From Iron Maiden to David Bowie: The strange hidden talents of your favourite rock stars
The adrenaline that comes from playing to tens of thousands of people every night sees some rock stars turn to drink or drugs as a way of trying to replicate that high. Other stars, take for instance the likes of Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson and the late David Bowie, managed to get their kicks from other more wholesome ways than the classic rock ‘n’ roll cliches.
Here, we are going to take a look at a selection of rock icons hidden passions that have managed to keep them on the straight and narrow, which are a far cry from the sort of hedonistic hobbies that you would expect from some of the biggest stars on the planet.
With a job as wild as being a rockstar, it should come as no surprise that these hobbies aren’t the most normal extracurricular activities on the planet but yet again these are artists who operate outside of the realms of normality, which means nothing is off limits.
See the list, below.
Roger Daltrey from The Who
The Who frontman Roger Daltrey’s luxurious rural estate has grown from 35 acres to over 400 acres under his stewardship since 1971 and he would often invite friends to go trout fishing on his land but, in a change of heart, decided over thirty years ago to open it up to the public.
Daltrey felt it was selfish to have this trout farm just for himself so, in 1981, he decided to open Lakeland Trout Fishery and has never looked back since. Speaking to Surrey Life in 2018 about the fishery, he said that he has “met lots of people who are more interested in fish than rock star Roger“.
Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson
Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden is a fully qualified pilot and even flew the band around the world for their tour in 2015. Dickinson learned to fly recreationally in Florida in the 1990s and now holds an airline transport pilot’s licence. He regularly flew Boeing 757s in his role as captain for the now-defunct UK charter airline Astraeus which, from 16 September 2010, employed him as marketing director.
“The satisfaction flying aeroplanes is getting the job done, but the satisfaction with playing live is external, looking out at all the people looking at you,” he said.
“With an airliner, it’s all internal. If you’ve got passengers, nobody goes, ‘Wow! Wasn’t that great?’ They’re thinking about the rest of their day. Your job as an airline pilot is to deliver them safely and be invisible. That’s quite nice for me because it’s completely the opposite to what I do when I sing,” he told WalesOnline in 2019.
Eric Clapton has been fishing his entire life but, more specifically, he didn’t get into fly fishing until he was an internationally adored rock star. After exploring the finer details of the hobby, he even began to plan tour dates around famous rivers he wanted to fish.
“That first summer after I got sober was just amazing. One of my best fishing seasons ever. It was like I was on fire. My senses just tuned in. I’d gotten to the point that I couldn’t fish at all,” Clapton said to Gink & Gas about his love for fly-fishing. “I’d given up on dry flies completely.”
He added: “If I fished at all I was just dredging with nymphs. More often I’d just be on the nod, with my rig in a knot, by the best run on the river while my mates were out there killing it. That all changed after I got clean. I really learned to present a fly after that. It wasn’t long before I started Spey casting and then it really took off. I could never have done that high.”
The late David Bowie was apparently a huge fan of chess and there are photos of him playing the psychological sport with the likes of his co-star Catherine Deneuve from the 1982 film, The Hunger.
Bowie never talked about his love of the sport but the idea of him getting stuck into a game of psychological warfare and unleashing one of his many personas on his opponent.
You will be hard-pressed to find a bigger model train obsessive than Rod Stewart and he finally unveiled it last year after building it up for a whopping 26 years. The former Faces frontman’s model layout is called Grand Street and Three Rivers City and is based on an American city in the 1940s and spans an incredible 1,500 square ft.
The heavily industrialised city he built was inspired by his love of American railroads and includes skyscrapers that some of which are over 5ft tall. Sir Rod told the Railway Modeller magazine that he doesn’t “like to see flat backdrops, they spoil the illusion, so I went for more buildings and streets than tracks.”
He added: “It’s the landscape I like. Attention to detail, extreme detail, is paramount. There shouldn’t be any unsightly gaps, or pavements that are too clean.”
The last place you’d expect to find Alice Cooper is the golf course, which is probably exactly why he enjoys spending as much time as possible there. He apparently plays at a 5.3 handicap and believes the sport is the reason why he’s still beating today.
“I know a lot of guys are quitting [music], but a lot of guys still smoke and drink. They’re probably tired,” Cooper observed in 2018. “I’m not tired. People always say, ‘Well, you could just play golf every day,’ and I say, ‘I play golf every day anyway!’”
His passion for the sport even led to the publication of Golf Monster: A Rock ‘n’ Roller’s 12 Steps to Becoming a Golf Addict in 2007.
The Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood is somewhat of a collector like his old bandmate in the Faces except, in a change of pace. he is a prominent stamp collector rather than creating his own model city. Stamp collecting proved a way for Wood to find a way of entertaining himself that didn’t involve drink or drugs and fell into it after leaving rehab in the 2000s.
“He is fascinated by it. Since he’s out of rehab and trying to stay on the straight and narrow he has to find things to occupy his brain. He gets assistants to go to specialist shops trying to buy the best stamps. He’s very proud of his collection,” it has been reported about Wood’s love for the hobby that help keeps him clean.
Former White Stripes man Jack White has a rather unusual collection of items which is taxidermy. He even reportedly keeps a zebra head on the wall in his house, which allegedly resembles a museum for than it does a home.
“Yeah. I think there’s a beauty to it, like you really are aware that they were here before you, or they’re always here whether you see them or not.” He’s never hunted, and doesn’t think he could,” White told RNZ in 2018.
“I just love beautiful things,” he added, “I’ve a lust for life through objects and through the history of man’s objects. Especially through the 19th and 20th century. I think when commerce meets art, and art meets the industrial age, the things that we create to sell to other human beings is so funny. I just love it.”