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 permanently wasted stink-rock foursome

Envied for their talent by other bands in their home city of Minneapolis, this permanently wasted stink-rock foursome were banned from rock clubs across America for trashing stages, and loathed by their record company for wrecking every opportunity that came their way. But behind that goofy demeanour and songs called things like 'Gary's Got A Boner', The...


The man who wrote New York punk's defining anti-anthem

Richard Hell might not – as he claims – have actually invented punk rock but, at the very least, he was the man who gave it its identity.

Sporting the kind of haircut previously only modelled by lunatic asylum patients and wearing a shirt held together with safety pins, Hell – born Richard Myers in 1949 – wasn’t to know that 40 years...


One of the all-time great American songwriters

As a 17-year-old in 1967, Alex Chilton was the singer with Memphis pop-soul act The Box Tops when they scored a global Number One hit with 'The Letter'. But when the band split he found himself a has-been aged 20.

His response? Forming Big Star, whose mix of '60s British pop and heartfelt, self-doubting lyrics flopped, before a plethora of bands – principally


Rock'n'roll's ultimate cult hero

Life in The Fall is brutish and short, but some alumni have achieved independent celebrity. Marc Riley, who played on The Fall’s classic album 'Hex Enduction Hour' (1982), is now a redundancy-threatened BBC 6 Music DJ. Brix Smith-Start, guitarist during the mid-'80s, is now a sidekick to Gok Wan.

Yet Mark E Smith remains the one true star of his own...

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