AI Captures the Essence of Iconic Musicians in Stunning Images

Artificial Intelligence has been in the news quite a bit recently due to OpenAI’s ChatGPT AI bot, which does a surprisingly good job of answering questions posed to it, from how to cook an egg right up to creating complex computer code, error-free.

However, another AI that people are talking about is MidJourney, an AI bot on Discord that creates amazing images based on a user’s request, always starting with “Imagine”.

Many people have shared photo realistic frogs, expertly drawn comic books, and futuristic skyscapes – but we decided to try something a little different.

While MidJourney does well when given a ton of instruction to hone down an image to exactly what you’re looking for – from a broad description like “a girl on a swing” to giving precise details on light, camera angle, focal length, and artist style – it can also work magic with a simple request.

So, just for fun, we decided to see what it would conjure with simple requests to create photos of some of our favorite bands.

The Beatles

Let’s start with arguably the biggest band of all time. We asked MidJourney for a “photograph of the band The Beatles”.

AI generated image of The Beales
prompt: /imagine photograph of the band The Beatles –ar 3:2

While the bot doesn’t tend to get faces right, it does seem to know about some of the vibe the band had back in the day, and produced the above four images – though why it decided there were three people in the band, we have no idea.

By default, MidJourney produces a grid of four images, from which you can choose to upscale one, or roll the dice with one of the images and create four variations.

We thought the bottom right image was the best, so we asked for it to upscale, and thankfully it added faces…. Kind of?

Upscaled Beatles Image

Now I’m not sure who “THE TIHE LAL BEALLES” are, or what’s going on with those guitar necks, but it’s a pretty crazy image to come from an AI with a minimal request.

The Rolling Stones

From the same era, we went for The Rolling Stones next.

prompt: /imagine photograph of the band The Rolling Stones –ar 3:2

This time the AI wanted to give us a choice of different eras – but botched the number of people in the band.

In the interest of at least getting five people in the photo, we went for the bottom right to upscale.

This time the upscaling was super obvious – the faces are still wrong but they’ve lost the weird roundness they had in the grid and now actually look like people. You can almost guess which person is meant to be which, especially Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts.

Black Sabbath

Next, we tried something a little more metal – Black Sabbath.

prompt: /imagine photograph of the band Black Sabbath –ar 3:2

Again, the AI didn’t’ seem exactly sure how many people were in the band – and it sure didn’t know what they looked like – but if you were looking for a classic image of Black Sabbath, they really nailed the tone and overall spirit.

This time we decided to upscale the bottom left one, this is how it came out:

Notice how the faces are much more detailed, as is the clothing of the guy in front (who ironically looks more like Tony Iommi than Ozzy).

Queen

Moving up a little in history, we did Queen next.

prompt: /imagine photograph of the band Queen –ar 3:2

This one was tricky because the bottom two images didn’t really look all that much like classic Queen, and while the top right image did have four dudes… What’s going on with the guy on the right?

We decided to upscale the top left image as it more closely matched what we feel Queen were about.

This one we really like – they got the clothes, the hair, and the background perfect – really the vibe of the best three-piece Queen cover band of all time.

Kiss

Following on from Queen, we went with another band of that era with quite a recognizable image – Kiss.

prompt: /imagine photograph of the band Kiss –ar 3:2

Strangely this one went way darker than the band has ever been, though it did add Gene Simmon’s trademark tongue-out appearance – even if it did apply it to everyone.

The bottom left image held the most promise, so we upscaled it.

This one upscaled really well, and on closer inspection, they even managed to get Simmons’ hair right, even if the band looks a little more like a black metal version of Wasp.

Metallica

Moving into the 80s, we had high hopes for one of our all-time favorites – Metallica.

prompt: /imagine photograph of the band Metallica –ar 3:2

Unfortunately, this one seemed to kind of get the 80s/90s metal band vibe, but the thing about Metallica is they didn’t typically look like metal guys after the 80s.

Rolling the dice on this one, we picked the bottom right image.

Something that was interesting in this one is the guy second from the right went from long to short hair – weird!

That said, as with all of these images, asking the AI to do another version usually results in something totally different, and of course, you can give it more context and direction – but that’s outside of the brief for this experiment!

Guns ‘N’ Roses

Looking at other 80s bigwigs, we decided to see what came to mind when we asked Midjourney to imagine Guns ‘N’ Roses!

prompt: /imagine photograph of the band Guns ‘N’ Roses –ar 3:2

This one actually came out pretty cool, even if the faces are…. Scary to say the least – these guys wouldn’t be out of place in Jacob’s Ladder.

We were split between some of these but ultimately decided on the top left image.

For some reason, this one also didn’t get much better in upscaling other than some of the faces improving somewhat. Midjourney does allow you to ask it to do some more finessing after an upscale – something you could consider in making your own.

