The Ethel-or-Fozzie Rule, applied to the top 200 bands of 1980s

Daniel Nester
5 min readMay 26, 2015


I have a rule that states that in rock music, there are Ethel Merman singers or Fozzie Bear singers. This rule applies only to singers with careers that begin after April 1970, the month the Beatles broke up. I call it The Ethel-or-Fozzie Rule.

In this rule, I attempt to demonstrate divide in singers among showtune histrionics (Ethel) and holier-than-thou groans (Fozzie). To skeptics, I refer to the episode of The Muppet Show, in which Merman sings a medley with the Muppet troupe, among them Fozzie.

The first Ethel Merman Band, formed in April 1970, is Queen.

What follows is a list of the top bands/artists of the 1980s, according to this random site, along with my E-or-F ruling. Bands or artists whose careers begin before April 1970 are ruled as NA, or Not Applicable.

Let’s get started.

1. Michael Jackson with the Jackson 5 is Ethel; solo Michael Jackson is Fozzie

2. Prince: Ethel

3. Madonna: Fozzie

4. U2: Ethel

5. Bruce Springsteen: Ethel

6. Run-D.M.C.: Run is Ethel; DMC is Fozzie

Run is Ethel; DMC is Fozzie

7. Van Halen: Ethel

8. Public Enemy: Chuck D is Fozzie; Flava Flav is Ethel

9. Billy Joel N/A

10. The Police: Ethel

11. Phil Collins: Fozzie

12. Guns N’ Roses: Ethel

13. Def Leppard: Fozzie

14. Janet Jackson: Fozzie

15. George Michael/Wham: Ethel

16. Whitney Houston: Ethel

17. Metallica: Ethel

Rush is perhaps the most Ethel band of all time. Or maybe it’s Iron Maiden.

18. N.W.A.: Eazy E is Ethel; Ice Cube is Fozzie

19. Dire Straits: Fozzie

20. AC/DC: Bon Scott was Fozzie; Brian Johnson is Fozzie

21. Rush is perhaps the most Ethel band of all time

22. Iron Maiden: Wait–maybe this is the most Ethel band

23. Judas Priest: NA — formed in 1969

24. Lionel Richie: Fozzie

25. Bon Jovi: Ethel

26. Talking Heads: Fozzie

27. Genesis: NA formed in 1967

28. R.E.M.: Fozzie (IRS years); Ethel (Warner Bros. years)

29. Duran Duran: Fozzie

30. Mötley Crüe: Ethel

31. The Cure: Fozzie

32. Journey: Ethel with Steve Perry

33. John Mellencamp: Fozzie

34. Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five: Fozzie

35. REO Speedwagon: Ethel

36. Kool and the Gang: NA formed in 1964

37. L.L. Cool J: Fozzie

38. Tina Turner: NA

39. Queen: The first Ethel band

40. Beastie Boys: Ethel (Ad Rock, Mike D), Fozzie (MCA)

41. Ozzy Osbourne: Solo years are definitely Ethel

42. The Smiths: Ethel

43. Huey Lewis and the News: Fozzie

Ozzy Osbourne’s solo years are definitely Ethel.

