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Old 10-10-2019, 10:34 AM
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Members of successful bands who "dropped out" of the biz?


We've had a few threads recently mentioning The Cars and Ric Ocasek. This got me to thinking about David Robinson, who was a member of The Modern Lovers and then The Cars. He wasn't a Drum God or anything, but he was certainly a very good drummer and fit into The Cars perfectly. (He satisfied Ocasek, which isn't easy.) When The Cars broke up in the 80s, he basically said, "Great! I'll just run my restaurant."

Based on his comments and interviews, he didn't play the drums (at least not at a professional level) for at least 20 years after the breakup. He did come back in 2010 to record again, but said that he had to re-learn to play. He has always placed an emphasis on art and I believe he currently runs an art gallery.

Any similar situations with notable band members basically chucking it after a string of successes? Most musicians seem to go on to play on other artists' albums, form less successful groups, record vanity albums, or at least keep playing.

Last edited by ZonexandScout; 10-10-2019 at 10:35 AM.
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Old 10-10-2019, 10:40 AM
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Jeremy Spencer. One of the original members of Fleetwood Mac, he left the group (in the middle of a tour, without notice) to join a religious cult. He stayed away from music for nine years, then recorded sporadically after that, but wasn't really interested in music.
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Old 10-10-2019, 10:44 AM
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I'm certainly not an expert on this, but from watching Jersey Boys I know that Nick Massi left The Four Seasons in September 1965, and doesn't appear to have joined any other group. He died o Christmas Eve 2000.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nick_Massi

He stayed in the industry, though, managing other groups

http://www.nickmassiart.com/music.html
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Last edited by CalMeacham; 10-10-2019 at 10:46 AM.
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Old 10-10-2019, 10:51 AM
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John Deacon doesn't seem to want to have anything to do with Queen. Not that I've read anything scandalous; he seems to have just decided to go on with his life.
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Old 10-10-2019, 01:09 PM
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John Deacon doesn't seem to want to have anything to do with Queen. Not that I've read anything scandalous; he seems to have just decided to go on with his life.
My understanding is that he's a very shy and quiet guy, was never particularly happy about being famous, and was uncomfortable in the spotlight. He is still technically a member of (and co-owner of) the band, and is still involved, at some level, in business and financial decisions that are made for the band. But, yeah, he hasn't made an appearance with Queen (or, any other public appearance, as far as I can tell) since 1997.

I heard an interview with Brian May and Roger Taylor, a few years ago, in which they said that they have always invited John to play with them whenever they have planned performances or tours, but that he has consistently declined; they also noted that they don't have much contact with him any more, other than on financial issues.

Last edited by kenobi 65; 10-10-2019 at 01:11 PM.
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Old 10-10-2019, 01:11 PM
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John Deacon doesn't seem to want to have anything to do with Queen. Not that I've read anything scandalous; he seems to have just decided to go on with his life.
He's still involved in the business side, he just chooses to stay out of the eye of the public.
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Old 10-10-2019, 01:22 PM
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Syd Barrett, the co-founder and original singer and principal writer for Pink Floyd, only worked on the band's first album-and-a-half before leaving due to a variety of health issues, both physical and mental (some of which were likely the result of excessive drug use). He briefly had a solo career, but largely dropped out of the music industry, and became a recluse, by the mid 1970s.
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Old 10-10-2019, 12:46 PM
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Jeffery Hammond-Hammond left Jethro Tull to focus on painting.
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Old 10-10-2019, 01:49 PM
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Didn't Grace Slick at some point say something to the effect of, "I'm out. You shouldn't be making rock after 40." I think she started focusing on painting.
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Old 10-10-2019, 02:23 PM
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Didn't Grace Slick at some point say something to the effect of, "I'm out. You shouldn't be making rock after 40." I think she started focusing on painting.
No, she actually said, "All rock-and-rollers over the age of 50 look stupid and should retire." She did stay with Starship until 1988, then reunited with Jefferson Airplane in 1989 when she was 50. Then she did retire, but briefly came out of retirement to rejoin Jefferson Starship in 1995, then in 2001.
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Old 10-10-2019, 02:47 PM
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My intention was to post about Chris Chasse who left Rise Against after playing lead guitar on two albums that skyrocketed their popularity (2004's Siren Song of the Counter Culture, 2006's The Sufferer and the Witness). I thought i remembered reading that he left the industry, but I just learned that he actually did go on to start a couple of other bands.
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Old 10-10-2019, 02:59 PM
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R.E.M. drummer Bill Berry retired from the band in 1997 and took up hay farming. His reason for leaving the band? "I just don't want to do it any more." The band soldiered on for 14 years with other drummers, mostly Bill Rieflin.

