Manfred Mann is probably the only rock artist to completely reinvent himself four times (using four completely different musical styles and band lineups), and to score a #1 Billboard hit with each incarnation. Mann, a South African-born jazz keyboardist, had been on the charts since 1964 with his first group, also simply called Manfred Mann.
The original Manfred Mann was a British Invasion pop band that had been strongly influenced by U.S. rhythm & blues. They scored a #1 hit with "Do Wah Diddy Diddy" and had other Top 20 hits with such songs as "Sha-La-La" and "Pretty Flamingo" (Ironically, Bruce Springsteen would cover "Pretty Flamingo" in his early-'70s E Street Band shows).
When that group ran its course (and lost its popular lead singer, Paul Jones), Mann broke up the band. He discovered the unreleased music of Bob Dylan that had surfaced in the bootleg album, The Basement Tapes, and returned using a completely revamped lineup in 1968 that released a chart-topping cover of Dylan's "The Mighty Quinn." This lineup would also have considerable success and featured future Cream bassist Jack Bruce.
At the turn of the decade in 1969, Mann purchased one of the first Moog synthesizers and put together one of the earliest progressive rock/jazz ensembles entitled Manfred Mann's Chapter Three. In fact, it was the moog owned by Mann that Keith Emerson borrowed to record the now famous solo in the ELP classic, "Lucky Man" in 1970. Mann's Chapter Three never saw any large scale commercial success, but released two critically acclaimed albums.
In 1971, Mann again bounced back with yet another new group: Manfred Mann's Earth Band. This quartet, which featured Mann, bassist Colin Pattenden, guitarist/vocalist Mick Rogers, and drummer Chris Slade (who would later play with Jimmy Page and Paul Rodgers in the Firm and AC/DC), had a harder, more rock-oriented sound. In 1977, Mann would again see #1 with a brilliant remake of the Bruce Springsteen classic, "Blinded By The Light," utilizing his fourth lead singer to come along, Chris Thompson.
Today, Mann remains active as a film scorer, writer, arranger, and on occasion, performer, with a revamped version of the Earth Band, but he stopped having hits in the mid-1980s.