44. Bryan Adams: Fozzie

45. Hall & Oates: NA formed c. 1969

46. Pat Benatar: Ethel

47. Eric B. & Rakim: Fozzie

48. Billy Idol: Ethel

49. Peter Gabriel: Solo years Ethel

50. INXS: Fozzie

51. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers: Ethel

52. Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble: Fozzie

53. Eurythmics: Fozzie

54. The Cars: Ric Ocasek is Fozzie; Ben Orr is Ethel

55. Aerosmith: NA

56. ZZ Top: NA

57. The Rolling Stones: NA

58. Heart: NA

59. David Bowie: NA

60. Elton John: NA

61. Rod Stewart: NA

62. Foreigner: NA

63. Stevie Wonder: NA

64. Toto: David Paitch is Fozzie; Bobby Kimball is Ethel

65. Bob Seger: NA

66. The Pointer Sisters: NA

67. DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince: Fozzie

68. Salt-N-Pepa Salt is Ethel; Pepa is Fozzie

69. Fleetwood Mac: NA

70. The Go-Go’s: Fozzie

71. Paul McCartney: NA

72. Pet Shop Boys: Fozzie

73. Don Henley: Solo Don is Fozzie

74. Paul Simon: NA

75. Tracy Chapman: Fozzie

76. Cyndi Lauper: Fozzie

77. Depeche Mode: Ethel

78. Sonic Youth: Fozzie

79. Pete Townshend: NA

80. Culture Club: Ethel

81. Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine: Fozzie

82. De La Soul: All-Fozzie

83. Luther Vandross: NA

84. Chicago: NA

85. The Bangles: Fozzie

86. Thompson Twins: Fozzie

87. Yes: NA

88. Men at Work: Ethel (Colin Hay solo is Fozzie)

89. Pixies: Frank Black is Ethel; Kim Deal is Fozzie

90. Pink Floyd: NA

91. Robert Palmer: Fozzie

92. Kenny Loggins: NA

93. Whitesnake: Ethel

94. Sade: Fozzie

95. Steve Winwood: Solo work is Ethel

96. Billy Ocean: Fozzie

97. Tears for Fears: Ethel (both Curt and Roland)

98. Bobby Brown: Fozzie

99. Scorpions: NA

100. Simply Red: Ethel

101. B-52’s: Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson are Fozzie; Fred Schneider is Ethel

102. Boston: NA

103. Rick James: NA

104. Joan Jett: NA

105. Stevie Nicks: NA

106. Berlin: Fozzie

107. Sting: Solo sting is Ethel

108. New Order: Ethel

109. Poison: Ethel

110. The Pretenders: Fozzie

111. Quiet Riot: Ethel

112. Ratt: Fozzie

113. The Clash: Joe Strummer is Fozzie; Mick Jones is Ethel

114. The Stone Roses: Fozzie

115. Squeeze: Ethel

116. Styx: NA

117. Frankie Goes to Hollywood: Ethel

118. New Edition: Michael Bivins is Ethel; the rest are Fozzies

119. Stray Cats: Fozzie

120. Paula Abdul: Fozzie

121. The Human League: Philip Oakley is Ethel; Joanne Catherall and Susan Ann Sulley are Ethel

122. Violent Femmes: Ethel

123. Elvis Costello: Ethel

124. A-Ha: Fozzie

125. Blondie: Ethel

126. Anita Baker: Fozzie

127. Milli Vanilli (i.e., the people who sing as Milli Vanilli): Fozzie

128. Sheena Easton: Ethel

129. Loverboy: Ethel

130. Asia: Fozzie

131. Skid Row: Fozzie

132. Tiffany: Fozzie

133. Debbie Gibson: Ethel

134. Crosby Stills Nash (& Young): NA

135. Madness: Fozzie

136. Aretha Franklin: NA

137. Afrika Bambaataa: Fozzie

138. UB 40: Fozzie

139. Patti LaBelle: NA

140. Tone-Loc: Fozzie

141. Falco: Fozzie

In KISS, Gene Simmons is the Fozzie and Paul Stanley the Ethel.

142. Simple Minds: Ethel

143. Earth Wind & Fire: NA

144. Kiss: Gene Simmons is Fozzie; Paul Stanley is Ethel

145. The Jam: Fozzie

146. Marvin Gaye: NA

147. Bananarama: Fozzie

148. New Kids on the Block: All Fozzies

149. Billy Squier: Ethel

150. Slayer: Fozzie

151. Adam Ant: Fozzie

152. Spandau Ballet: Ethel

153. Dokken: Ethel (post-George Lynch exit Fozzie)

154. The Jesus and Mary Chain: Fozzie

155. ABC: Ethel

156. Cinderella: Fozzie

157. Bonnie Raitt: Ethel

158. 10,000 Maniacs: Ethel

159. Accept: Fozzie

160. Eric Clapton: Fozzie

161. Kool Moe Dee: Ethel

162. The Cult: Fozzie

163. The Fixx: Fozzie

164. Air Supply: Ethel (both the tall one and the short one)

165. Richard Marx: Ethel

166. Bruce Hornsby & the Range: Fozzie

167. Starship: Ethel

168. The Replacements: Fozzie

169. Fine Young Cannibals: Fozzie

170. Mr. Mister: Ethel

171. Boogie Down Productions: Fozzie

172. Irene Cara: Ethel

173. David Lee Roth: Solo DLR is Fozzie

174. Twisted Sister: Ethel

175. Corey Hart: Ethel

176. Doug E. Fresh: Fozzie

177. Laura Branigan: Ethel

178. Dio: Ethel

179. Europe: Ethel

180. A Flock of Seagulls: Fozzie

181. Eddy Grant: Ethel

182. Husker Du: Bob Mould is Ethel; Grant Hart is Fozzie

183. Black Flag: Fozzie

184. Dead Kennedys: Ethel

185. George Thorogood: Fozzie

186. John Lennon: Ethel

187. Terence Trent D’arby: Ethel

188. Red Hot Chili Peppers: Fozzie

189. Rick Springfield: Fozzie

190. Paul Young: Fozzie

191. Black Sabbath: NA

192. Howard Jones: Fozzie

193. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark: Ethel

194. Level 42: Fozzie

195. John Farnham: Ethel

196. Tom Waits: Fozzie

197. Mike Oldfield: NA

198. Chris De Burgh: Ethel

199. Alan Parsons Project: Fozzie

200. Ministry: Fozzie



Daniel Nester

Writer, teacher, Queen fan. New book, Harsh Realm: My 1990s, coming out soon. More than you need to know at