, Sting also has found time to act in several films and work on soundtracks for several others. In addition to his role in the entertainment industry, Sting has been known for his activism in human rights and other social issues.
While rapper and producer Will.i.am led his group the Black Eyed Peas to win seven Grammy Awards, the artist has released four solo albums. While his rapping career may have garnered success, he has worked as a music producer with other artists including Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, Rihanna, U2 and Justin Timberlake, among others, selling 9.4 million singles in the United Kingdom.
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Although British singer-songwriter Rod Stewart was first recognized for his talent in the bands The Jeff Beck Group and the Faces, his solo career launched him to become one of the best selling artists of all time with over 100 million records sold. The “Tonight’s the Night” singer reached fame after he moved to the United States in 1975. Stewart’s most recent album Time made history hitting the top of the charts in the U.K. 34 years after his last number one album, Greatest Hits Vol 1 in 1979.
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