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Once upon a time in the lives of these rock royalties, they were regular people with odd menial jobs.
Before some of these rock favorites were blinding us with their stardom, their sold out concerts, platinum albums, and chart-sweeping hits, they had to get down and dirty getting through a hard knock life too – just like us normal human beings! Whether it be cleaning out fish guts or cow guts, picking up tennis balls or picking up other people’s left overs, these musicians’ first jobs were not as glamorous as we might think.
Here’s a list of odd yet normal jobs rock stars had before they were famous –somebody ought to bring home the bacon!
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Ever imagine hard-hitting, stage-growling Jon Bon Jovi sitting down the line at Santa’s workshop? Hard to picture, right?
Well, before he gave love a bad name, he sure gave Christmas a good look working as a Christmas decorations assembler. You’ll never know, maybe one of your old Christmas stockings was knitted by Jon Bon Jovi pre-rock star days. Now we know where he got his knack for brightly colored outfits from.
Perhaps another one of Santa’s little elf toy makers was Patti Smith. Teasing aside, she really was a toy maker before she became the “punk poet laureate”. It’s not at all an experience with tidings and cheer for her though. Smith cites her horrible experience working at the toy factory as her inspiration to writing her hit “Piss Factory” saying,“The stuff those women did to me in that factory was horrible. They’d gang up on me and stick my head in a toilet full of piss.”
How would those factory bullies feel now that they actually birthed the Godmother of Punk.
The AC/DC co-founder and rhythm guitarist also worked at a factory but of a different kind – a bra factory.
No, unfortunately for most, Malcolm Young did not make the bras himself. He was employed as a mechanic for the sewing-machines that made the bras. Close enough. It probably makes for a good songwriting inspiration for the hard-rocker. Or not.
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If you think Ozzy Osbourne’s wild antics are only reserved for the entertainment industry, think again.
The Prince of Darkness opened cow carcasses for a living before he was opening arena shows. It’s one of those little known facts that actually makes sense, for Ozzy Osbourne’s standards. Osbourne used to work as an abattoir for two years, killing cows, and cleaning out their guts at a British slaughterhouse. Ironically, the legendary rock icon has since chosen to be vegetarian. Good to know.
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What is it with British rock stars and working at the butcher’s? Ozzy and Bowie had the same line of job when they were teenagers. Rock N Roll hall of famer David Bowie desperately wanted to learn how to play the saxophone when he was kid. His parents couldn’t pay for him to have lessons with legendary saxophonist Ronnie Ross so he took a job delivering meat for a local butcher in England so he could pay for his saxophone lessons. It sure paid forward when Ross played the saxophone for the song “Walk on the Wild Side” which was produced by Bowie eleven years after having lessons together.
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If Ozzy Osbourne was out there at the butcher’s carving out cow guts, Pulp front man Jarvis Cocker was pulling out fish guts and scrubbing crabs before becoming a well-rounded singer and radio personality. Cocker says,”I spent a lot of time in the Castle Market, where I worked as a fishmonger when I was a teenager…”Cocker made ends meet by being an assistant to an alcoholic fishmonger, selling seafood in the market.
In the summer of ’69, the Kensington Market in London was a booming place of culture, art, and merchandise. In one of the little stalls along the hippie walkways of the area is young Freddy Mercury, selling art and fashion items. Little did those high street shoppers know that this young stall owner would one day become the front man of one of the greatest rock bands in history. The Queen singer shared a market stall with Queen drummer Roger Taylor to make ends meet after graduating from college. Business was in fact doing so well that they kept running their little fashion stall even after releasing their first album.
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Keith Richards’ parents were big tennis enthusiasts and growing up he would be dragged to the court to watch them play. Being around the court so much, he gradually snagged a part time job as a ball boy at his local tennis club where he would fetch tennis balls every weekend when he was a teenager. So before Richards became a Rolling Stone, he was picking up rolling balls bouncing around the tennis court.
Ever wonder what inspired Rolling Stones hits such as like “19th Nervous Breakdown” and “Mother’s Little Helper”? Perhaps these crazy songs might make more sense when you find out that legendary front man Mick Jagger once worked as a porter at Bexley psychiatric hospital. He wasn’t known as Mick Jagger back then, but young Mike in the early 60’s. He’s the hard worker too. He may be the mental hospital’s errand boy some days of the week, but he was a full time student at the London School of Economics at the same time.
Ringgo Starr is now known as the richest drummer in rock n roll history. That wasn’t always the case though. Before his net worth reached millions of dollars, he was barely earning minimum wage as a delivery boy for British Railways. During his pre-Beatles years, Starr dropped out of high school and took the responsibility of being a young messenger at the age of 15. He used his earnings to buy his first drum kit at the age of 16. Before he could afford it, he was using tin cans and fire wood to make music with. He’s definitely come a long, long way since.
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What was BB King’s inspiration to become a musician? He was fed up with his $3 a day salary as a tractor driver. When he discovered that he could make quadruple that money playing guitar on the street, he knew he had to shift gears. It’s not that he was a bad tractor driver, in fact, in his own words, he was a “superstar tractor driver”. BB King was the king of tractor driving before he even became the King of Blues. Even the US Army recognized his driving skills that he was discharged after basic training because he’d be better off as a tractor driver during the war. However, when he accidentally broke off an exhaust stack while driving the tractor, he ran away from the farmer he was working for with just $2.50 in his pocket and his guitar. When he found success as a blues guitarist, he eventually went back and paid the farmer for the damages he’s caused. What a true class act.
Not that it’s a shock to everyone, but before Courtney Love became the lead singer of Hole and the famed stoned widow of Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain, she used to be a stripper. To support herself and to fund her music career, Love danced her clothes away at Jumbo’s Clown Room and Seventh Veil in Hollywood.She says of her previous stripping stint,
“I didn’t want to sell drugs, I didn’t want to steal cars. I didn’t want to be a prostitute. So I stripped.”
And she apparently seemed like an expert at it, knowing exactly how to make it in the world of stripping. Love gives her advice saying,
“ You’ve got to have white pumps, pink bikini, f***in’ hairpiece, pink lipstick. Gold and tan and white. If you even try and slip a little of yourself in there you won’t make any money.”
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Just like his wife Courtney Love, Kurt Cobain also worked an odd job to fund his pursuit for a music career before becoming a grunge rock superstar. Cobain worked as a janitor at Weatherwax High School, the same high school he dropped out of. Although he didn’t seem like the neatest cleaner of the bunch, Cobain diligently mopped floors and cleaned toilets to pay for his band’s demo. As a funny homage to his past as a custodian, a dancing janitor was included in the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” music video.