When you think video games, famous rockers don’t usually come to mind. However, given the wide appeal of video games, it’s not surprising that many famous rockers have contributed to video games in some ways. Be it contributing to the soundtrack, or even being involved with the game’s development, here are 10 awesome instances of rock musicians being involved in video games!
1. Tony Harnell
Tony Harnell is a heavy metal and hard rock singer with a phenomenal set of pipes and who he’s done stints in numerous bands. To gamers, he’s probably best known for his contributions to the Sonic the Hedgehog series. He made his Sonic debut with Sonic Adventure, performing vocals on Sonic’s theme “It Doesn’t Matter.” He later returned for the sequel, Sonic Adventure 2, performing on a new version of “It Doesn’t Matter.”
Harnell has also performed on several other songs in the Sonic the Hedgehog series, including “We Can,” the theme of Team Sonic in Sonic Heroes and “Escape From the City” from Sonic Adventure 2, both of which were collaborations with the next artist on this list. Outside of video games, Harnell is best known for his work with the Norwegian heavy metal band TNT, but he has also released some solo material and did a brief stint with the legendary act Skid Row in 2015.
2. Ted Poley
Ted Poley is best known as the singer of the glam metal band Danger Danger, and he’s also made several contributions to the Sonic the Hedgehog series, starting off with singing Big the Cat’s theme “Lazy Days (Livin’ In Paradise)” from Sonic Adventure. He also performed on “Escape From the City” from Sonic Adventure 2 and “We Can” from Sonic Heroes with Tony Harnell.
Outside of video games, Poley is known as the frontman of Danger Danger, but he’s also performed with several other bands and has released some solo material.
3. Johnny Gioeli
Johnny Gioeli is probably best known as the singer for Crush 40, the band made up of Sega composer Jun Senoue and Gioeli responsible for countless songs in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. The pair first teamed up for Sonic Adventure, where Gioeli laid down his vocals for the game’s main theme “Open Your Heart,” but Senoue went on to compose the soundtrack for Sega’s NASCAR Arcade and once again tapped Gioeli for vocal duties on the non-instrumental tracks, including “Revvin’ Up.”
Officially working under the name Crush 40, Gioeli and Senoue worked on countless tracks together including “Live & Learn,” the main theme of Sonic Adventure 2, “Sonic Heroes” and “What I’m Made Of” from Sonic Heroes, “I Am... All of Me” and “Never Turn Back” from Shadow the Hedgehog.
Outside of Crush 40, Gioeli is the singer for the hard rock band Hardline and for German guitarist Axel Rudi Pell’s band. Gioeli founded Hardline in 1991 and is the only original member, and he has been performing with Pell since 1997, when he replaced Jeff Scott Soto.
4. Breaking Benjamin
Hard rockers Breaking Benjamin are one of the more successful bands of the early 2000s alternative metal/post-grunge era and, in 2004, they recorded the song “Blow Me Away” for the Halo 2 soundtrack. The song was recorded with vocals, but only an instrumental version plays during the game (specifically, at the end of the mission Gravemind). However, the song appears on the soundtrack release with vocals.
Breaking Benjamin have released several hit singles and charting albums. They went on hiatus in 2010, but returned in 2014 with a new lineup and released a new album in 2015.
Alt-rockers Incubus, much like Breaking Benjamin, also made an appearance in Halo 2. The band recorded a four movement prog-rock epic titled “The Odyssey” for the game, but only the first movement, also known by the title “Follow” was included in the game (appearing during the mission The Arbiter). However, the other three movements were included on the official soundtrack release.
Incubus has been around since the early 90s, and have released many hit singles. They are best known for their radio hit “Drive,” and for their wide range of music styles.
6. Steve Vai
Steve Vai is undoubtedly one of the greatest guitarists of all time; He has a massive body of work to his name. As for his connection to video games, Vai recorded guitar tracks for the Halo 2 soundtrack, specifically the tracks “Halo Theme Mjolnir Mix” and “Reclaimer.”
He also rerecorded his guitar parts for the completely redone soundtrack for Halo 2 Anniversary.
He has a substantial solo career, and has also performed with the likes of Frank Zappa, David Lee Roth, Whtiesnake, and many others. He’s also played as a guest musician with countless artists.
7. Misha Mansoor
Misha Mansoor is one of the founding members of the progressive metal band Periphery and one of the pioneers of the Djent movement in the genre. He’s also served as a producer on a number of albums by Djent artists. As for video games, he composed and recorded the songs “Breaking the Covenant” and “Follow in Flight” for the Halo 2 Anniversary soundtrack, replacing the previously mentioned “Blow Me Away” and “Follow,” respectively.
While he’s best known for his work with Periphery, Mansoor is involved in a number of projects including Haunted Shores and his own solo project, Bulb.
8. Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney is a legend in the music world. The Beatles’ bassist is one of the biggest icons in the rock world and has worked with numerous projects and has composed songs for many other artists and films. But did you know that he worked with ex-Bungie composer Marty O’Donnell on the soundtrack for Destiny?
He even wrote a song inspired by game titled “Hope For the Future.”
Of course, the man is best known for his work with the Beatles, but he also had a project called Wings with his first wife and has had an impressive solo career, even trying his hand at composing classical music.
9. Avenged Sevenfold
Avenged Sevenfold is a modern metal band that has been really involved with video games. They made their video game debut recording the song “Not Ready To Die” for the Call of the Dead DLC for Call of Duty: Black Ops. Avenged Sevenfold returned for Call of Duty: Black Ops II, this time with the track “Carry On.” For the recently released Call of Duty: Black Ops III, Avenged Sevenfold contributed to the game’s original score, performing the score of the game’s multiplayer.
Of course, Avenged Sevenfold has done more than just contribute some music to Call of Duty. In 2014, the band released their very own video game, Hail to the King: Deathbat. The development was lead by frontman M. Shadows, who was inspired by the games he grew up playing, such as The Legend of Zelda and Castlevania. Deathbat is a mobile title for iOS and Android designed for gamers and is actually pretty enjoyable. You can check out TAY’s review of the game here. The game’s retro video game style soundtrack was composed by the band, of course.
Avenged Sevenfold have been going strong since their 2001 debut album, and they are currently one of the biggest metal bands in the world. Their last two albums both reached the top of the charts in the US.
10. David Bowie
Omikron: The Nomad Soul is a video game developed by Quantic Dream that was released in 1999. Not only did the music legend known as David Bowie compose the game’s soundtrack, but he also appeared in the game, playing the character Boz. You can find a great write-up about Omikron: The Nomad Soul here. Several of the songs in the game were released with new lyrics on Bowie’s Hours album.
Sadly, David Bowie is no longer with us, but he left behind a spectacular body of work.
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