He never completely gave up drumming, and just a few weeks ago did a "reunion" show with two of his old bandmates and another singer, and his teenage son on guitar.

Ed Gagliardi and Al Greenwood, original bassist and keyboardist for Foreigner respectively, left the band early on and played in a few other not-very-successful bands before leaving the industry altogether. I read a while back that Greenwood was working as a curator at a small art museum, and Gagliardi finished his degree and worked in the office at a car dealership in his hometown until his death in 2014. Their original drummer, Dennis Elliott, also left the music industry and now creates art from wood.

http://www.denniselliott.com/
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Old 10-10-2019, 03:24 PM
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In the mid 2000s Joni Mitchell said, "I hate music," and decided to devote all of her time to painting. (Her health problems didn't help.)

George T. Babbitt Jr. was a drummer for The Ventures. He later became a four-star general in the U.S. Air Force.

Jeffrey Allen "Skunk" Baxter was a guitarist for Steely Dan, The Doobie Brothers, and Spirit. He's now a consultant for the U.S. Department of Defense, and once chaired a Congressional Advisory Board on missile defense.

Bob Rusay was a founding member and lead guitarist for the death metal band Cannibal Corpse. He is now a golf instructor / golf professional.
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Old 10-10-2019, 08:32 PM
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R.E.M. drummer Bill Berry retired from the band in 1997 and took up hay farming. His reason for leaving the band? "I just don't want to do it any more." The band soldiered on for 14 years with other drummers, mostly Bill Rieflin.
I was thinking of REM as well, but their breakup. I recall them stating that they weren't breaking up on bad terms, they still enjoyed playing, they were just...tired, and it was time.

For a specific member, how about Steve Perry (Journey). I saw some interview or documentary with him a few years back where he mentioned that after he recovered from hip surgery, he decided to call it quits with the band. He said he always felt like an outsider in the band. Kinda vague, could be anything from being shy/introverted to actually being alienated by them to depression to imposter syndrome (ie not realizing how good he is).

Now, Arnel is amazing, but I wish...I think everyone wished he would have sang at the R&R induction.
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Old 10-11-2019, 03:08 AM
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R.E.M. drummer Bill Berry retired from the band in 1997 and took up hay farming. His reason for leaving the band? "I just don't want to do it any more."
The onstage brain aneurysm a couple years before probably didn't help...
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Old 10-10-2019, 03:06 PM
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Don Van Vliet, leader of Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band, released their final LP in 1982 at the age of 41. He spent the rest of his life focusing on his painting.
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Old 10-10-2019, 03:11 PM
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Richey Edwards, guitarist and lyricist for Manic Street Preachers, literally disappeared in 1995 at the age of 27. Does that count?
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Old 10-10-2019, 03:45 PM
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Jackie Fox of the Runaways dropped the stage name, went back to her own name of Jacqueline Fuchs, got a law degree from Harvard, and is now an entertainment lawyer.
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Old 10-10-2019, 04:30 PM
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And a Jeopardy! champion.
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Old 10-10-2019, 05:09 PM
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Mike de Albuquerque was the bassist on Electric Light Orchestra's second through fourth albums. He left the band partway through the recording of the fourth album, Eldorado (which turned out to be the band's breakthrough album), in order to spend more time with his family.

de Albuquerque wound up being active in a couple of other bands in the late 1970s and early 1980s (including "Violinski," a band with ELO violinist Mik Kaminski), but if he remained active in the industry past the early 1980s, Wikipedia has no mention of it.
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Old 10-10-2019, 05:26 PM
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Herb Schildt, keyboard player for 70s prog rock band Starcastle, went on to become a prolific author of computer books. For years I had his Turbo C++ reference book on my desk.
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Old 10-10-2019, 07:34 PM
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Herb Schildt, keyboard player for 70s prog rock band Starcastle, went on to become a prolific author of computer books. For years I had his Turbo C++ reference book on my desk.
And their drummer, Stephen Tassler, earned an MD from Rush University (Starcastle played a lot of gigs with the Canadian power trio of the same name) and is a family practice physician in the Chicago suburbs.

https://www.northshore.org/apps/find...hen-c.-tassler

ETA: One story said that he has a big framed picture of the band on the wall of his waiting room, and more than once, people have walked in and asked the receptionist, "Why is there a picture of Starcastle in the waiting room?" That hasn't happened as often as people who wondered who those six long-haired guys from the 1970s were.

