The 90’s. Remember those good times? Everything was pretty great about the 90’s if you ask me. But most people say that about the decade they grew up in I suppose. Still, one thing everyone can agree on: 90’s rock was pretty much the best.
Some have argued that music really hit its peak in the 80’s and 90’s and I tend to agree. Once computers started creating music, things just went downhill.
Like many of you, I remember summer days in the 90’s when we would stay up to wait for the top requested songs to play on the local rock station. I tuned in to Total Request Live just to see a rock music video. Good times.
It’s only now that I realize there were some pretty great tall rockers from the 90’s. I’ve hunted down who I could to show you which tall rockers perfectly epitomize the range of rock music from the last great decade.
Now I know there will be people who disagree about rock genres and that is fine. I obviously can’t include everything because there might not have been a tall guy rocking that genre or it was just too obscure. So in no particular order, here are the major genres of rock to emerge in the 90’s and some tall rockers who straight up slayed them.
JOE GITTLEMAN- SKA
Ska really hit the scene with a bang, but it didn’t seem to have any staying power. You don’t hear of any ska bands today for the most part. But when ska came on the scene it was very popular.
Enter Joe Gittleman, 6’3″ bass player and founding member of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Fun fact about Joe- in 1993 while in Italy, he got stabbed in the chest by a bootlegger. The song “Pirate Ship” is about this. Any tall guy who can take a shank to the chest and write a song about it later not only deserves some recognition, but pretty much embodies rock and roll all on his own.
At any rate, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones were pretty well known in 90’s ska, so here is their song “The Impression That I Get.” Honorable mention here would be “Time Bomb” by Rancid and “Sell Out” by Reel Big Fish. But I couldn’t confirm that any member of those bands was one of us tall guys, so Joe Gittleman is our winner.
JAMES HETFIELD- HARD ROCK
I say hard rock you say…? One name is synonymous with the genre, and that is Metallica. Hands down the greatest hard rock band of all time. Lead singer James Hetfield is 6’1″ and still rocking like it’s 1980.
Also I walked right past him while he was eating outside in downtown San Jose while on my way to Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals in 2016. Did I have the guts to talk to him? Of course not. Rock legend right there. But a few college kids did walk by and one pointed at him and said “check it out, old guy in a Metallica shirt…nice!” I was speechless.
There are a lot of honorable mentions here, such as Sound Garden, Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots and maybe even Bush or Creed. But Metallica was and is the king of hard rock.
In their 1991 self titled album, Metallica veered away from their more traditionally heavy metal sound that made them famous in the 80’s. This shift would set the tone for the 90’s and decades of hard rock to come. And which song became the anthem for that album and their new sound? That would be “Enter Sandman” which is one of the most recognizable rock songs of all time.
ERIC WILSON- PUNK
Punk rock really had its coming of age in the 90’s. I remember having albums by Pennywise, NoFX and plenty of others. But my favorite by far? That would be none other than Sublime.
Eric Wilson, the 6’4″ bassist, is our featured tall rocker from this iconic punk rock band. Perhaps no other band embodies punk rock of the 90’s like Sublime. You can detect influences from Hip Hop, Reggae and more for their own unique style.
It was truly a tragedy when death caused the band to break up. For the music video to include here I’m going with “Santeria” for two reasons. First, it features our tall man Eric quite a bit in an acting role. Second, the song really sums up Sublime’s style well.
NICK HEXUM- RAP ROCK
Hip Hop really started to take off in the 80’s and 90’s and rockers took notice. A few of them pioneered the Rap Rock craze. I thought about going with Kid Rock here since he is 6’0″ and “Bawitdaba” is pretty awesome. But Kid Rock really came on late in the 90’s scene after others paved the way. The same goes for Linkin Park who really only released one album in the 90’s. Rage Against The Machine also deserves some honorable mention.
