The names you'll find here are musicians whose artistic ability - genius, in some cases - has dwarfed their limited commercial success. So don your white robes and join us as we count down the 20 gods of cult.

Meanwhile, head to NME.COM/video to hear NME writers discuss these artists - and don't forget to let us know your own personal cult heroes.


The musician's musician...

Born Steven John Hamper in 1959, Childish is an English artist, painter, author, poet, photographer, filmmaker, singer and guitarist.

He is loved by Graham Coxon: "I watched Thee Headcoats play at St John's Tavern [in Archway, London] in the mid-'90s. That was long before I met Billy – I think Thee Headcoats were coming to an end by the time I...



Big L


The most gifted MC ever?

In hip-hop, so often you don't know what you got 'til it's gone. Never more true than with Lamont Coleman, dead by bullet at 24, possibly in a tragic case of mistaken identity.

When you hear L in full flow it's easy to see why he's often cited by the more gangsta-rap fraternity as the most gifted MC ever. L had an utterly baffling sense of rhyme...


The mouth almighty

Lydia Lunch is a spoken-word performance artist who has, at times, made GG Allin look like the kind of chap you'd take home for tea with your grandparents.

In New York in 1976, aged 17, she formed Teenage Jesus And The Jerks, an abrasive no-wave noise band who took punk's rudimentary three chords and ripped them apart with knives and beer...


One of the most versatile singers in rock

For over 20 years the 42-year-old Californian has been confounding audiences, fronting a succession of bands who push the envelope with every note.

Simon Neil from Biffy Clyro is an acolyte: "We love him because he’s always shown the right amount of contempt for the industry and has always followed his own muse. It's a lesson that more bands...


Much-missed Sparklehorse man

When we were putting together this issue, everyone in the NME office argued about who should be in this list. Nearly everyone said Sparklehorse. Then when Mark Linkous passed away the doubters joined them in agreement.

Radiohead’s Colin Greenwood was certainly never a doubter: “I was very sad to hear the news that Mark Linkous had died. He and his...

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