May 072010

Dr. Robert

What aspiring musician hasn’t been lectured by at least one parent to stay in school and make sure to have a “fall-back plan” if rock ‘n roll dreams don’t come true? I’m sure I’m not the only once-aspiring rocker among you who maintained the slightest connection to some, at best, some half-assed fall-back plan. Thank goodness, because I’d dug myself into enough of a financial and emotional rut during my years of chasing The Dream.

We know that some successful rock ‘n rollers had a full-blown fall-back plan, like London School of Economics student Mick Jagger. We can be certain that the founding members of Genesis likely were prepared to fall back on paths leading to eventual seats in the British Parliament. Chuck Berry and Ringo Starr were prepared to be hairdressers or something, right? Skunk Baxter could turn to designing weapons of mass destruction if the rock ‘n roll thing didn’t pan out.

What might the fall-back plans of any of the following dyed-in-the-wool musicians/rock icons have been? Perhaps you really know what alternate skills they had in their back pocket, or perhaps you’d like to speculate…after the jump!

  • Elvis Presley
  • Bo Diddley
  • Ronnie Spector
  • Mike Love
  • Bob Dylan
  • Jeff Beck
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Jon Anderson
  • Angus Young
  • Joey Ramone
  • Slash
  • Bjork
  • Jack White
  • Bob Seger

Who knows, for a couple of these artists it may not be too late!


  18 Responses to “Fall-Back Plan”

  1. bostonhistorian

    Bjork: working at an airport to scare birds away from the runways.

    Bo Diddley: I see him running a BBQ joint.

    Elvis: truck driver

    Angus Young: jockey

    Mike Love: O.J. Simpson’s pool house tenant.

    One of my favorites is Amelia Fletcher who has been in a string of great pop bands: Talulah Gosh, Heavenly, Marine Research, among others. She also has a PhD in Economics from Oxford and serves as chief economist at the Office of Fair Trading for the British Government. Over achiever!

  2. Elvis Presley
    Regional manager of Big Star grocery chain.

    Bo Diddley
    Gravel or pulp wood truck driver.

    Ronnie Spector
    Perfume girl for large department store chain.

    Mike Love
    Used car salesman.

    Bob Dylan
    Hobo. That’s not really a profession, so perhaps he’d be a carpenter.

    Jeff Beck
    Painter. Fine arts painter.

    Jimi Hendrix
    History professor.

    Jon Anderson
    Science fiction author of popular “series” of some sort.

    Angus Young
    Half of comedy team with Yahoo Serious. Australian slapstick!

    Joey Ramone
    Club/bar owner.

    Gas station attendant.

    She’d be a Muppet.

    Jack White
    Automobile engine builder.

    Bob Seger
    Plumber. Bob the Plumber.


  3. Elvis Presley – Minister

    Bo Diddley – Repairman who fixes appliances or watches or cars.

    Ronnie Spector – Nurse

    Mike Love – Cheesy low level marketing guy who says things like “Make it a great day” at the end of his outgoing phone messages

    Bob Dylan – Grumpy professor

    Jeff Beck – Owner of a garage or possibly an exotic car dealership

    Jimi Hendrix – Social worker or bartender

    Angus Young – Municipal clerk

    Joey Ramone – Disability

    Slash – Some kind of mid level white collar job, maybe in commercial real estate or finance

    Jon Anderson – writer of whimsical children’s books

    Bjork – illustrator of whimsical children’s books

    Jack White – Clerk in a used record store who makes you feel inadequate about your purchases.

    Bob Seger – Second shift drill press operator with aspirations to make shift manager someday

  4. hrrundivbakshi

    * Elvis Presley — UPS guy
    * Bo Diddley — Soul food rstaurant owner
    * Ronnie Spector — Department store cashier
    * Mike Love — Mega-church preacher
    * Bob Dylan — Cobbler
    * Jeff Beck — Avionics engineer
    * Jimi Hendrix — Weird bookstore employee
    * Jon Anderson — Art history professor
    * Angus Young — Landscaping employee
    * Joey Ramone — Burger joint employee
    * Slash — Exotic car salesman
    * Bjork — Housewife
    * Jack White — Irritating graphic designer
    * Bob Seger — UAW shop steward!

