Rockers have often been brushed off as stupid airheads with nothing in their heads but chicks and parties. You know – bad vocabulary, bad choices, not much to contribute with. Kind of like these guys:
But after almost 25 years in the business, interviewing more bands and artists than I can even remember, it hit me that I’ve rarely thought of anyone as “stupid”. Some have formal educations, some are street smart, and some are just naturally intelligent. You don’t always have to be a rocket scientist to be smart. Very few have been total airheads actually.
Then I started digging into it. You’d be surprised how many rockers you’ll find that have fancy titles and impressive degrees to brag with.
Brian May (Queen) for instance… PhD in astrophysics from Imperial College in London. He began working on it 30 years prior to completing it in 2007, but got sidetracked when Queen hit the big-time. Apparently its never too late to finish what you started…!
Offspring’s Dexter Holland: He has a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a Master’s degree in Molecular Biology, both from the University of Southern California.
Phillip Taylor Kramer (Iron Butterfly) earned a college degree in aerospace engineering.
Rage Against the Machine‘s Zach DeLaRocha has a PhD in Anthropology from UC Irvine and RATM Guitarist Tom Morello is a Harvard Graduate.
Frank Zappa is widely considered to be one of the most intelligent musicians ever, with a reported 172 IQ.
Then of course, there’s Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden). Where do you even BEGIN with that guy?!
He has been a top fencer, written two novels. Left school with A-levels in English, History and Economics, competed internationally in fencing, placing 7th in Great Britain, and has founded a fencing equipment company under the brand name “Duellist”
According to Wikipedia: Due to the wide variety of Dickinson’s pursuits, the Winter 2009 edition of Intelligent Life named him as a living example of a polymath.(=a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas)
He regularly flew Boeing 757s in his role as captain for the now-defunct UK charter airline Astraeus, which, as of 16 September 2010, employed him as Marketing Director.
Then you’ve got a guy like Gene Simmons (Kiss). As much as people might want to label him an idiot with stupid makeup, spandex, platform boots and fake blood, he’s definitely not an airhead. Well, us rockers know that, but the general public might not know it. Or maybe they do now, after seeing him on TV….
In 1970 he graduated from Richmond College with a degree in education and four languages- English, German, Hungarian and Hebrew. Not to mention his clever head for business.
Marilyn Manson has a degree in journalism and a background as Associate Editor at Fort Lauderdale’s 25th Parallel Magazine.
Dokken-guitarist Jon Levin is an attorney, who actually handled Dokken’s business until he filled the position as a guitarist instead in 2004.
Greg Graffin of Bad Religion has a double major in geology and anthropology, he went on to get a Master’s degree at UCLA and then a PhD at Cornell University. He can reasonably be called Dr. Graffin, PhD of zoology and lead singer of Bad Religion.
One of the guys who most people would probably brush off as an idiot is the “drag-queen” Dee Snider of Twisted Sister. But most of us who have seen and heard his speech in the US Senate (1985) know that Dee is anything but stupid. He proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that you should never ever underestimate anyone or judge a book by its cover.
There are plenty of examples, Alice Cooper had gained admission into the University of Arizona, University of Colorado and University of California-Davis – he declined all these offers.
Blackie Lawless of W.A.S.P has always been interesting to interview, because he is incredibly intelligent. Listen to any interview you can find online and you’ll see what I mean. He might be slightly… unpredictable at times but once you get into a conversation with him, you know he can be thrown in to discuss anything with any academic. Same goes for Dave Mustaine (Megadeth).
You see these rock stars on stage in crazy clothes, makeup, decapitating themselves, drinking blood, using profanity and what not – and you’ll mistake them for brainless idiots. It’s just so far from the truth. Maybe Vince Neil doesn’t exactly strike me as a brainac, but thank god there are others out there who will show the world that metal isn’t for idiots – it’s for thinking people.
Well…. maybe not always… Angus Young is still wearing his school-uniform and guys like this probably should! :-)