Music is a powerful force, with its ability to unite its fans, bringing together a broad range of people who admire its genius and appreciate its many complexities.
These fans, in their millions, come from a diverse variety of backgrounds. Yet, when music is at its best, it helps people to forget their differences, only bringing out one clear similarity: a love of musical phenomena.
It is not just the fans of music who come from different backgrounds. The people who generate it also have, to say the least, surprising stories to tell. It seems that no musician of any standing began their life pumping out the hits that the world has grown to love. Those musicians all began on the same level as everyone else: trying to make a living through some day job or other, no doubt dreaming of the better, music-fuelled days that were coming.
David Bowie is a notable example. This legendary singer, who died tragically of cancer on January 10th 2016, was known as a multi-talented icon, extending his talents to music, film acting, production and art criticism.
His early life saw him pursue other activities, working as a butcher’s boy before turning 13. The money earned in this role funded saxophone lessons with Ronnie Ross, with whom Bowie would collaborate in later years. Even at this early stage in life, Bowie was displayed a fascination with the world of music with which he would later be identified.
Another prominent musical legend with a mediocre early career is Ozzy Osbourne, the former Black Sabbath bad boy with a penchant for illicit substances. Before he found fame, one of his early jobs had an equally sinister ring to it: he once worked in a slaughterhouse, slicing open cows. Whether the brutal overtones of this role influenced his later life is anyone’s guess.
With a taste for drugs to match that of Osbourne, Keith Richards has become a part of music history with his role in the Rolling Stones. An early job of his perhaps does not sound quite so rough around the edges.
When accompanying his father to the local tennis club during the summers of his early life, a young Richards would often fill in as a ball boy. This gave him knowledge of the game to last him a lifetime. Clearly this did not change where his passion lay, given his pursuit of a career in music rather than sport.
Not all musicians have an image as tough and macho as Keith Richards. As the frontman for Queen, Freddie Mercury cultivated a level of flamboyance that would make any catwalk model turn green with envy. It was not, however, always as glamorous as this for the remarkable showman.
Starting his early career on a market stall, Mercury sold artwork and clothes for a living, keeping the job going once Queen had been formed. With the art he sold, the interest in culture was clearly present, even in his formative years.
An uninspiring early career does not mean that passions cannot be pursued, or that satisfaction cannot be found (no Keith Richards-related pun intended). The early jobs that people do may well serve to inspire the creative pursuits they follow later on. For anybody with an interest in taking on a career in the music industry, this must surely serve as a beacon of hope.
If the legends of music history can break free from the tedium of ‘normal’ jobs and make their mark on music fans everywhere, anybody can do it.
–Luke Mayo, Editor (Art)
(-Picture, Liliana Fuchs)