11 Rockstar Introverts

How much can shyness prevent you from success in the music business?

Ultimate Guitar

Almost by definition, or at least a common prejudice, rockstars are expected to have bloated egos and be anything but shy persons. However, famous musicians are often quite down-to-earth, as proven by numerous prominent figures of the rock domain. Furthermore, rockstars are occasionally shy and introvert individuals, which is sometimes clear by their stage performance but other times comes as a complete surprise. So join us as we make a brief rundown of 11 introvert famous rock or metal musicians.

George Harrison

We'll kick it off with the "quiet Beatle," late great George Harrison. A shy person by nature, Harrison is also known for once saying "I never asked to be famous, I just wanted to be successful." Well, although he wasn't the most famous member of The Beatles, he was still a crucial part of the band that changed the world and shaped modern culture. Some of his notable compositions include "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and "Here Comes the Sun."

Bob Dylan

He shaped generations with his music and lyrics, but was also an introvert. Over the years, many stories of Bob Dylan's shyness were noted, including those from his fellow rock greats. Interestingly enough, Johnny Cash and Gary Moore used the exact same words to describe Dylan on two completely unrelated occasions. The words were "really shy."

Ritchie Blackmore

Former Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore redefined the way of the axe and helped create the neoclassical subgenre, but never really spoke too much or expressed his emotions onstage. He delivered revolutionary solos, yet he always kept his cool and sometimes even seemed embarrassed while performing. Nevertheless, he said what he had to said in the best possible manner - through his guitar.

Robert Fripp

Despite being the mastermind of a quintessential prog rock act such as King Crimson, guitarist Robert Fripp is hardly a household name. As a matter of fact, even a portion of the Crims' fans aren't sure what he looks like. It's always been about putting the idea and music first with King Crimson - exactly the way Fripp wanted it. Despite being somewhat of an introvert, Mr. Fripp is by all means a true legend. He even introduced the new standard tuning, not a feat many guitarists can brag about.

John Myung

Still in the prog domain, Dream Theater bassist John Myung is likely to be among the first ones to pop up to your mind when thinking about introvert musicians. Shy and quiet by nature, Myung mostly prefers to do the talking through his bass. However, he is also a skilled lyricist - he penned words to such classic DT tunes as "Lifting Shadows Off a Dream," "Learning to Live," "Trial of Tears" and more.

Jimi Hendrix

The greatest of the greats, Jimi Hendrix, maybe didn't seem too shy while taking the guitar playing and performance to a new level, but he was in fact a rather introvert person. Hendrix's studio engineer Eddie Kramer once described Jimi as "a very, very shy guy." Several reports even indicate that shyness almost prevented the guitar icon to perform at the Isle of Wight festival back in the day.

Jonathan Davis

Korn frontman Jonathan Davis is often described as "nervous, shy and anxious in person." He is also known for having occasional anxiety attacks. "When I have these attacks, my heart starts to palpitate and freak out and... Sh-t, I dunno what it is, but I just have to go with it," he explained. "It feels like I'm going to f--king die... You can't think, you don't know what's happening."

Maynard James Keenan

The fact that he performed wearing a dress might suggest the opposite, but Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan is reportedly an introvert. He rarely communicates with the audience and is often shy during the interviews. Some even suggest that he suffers from social anxiety based on his behavior and body language.

Kurt Cobain

Seattle rockers were often shy and misunderstood individuals, and Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain is hardly an exception. Many say that Kurt's shyness and sensitivity contributed to his suicide, but the fact remains that Cobain was definitely an introvert, earning him a spot on our list.

Marilyn Manson

He might be a controversial shock rocker on stage, but Marilyn Manson is also an introvert. He had no problem in admitting it either, saying, "I'm kind of shy, and I think that I take that out by performing in front of a lot of people. That's how I get out my shyness."

Trent Reznor

Finally, Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor comes as the last introvert of our list. Trent demonstrated his shyness on several occasions, and once even discussed it, saying, "I become irritated when I am being written off as aloof or stand-offish when I'm shy and don't know what to say." Let us know in the comments if you can think of any other rockstar introverts. Also, to which extent do you think can shyness and introvert behavior affect one's musical career?

