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(Credit: Gage Skidmore)

Music

Robert Downey Jr's favourite bands of all time

Robert Downey Jr. is perhaps best known for his role as Iron Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, alongside other notable roles such as the titular character in the Richard Attenborough directed biopic Chaplin, which earned the actor his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. However, Downey has also demonstrated his skills as a musician throughout his career, with evidence of the actor’s singing abilities present in many episodes of Ally McBeal.

In 2004, Downey joined the plethora of actors who have also tried their hands at music when he released his debut album entitled The Futurist. The album included eight original compositions and two covers – ‘Smile’ by Charlie Chaplin, and ‘Your Move’ – a cover of the first half of ‘I’ve Seen All Good People’ by Yes. Moreover, Jon Anderson of Yes can be heard providing backing vocals for ‘Your Move’. Talking about the process of creating the album, he said: “I recorded the album with some friends and it just all seemed quite natural. Some of the songs sound more produced than others, but I’m happy with it.”

The album received mixed reviews, with USA Today stating that the album “can seem pretentious or simply dull after a while, but there is a moody musicality to tracks such as ‘Man Like Me’ and ‘Details’,” and AllMusic calling it lyrically “obtuse”. The collection of pop ballads shifted 16,000 copies in its first week, peaking at 121 on the Billboard 200 chart. Yet Downey has no desire to create another album, stating that he would rather spend his spare time with family rather than in a studio.

While discussing artists that have influenced him, Downey claimed: “When I was a kid in New York in the late 1970s, the Sex Pistols were pretty big but you have to understand, I was kind of a square. I was into Journey and I really dug Genesis.” It seems as though Downey’s musical taste leans more towards what may be dubbed “uncool”, however, he doesn’t seem to care, he says: “When I got my first Walkman, I was listening to Phil Collins, and he’s still kind of important to me.”

The actor’s love for progressive rock also extends to Rush, once stating: “I couldn’t believe Neil Peart’s drum solos and loved the weird time signatures. I got my first stereo system in LA and, when I was working with Marek Kanievska [director of Less Than Zero], I tried to play him their album Permanent Waves and he recoiled. It was so offensive to his sensibilities that I’d thrown a Rush album on!”

The actor has also cited The Police as a great inspiration, and during his stint in prison during the 1990s, Downey claims to have found great comfort in the newly-released album Brand New Day by lead singer Sting. Luckily for the star, an episode of Ally McBeal allowed Downey to perform a duet of ‘Every Breath You Take’ with Sting. But that’s not the only time Downey’s star power has allowed him to be in the presence of his favourite musicians. For his 50th birthday in 2015, the actor had none other than Duran Duran and Steely Dan play for his own private party.

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