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From Bob Dylan to Neil Young: 10 musicians with hidden talents

Touring and recording might sound like fearfully frantic feats that would cause any mere mortal to shiver on a bracing Monday morning. However, there is an obverse to this draining all-action coin that can be found in the great swathes of time between touring and recording that make up any artists CV. Those ‘taking a much-needed break’ months or sometimes years have to be filled in some way and there are a few musicians out there who have occupied the void by honing skills that don’t involve, strings, sticks or strained vocal cords. 

A huge number of artists may have delved into poetry, writing, or painting, but when they take up something a little less in keeping with artistry for which they are known it can raise an eyebrow and even prise a chuckle from the inexplicable image that a disparate hobby can create. 

Below, we’re taking a look at ten musicians with baffling and bizarre hidden talents beyond their musical skill.

10 musicians with hidden talents:

Alice Cooper the Golfer

A lot of people take up golf when they retire, not quite as many transition from a period holed-up in a New York sanitorium straight to the course. Alice Cooper’s love for the most benign sport in existence has led him to star in commercials for the gold brand Callaway, and he even wrote a book on the subject, Golf Monster: My 12 Steps to Becoming a Gold Addict.

Not only has the star remained sober enough not to crash a Rolls Royce into a bunker, but he has also attained an eminently respectable handicap of seven. He still loves rock ‘n’ roll, but he has found a less straining substitute on the fairway to heaven. 

Bob Dylan the metallurgist 

If Dylan’s fans were furious when his folk stylings went electric, then they can’t have been best pleased when he fully transitioned to metal. All puns aside, Dylan told Rolling Stone magazine that the hobby was simply in his blood, “I’ve been around iron all my life,” Dylan explained, “Ever since I was a kid. I was born and raised in iron ore country, where you could breathe it and smell it every day.”

As well as dealing in more conventional forms of art Dylan fills his spare time crafting metal work. London’s Halcyon Gallery showcased a collection of his iron gates back in 2013.

Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter from the Dobbie Brothers the missile defence expert

Certain musicians have dabbled in unusual hobbies, few have taken their side interest quite as far as Skunk. In what is surely one of the strangest CV’s of all time, the songsmith can pair ‘master funk rock guitarist’ alongside ‘Pentagon Weapons Consultant’.

Skunk studied his way to being pretty much the leading expert in the field as he has risen to the prominent position of being chair of the Congressional Advisory Board on missile defence. As Skunk told The Star about his recruitment process, and chairman of the Armed Service Committee asked an advisor, “Is this the guy from Raytheon or Boeing?” To which the advisor replied, “No, this is the guy from the Doobie Brothers.” …And no, this isn’t another case of ‘What a Fool Believes’, this is weirdly all genuine. 

Jack White the furniture upholsterer

Before Jack White found fame with the White Stripes he worked at a shop called Third Man Upholstery, the place’s slogan was the phrase, “Your furniture’s not dead.” Now, White has carried the sentiment of that through to his record label called Third Man Records, with the slogan “your turntable’s not dead.”

White even used to hide messages in the furniture, telling NPR in 2011: “I started to write a little bit about, well, this is where I got this chair and the person who hired me to do it — a little bit of that. [And] maybe on the other side, underneath, I’d hide a poem or something like that. The zenith of that [was when] Brian and I had a band called The Upholsterers [and] for the 25th anniversary of his shop, we made a hundred pieces of vinyl. We made a record we stuff into furniture that you could only get if you ripped the furniture open.” And as legend has it a fan excavated his furniture to reveal a recording entitled ‘Your Furniture Was Always Dead… I Was Just Afraid to Tell You’.

Neil Young the inventor

In January of this year, Neil Young sold 50% of the rights of his back catalogue for around $150million. It is hard to reconcile that sort of money with the humble lifestyle that he leads. He likes his ranch, he likes music, and he likes his model trains. Seemingly he also likes modifying model trains.

In the past Young teamed up with Richard Kughn, the owner of the model trains company Lionel Trains, the develop a remote control that made it easier for disabled people to operate model trains. What’s more, he also developed an audio device that replicated authentic train sounds, and when Lionel Trains fell on hard times he bailed out the firm. 

Flea the Chess Master

Red Hot Chili Peppers’ bassist Flea has not only dabbled in acting and writing, but he has also challenged the chess grand master Magnus Carlsen to a showdown in Rio de Janeiro. Of course, he lost, but he held his own enough to for it not to be a flippant throwaway stunt, and against the world champion that is good enough in of itself. 

The rich and varied life of Flea simply knowns no bounds. Despite going to work with RHCP “every day” he still finds a multitude of alternative avenues to explore, the man simply can’t stop. 

Roger Daltrey the trout farmer

It’s every young boy’s dream, headline a major music festival and have your facility hailed as “beautiful” by Trout Fisherman Magazine. Some people are lucky enough to achieve one of these feats, but few others, if any for that matter, have managed to pull off the coveted double-whammy. 

Roger Daltrey is the proud owner of Lakedown Trout Fishery in Heathfield, East Sussex. The star even designed the four spring fed lakes that cover the 26-acre facility himself. 

Brian May the astrophysicist 

It certainly might be quite well known, but it will never not be noteworthy that the curly-headed rocker Brian May is also the holder of a PhD in astrophysics. A lifelong passion for astronomy led the musician to take some time out from the music industry in 2007. 

After you have sold over 300 million records, you’ve pretty much clocked the music industry anyway, so there is nowhere left to aim other than the stratosphere. Since earning his PhD, the celestial guitarist has since published several books on the subject and even served a term as the chancellor of Liverpool John Moore University, because it’s always nice to have another string to your bow, just in case. 

Maynard James Keenan the vintner 

Tool are a band knowing for throwing every musical technique under the sun into their jam sessions, but their scope doesn’t stop at a wide musicological sphere. The group’s frontman, Maynard James Keenan is also a vintner. 

He comes from a long line of vintners in the Italian wine-making country and he now put his proud family name to a Vineyard of his own in Arizona’s Merkin Valley. While many people amass enough money and buy themselves a nice country home overlooking a vineyard, few get as hands one with the production as Keenan. The star claims, “Rather than making Metallica or Slayer wines, we’re making Pink Floyd wines.” 

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