School of Rock: The Most Educated Musicians

Before these musicians were famous, they were writing term papers just like the rest of us. Many of them studied creative arts and a few even studied less artsy subjects like, gasp, economics! There is something to be said for smart rock and something to be said for an individual who is smart enough to get their education on the off-chance that they are not the next Mick Jagger.
An artist’s intelligence shines through in their work. Smart lyrics laced within literary illusions and metaphors make for some, well, to use a regional dialect, “ril good listenin.” Check out our list below.

I wanna rock and roll all night, and party every day. Right after I finish this paper.

Rivers Cuomo: Weezer frontman has that bookish college boy look that thousands of wannabes imitate with their oxford sweaters and black-rimmed glasses every fall. Cuomo is no poser though. In 2006 he became a Harvard graduate at 35. After years of musical success he decided he wanted to finish school and lived in a modest 14-by-9-foot dorm room. He didn’t mind at all. In a NY Times article Cuomo said: “What I am best at is reading a book and then writing a critical essay.”

Greg Gaffin: Gaffin, a member of Bad Religion, double majored in anthropology and geology at UCLA and later earned his PHD in Zoology from Cornell. In 2006 he penned a book titled, “Is Belief in God Good, Bad or Irrelevant? A Professor and Punk Rocker Discuss Science, Religion, Naturalism & Christianity.”

Tom Morello: Before Morello was shredding guitars for Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave, he a made a name for himself as a Harvard grad. He graduated in 1986 with a BA degree (with honors) in political science.

Singer-Songwriters who can wield an adjective or two.
Art Garfunkel: Garfunkel has mad scientist hair but he actually studied art history and math in college, graduating with a masters degree in both from Columbia University. Garfunkel met his musical soul mate, Paul Simon at Columbia where they were both members Alpha Epsilon Pi.

Sting: I know you are wondering why Sting is in the rocker category, but allow me a brief parenthetical to remind you a certain hit song called, “Roxanne.” That is besides the point. After Sting graduated high school he worked as a bus conductor, a construction laborer, and in a tax office. Eventually he attended Northern Counties College of Education and graduated with a teaching degree, where he got the inspiration for, “Don’t Stand So Close to Me.”
Sam Beam: Sam Beam is best known as folk-rock virtuoso, “Iron and Wine,” but he was once known as Professor Beam. Beam earned a Masters of Fine Arts from Florida State and worked as a professor of cinematography at the University of Miami for several years.

Kings and Queens of Country
Garth Brooks: Garth is one of country’s most revered men and believe or not he can throw a javelin pretty good too. Brooks attended Oklahoma State University on a track scholarship and earned a degree in Journalism back in 1984.

Sheryl Crow: We know Sheryl Crow for her extentive catalog of feel-good music but what you might not know is that she received a B.A degree in Music Composition, Performance and Education. She was a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta social sorority and Sigma Alpha Iota, a womens music fraternity. Crow actually worked as an elementary school music teacher in a suburb of St. Louis for awhile and sang in bands on the weekends.

A soulful man who can perform mathematical equations on demand?
Lionel Richie: Lionel Richie once pretended to be a college professor in one of his music videos, but it wasn’t that far of stretch after all. He attended Joliet on a tennis scholarship and eventually graduated with an economics degree from Tuskegee.

Kate Lenhof



Anonymous said...

This was a cool article. I think all rock stars should be highly educated. That way, we would have nothing akin to Nickleback.

Anonymous said...

You mention Mick Jagger, but he himself studied economics in college. Not sure if he graduated... so my point may not be valid...

Constance Marie said...

No mention of Joni Mitchell? She has a PhD in music as well.

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