With few exceptions we don’t start life at the top. Here are the occupations of some rock stars before they went on to earn acclaim in music.
Harry was once a Playboy Bunny before becoming the lead singer of Blondie, a punk rock group that had four number one “Billboard” hits and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.
Before he was the lead singer and main songwriter for the new wave band The Police, Sting was a schoolteacher.
She once worked as a clerk at a dry cleaners. Later she did secretarial work for Motown. As the lead singer of Martha and the Vandellas, she led the group that was inducted into the RRHOF in 1995 and got a shout out in John Mellencamp’s hit “R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A.”.
Pat was a bank teller before going on to record such monster hits as “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” and “Love Is A Battlefield.”
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards
As a youngster Jagger was an ice-cream vendor and Richards was a ball boy at a tennis club. The two future founders of The Rolling Stones were childhood friends who lost contact with each other for a while, and were brought back together through a common love of American R&B music. Jagger went on to become one of the best rock frontmen and Richards one of the top lead guitarists. They also became an excellent songwriting duo as they led what became “The World’s Greatest Rock Band” through five decades of great recordings and concert tours.
Jon Bon Jovi
Bon Jovi started a rock band he named after himself. The New Jersey group went on to have five number one “Billboard Hot 100” hits, 11 Top 10s, and sold over 120 million albums. Later Bon Jovi became a film and TV actor on such shows as “Ally McBeal,” and branched into sports by becoming the main owner of the Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League. But before all of this success Bon Jovi once worked at Burger King.
She was not an overnight success. Before she reached the top, she supported herself through a variety of odd jobs, including hat-check girl, clerk at Dunkin’ Donuts and nude model for art students. She would go on to be a great stage, concert and recording act and to heavily influence the fashion trends of the 1980s by having a strong influence on impressionable young girls. She had 12 number one songs and over 35 Top 10 hits on her way to being elected to the RRHOF.
He was very briefly a grave digger before finding his way into the music business. He is inducted into the RRHOF twice, as a member of Small Faces and as a solo act. “Maggie May,” originally a B side, broke Stewart big time when it reached number one in 1971, the first of three number one “Billboard” hits and first of over a dozen Top 10 songs for the gravelly-voiced legend.
Malcolm Rebennack, Jr., better known as Dr. John, entered the show biz world early when his fashion-model mother arranged for his face to appear on Ivory Soap boxes. That was early employment Dr. John certainly didn’t know about.
He did office work and was employed in the computer industry before his career blossomed.
Before joining Fleetwood Mac and reaching superstardom in the mid-1970s, Stevie Nicks and partner Lindsey Buckingham struggled financially. Stevie held various odd jobs, including being a hostess at a Bob’s Big Boy restaurant. In addition to her songwriting and singing for Fleetwood Mac, Stevie also enjoyed a tremendous solo career.
Before he started “talkin’ ’bout my generation” as a member of the English rock band The Who, Daltrey was a sheet-metal worker.
In his youth Hammer was a bat boy for the Major League Baseball team the Oakland Athletics. He later traded baseball for rapping.
The future singer with The Monkees was a child star who appeared in the Broadway production of “Oliver.” That cast performed on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on Feb. 9, 1964, the same evening the Beatles made their historic debut in America.
The future lead singer of Black Sabbath held several not-so-glamorous jobs before his music career gained footing. Among those jobs was working in a slaughterhouse.
She was the babysitter for the child of songwriters Gerry Goffin and Carole King, and that connection is how she got to record the Goffin-King penned song, “Loco-motion.” Little Eva took the song to number one.
“The Rock and Roll Almanac,” Mark Bego, MacMillan, 1996, pages 63-69
“The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 9th Edition,” Joel Whitburn, Billboard Books, 2010
“The Billboard Book of Number One Hits, 5th Edition,” Fred Bronson, Billboard Books, 2003