Richard Ashcroft

As the frontman for the epic British drone-pop band the Verve, Richard Ashcroft proved himself the spiritual descendant of rock & roll icons like Mick Jagger and Jim Morrison -- rivetingly charismatic, menacingly serpentine, and possessed of an almost shamanic intensity, he embraced and articulated the anthemic fervor of rock music with a power and eloquence unparalleled by any of his contemporaries. Ashcroft was born September 11, 1971, in the Wigan suburb of Billinge, attending Upholland Comprehensive School alongside future Verve mates Simon Jones, Simon Tong, and Peter Salisbury; after losing his father at age 11, he fell under the influence of his stepfather, a member of the ancient secular order of the Rosicrucians, who regularly performed experiments in mind expansion and the healing arts. While a student at Winstanley College in 1989, Ashcroft co-founded Verve with bassist Jones, drummer Salisbury, and guitarist Nick McCabe; signing to Virgin's Hut imprint to issue their 1992 debut single, "All in the Mind," Verve earned widespread praise for their majestic, oceanic guitar pop, with the eminently quotable Ashcroft earning the dismissive nickname "Mad Richard" from the U.K. press.