  5. * Elvis Presley-truck driver
    * Bo Diddley-pawn broker
    * Ronnie Spector-mom
    * Mike Love-aluminum siding
    * Bob Dylan-bullshit poli-sci
    * Jeff Beck-haberdasher
    * Jimi Hendrix-unemployed mostley
    * Jon Anderson-spa owner
    * Angus Young-drains, gutters,
    * Joey Ramone-produce dept.
    * Slash-manager of a rock and roll
    * Bjork-sculptor of shitty
    * Jack White-computer animator
    * Bob Seger-union electrician

  6. hrrundivbakshi

    shawnkilroy, I thought these were great:

    * Angus Young-drains, gutters,
    * Joey Ramone-produce dept.

    … and especially:

    * Bjork-sculptor of shitty

  7. mockcarr

    Elvis Presley – Okra farmer

    Bo Diddley – Beer Distributor

    Ronnie Spector – Manicurist

    Mike Love – Mall Cop

    Bob Dylan – Yegg

    Jeff Beck – Straight man for some really bad comedian named Call in a British act.

    Jimi Hendrix – Cal Tech Physicist

    Jon Anderson – Corporate Lawyer

    Angus Young – Shoe Salesman

    Joey Ramone – NYC peep-show owner, I mean, think about his last name. Narrowly loses mayor race with his “Dirty up Times Square” campaign against Giuliani.

    Slash – Garbage Man

    Bjork – Pumice sculpter

    Jack White – Marlins/Red Sox pitcher

    Bob Seger – Gym teacher

  8. mockcarr

    Sorry Kilroy, I was writing this before I saw yours.

  9. alexmagic

    Elvis Presley – Master of Kung Fu/assassin for Richard Nixon or head of actual, literal Memphis mafia

    Bo Diddley – Successful traveling salesman who would eventually have his life savings stolen as part of a con by a sinister grifter and FBI’s most wanted list fixture named Charles H. “Buddy” Holly.

    Ronnie Spector – Wife of NYPD Officer Edward “Ed” Money and head of the annual Policeman’s Ball committee. Every year, she’d have to talk Ed out of trying out for the police motorcycle unit’s stunt team, because he’d always think it was “friggin’ cool” how they’d get their police cycles in that giant pyramid formation. Eventually, Ronnie’s work chairing the Policeman’s Ball would lead to her running for a City Council spot. She’d lose the first time, but Ed’s near brush with death during patrol would spur her to become a major voice in pushing to take back the streets and she would win that Council spot in the next election. Officer Money would later be quoted as saying that “the City needs her, but she’ll always be my little baby.”

    Mike Love – Cult leader

    Bob Dylan – Sarcastic copy editor for a medical textbook publisher

    Jeff Beck – I dunno, something boring, possibly involving exotic cars

    Jimi Hendrix – Would have stayed in the Air Force longer and eventually become one of those military advisors for Hollywood movies. Would write an interesting memoir of questionable veracity about his military and Hollywood experience that would lead to a career in writing strange, psychedelic science fiction novels.

    Jon Anderson – Semi-professional British darts player and pub quiz regular specializing in questions about (English) football and Dr. Who.

    Angus Young – The Toecutter from Mad Max

    Joey Ramone – Comic book writer and Rock Town Hall Townsman who would refuse to move from the ListServ version of RTH to the web version.

    Slash – Bartender

    Bjork – Cat Lady

    Jack White – Civil war re-enactor

    Bob Seger – we did a similar thread before where I thought Seger would have been a union guy in Flint who GM CEO Roger Smith would have paid to beat Michael Moore to death with a tire iron, but I’m changing my answer this time to a cab driver who helps people with their problems and solves crime.

  10. Kudos, Alex. You’ve really thought these things through.


  11. Elvis: Truck driver (that was his last job, wasn’t it?)
    Bo Diddley: Liquor store owner
    Ronnie Spector: Girl Friday
    Mike Love: Door-to-door Bible salesman
    Bob Dylan: Bullshit English lit professor
    Jeff Beck: Auto mechanic (obvious, no?)
    Jimi Hendrix: Drift for a few years, then back into the Army
    Jon Anderson: New Age guru
    Angus Young: Handyman
    Joey Ramone: One of those guys you always see in the bar and never quite know what he does – possible disability fraud
    Slash: Unhelpful guitar-store employee
    Bjork: On the dole; tells everyone she makes short video films but no one ever actually sees them
    Jack White: I can’t beat “Clerk in a used record store who makes you feel inadequate about your purchases.”
    Bob Seger: UAW line worker, naturally

