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.

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.

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.

He stayed in the industry, though, managing other groups

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.

Jeffery Hammond-Hammond left Jethro Tull to focus on painting.

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.

He’s still involved in the business side, he just chooses to stay out of the eye of the public.

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.

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.

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.

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. :cool:

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.

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.

Richey Edwards, guitarist and lyricist for Manic Street Preachers, literally disappeared in 1995 at the age of 27. Does that count?

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.

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.

And a Jeopardy! champion.

Surely Joni was a solo act? But if we’re heading that way, then Cat Stevens must be the poster boy. At the highest point, found god and jacked it in for 20 years. OK, so eventually he started playing again, but even so.

Back to band members, Graham Simpson, founder member and Roxy Music bassist, bailed after the first album and left the biz.


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.

I’m starting to see a pattern here.

Chris Mars, drummer for The Replacements, had a brief solo career, before mostly giving up music to—you guessed it—focus on painting.