For me the epitome of 90’s Rap Rock has to be 311. Lead singer Nick Hexum stands at 6’3″ and really introduced Rap Rock into the mainstream. To be fair, Hexum was the “rock” part of the Rap Rock singing duo that led the band. I would say that P.O.D. deserves very honorable mention here as well.
The music video here is a no brainer to me. “Down” was a great song on its own. But throw in a fat Buddha and every special effect available at the time and you have a classic 90’s video.
KRIST NOVOSELIC- GRUNGE
Only one band is synonymous with grunge, and that is Nirvana. And only one man is synonymous with giant rockers, and that man is 6’7″ bassist Krist Novoselic. Since he happened to be the bassist for Nirvana, this category was a given.
I mean, c’mon, Nirvana basically invented this category all on its own. And of all the 90’s rock genres, this one might be the most controversial. Was Bush hard rock, alternative or grunge? How about Stone Temple Pilots? Radiohead?
You get the point. Here’s what I know. You can make a case for lots of bands having been grunge or something else. But one band IS grunge, and that band is Nirvana. With a bassist at 6’7″ I just couldn’t go any other way. But honorable mention to Sonic Youth, who some would call grunge, and 6’6″ front man Thurston Moore.
And don’t pretend like you didn’t think about your janitor dancing around with a mop in the gym at least once. For that reason, the obvious choice here for music video is “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
BILLY CORGAN- ALTERNATIVE
Just what is alternative rock? No one can quite put their finger on it. You’ll just know it when you hear it. And believe me, the 90’s had its fair share of it.
Easily the most crowded category of rock from the 90’s was alternative. I personally believe this is because you could really categorize any rock as alternative if you wanted to. And this genre was sort of the catch all for groups that didn’t seem to fit anywhere else like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Cake and Green Day.
But just as Nirvana owned grunge, I think there was one band that owned alternative, and that is Smashing Pumpkins. Led by 6’3″ front man Billy Corgan, the Smashing Pumpkins created a unique sound all their own and I loved it.
True story- me and my friends created the SPC…Smashing Pumpkins Club. We had a secret handshake that could only be performed when fully underwater. We would do it every day each summer at the public pool, right after we got through playing Nintendo and Magic Cards. We were obviously pretty much the coolest kids ever.
Ok, maybe not, but Smashing Pumpkins were pretty much the greatest alternative band ever, and they easily have one of the best names ever. Also, Billy Corgan looked like he could have been a vampire. That doesn’t really count for anything, but needed to be pointed out.
When thinking about a video here, I had a hard time choosing. Between “1979” and “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” you probably couldn’t go wrong. But I went with “Tonight, Tonight” simply because of how 90’s the video truly is.
DAN HOERNER- EMO
Time for an admission…I was an emo kid. I know, I know…I am embarrassed a bit. But it wasn’t for very long. And it was just after the 90’s had passed and Dashboard Confessional was coming on the scene, so it was kind of trendy. I was also old enough to start playing my own music on the piano and guitar, and it was the style I gravitated to in the songs I would write.
So emo has a special place in my heart. Funny thing about it though, it doesn’t seem like the right label for some music that was really good in the 90’s, but it seems like the perfect label for some pretty bad stuff since. You know what I’m talking about- the whiny, screaming stuff that is always so depressing. I hate that it gets called emo.
See emo was (and is) more than emotionally charged lyrics. It built on its punk rock foundation and turned out songs that were much more complex musically. It featured emotional lyrics, yes, but it also introduced more melancholy music, not just words.
Lots of bands would qualify for honorable mention here- Get Up Kids, Jimmy Eat World, Promise Ring, Saves The Day…so many good ones. I had to go with one of my personal favorites and a band that featured a tall guitarist since we needed someone to break up this pattern of singers and bassists.
That band would be Sunny Day Real Estate. Guitarist Dan Hoerner is one tall dude. Unfortunately I couldn’t find out how tall. Bassist Nate Mendel (now of Foo Fighters) is listed at 5’10” and Hoerner appears to tower over him in photos and videos. I would say at least 6’2″ or so for him.
