The 15 Biggest Rock Stars Who Live in Arizona

Maynard James Keenan: rock icon, raconteur, and proud resident of Jerome.
Maynard James Keenan: rock icon, raconteur, and proud resident of Jerome.
Jim Louvau

Stevie Nicks doesn't live here anymore. Neither does Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine, Dokken's George Lynch, Kerry King of Slayer, former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted, nor Linkin Park front man Chester Bennington. At one time, all of these aforementioned rock greats may have called Arizona their home, but have since left our state for new addresses.

With all that said, however, Arizona still boasts many recognizable rock stars as residents, whether they're of the homegrown variety or, just like a majority of our population, wound up moving here for one reason or another.

There's the always entertaining Maynard James Keenan of Tool and Puscifer fame, of course, as well as Alice Cooper, Rob Halford, Nils Lofgren, and many other famed vocalists, guitarists, and percussionists whose names are listed in both the annals of rock history and Arizona property records.

We've searched high and low for the many rockers who have Phoenix, Tucson, or other Arizona cities as their return address and compiled a list of those we could confirm that actually live here. (In other words, Paul McCartney doesn't count, even if there's a chance he might still own that ranch down in southern Arizona.)

Read on and rock on.

The rock ‘n’ rollers of Player (from left): Peter Beckett, Ronn Moss, JC Crowley, and John Friesen.EXPAND
The rock ‘n’ rollers of Player (from left): Peter Beckett, Ronn Moss, JC Crowley, and John Friesen.
RSO Records

John Friesen

The former drummer/percussionist for Player had made local headlines back in 2014 when burglars broke into John Friesen's North Phoenix home and made off with four gold records that he had earned for the band's 1977 single, "Baby Come Back." Friesen spent six years on the kit for the soft-rock act during its glory years of the late '70s, which included opening for Eric Clapton, Heart, and Boz Scaggs, as well as seeing their aforementioned signature hit dethrone the Bee Gees from the top of the Billboard charts in January 1978.

Jerry Riopelle

Just because it’s been several years since Jerry Riopelle performed one of his trademark New Year's Eve gigs at the Celebrity Theatre, don't fret. It doesn't mean that he's ditched the Valley by any means. Nope, Riopelle still calls Scottsdale home, at least part of the year, one of many stops he's made along in his journey in the rock and pop world. During his 50-year-plus career, Riopelle has worked behind the scenes writing and producing songs for Capitol and A&M Records, as well as for the infamous Phil Spector, and seeing his songs covered by folks like Meatloaf, Kenny Loggins, and Herb Alpert. He later released his own material in the '70s and '80s, which got tons of airplay on KDKB and built up Riopelle's local popularity eons before he decided to move to Arizona in 2003.

Have guitar, will travel: Jason DeVore.
Have guitar, will travel: Jason DeVore.
Operation Records

Jason DeVore

When Mesa's Authority Zero isn't racking up the miles during another nationwide tour, they're usually back here in their stomping grounds of Arizona. And for lead vocalist and guitarist Jason DeVore, that doesn't mean plenty of vegging out in front of Netflix. Instead, he grabs his guitar and heads out to bars like Joe's Grotto, Tempe Tavern, and at least another half-dozen joints for solo gigs in front of his legion of local fans.

Jim Adkins performs with Jimmy Eat World at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe in October 2014.EXPAND
Jim Adkins performs with Jimmy Eat World at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe in October 2014.
Melissa Fossum

Jim Adkins

The man behind the microphone for local emo legends Jimmy Eat World not only has a residence in Phoenix, but a snazzy one at that. According to the website for the Modern Phoenix Home Tour, the vocalist/guitarist and his wife, Amy, live in a stunning, single-story rambler-style ranch house from the 1950s that's filled with midcentury modern panache and loads of vintage style and fixtures. To paraphrase the late Kurt Cobain, teenage angst has paid off well.

Cris Kirkwood (left) rocks out with the Meat Puppets in 2009.EXPAND
Cris Kirkwood (left) rocks out with the Meat Puppets in 2009.

