The band that did the most with the least "musical" talent

The Ramones. Three cords and the basis of a genre, and a lot of actually catchy songs.


My point being that Yngwie Malmsteen may be a player’s genius, but I’ve never heard a song from him on the radio. Apparently he doesn’t write good, popular songs.

The UK equivalent is Status Quo, also notorious for allegedly only knowing three chords. I think they’re doing a tour at the moment which they’ve called “The Fourth Chord Tour”.

The most with the least? Has to be AC/DC.

HA! I saw the thread title, thought The Ramones, and lo and behold! The mouseover showed me…The Ramones!

I have to send this thread to my SO. He’s been trying to sell me on them forever and I keep resisting. Weak-voiced, pansy-assed, skinny fellows.

Sweet little gi-irl…I wanna be your boyfriend!


I always thought the Monkees fell into this category, although Boyce and Hart did have a lot of talent.

It used to be common in country music. E.g., Buck Owens: not much of a singer or musician, not very good-looking. But I’d rather listen to him than any of the hat/navel sensations from present-day Nashville, where a young Buck wouldn’t get a second look.

Pick one and play it for me.

Nirvana, anyone learning the guitar can play a few Nirvana tunes their first day.

Sex Pistols.

Their songs may be simple, but Dave Grohl has too much talent to qualify Nirvana for this thread. He’s a great drummer and a very solid songwriter/lyricist. Twenty years from now Nirvana will probably be remembered as “Dave Grohl’s first band”.

Here’s another vote for the Ramones: one, two, one-two-three-chords!

It depends on how you define “most” and “least” - I thought of the Ramones as the “obvious” answer - but Joey and Dee Dee were GREAT songwriters - not just good, but GREAT. There is a reason that “Hey. Ho. Let’s Go” and “Rock Rock - Rockaway Beach” cannot be thought of without immediately slipping into the songs. So - could they play competently? Barely - but man the songs they wrote have led them to be the enduring influence they’ve become. Oh, and Johnny Ramone was a innovator, too - his “all downstrokes, all the time” is hard to do - I play guitar in a band and I speak from experience. Doing it correctly and locking into the groove - vs. just banging out downstrokes like a n00b - is a lot harder than it looks - and no one had done it before Johnny…

Same with the Sex Pistols - Cook and Matlock were actually a formidable rhythm section (before Sid Vicious - who really couldn’t play). And Steve Jones big chords and big sound - well, whatever it was, it worked!

I place a lot of weight on songwriting - if the songs work, then how can you really claim the band has no talent? Anarchy in the UK, God Save the Queen, Pretty Vacant - I just listend to Never Mind the Bollocks last weekend and the songs hold up. Same with AC/DC - at least the Bon Scott years - so many great songs…and again, as someone playing in a band, I can tell you that Malcolm Young is a damn good rhythm guitarist.

Okay - so who would I nominate? I am not sure about entire bands - but David Lee Roth has no voice and can’t write lyrics in any way other than to support his front-man needs. He had nothing to do with the music - he is a great frontman, but musically, he is a non-entity…I love VH’s first couple of albums…but DLR…

I think the Ramones simplicity and dumb-acting masked their real talent. Like WordMan said, they wrote really good, hummable songs. Also, while only three chords may be in use, the pure visceral attack they used is really, really hard to do. You try constantly downstroking barre chord eighth notes at a fast tempo and see how long you last. Same with the drums… in the documentary End of the Century, Marky demonstrated the Ramones drumming technique…constant high hat eighth note tapping at a terrific speed…it doesn’t take skill so much as pure endurance. How the heck they could do this for 90 minutes night after night for years and years was truly amazing.

Amphetamine sulphate?

KISS was probably the most financially sucessful band with very limited musical talent.

I agree there’s more the the Ramones than it seems.

Not the Sex Pistols. Everyone in the Pistols with the exception of Sid Vicious could actually play his instrument pretty well.

Not AC/DC, not by a long shot. Simple != talentless. Besides, Angus Young is one of the greatest lead guitar players ever, simple or not.

The Ramones would be close, especially the original four. The replacement drummers (Marc Bell and Richie Beau) were both solid, professional musicians.

Same for KISS. Peter Criss in particular was a joke. Gene and Paul are both decent songrwriters, but I could play any instrument for KISS better than the original member. That ain’t good.

My vote: The Velvet Underground. They never sold many albums, but they’re consistently held up, revered even, as major influences on everything that came after them. And they all sucked ass at their instruments, and none of them could sing. And I’m saying this, and I like them!

John Cale was/is a talented musician, and when he left he was replaced by the also talented Doug Yule. Of course, they weren’t really going for an “accomplished” sound.

My Dad told me that back in the day he saw the Grass Roots perform live. Dad said they introduced everyone onstage except the studio musician, and that the unacknowledged studio musician supplied all and any of the talent evident throughout the performance.

ETA: Dad figured they didn’t introduce the guy because they were jealous. :stuck_out_tongue:

gotta be KISS- not one decent lyric on two dozen albums. Velvet Underground a close second.

And while Nirvana songs may be simple, it takes a genius to write simple songs that aren’t simple minded, if you will. And if anyone can write like Kurt, why haven’t they?

Pual Stanley of KISS was a damn good Phantom! Surprised the hell out of me!

Frankie Goes to Hollywood. The sound techs did the actual work.