Rock musicians who went to art school?

First of all, thanks to all of those who participated in my thread a few months ago and helped us to decide where my son should go to high school. The problem was that his main interest is guitar playing and he was accepted at a great arts high school, but not in the music track. He was accepted for visual art. We decided that he will go to that school and thanks again for the input.

During that thread it was mentioned that lots of musicians studied art in school and I believe one was mentioned. Some friends have made the same point but no one seems to remember any names. Lots of maybes, like David Byrne and other Talking Heads, Mick Jagger, Ray Davies, John Lennon, Jimmy Page.

Any others you know of?

Pete Townshend. Brian Eno. Viv Stanshall. Bryan Ferry was an art school teacher before he formed Roxy Music.

Mick Jagger? Not an art school guy–he attended the London School of Economics, IIRC.

Before they were Talking Heads, they were art school students.

John Lennon went to art school.

The Bonzo Dog Band were all art school students when they formed the band.

Here are some British art schools and the musicians who started there:

Syd Barrett (Pink Floyd founder)

Central School of Art (now merged with St. Martin’s)
Vivian Stanshall, Larry Smith (both Bonzos)

Ealing College
Roger Ruskin-Spear, (Bonzos) Pete Townshend, Freddie Mercury (66-69)

Neil Innes (Bonzos, Monty Python)

Isleworth Polytechnic
Freddie Mercury (64-66)

Eric Clapton

Polyechnic College, Regent St.
Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Richard Wright (Pink Floyd)

The original core members of Dream Theater – John Petrucci, Mike Portnoy, John Myung & Kevin Moore – all went to the Berklee College of Music.

The members of Gwar went to art school. So did Rob Zombie IIRC.

Nick Cave went to art school.

As I’ve said before “I love this board!” Thanks for info so far. My son will love to see this before he goes to camp for the summer. Should definitely help him to be psyched for school.

Pink Floyd - Syd Barrett attended Camberwell Art School. Roger Waters, Richard Wright and Nick Mason studied architecture at Regent Street Polytechnic.

Gang of Four - University of Leeds Arts

Travis - Glasgow School of Art

Joni Mitchell - attended art school in Calgary.

Franz Ferdinand - Glasgow School of Art

Devo - Mark Mothersbaugh and Jerry Casale Kent State art students

Brian Eno - Winchester Art School

Kanye West - International Academy of Art and Design and Technology, a local art school in Chicago

Talking Heads - met at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).

Chicks on Speed - met while at Munich Art Academy

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - met at Oberlin College

Iconic Aussie rockers Mental as Anything were art students at East Sydney Tech went they met and formed the band.

Jerry garcia dabbled in ink and watercolors…

I had a deal going to by a signed Litho of his, the he up and died and the price was untouchable, damn.


Years ago, Peter Noone hosted a TV show on VH1, and one time, he had Bill (King Crimson, Yes) Bruford, Roger (The WHo) Daltrey and Mick (the Clash) Jones on as guests.

Mick Jones talked about how he’d gone to art school solely because he wanted to start a rock band!

Pressed on that point, Jones said, “Well, I had no talent as an artist, no real interest in art. I really wanted to get into a band. And it seemed like all my favorite musicians (he mentioned Ray Davies, Keith Richards, Pete Townshend and John Lennon) had gone to art school. So, I went to art school. I just figured my first day, I’d walk into the toilet and there’d be a bunch of guys with guitars, and we’d be all set.”

I was going to say Freddie Mercury, but now that I’m thinking about it, he may have just been an art major. He did design Queen’s logo, though.

Nothing to add, except that this is a fascinating read.

And I now have “Art School Girlfriend” by Stone Temple Pilots in my head. Darn it.

See my post #5. He actually went to two art schools, so I suppose that’s why people say he was bi.

“She wears the leather, I wear the make-up, we’ll never break up…”

Tons of British punk and new wave bands were art schoolers. Goldsmiths was mentioned earlier; the majority of Blur attended.

Mike Lindup of UK funk band Level 42 also attended a music school, though I can’t remember which. I think Dominic Miller was there - he was almost a member and now is probably best known for playing with Sting.

Mick Jones was mentioned, and I’m 99% sure Paul Simonon was also at art school - he’s an accomplished painter. I think Joe Strummer was there as well.

I’m also pretty sure that members of Coldplay went to art school as well.

How could I have forgotten the classic, from Ealing Art College - Ron Wood who actually sells works and spends far more time painting than playing.

Michael Stipe - art major at University of Georgia before starting R.E.M.

IIRC, in a Guitar Player magazine interview ca. 1977, Keith Richards said that there were more good guitar players in art school than there were good artists.