Rob Thomas: A Rare Gone-Solo Success Story

Rob Thomas: A Rare Gone-Solo Success Story
Ben Watts

Unlike many who try, Rob Thomas has achieved substantial solo success while maintaining his day job at the helm of Matchbox Twenty, the Orlando ensemble that launched his career. In the world of rock, that's something of an anomaly. All one has to do is consider the number of famous frontmen (and -women) who left the nest to go out on their own and mostly failed.

For example, Mick Jagger: As the show-stopping singer and scene stealer for the Rolling Stones, Jagger would have seemed the ideal candidate to take that charisma and work it to his own advantage. No such luck. Without his fellow Glimmer Twin, Keith Richards, the magic just wasn't there.

Roger Daltrey: As the distinctive voice of the Who, Daltrey's presence is undeniable. Yet aside from a few hits he managed to accomplish all on his own, his entire repertoire is pretty much dependent on his longtime foil and song supplier, Pete Townshend.

Grace Slick: After fronting the Jefferson Airplane (and later the Starship), Slick came to represent the sassy, sexy, seductive rock goddess that many a young man would lust over during the band's '60s prime. And yet, once she went out on her own with a pair of immensely forgettable solo albums, all she managed to elicit were a few shrugs and lots of indifference.

Robert Plant: Now here's a guy who's managed to make some nice noise on his own, proving a successful solo career is still possible despite your former band setting the standard when it comes to hard-rock heroics. That's well and good, except for one thing: Everybody's still asking for the Led Zep reunion.

Paul McCartney: As successful as he is at still being able to deliver a sensational show — even at age 73 — Paul’s solo output has never matched the memorable music he made in the company of the other Fabs. Don’t believe it? Why do you think the bulk of Macca’s set list consists of Beatles standards? Really, would you rather hear “Say Say Say” or “Ebony and Ivory” instead?

Ringo Starr: See the above. ‘Nuff said.

Darryl Hall, John Oates: Can anyone even name a single song either of them has done on their own? Point proven.

Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel: Granted, each man’s managed to find success on his own. But when you have Artie himself lobbying for Paulie to stage a reunion, what does that say about comparing individual accomplishments to the deeds of that duo?

Ian Anderson: This is a tough one. Clearly, Ian was the mastermind behind Jethro Tull, not to mention its most enduring image, what with his balancing on one leg in his tattered robe, his tangled hair all askew. Little wonder that most people still think his name is Jethro Tull and not Ian Anderson. But really, why the remakes of all the Tull classics in his solo shows? C’mon, Ian. Take a locomotive breath and move ahead instead of living in the past.

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Mark Farner: Here, again, consider a scenario similar to the one mentioned above. But in this case, the Grand Funk banner is hardly one worth fighting for.

John Fogerty: We'll cut Fogerty some slack here; after all, he was the essence of Creedence Clearwater Revival, given the fact that he wrote and sang all the songs. So yeah, it was a bit silly to see two of your former bandmates regrouping and calling themselves Creedence Clearwater Revisited. On the other hand, his greatest songs are still credited to CCR, and those are the ones he inserts into his sets, despite dispute with his label.

David Crosby: Sound the snooze alarm. What's CSN without the S and N? We gotta have the harmonies, Croz! You almost cut your hair. We almost cut our throats.

Rob Thomas

8 p.m. Friday, October 23, at Hard Rock Live at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood. Tickets cost $55–$75. Visit

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