I could very easily have gone with “In Circles” here but I just like “Seven” more. I think it better epitomizes emo rock of the 90’s, or at least how it started out before it went wrong with “screamo.”
MARK MCGRATH- POP ROCK
What is pop rock you ask? Well, if it is performed by a band featuring a singer, guitarist, bassist and drummer, it is almost certainly rock. But if it could be played on a top 40 type of station along with Taylor Swift then pop rock is the appropriate label. Well, I should go back to the 90’s there, so if it could be played on the same station as Phil Collins then it was probably pop rock.
Don’t confuse this with soft rock or light rock. Pop rock came in a variety of sounds in the 90’s with bands like Weezer, Third Eye Blind and maybe even U2. And while a band may have had hits classified as pop rock songs, they weren’t necessarily pop rock as a whole, like Dishwalla, Wallflowers or Semisonic.
In other words, if it was rock you could listen to with your uncool parents, it was probably pop rock. If the drummer is playing a constant, regular beat, it was probably pop rock. If the chord progression seemed to never change and the song sounded like a template, it was probably pop rock.
Now I really wanted to go with Smash Mouth here because they are from my hometown. But I couldn’t find a tall member of the band. I did however find a tall guy who burst onto the pop rock (and pop culture generally) scene by the name of Mark McGrath. He is the 6’1″ lead singer of Sugar Ray.
I’ll admit a lot of Sugar Ray music doesn’t sound much like pop rock. But for some reason all their singles played on the radio did. And if there was a Sugar Ray single played more than “Fly” I don’t know it, so I had to go with it for the pop rock video.
JAMES ROOT- METAL
It seems a little strange to say Metallica isn’t metal- after all they pioneered the genre in the 80’s. But we are talking 90’s rock. And in the 90’s, Metallica, in spite of the name, was not metal.
Lots of bands were still squarely in the middle of the metal genre: Pantera, Slayer, Korn and System Of A Down to name a few. But one metal band was larger than them all. Not larger in the sense of being more well known, but, well, literally larger.
Slipknot consisted of 9 members. That’s right, there were 9 guys rocking at once. It was pretty intense stuff. And one of them, guitarist Jim Root, is 6’6″ tall.
While having a giant guitarist certainly ups their coolness, it was probably their stage presence that most would remember. From gas masks to clown masks and everything in between, they donned all sorts of crazy head gear. I’m also pretty sure that a couple band members didn’t actually play instruments but existed solely to run around like insane people on stage.
Insane probably accurately sums up Slipknot, and metal in general. Slipknot put a couple albums out in the 90’s, more toward the end of the decade. So there isn’t a ton of their music to choose from, but if I”m going to pick something that embodies the insanity that is metal and Slipknot, I’m going with “Me Inside.”
Honestly, I had to include one more guy here and just didn’t even have a clue how to classify him due to his musical diversity. I’ve heard funk, techno, industrial and progressive rock. The dude is really just in a genre all his own.
And that dude is 6’6″ guitarist Buckethead, aka Brian Patrick Carroll.
He literally performs with a bucket on his head. Sometimes he will cover his whole head. Sometimes he will wear it on top but have a mask on. I don’t know the story behind it at all, but it was cool, edgy and weird enough to make him stand apart from pretty much everyone else. He’s actually a very talented and skilled guitarist in spite of the bucket gimmick. Of course, being a 6’6″ rocker helps you stand apart too.
It’s important to recognize that Buckethead is a solo act. When he performs live he gets up there with a bunch of guitars, amps, pedals…and an ipod.
I fondly remember the days of Guitar Hero 2 (post 90’s of course) when the only song I could not beat on expert was a Buckethead song. That song was “Jordan” but was released in 2006 and so I won’t post that video here. Instead I’m going with “Night Of The Slunk” which was released in 1999 and gives you a great introduction into his unique sound and style. I could have just as easily used “Whitewash” or anything from Bucketheadland, but I’ll let you have fun exploring this literal and figurative giant of the rock world on your own.