Cris Kirkwood

The Facebook page for influential psychedelic punkers Meat Puppets lists the band's hometown as both Austin and Phoenix, which is emblematic of the fact that lead singer Curt Kirkwood resides in the Texas state capital while his brother Cris, the band's bassist, still hangs here in Arizona. And on the right day, you might just spot Cris at a few haunts around Tempe and Phoenix, like when he plays out with longtime girlfriend Ruth Wilson and nephew Elmo Kirkwood at different bars, or shows off his bizarrely colorful artwork at galleries or inside Carly's Bistro.

Arizona's newest rock stars, KONGOS.
Arizona's newest rock stars, KONGOS.
Epic Records

KONGOS

This is admittedly a little bit of a cheat, considering we're highlighting the entire band instead of a single musician, but we'd really be remiss in not including the Kongo brothers, especially considering they've truly became rock stars within the last few years. Back in 2014, the proverbial rocket was strapped to their collective asses after getting signed to Epic Records, and watching their song "Come With Me" and Lunatic, the 12-track album from which it originated, scorch Billboard's charts. The song was also used in television shows, movies, commercials, and even by the WWE for the theme song of one of its pay-per-view smackdowns in May, which has go to count for something, right? KONGOS still list the Valley as their hometown on the band’s Facebook page (specifically stating “Phoenix by way of London and Johannesburg”) and reportedly are putting the finishing touches on their follow-up album, Egomaniac, which drops in June. 

Sacred Reich's original lineup (from left): Wiley Arnett, Jason Rainey, Greg Hall, and Phil Rind.EXPAND
Sacred Reich's original lineup (from left): Wiley Arnett, Jason Rainey, Greg Hall, and Phil Rind.
Pat Blashill

Wiley Arnett

Esteemed axeman Wiley Arnett started shredding six strings as a teenager and hasn’t stopped since. For most of the last three decades, the Scottsdale native has been a member of legendary thrash-metal act Sacred Reich, dating back to when he originally formed the band with Coronado High School classmates Phil Rind, Jason Rainey, and Greg Hall in 1985.

And believe it or not, the heavy-hitting and politically oriented metal band was notorious even in its infancy, as they were forbidden from playing at the school. Our 1997 story on Sacred Reich recounted the situation, which (more or less) gave Arnett and company their first taste of politics:

When Rind was a junior, Sacred Reich was barred from performing at Coronado. The principal suggested thrash metal would tarnish the school's image. Rind wrote searing letters of protest to all the local papers, enlisted two thirds of the student body to sign a petition, participated in a two-hour debate on KFYI radio, and spoke in front of the district's school board while his mother, a teacher at Coronado, cheered him on. "The bottom line is, they didn't let us play," Rind says. "But I learned a lesson. As the old saying goes, 'The price of democracy is eternal vigilance.'"

These days, Sacred Reich is still involved with politics to a degree, as they headlined a “Band for Bernie” benefit at The Rebel Lounge in February. And if you’d like to throw a hook’em horns or high five Arnett’s way, he co-owns Rehab Burger Therapy in Scottsdale.
 

Hometown rock hero Roger Clyne.
Hometown rock hero Roger Clyne.
Jim Louvau

Roger Clyne

We admit to getting a swell of hometown pride back in the mid '90s whenever the theme for King of the Hill started playing on our TVs or the hit single "Banditos" got national airplay, since local Roger Clyne helped pen both of these songs during his stint with now-defunct Arizona band The Refreshments. The singer and guitarist, who lives in Tempe and now tours and performs with The Peacemakers, has always been a big supporter of his hometown, whether it's making shout-outs to his local music scene buddies in songs like "Down Together," or recording the Arizona Diamondbacks' victory theme that plays at Chase Field whenever the team secures a win.

The members of the Gin Blossoms back in the '90s.EXPAND
The members of the Gin Blossoms back in the '90s.
New Times Archives

Gin Blossoms

Speaking of refugees from Tempe's jangle-pop heyday during the Clinton years, the Gin Blossoms were, in that era, one of the biggest bands to come out of the Valley. Fueled by the popularity of such catchy, Doug Hopkins-penned songs as "Hey Jealousy," "Found Out About You," and "Until I Fall Away" off the quadruple-platinum album, New Miserable Experience, the Blossoms were all over the radio and television airwaves around that time, including multiple appearances on Letterman and Leno, and spread "pure pop joy" to the post-grunge masses. The band's still around, performing at least one or two times a year locally when they aren't off on '90s nostalgia tours.

