While some of music’s most popular artists didn’t find stardom until later in their careers, sometimes a band or musician gets off to an incredible start. Whether it’s young metal prodigies like Metallica or someone like Mac Miller releasing the first independently-distributed debut album to hit #1 since 1995, there’s no shortage of artists who have gained early stardom or other notability. Sometimes, these artists aren’t necessarily “stars” right away, but the seeds are often sown (as you’ll soon notice). Here’s twelve artists who have done just that.
Grey Daze (Wake Me, 1994)
Grey Daze might be more famous as the first-ever band of the late Chester Bennington, but the young band, who released their debut album in 1994, were indebted to the grunge scene of the early ’90s. Bennington was just 17 when he joined the band, and 18 when Wake Me was released.
Silverchair (Frogstomp, 1995)
Frogstomp, the debut album from Australia’s Silverchair, was released when the members of the band were all 15 years of age. Needless to say, it was a big deal upon its release, as its grunge/alt-metal leaning sound fit right with the times. If that isn’t staggering enough, keep in mind that Silverchair arguably got better as they matured – at an age where many musicians haven’t even debuted, their subsequent albums Freak Show, Neon Ballroom, and 2002’s art-rock masterwork Diorama
Aaliyah (Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number, 1994)
One of the biggest R&B stars of the ’90s, Aaliyah released her debut album when she was just 15 years old. In fact, the late Aaliyah released two full-length albums before she even graduated high school, which is a huge accomplishment for any musician.
Billie Eilish (When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, 2019)
Eilish became the youngest Grammy winner in the 4 main categories ever with her 2019 debut full-length.
Lil’ Wayne (Tha Block Is Hot, 1999)
Released when the rapper was just 17 years old, Lil’ Wayne’s debut full-length album was one that solidified Cash Money Records (home to Drake, Juvenile, Nicki Minaj, and many more) as one of the dominant hip-hop labels of the new millennium.
Mac Miller (Blue Slide Park, 2011)|
Mac Miller’s Blue Slide Park was the first independently-distributed debut album to top the Billboard charts since 1995. Miller was destined for even bigger things before his tragic death in 2018, though – future albums like Watching Movies With The Sound Off and Swimming really showed off Miller’s maturation as an artist.
Alanis Morisette (Jagged Little Pill, 1995)
Alanis Morisette turned 21 on June 1st, 1995. 12 days later, the Canadian singer-songwriter released Jagged Little Pill. Her third full-length album overall, JLP abandoned the dance-pop sound of her earlier work, and armed with huge singles like “Ironic” and “Head Over Feet”, the album eventually sold 33 million+ copies worldwide.
I See Stars (3-D, 2009)
One of electronicore’s most prominent acts, many of the members of I See Stars were right around high school age when they released their Sumerian Records debut album in 2009. I See Stars developed rather quickly, releasing some of their best work recently (2013’s New Demons is a real standout).
Attack Attack! (Someday Came Suddenly, 2008)
All the members of Attack Attack! were pretty young when their Rise Records debut full-length dropped, but keyboardist Caleb Shomo (who went on to feature prominently in their two subsequent full-lengths) was just 15 when Someday Came Suddenly dropped. Crabcore fans, unite!
Avenged Sevenfold (Sounding The Seventh Trumpet, 2001)
Avenged Sevenfold’s debut album was recorded when the then-unknown metalcore band was fresh out of high school. Eventually, the band would go on to much bigger things with 2003’s Waking The Fallen and 2005’s City Of Evil.
Metallica (Kill ‘Em All, 1983)
All the members of Metallica were 19-20 years old when their thrash classic, Kill ‘Em All, was released in 1983. And they certainly weren’t the only ones – many of the Big Four Of Thrash were prodigies early on, too.
Linkin Park (Hybrid Theory, 2000)
The roots of Linkin Park go back a few years prior to their 2000 debut, but the band (whose oldest member, vocalist Chester Bennington, was 24 upon the album’s release) nailed it on their first try. Eventually, the album went on to become one of the best-selling rock albums in history.