122 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Definitely Henry Rollins (Black Flag, Rollins Band). Just quote from him: "Yes, I guess you could say I am a loner, but I feel more lonely in a crowed room with boring people than I feel on my own. "
    The old bass player for Queen too.. He was so quiet that I don't even know his name from the top of my head.
    John Deacon, and I agree. Pretty much went off the radar too after Freddie died.
    Quorthon, he never ever performed live despite having arguably one of the most devoted underground fan bases to ever exist.
    Okay, as an introvert myself, I just want to clarify that "introvert" and "shy" are not synonymous. I noticed the word "shy" used to describe almost all the musicians listed. Introversion is a person's preference for social interaction and has absolutely nothing to do with shyness or social anxiety. Many introverts can be quite social in certain situations, but generally prefer alone time to relax and recharge. Likewise, many extraverts can be pretty shy and socially anxious despite their disposition. Again, INTROVERSION AND SHYNESS ARE NOT THE SAME THING.
    Blind In 1 Ear
    david bowie is actually pretty introverted too. he, like hendrix, were able to change themselves on stage. that's why bowie became ziggy stardust and other alter egos. he found it easier to write and perform as someone else than as himself.
    I was really shocked seeing Reznor's, Davis' and Hendrix's names here.. They're the last ones I would think of as introverts... Well, maybe Trent a little...
    Oh c'mon where is John Frusciante? He can't even speak normally in interviews, and the most awkward musician is Radiohead's guitarist Johny Greenwood.
    Izzy Stradlin. Also Ritchie Edwards from the Manic Street Preachers, he's legally dead now but I reckon he's living under a different name, if he was dead they would of found some clue by now.
    Arjen Lucassen is pretty much a completely antisocial hermit, from what I hear. Hell, he doesn't even tour for that reason. I'd probably make a list like this if I got out there. I don't really like communicating with people...
    Actually I wouldn't say that about him at all. The main reason he doesn't tour is because he can't get like 7 singers from other bands that he uses on his albums to go on tour with him. He toured with Star One. And also, he actually let me interview him for a school project I did. Hardly antisocial very friendly guy.
    No Meg White? She's got to be one of the quietest people out there; cancelled shows because of anxiety, hardly ever gets involved in interviews, and when she does sing she keeps her eyes closed.
    I think of John Deacon. He was sort of the "Harrison of Queen". Also Jeff Hannemann, John Paul Jones, Till Lindemann.
    Devin Townsend. You can tell he's really uncomfortable around people, but tries hard not to let it show.
    What, the dude's ****ing absolutely nuts on stage and seems pretty straight forward in interviews. Although on stage, maybe that shyness is the energy he uses to be the funniest, most energetic frontman in metal bar none.
    Yeah, like most of the people on this list, he can get crazy when performing, but he has admitted a few times that he's really awkward in private.
    Don't forget Till Lindemann, the singer of Rammstein. I think he should be in this list, just look at their live performances! He seems like huge, dominant frontman on stage, but he's also actually a very introverted guy, and maybe shy in some ways too. But definitely not socially incompetent though.
    Till Lindemann is pretty shy, and hates being watched by people. Explains why he's the frontman for a huge band known for captivating live shows...
    m4ss3 m/
    I heard Freddie Mercury would have been quite an introvert.
    Off stage he supposedly he was. For on stage and off stage I'd argue John Deacon would be more notable.
    I heard that too. He always talked about how his stage persona was a separate part of him.
    well thats the whole point of the article. if you only knew "stage freddie" youd never believe it. he was energetic, lively, and very charismatic. but hes quite the opposite offstage. would you believe he actually had a very deep speaking voice? i didnt
    I've heard Lemmy's a bit of a shy guy, like having the microphone tilted up so he doesn't have to see the audience for one thing.
    The guys from Sigur Ros are pretty introvert too. They only started lately to speak during their performances, and they are really shy during interviews..
    I can sure as hell believe it. It's a completely different feeling when you're on stage to just being in a club and having to talk to people. I never had a problem with going up and performing on stage with a band, but I can't stand nightclubs or having to go and talk to people I don't know. Weird.