F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said that “there are no second acts in American lives.” Don’t tell that to these musicians, who’ve had second — and sometimes third and fourth — acts. This is a club of re-invention and re-imagination; of starting over and emerging from one act to enter another. Not only that, but they’re experiencing as much, if not more, success than the first time around. It’s tough enough to score big with one musical endeavor, let alone a second.
Below are the 20 best “second acts” in music history.
Before we start, it should be noted that these rankings were based on the following criteria:
- The musician’s first act should be finished, or, at the very least, on its last legs (artists who have reunited with their first act are fair game).
- A degree of difficulty (i.e. changing styles and/or instruments from one act to another).
- The second act doesn’t have to be as popular as the first, but it should be close, and preferably should be more popular.
- We’re only discussing music here, so musicians who have gone on to successful careers in other mediums — Mark Wahlberg (bad rapper > occasionally good actor), Steven Van Zandt (E Street Band > character actor), and Vanilla Ice (“rapper” > home improvement specialist) — do not qualify.
Now, the rankings…