While we're on the same theme, I had never heard of the deathcore band Chelsea Grin until a few years ago, when the guitarist announced that he was leaving the band to pursue his own medical degree.

https://www.altpress.com/news/chelse...edical_school/

Last edited by nearwildheaven; 10-10-2019 at 07:37 PM.
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Old 10-10-2019, 07:51 PM
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Steve Morse left music to work as an airline pilot. It was only for a few years, but what a change in jobs!

Artie Shaw left music while he was really at the top, figuring he couldn't continue without going nuts due to his perfectionism. He drifted back in some, but mainly occupied himself with a wide range of non-music stuff, most amazing of which might have been ranking as the fourth best marksman in the U.S.
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Old 10-10-2019, 10:39 PM
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Jack Grisham, singer for hardcore band TSOL (True Sons of Liberty). He quit the band in 1982 . The wiki linked article says it was because of a riot at the last show he played. At the time, I had always heard he wanted to go in a different musical direction instead of milking the hardcore scene. TSOL was one of the seminal hardcore bands out of the LA scene. They were great live. Jack epitomized the "dark side" sub genre, which today would probably be called goth. One of TSOL's most popular songs was Code Blue, which is definitely NSFW and very explicitly had the line of "I want to f*ck the dead." Jack dropped out of music for quite a while when he was literally "on top" of the hardcore scene (definitely in the top 10 at the time).

I saw them once at the Elite Club in San Francisco circa 1982 (maybe it was this show but I remember Bad Brains as a different Elite Club show). It was the old Filmore West location. The show was packed with a couple of thousand punks from the hardcore scene in the area. Jack wore a poodle sweater. For the encore, he stripped down to a speedo. Dead Kennedy's followed, and of course Jello had to one up and was buck naked (which happened occaisionally for him). Jello then put on a trenchcoat unbuttoned and then was swinging pork around the stage while performing The Prey. That was one of the greatest concerts I have ever been to.
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Old 10-10-2019, 11:33 PM
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...focus on painting.
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I think she started focusing on painting.
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He spent the rest of his life focusing on his painting.
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...decided to devote all of her time to painting.
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giving up music to—you guessed it—focus on painting.
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From punk rock to painting:
the musician-turned-artist...
Geez, doesn't anyone realize you can paint and do other stuff? I do it.

There are so many bands that don't play stadiums or gigs in far-flung cities every night. I'm betting almost any musician could say "Hey, guys, I want to be home with my kids on most school nights. And do a bunch of paintings."

I'll bet it's more like "I'm tired and strung out, I'm sick of touring and my bandmates, and need to get into rehab and... umm, focus on... on my painting, I guess."
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Old 10-10-2019, 11:44 PM
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Not quite sure that these count as big-name musicians, but Janet Gardner from Vixen has, at various times, left the band to become a golf pro, and a dental hygienist. And drummer Tori Castellano (The Donnas) had to retire from drumming due to wrist/shoulder issues.
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Old 10-11-2019, 08:56 AM
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And drummer Tori Castellano (The Donnas) had to retire from drumming due to wrist/shoulder issues.
She went back to school and got her J.D from Harvard.
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Old 10-11-2019, 05:15 AM
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Rod Evans (ex-Deep Purple and Captain Beyond) completely vanished from public life in 1980. According to some of his former bandmates, he is alive and well, though no fans or journalists have been able to track him down to confirm this.

I created a thread to discuss Evans and similar cases of vanishing celebrities back in 2015. Possibly some contributions there might be relevant to the present thread.
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Old 10-11-2019, 06:58 AM
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Steven Adler was kicked out of Guns 'N' Roses in 1990 for heroin use. Considering the addiction issues of others in that band, it must have been pretty out of control. He tried to go back to former bands and create his own, but none of it has yet met with any success.
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Old 10-11-2019, 07:12 AM
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Jason Everman was second guitarist for Nirvana and base player for Soundgarden. He played with two more lesser-know bands, then joined the Army, became a Ranger and later a Green Beret.

From wiki:

In September 1994, influenced by Renaissance icon Benvenuto Cellini (who stated that a well-rounded man is an artist, warrior and philosopher), he left Mind Funk to join the United States Army, subsequently serving with the Army's 2nd Ranger Battalion and later with the Special Forces, serving tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.[4] After completing his service, he took a break from the military and lived in New York City where he briefly worked as a bike messenger. He then traveled to Tibet and worked and studied in a Buddhist monastery before returning to the U.S. He reentered the Army when offered the chance to join Special Forces.
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Old 10-11-2019, 07:30 AM
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John Rutsey was the original drummer for Rush. He left after recording their first album in 1974.

