I set a quiz a few days ago asking you to match up rock stars with the old jobs they used to do before they were famous.
Some were easier than others, but I enjoyed the comment hoping that Lemmy might have been a hotel bellhop. It might have made his movie even better…
So in no particular order, here are the answers:
Tim Burgess of The Charlatans – Mail Delivery boy at ICI. According to his recent book Telling Stories Tim was 16 years old and happy in a job sticking stamps on letters and filing things. Administration’s loss was Madchester’s gain.
Neil Tennant of The Pet Shop Boys – Assistant Editor of Smash Hits. Tennant famously was assistant editor for this huge selling bi-weekly UK pop magazine in 1983 before making the leap to being one half of the UK’s most arch synth pop duo.
Lemmy – Jimi Hendrix’s Roadie. Lemmy was Hendrix’s roadie for 8 months, and “used to score acid for him”… He got the job as he was living with (Experience bass player) Noel Redding. And when I say “living with” I mean “sleeping on the floor because he knew Noel’s roadie”… He was at all the Axis Bold As Love sessions.
Noel Gallagher – Inspiral Carpets roadie. Gallagher eloquently described how this came about in a 1991 interview. He was asked by the band if he sang. “I said yeah, so I auditioned, couldn’t sing a f- note but they said “be a roadie” and I said “I’ll be a roadie, that’ll do me”.
Ozzy Osbourne – Abattoir worker. “I was a natural at killing animals” claimed Ozzy in his entertaining biography. He was promoted to “cow killer” and his favourite practical joke would be to sneak cow eyeballs out of the slaughterhouse and drop them into people’s drinks. It beat being a car horn tuner: Ozzy’s previous job to this one…
Elvis Presley – Apprentice Electrician: According to Last Train To Memphis by Peter Guralnick, Elvis was only taken off his route in the Crown Electric truck after he plugged it on a radio show and the switchboard was jammed with calls. He continued to work on the phones until a few days after his first TV appearance.
Jack White – Furniture upholstery apprentice: According to a 2003 interview, White set up a “little studio” at the age of 21 after being apprenticed from the age of 15. His advertising slogan on his business card was: “Your furniture’s not dead”. (The slogan for Third Man Records? “Your record player’s not dead”). White would also write poems inside the furniture, so if it was ever re-upholstered they would get messages from the last person who upholstered it…
Eric Clapton – Master Bricklayer’s Assistant: According to Clapton – by Eric Clapton, a young God would help out his father, a master tradesman, on jobs thus instilling a work ethic into the future blues legend.
Sting: Tax Man: I was hoping Sting would be the hotel bellhop, thus making Quadrophenia semi-autobiographical. Sadly not. When giving evidence in court in 1995 against his former accountant who was accused of stealing £6m from him, Sting said he acquired a “horror” of documents, which didn’t go down well at the Revenue and which forced him to leave their employ. Sting was also a teacher, which he denies was the inspiration for the song Don’t Stand So Close To Me
Brandon Flowers of The Killers – Hotel Bellhop: Well – he did grow up in Vegas. He worked at The Gold Coast Hotel and Casino.
James Brown – Pool Ball racker: Who knew this was a job? I like to think of him working at The Crucible in Sheffield during the World Snooker Championships, in a tuxedo, perhaps spinning and leaping whilst cleaning the cue ball and replacing the pink. I suspect the reality was very different.
BB King – Cotton picker on a plantation: What upset B.B. more than anything according to his biography was when German POWs were also made to pick cotton but were told to stop at 3pm, whilst “we blacks picked till nightfall. We were seen as beasts of burden, dumb animals, a level below the Germans. To watch your enemy get better treatment than yourself was a helluva thing to endure”.
Rod Stewart – Grave Digger (at Highgate cemetary). Long before the toilet-brush-haired singer dug up old American Songbook tunes, he was preparing the local population of Highgate for the next phase of their journey around the circle of life. Six feet underground.
Tony Iommi – Sheet Metal worker: Iommi famously lost the tips of two fingers when a heavy sheet metal making machine (that’s the technical term) slammed down on them. He initially thought his guitar playing days were over, until someone told him about Django Reinhardt, the celebrated gypsy-jazz guitarist, whose fingers were badly burned in an accident, yet who managed to carve out a successful career in music.
David Lee Roth – Hospital orderly: DLR has since trained to be a paramedic. I can only imagine how bad it must be to be a female patient with DLR trying to constantly chat you up.
John Squire – Dangermouse cartoonist: Rather wonderfully, the Stone Roses guitarist had a job at Cosgrove Hall, the animation studio where Dangermouse (voiced by David Jason and Terry Scott) was made, drawing backgrounds. According to the catalogue for the recent Whiteley’s exhibition, he also made puppets…
Mick Hucknall – worked in a sewage works recycling excrement: Okay, I admit it, I made this up, based on his last few albums…and his first few…
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