Rock stars who rejoined the workaday world

Richard Coles was in the Communards, and later became a CofE vicar. (Though some might say that’s sort of showbiz still: and he does do occasional TV and radio presenting)

Vanilla Ice flips houses.

Very regular radio presenting (I’m listening to him now) and quite frequent TV work. Yup, he’s still in showbiz, though we don’t hear much of his music nowadays.

There are several other very effective CofE vicars who are ex showbiz names. God be thanked for them.

His bandmate Dave Rowntree started a computer animation company and later got himself elected to his local county council.

His Wikipedia page is a little sparse, so I’m not sure where I read it, but I thought John “Willie” Wilcox (also of Utopia) had also gotten into some kind of tech or research job after his music career. Hopefully I’m not just mixing him up with Powell.

Drummers obviously have fewer options for staying in the limelight than most other members of the band.

The drummer for Squeeze, Gilson Lavis, ended up driving a minicab for some years. So did the drummer for the Clash, Topper Headon. (In fact, when Headon “returned to music,” it was as a busker. How humiliating! Yes, substance abuse was a factor…) The drummer for the Jam, Rick Buckler, restored antique furniture for 12 years.

Remaining momentarily with drummers, in the 1980s Moe Tucker (five years a member of Velvet Underground) took a few years sabbatical leave from the music business at a Walmart distribution centre, where she worked as a billing clerk.


I’ve just seen that upthread.

MTV had that program where they tried to reunite bands. While searching for the members of “Extreme” (More than Words) they found bassist Pat Badger was raising alpacas.

I suspect that many, or all, of them are what used to be called a “gentleman farmer”.

Kelley Deal of The Breeders does accounting work for Routsong Funeral Home in Dayton, Ohio. The band members even made a music video at her place of work.

Yeah; but he gets a TV show about it. Still in show-biz, I think.

Maynard from Tool makes wine (and other stuff). But I think his ‘day job’ is Rock Mother Fucker.

Ian Anderson was in the the salmon fishing business for a while, up to and including going out on boats.

John Hall of Orleans was elected to Congress. So, for that matter, was Sonny Bono.

While they never made it to superstar status, one of my favorite albums of all time is by the late 1970s prog band Starcastle (specifically, “Fountains of Light”) and their keyboardist, Herb Schildt, traded a Moog for a computer keyboard; he’s published numerous books about computer programming for laypeople, and taught that subject at a community college for many years.

However, that’s nothing compared to what their drummer, Stephen Tassler, did. He’s a physician in the Chicago suburbs. He has a picture of the band in the waiting room, and more than once, new patients have come in and asked the receptionist, “Why is there a picture of Starcastle in the waiting room?”

Likewise, I had never heard of the deathcore band Chelsea Grin until the guitarist, Dan Jones, announced that he was leaving the band because he, too had been accepted to medical school.

Some entertainers take day jobs because they want to be guaranteed their Social Security quarters when the time comes.

Kate Pierson of the B-52s runs a resort in the Catskill Mountains, which she restored to all it’s mid-century pastel tiled glory. But like the “gentleman farmers” previously mentioned, I suspect that’s more of a side project, and her main source of income is still from her music.

Marky Ramone was a bike messenger in Manhattan for a while after he left the music business.

Little Richard, very early in his career, had some hits for Peacock Records. He got in a fight with the label head, Don Robey, over money, and briefly dropped out of music to make more money washing dishes at a Greyhound station dinette in Atlanta. A few months later, Pat Boone covered one of his songs and he was suddenly back onstage and had signed with a different label.

Professor Longhair dropped out of the music business in 1964 and worked as a janitor. In 1971, Mick Jagger discovered that Longhair was still alive, pulled him back into the biz, where he stayed performing and recording until his death in 1980.

I briefly worked at a print shop in the DC area with a former member of the Clovers. He had joined the lineup long after the group’s recording career ended and did a lot of state fair-type shows with them for a couple of years. It was neither a prime gig nor a permanent one. Not exactly a rock star, I suppose.

Pat Benatar drummer Myron Grombacher was running the sales department for a Dodge dealership in Glendale Ca in the 2000s. Sadly, he could not get me the right deal.

Ex Warrant guitarist Billy Morris runs a lunch truck.

Krist Novoselic of Nirvana has active in politics as well.

Original Foreigner bassist Ed Gagliardi (1952-2014) also worked for a car dealership for many years after he left the entertainment industry.

If political office counts as joining the “workaday world”, then Peter Garrett, lead singer of Midnight Oil, who was an MP in the Australian Parliament.

Tommy James, of the Shondells, was a truck driver for Walmart for quite a while. He had married and had kids, and needed a stable income and health insurance, and this job also accommodated his performing schedule, which was mostly state fairs in the summertime. He had moved with his wife to her Midwestern hometown, which had that center.

In addition, at some time in his life, he became a born-again Christian and belongs to a speaker’s bureau, giving faith-based talks at churches and community organizations. He spoke at a large church in my old town which was attended by a co-worker who told me about this, and one thing he mentioned was that their manager had ripped him off (not an uncommon thing to this day). However, he was glad he didn’t get all that money, because he wasn’t old enough to know what to do with it, and it would have ruined his life if not outright killed him.