There have been a few reasons stating why he left - health reasons and musical differences - but I think the most likely one is that he just wasn't mentally in a place to pursue something as chaotic as music. He wrote lyrics and tore them up, he had trouble concentrating and various other things. Honestly, from 50 years on it seems more like depression than anything else.
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Old 10-11-2019, 12:42 PM
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John Rutsey was the original drummer for Rush. He left after recording their first album in 1974.

There have been a few reasons stating why he left - health reasons and musical differences - but I think the most likely one is that he just wasn't mentally in a place to pursue something as chaotic as music. He wrote lyrics and tore them up, he had trouble concentrating and various other things. Honestly, from 50 years on it seems more like depression than anything else.
In the Rush bio-documentary thing from some years back, Geddy said that they basically had to replace Rutsey because his diabetes would prevent him from touring. Sounded like it was a tough decision and a sad thing for everyone involved.

As I'm responding to a post by Jonathan Chance, it is not without irony that I note that an original member of Styx, John Curulewski, departed the band under very similar circumstances to the departure of Gregg Rolie from Journey noted above. Band was just getting big, and he felt he had to choose between it and a young family. Family it was. I see from Wikipedia that he didn't quite leave the industry entirely- he apparently continued to play in a couple of bands that just stayed local in Chicago- but he certainly deliberately chose to leave the fame-and-fortune part of the industry. Eventually became a guitar teacher and, sadly, died at 37.
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Old 10-11-2019, 02:04 PM
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In the Rush bio-documentary thing from some years back, Geddy said that they basically had to replace Rutsey because his diabetes would prevent him from touring. Sounded like it was a tough decision and a sad thing for everyone involved.
The official explanation is that Rutsey left due to health issues. But many have speculated Lifeson & Lee viewed him as a good but not a "great" drummer, they wanted the latter, and so were looking to replace him without his feelings being too hurt. His health issues may have been a convenient excuse. At any rate, it undoubtedly had a negative impact on Rutsey's mental wellbeing. A sad situation.
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Old 10-13-2019, 12:47 AM
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In the Rush bio-documentary thing from some years back, Geddy said that they basically had to replace Rutsey because his diabetes would prevent him from touring. Sounded like it was a tough decision and a sad thing for everyone involved.

As I'm responding to a post by Jonathan Chance, it is not without irony that I note that an original member of Styx, John Curulewski, departed the band under very similar circumstances to the departure of Gregg Rolie from Journey noted above. Band was just getting big, and he felt he had to choose between it and a young family. Family it was. I see from Wikipedia that he didn't quite leave the industry entirely- he apparently continued to play in a couple of bands that just stayed local in Chicago- but he certainly deliberately chose to leave the fame-and-fortune part of the industry. Eventually became a guitar teacher and, sadly, died at 37.
Curulewski was considerably taller than the rest of the band, and I wonder if the aneurysm that killed him might have been related to Marfan Syndrome, which can also lead to extreme height.

For that matter, their bassist, Chuck Panozzo, has battled AIDS for nearly 30 years, and is a fairly well-known activist and his autobiography is on recommended-reading lists for GLBT teenagers and their friends and families. He does talk about Styx only because it's the main reason the book exists, and it's mostly about what it was like for him growing up gay in an Italian Catholic family in the 50s and 60s, and later being that way in the world of 70s arena rock.

https://www.amazon.com/Grand-Illusio...0941982&sr=8-1

He did leave the band in the early 1990s and has since rejoined a few times for short tours. Last I heard, he's still in OK health for a man with AIDS who is about 70 years old.

Last edited by nearwildheaven; 10-13-2019 at 12:49 AM.
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Old 10-11-2019, 08:23 AM
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Peter Best was the original drummer in the Beatles. After being kicked out he spent 20 years as a Civil Servant (employed by the Government) before returning to music.

David Fenton was lead singer in The Vapors (of Turning Japanese fame) and became a solicitor.

Pete Willis was an original member of Def Leppard. Kicked out for alcohol abuse he is now in property management.

K K Downing was a part of Judas Priest for decades. After leaving / being kicked out he seemed to be aiming for property management and running a golf course but according to Wiki it didn't go well and he was forced to sell everything (including his rights to Judas Priest royalties) and he is now suing his advisors.

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Old 10-11-2019, 09:53 AM
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How about Eric Stefani, who along with his sister Gwen founded the band No Doubt? He left the band right after the recording of their 1995 breakthrough, Tragic Kingdom, in order to pursue a career in animation.
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Old 10-11-2019, 11:32 AM
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Todd Rundgren's band Utopia may have been the most geeky band ever.

Keyboard player Rodger Powell developed one of the very first midi sequencers while still on the band. After they broke up, he became a professional software engineer working for Silicon Graphics, Waveframe and Apple, developing the audio systems of Final Cut Pro.