  12. These can only hope to be half as good as some of the stuff you guys are coming up with.

    * Elvis Presley — Author of factually suspect Arthur Crudup biography
    * Bo Diddley — Cornerman
    * Ronnie Spector — Brilliant but mentally unstable record producer
    * Mike Love — Insult comic
    * Bob Dylan — Bullshit philosophy professor
    * Jeff Beck — Video game designer
    * Jimi Hendrix — Fashion designer
    * Jon Anderson — Yoga instructor
    * Angus Young — Australian sitcom writer
    * Joey Ramone — Genome scientist
    * Slash — Barback
    * Bjork — High school art teacher
    * Jack White — Vintage clothing store owner
    * Bob Seger — CEO of Fortune 500 company

  13. I recently heard a quote in which the gist was suggesting that:

    “Artists should never have a back-up plan because you will be tempted to fall back on it.”

  14. BigSteve

    Weird, I was just reading Richard Thompason’s website, where in his most recent Q&A he addresses this issue:

    As a fan at School leaving age and unsure about what to do with my future, i was wondering if you faced a dillemma after coming to the end of your time in compulsory education, was it a straight decision between playing music for a living or getting a ‘proper job’? or was it more complicated than that? thanks, John

    I was playing quite a lot of shows with Fairport in my last year of school. I then took a design job for 6 months, still playing a lot in the evenings. We then turned ‘pro’ and put ourselves on a wage (12 quid a week). It was a smooth transition, because there was a lot of work around. I told myself that it would be great fun while it lasted, but at some point I’d go back to University, or Art School, and get a real job. here I am, 40-odd years later. Amazing. I have a son just leaving school, whom I’m sure would love to go straight on the road, and if the work was there, I’d say fine. It’s a different economy now though. Music jobs, and even temp jobs to pay the rent while you play music, are harder to come by. A journalist explained it to me thus:

    1950s/early 60s – leave school at 16 and go straight into music
    Mid-60s- mid 70s – complete school then go straight into music
    Mid-70s – 80s – form band at university, leave after 1 or 2 years
    90s – complete university, then go into music
    00s – complete university, get a dot com job for 5 years, then go into music

    A little cynical, but the curve seems to be true. If the work is there, or some way to support yourself while playing, then why not do what you love? If there is no work, then take the conventional route, and keep working on your skills until the time is right for you to explode onto the music scene with huge undeniable talent!

  15. 1.Elvis Presley
    Gets drafted, reenlists, does tour of Vietnam, establishes himself as a spokesmen for Vets.

    2. Bo Diddley
    Cab driver

    3. Ronnie Spector
    Diner waitress

    4. Mike Love
    regional TV dance show host

    5. Bob Dylan
    religious cult leader

    6. Jeff Beck
    Vintage automobile restorer

    7. Jimi Hendrix
    Richard Pryor’s drug dealer/personal assistant

    8. Jon Anderson
    ice skater

    9. Angus Young
    fish monger

    10. Joey Ramone
    Will write tell all book about the seediness of hot dog carts in NYC and then get hired by The Food Network to travel about the world finding the great vendor carts in various countries.

    11. Slash
    strip club owner

    12. Bjork
    Sports team mascot

    13. Jack White
    Established a Detroit “scene” blog with Mick Collins. The two have a falling out. Each tries to prove they have the real “cred”. A White-Collins rivalry plays out. White gets auto endorsement deal out of his blog. Nobody cares.

    14.Bob Seger
    Owns local Detroit alternative arts weekly. Fires staff, hires stringers, becomes topic of abuse for White and Collins. Nobody cares.

  16. Mr. Moderator

    I almost spit beef boullion through my nose while laughing at the thought of Jon Anderson as an ice skater! Bravo to all of you who have contributed so far. Keep ’em coming!

  17. Mr. Moderator

    Yeah, alexmagic, Joey’s not budging from the basement!

  18. mikeydread

    Elvis Presley: Truck driver. Of course, it that doesn’t work out you could always invent rock and roll.

    Bo Diddley: Cabbie

    Ronnie Spector: Mystic

    Mike Love: House painter

    Bob Dylan: Old-school preacher

    Jeff Beck: Computer salesman

    Jimi Hendrix: Hair dresser. The ladies would be queuing around the block.
    Jon Anderson: Ladder salesman

    Angus Young: Council noise abatement officer

    Joey Ramone: Unemployed

    Slash: Unemployable

    Bjork: Cabaret dancer

    Jack White: Tailor

    Bob Seger: Bouncer

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