Steel Panther

Now staying in the spirit of the 80s, we asked the AI what it thinks Steel Panther looks like – this one was probably the biggest surprise of them all.

prompt: /imagine photograph of the band Steel Panther –ar 3:2

While again the faces aren’t right – some of these look like several versions of the same dude – they really nailed the vibe of Steel Panther – if they’re reading, get in touch if you want to use these for promos – no photographer needed!

We decided to go top right on this one, and it cleaned up beautifully.

This one really looks killer upscaled, and even though I’m like 66% sure the band looks nothing like that – if any of these guys told me they were in Steel Panther, I’d believe them.

Nirvana

Something interesting happened as we moved away from the 80s and into the 90s – the results got a lot less like a photograph, perhaps mirroring how bands in that era were doing much more bleach-soaked versions of promo photos – case in point: Nirvana.

prompt: /imagine photograph of the band Nirvana –ar 3:2

As with many of the others, this one looks like a photo of a Nirvana cover band from a poster in a rock club. Picking a favorite we went with the bottom right.

Upscaling this one added a little more stubble to the guy on the left, but we’re still looking at a mixture of 90s dudes instead of Nirvana in this one.

Foo Fighters

That said, staying with Nirvana in a sense, we got markedly better results with our next band – Foo Fighters.

prompt: /imagine photograph of the band Foo Fighters –ar 3:2

Now you could argue that a few of these (both the ones on the right) are generic butt rock bands/Nickleback, but the top left image actually has a couple of figures that could be Dave Grohl and Chris Shiflett. Let’s see how the upscale looks.

Strangely, upscaling this one almost took the resemblance away! That said, redoing the upscale might have made the AI do something more in line with what we thought we saw – but that’s for another day.

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Staying in the 90s, we moved on to the California kings, Red Hot Chili Peppers.

prompt: /imagine photograph of the band Red Hot Chili Peppers –ar 3:2

Once again it seemed like they got the vibe of the band without getting close to actually looking like them, though the recurring hats and occasional resemblance to Flea did pop up in all the images.

Since most of these were with three guys instead of four, we picked bottom right again.

A passing resemblance, maybe, but what’s going on with our dude on the right’s eyes?

Slipknot

Moving to more modern bands, we tried out one of the most visually distinct bands since Kiss – Slipknot!

prompt: /imagine photograph of the band Slipknot –ar 3:2

No surprise that the AI chose masks, jumpsuits, and lots of dark menacing vibes, though definitely not nailing any.

You could really make a case here for any of the two on the top or the one on the right at the bottom, but we decided to roll the dice with the bottom right, once again.

Now this does feature a dude with no mask, but Corey Taylor has arguably worn some face like masks in the last few years, so we’ll let that one pass.

Radiohead

On a whim, we decided to give the AI a shot at one of the most normal-looking rock bands of the last 30 years, Radiohead,

prompt: /imagine photograph of the band Radiohead –ar 3:2

Interestingly, the dude in the middle of the top left image bears a striking resemblance to Radiohead frontman Thom York in the mid-90s, but the slightly contorted face looked like it would fall apart if upscaled.

Additionally, we wanted to try for something more photo-like, so we went with the top right image.

Interestingly, this one has some clear lines with the band, even if the number of members is wrong. Thom York on the left, drummer Philip Selway next to him, and maybe bassist Colin Greenwood after him…. Still a stretch, but definitely nailed the low-key 90s UK indie band vibe.

Machine Gun Kelly

For our final attempt, we looked at one of the more controversial people to swing a guitar in the last few years – Machine Gun Kelly.

prompt: /imagine photograph of the musician Machine Gun Kelly –ar 3:2

Interestingly these were the most stylized of the images by far.

In the interest of picking one, we went with the bottom right.

Does this look accurate? Hard to argue that the AI knew any more about him than cheekbones and tattoos – but is there more to him than that?

Verdict

As we’ve said, you can get surprisingly accurate images from the AI if you’re willing to put in the time – one of the great things about Midjourney is that most images are created in public, so you can quickly and easily pick up from other people’s commands what works and what doesn’t.

But as a one-shot “see what we get if we ask the basics” experiment, we were pleasantly surprised to see what Midjourney was able to do with some of the most famous bands of all time.

While it didn’t get the faces, you can’t argue that it always captured the vibe.

Brian Kelleher

I'm the main guy at KillerGuitarRigs.com and I want to tell you all about guitars. I've been playing music since 1986 when my older brother taught me to play "Gigantic" by The Pixies on a bass with two strings. Since then, I've owned dozens of instruments from guitars to e-drums, and spent more time than I'd like to admit sitting in vans waiting for venues to open across Europe and the US.

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