Drummer Willie Wilcox also got into software development and works for Bally, and does audio development for their state-of-the-art gaming machines.

Previous drummer Kevin Ellman quit to run the family business Beefsteak Charlie's and eventually became a "wealth management consultant" and certified financial planner appearing on CNBC on a regular basis.
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Old 10-13-2019, 11:15 AM
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Todd Rundgren's band Utopia may have been the most geeky band ever.

Keyboard player Rodger Powell developed one of the very first midi sequencers while still on the band. After they broke up, he became a professional software engineer working for Silicon Graphics, Waveframe and Apple, developing the audio systems of Final Cut Pro.

Drummer Willie Wilcox also got into software development and works for Bally, and does audio development for their state-of-the-art gaming machines.

Previous drummer Kevin Ellman quit to run the family business Beefsteak Charlie's and eventually became a "wealth management consultant" and certified financial planner appearing on CNBC on a regular basis.
Thanks for this post gaffa. I was going to mention John "Willie" Wilcox earlier but I was kinda sketchy on the details and his Wikipedia page wasn't a lot of help. I recall that he also worked for Bell Labs at one time, but honestly don't remember if that was before or after Utopia.
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Old 10-17-2019, 06:37 PM
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Thanks for this post gaffa. I was going to mention John "Willie" Wilcox earlier but I was kinda sketchy on the details and his Wikipedia page wasn't a lot of help. I recall that he also worked for Bell Labs at one time, but honestly don't remember if that was before or after Utopia.
Roger was a demo artist for Moog and ARP before joining Utopia. I saw him demo the ARP Odyssey at Quigley Music in Kansas City, and one of his best demos was a steam train starting up, coming up to speed and blowing the whistle. He later did it for the opening of the song Station to Station on Bowie's tour. Here he is with Adrian Belew:

https://youtu.be/WSQHFUe6Y5s

Willie developed a surround sound slot machine that sampled Michael Jackson's music and all those noises he used to make.

And of course Todd was a bigger geek than either of them.

Last edited by gaffa; 10-17-2019 at 06:38 PM.
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Old 10-11-2019, 01:54 PM
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Pete Best, who was already mentioned here, is probably the archetype of this person. Yeah, he was kicked out of the Beatles - and he could have easily regrouped, practiced rock drumming and improved his abilities, and then gotten back at it. He was already a known musician with an existing fan base and, hell, he was the former drummer of the Beatles. He simply decided not to.
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Old 10-11-2019, 03:27 PM
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Great responses so far! Thanks!

Just wanted to clarify that I didn't intend in my OP to include musicians who dropped out due to injuries, mental health problems, drug problems, or reasons other than "I don't want to do this anymore." I also didn't mean to include musicians who got kicked out by the other members. My thinking about Robinson was, "Man...you were a member of a (couple) very financially successful group(s). Why not ride that for a few years? Do some guesting on other albums. Form 'The David Robinson Group' or something. Teach other drummers. Whatever."
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Old 10-13-2019, 08:11 AM
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Would Billy Joel count? He was a hugely successful recording star who walked away from recording after the release of his album River of Dreams in 1993. Although he continues to tour, his only other release was a classical album in 2001, Fantasies and Delusions, which was performed by Richard Hyung-ki Joo. But he has basically called it quits on the music recording business.
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Old 10-13-2019, 09:59 AM
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Would Billy Joel count? He was a hugely successful recording star who walked away from recording after the release of his album River of Dreams in 1993. Although he continues to tour, his only other release was a classical album in 2001, Fantasies and Delusions, which was performed by Richard Hyung-ki Joo. But he has basically called it quits on the music recording business.
No, I don't think so. With tix at $200+ for his recent tours, I consider him to still be in the business. Failing to record new albums is a different thing.
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Old 10-13-2019, 11:28 AM
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Ron Blair was the original bassist with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. He left the band in 1982 because he wanted to spend more time with family than he'd be able to if he went on tour. He was replaced by Howie Epstein. After about 20 years (and the passing of Epstein), Blair rejoined the band.

Last edited by breezman; 10-13-2019 at 11:29 AM.
  #45  
Old 10-13-2019, 11:37 AM
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She went back to school and got her J.D from Harvard.
Good for her. I'm not the world's biggest Donnas fan, but they had some decent songs, and she was the object of my little crush.

ETA: David Lee Roth famously worked as an EMT for a while after leaving Van Halen.
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Last edited by Superdude; 10-13-2019 at 11:41 AM.
  #46  
Old 10-13-2019, 06:13 PM
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I wonder if Gregg Rolie's lack of post-Journey fame is intentional.
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