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Famous Jewish Rock Musicians You Should Know

By Jspace Staff on 12/27/2011 at 11:27 AM

Categories: Music, Entertainment, Culture

Many lyrics from your favorite songs have come from Jewish singers and songwriters. Keep reading to find out more about the most famous Jewish rock stars. After reading the article you can say that Jews know to Rock. It. Out.

Lou Reed

Many know Lou Reed as a songwriter for the iconic group The Velvet Underground. He wrote about subjects of personal experience that rarely had been examined so openly in rock and roll, including sex and drugs. Though the Velvet Underground were a commercial failure in the late 1960s, the group gained a considerable cult following in the years since its downfall and has become a very influential band. Some of the many hits include “Walk On the Wild Side,” “Sweet Jane” and “Heroin.” After he left the group, he began a solo career.

J-Connection: Reed was born Lewis Allan Reed into a Jewish Family at Beth El Hospital in Brooklyn and grew up in Freeport, Long Island.

Joey Ramone

Not many people know that the Joey Ramone, the lead singer of the iconic rock band, the Ramones was Jewish. Most people are familiar with their songs: “I wanna be sedated” and “Blitzkrieg Bop.” They were a huge influence on the punk movement even though they only achieved minor commercial success. The only record with enough U.S. sales to be certified gold was the compilation album Ramones Mania. The Ramones made the Rolling Stone lists of the 50 Greatest Artists of All Time. Many consider them the first real punk band.

Another fact you may not know about this iconic punk musician is that he was diagnosed with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). He also received electroconvulsive therapy as a teen to supposedly cure his bisexuality.

J-Connection: Joey Ramone was actually born Jeffry Hyman and grew up in Forest Hills, Queens with his fellow bandmates.

Paul Stanley

Some may not think that Jews can be bad boys, but Paul Stanley, rocker of the hard rock band, Kiss was a real bad boy. His stage persona was called the “The Starchild,” which was one star over his right eye. The debut self-titled album was released back in 1974. Stanley is the writer of many of the band's highest-charting hits.

Some other facts you may not know about this Jewish rocker is that he had to have two hip surgeries probably from wearing platform boots for all those years and has microtia, a deformity of the outer ear.

J-Connection: Paul Stanley was born Stanley Harvey Eisen in Queens, he went to the High School of Music & Art.

Gene Simmons

Another famous Jew in the hard rock band Kiss is Gene Simmons. He is known as the “demon” and is the bassist and vocalist. His mom is the inspiration behind the name of the bank. His mother’s name Flora Klein can mean kiss in Hungarian.

This nice Jewish boy has relationships with Cheer, Diana Ross and is currently married to former playboy playmate Shannon Tweed. He has a meaningful relationship to Israel and described a trip to Israel as a "life changing experience." He talked about how he still feels that he is an Israeli. He says: "I'm Israeli. I'm a stranger in America. I'm an outsider."

J-Connection: Simmons was born in Haifa. This good Jewish boy went to Yeshiva Torah Vodaath. His mother and uncle were the only members of the family to survive the Holocaust.

Leonard Cohen

Did you know that musician Leonard Cohen was a poet first and foremost? He was born in Montreal and enrolled at McGill University and graduated in 1955 with a B.A degree; William Butler Yeats, Walt Whitman, and Henry Miller inspired him. His first book of poetry “Let Us Compare Mythologies,” was published in 1956. Only after performing a few folk festivals, he garnered the attention of Columbia Record rep John H Hammond. Lou Reed described his music as the highest and most influential echelon of songwriters.

J-Connection: Cohen was born in Montreal in a middle-class Jewish family. His mother emigrated from Lithuania while his great grandfather emigrated from Poland. His grandfather was the founding president of the Canadian Jewish Congress.  

Walter Becker

Walter Becker started the rock group Steely Dan with writing partner Donald Dagen (who is also Jewish) while attending Bard College. Combining elements of jazz, funk R&B and pop music. Rolling Stone called the group the “perfect music antiheroes for the 80’s. The group had seven successful albums. Becker initially played the saxophone and then switched to the guitar.

J-Connection: Becker was born to a Jewish family in Queens and grew up both in Westchester County and Queens.

Steven Page  

Most people know Steven Page from the group Barenaked Ladies. Success didn’t come easy for Page. The group played for several years before their breakthrough hit, "One Week," climbed the charts in 1998. Page stayed loyal to his Jewish roots. He even included three Chanukah songs on the band’s holiday album Barenaked for the Holidays, and refrain from touring during the Jewish holidays. Page is very honest about suffering from mental illness. He admitted that in 2001 that he suffers from bi-polar disorder and has self medicated to relieve his symptoms. He said in one interview he couldn’t get himself out of bed for a music video. He said in an interview, “It’s not just your own struggle; it’s a struggle of everyone around you." He also cites medication and a therapist as helping him.

J-Connection: Page’s mother was Ashkenazi and his father was protestant. His mother was disowned even though his mother converted.

Robby Krieger

Did you know that the guy behind, “Light My Fire," was Jewish? Krieger wrote all the famous songs including “Love me Two Times,” “Touch Me” and “Love Her Madly.” Robby Krieger studied Indian music and met the keyboardist Ray Manzarek at a mediation session. The Doors formed soon after, and found immediate success with their single "Light My Fire" in 1967. Their first, self-titled album was enormously popular. Unfortunately the follow up albums were not as popular.

J-Connection: Robby Kreiger was born in Los Angeles to a Jewish family.  

Peter Green

Peter Green started playing with his future bandmates in the Bluesbreakers, replacing Eric Clapton in 1966. The band became Fleetwood Mac in 1967. He wrote two of the number two hits “Man of the World" and "Oh Well," in 1969. Unfortunately his drug use affected him and by the spring of 1970, he left the band. He was also diagnosed with schizophrenia and entered several psychiatric hospitals.  

J-Connection: Peter Green was actually born Peter Greenbaum and was born into a Jewish family.

David Lee Roth

David Lee Roth is best known for being the lead singer of the hard rock band Van Halen. Lee got his first taste of music when he hung out at his uncle's club, Cafe Wha. He suffered while growing up and saw a psychiatrist for three year eventually ending up at ranch for troubled teens.

He met the Van Halen Brothers while going to Pasadena City College.The band's first album received a lot of attention—it sold more than two million and the original Van Halen went on to release five more successful albums over the next seven years. He parted ways with Van Halen in 1985 and began a solo career.

J-Connection David Lee Rother is half Jewish through his father and was raised Jewish.

  • David-Lee-Roth2
  • Paul Stanley
  • Paul Stanley1
  • Peter-Green2
  • Walter Becker2
  • Walter Becker
  • Robby Krieger-The Doors
  • Gene-Simmons
  • Steven Page
  • Leonard Cohen
  • Leonard Cohen 2010 Songwriters Hall of Fame Awards - Arrivals at the Marriott Marquis Hotel New York
  • Lou Reed performing live at the Hammersmith Apollo London, England - 04.07.11 Mandatory Credit: WENN
  • Joey Ramone

Comments

Meara Razon
Meara Razon 12/29/2011 at 7:03pm
Nice article. I didn't know the guy from Barenaked ladies was Jewish.
Danielle Sonnenberg
Danielle Sonnenberg 12/27/2011 at 5:19pm
Love this song by Leonard Cohen.. listen to the lyrics!