Megadeth's Dave Mustaine (left) and Dave Ellefson.
Megadeth's Dave Mustaine (left) and Dave Ellefson.
Tradecraft

Upcoming Events

Dave Ellefson

Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine stated in an interview earlier this year that he doesn’t consider the band’s longtime member Dave Ellefson to be his “right-hand man.” That may or may not be true, depending on your particular fandom for Megadeth, but the fact remains that the bassist and Scottsdale resident has been an integral part of the iconic heavy metal band for decades and withstood its breakups, reunions, and countless world tours.

Legendary sideman Nils Lofgren at his Scottsdale studio.
Legendary sideman Nils Lofgren at his Scottsdale studio.
Andrew Pielage

Nils Lofgren

If you read our 2014 cover story on famed rock journeyman Nils Lofgren, you're no doubt aware of his status as a "musician's musician" and his illustrious 47-year career adding seasoning to the sounds of Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young, not to mention the fact he owns a sprawling ranch in Scottsdale. Contributor Jason P. Woodbury got a chance to not only visit Lofgren's place but also the awe-inspiring studio inside his converted eight-car garage that sounds like it would make any musician or music fan jealous:

The structure is adorned with a desert scene painted by local street artist Danny Campa...There are guitars and amps in every corner. The walls are lined with gig posters and photos: a Danny Clinch shot of late saxophonist Clarence "The Big Man" Clemons, Lofgren's longtime close friend and bandmate in Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, and a photo of Lofgren hanging out on a boat with Springsteen.

Kind of puts your man cave or practice space to shame.

Max Cavalera: rock god and responsible dad.
Max Cavalera: rock god and responsible dad.
Charlene Tupper

Max Cavalera

The Brazilian-born metal icon and frontman of Soulfly used to be a major hellion. In both his recent memoir, My Bloody Roots, and a lengthy interview with New Times earlier this year, Max Cavalera recalled many effed up rock 'n' roll misadventures, including fighting with Lemmy Killmeister, puking on Eddie Vedder, urinating on one fan, or just "hopping around like a Tasmanian devil on stage." An ironic juxtaposition to all these wild times is that fact that Cavalera, as we documented in a 2003 cover story, is a pretty subdued homebody here in Phoenix who is active in his son's school life and a member of the PTA to boot.

Alice Cooper: often imitated, never duplicated.EXPAND
Alice Cooper: often imitated, never duplicated.
Jim Louvau

Alice Cooper

Despite spending much of his youth in his hometown of Detroit Rock City, the iconic shock rocker has been an Arizona boy for most of his life, starting off with his days at Cortez High School. It was there that Coop performed in a series of ever-changing bands with different friends during his formative years in the rock biz: first with The Earwigs, then The Spiders, and finally Nazz. In the late '60s, he decided to just call the act Alice Cooper, moved to LA, and went on to worldwide fame and fortune. He eventually returned to the Valley and has become a local fixture, restaurateur, commercial pitchman, philanthropist, and occasional right-wing pundit.

Rob Halford performs with Judas Priest during a 2014 concert at Gila River Arena in Glendale.
Rob Halford performs with Judas Priest during a 2014 concert at Gila River Arena in Glendale.
Jim Louvau

Rob Halford

Hang out around Paradise Valley long enough and you could possibly run into the Judas Priest singer knocking about or occasionally having a drink at a quiet pub in the vicinity. This metal godfather has been a  resident of the upscale town north of Camelback Mountain since the mid-1980s, back when his band was all over the charts with Defenders of the Faith and Turbo. He's enjoyed living here for the last 30 years, and told us as much in 2008 when he described the Valley as "a beautiful place" that he loves coming home to when not out on tour with Judas Priest. "It's unique, it's special, and it means everything to me," Halford says.

Maynard James Keenan onstage during Puscifer's concert at last year's Monster Mash in Tempe.EXPAND
Maynard James Keenan onstage during Puscifer's concert at last year's Monster Mash in Tempe.
Jim Louvau

Maynard James Keenan

If the overwhelmingly popular Tool frontman ever decided to run for mayor of Jerome, he'd probably win in a landslide, given that he's the most prominent resident in the small northern Arizona town that houses both his Merkin Vineyards and his Caduceus Cellars. It'd never happen, since MJK is pretty swamped with making wine, making music, or making babies to consider such a thing, although we admit that "Mayor Maynard" has a nice ring to it.


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