Rock stars who rejoined the workaday world

[Inspired in part by this thread on rock stars from working-class backgrounds]

Today’s Guardian features an interview with Bowie/Lennon sideman Earl Slick. At one point, this incredibly talented guitarist left music to sell timeshares in Lake Tahoe. He hated it yet kept at it for four years!

I can’t quite wrap my head around it when those who have made it in rock music leave the business and take up some 9-to-5 drudgery just to pay the bills. No doubt, careers in music are unstable (and earnings vanish quickly). But still!

A few cases come to mind of other rock stars who’ve had this unlikely chapter in their lives. But… which ones can you think of?

I don’t know about “drudgery” but farming seems to be popular:

Jim Martin from Faith No More became a pumpkin farmer and property manager.

JB Gill from JLS became a pig and turkey farmer.

Bill Berry from REM became a hay farmer.

And Alex James from Blur bought a dairy farm and produces a wide range of award-winning cheeses.


MC Hammer became a minister.

Jeffrey “Skunk” Baxter from Steely Dan became a counterterrorism expert for the Department of Defense.

Cindy Birdsong from The Supremes became a nurse.

Russell Senior from Pulp became an antique dealer.

Alannah Currie from the Thompson Twins became a furniture upholsterer.

And Dan Spitz from Anthrax makes watches, and apparently very good ones.

Lots of others have stayed in the entertainment business as producers or moved into television (mostly notably Professor Brian Cox, formerly of D:REAM, who has a doctorate in particle physics and presents lots of science shows on British television).

Speaking of Brians with physics PhDs, Brian May of Queen went back to school to finish his degree, long after Queen became famous.

Not quite the same thing, but feels similar.

For this thread, the more menial, uncreative, and ungratifying the job, the better!

Greg Graffin (aka the smartest man in the history of punk rock)used the 4-5 years bad religion was broken up to become a professor at usc and ucla at various points

We keep trying to get him to run for public office but he says no way in hell…

Isnt jello Biafra of the dead Kennedys still running the green party?

And the lead singer of midnight oil had a environmental post in one of the aus cabinets for a bit …

The “best” example of this would have to be Pete Best, the original drummer of the Beatles. While he was obviously dismissed from the group before they made it “rock star” big, as a local act at the time they still had a cult following and Best was, by some accounts, the most popular member of the group.

According to his Wikipedia page, “Epstein attempted to console him by offering to build another group around him, but Best refused. Feeling let down and depressed, he sat at home for two weeks, not wanting to face anybody or answer the inevitable questions about why he had been sacked.” He briefly performed with a band called the Pete Best Four, touring the United States, but it did not really go anywhere. He subsequently retreated from the music world and became a civil servant, retiring after 20 years.

While Best did eventually start recording music again, that is a very long hiatus and it’s clear that he simply did not want to pursue music any further after his bad blood with the Beatles. I always thought he COULD have had a lot of success if he really wanted to and had better management - if he had simply polished up his skills on drums for a few years and not tried to build a band around himself, he probably could have had a killer career, since “Former member of The Beatles” is like the ultimate resume, if you think about it. I’m sure he would have killed it if he had really thrown himself at it (and again, had better management.) But I think his heart just wasn’t in it.

Alex Chilton moved to New Orleans, where he spent much of 1982 and 1983 working outside music, washing dishes at the Louis XVI Restaurant in the French Quarter, working as a janitor at the Uptown nightclub Tupelo’s Tavern, and working as a tree-trimmer.

Ok, Brian Forsythe, guitarist for Kix, at one point in time used to paint and put up posters on billboards along the highway in Maryland.

Sam Samudio, better known as Sam the Sham, singer of the 60s hits “Wooly Bully” and “L’il Red Riding Hood” left the music business completely to work as a mate on commercial fishing boats.

David Lee Roth trained as an EMT in the late 1990s, going on over 200 ambulance rides. He’s state-licensed as an EMT in New York. But he’s bounced around in various music and show biz scenarios since then, so maybe he doesn’t count.

Sixto Rodriguez spent much of his life working as a construction laborer.

David Van Day of Dollar ran a burger van in Brighton for a while.

Cy Curnin of the Fixx designed hats for awhile.

"Scratching around on a piece of paper and designed a hat. Met a man who had some fabric. Called the buyer up at Bloomingdale’s and – boom! – they sold out. Then every buyer in all the department stores wanted 'em, and then MTV called me up and said, ‘What are you doing?’

"Then it took off, and I was like, ‘(expletive)! I’m making hats. How the hell did this happen?’ "

Um…One Thing Leads to Another?

After The Velvet Underground broke up, guitarist Sterling Morrison

…began to work on Houston tugboats as a deckhand to supplement his income in the mid-1970s; when he was forced to relinquish his teaching assistantship some years later, he was licensed as a master mariner and became the captain of a Houston tugboat, a vocation he pursued throughout the 1980s. (Wiki)

And Moe Tucker worked at a Wal-Mart store in Georgia for a while.

This is related to theme of the thread:

This was a few years ago. Wasn’t there a former actor was photographed working as a cashier or bagger at a store? I believe the morning shows(Today and Good Morning America) made a big deal about it–him having to lower himself to do menial labor. If I remember correctly he was African American but his name eludes me.

Geoffrey Owens (Elvin on “The Cosby Show”).

That’s the one.

Darlene Love took a hiatus from music to clean houses.

After Black Lace disbanded, founding member Terry Dobson went back to his old job as a maintenance joiner.

Not so famous, but my classmate was recently reminiscing about the day that he and another classmate, plus two others, signed with Capitol records. Their band opened for some big names back in the '90s and even got one of the songs included in a Hollywood blockbuster.

He’s been a realtor for the last 20 years.

The other classmate’s still working full time as a musician.