It’s officially The Boss Day here at RB HQ. Why? It’s Bruce Springsteen’s birthday AND we officially release Lullaby Renditions of Bruce Springsteen today!
To celebrate the 1949 and 2014 arrivals of The Boss, here are a few tidbits about his life before he became one of America’s most treasured rockers.
Bruce’s first guitar cost under $20. After realizing her son’s interest in music, Springsteen’s mother Adele went out and bought the 13-year-old an $18 guitar. She later took out a loan to purchase him a $60 Kent for his 16th birthday. What a mom, right?!
The first song Bruce learned to play on the guitar was The Beatles’ cover of “Twist and Shout.” Elvis had a huge influence on Bruce’s decision to become a musician, but after seeing The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, he found the courage to play for audiences.
Catholic school (and school in general) was not for Bruce. A bit of a recluse, Bruce never quite fit in, and often rebelled again the strict rules of his Catholic school. He even skipped his own high school graduation ceremony.
At 18, Springsteen was drafted for military service in Vietnam. On his way to his physical, he thought to himself “I ain’t goin.’” Sure enough, due to his behavior and recent concussion after a motorcycle accident, he was classified as “unfit for military service.”
So where does his nickname “The Boss” come from? When he and his band played local clubs in the 1960s, Springsteen took it upon himself to collect their nightly earnings and distribute the money among the members. Thus, “The Boss” was born —and stuck!
Curious what The White Stripes were like before they were rock stars? Megan White grew up the younger of two children in Grosse Point Woods, Michigan, and was remembered by high school classmates as a quiet, artsy type.
While John Anthony Gillis (Jack White), who also was from the Detroit area, was the youngest of 10 children. He was raised in a Catholic household, served as an altar boy and, apparently, at one point during his early teens, considered becoming a priest. But music obviously was his true calling. He actually started playing drums in the first grade and went on to also learn the guitar and piano. Before even starting high school, Jack was a one-kid band, recording his own songs.
Young Meg, on the other hand, didn’t befriend a drum set until she was in her twenties. And guess who brought them together? Her then husband, Jack. She’s been quoted as saying that when she started playing drums with him in those early days “it was childlike.” Turned out that childlike style combined with Jack’s was just the sound the world wanted to hear.
So let this “before they were rock stars” story be an inspiration to us all: You’re never too young, or too old to start rocking. And if you don’t have an instrument, we have a few DIY instruments to make some noise with.
Elvis Aaron Presley was born on January 8, 1935 in East Tupelo, Mississippi, the only son of Gladys and Vernon Presley. His twin, Jesse Garon, was stillborn. It was in the middle of the great depression and times were hard. Gladys worked at a garment factory and Vernon performed odd jobs. Vernon built a home on Old Saltillo Road for the new family. When he was eight, Elvis sometimes sang on a local radio broadcast called Saturday Jamboree that let the audience participate. At age ten his school teacher entered him in a children’s talent contest at the state fair where he sang “Old Shep” and later got a spanking from Gladys for going on a carnival ride. Gladys gave him his first guitar for his eleventh birthday. He wanted a rifle. Elvis occasionally performed for his classmates throughout junior high, but when his idol Mississippi Slim invited him to perform on his show, Elvis apparently had acute stage fright. He eventually got over it and the rest is history. Here are some remarkable images of The King as a wee prince.
Elvis with his parents, 1938
A very young Elvis Presley, 1939
Elvis, Age 6, 1942
With His Parents in 1943
Elvis and Gladys Presley
Elvis in the 7th Grade, Milam Junior High
In honor of Lullaby Renditions of Elvis Presley, out yesterday, it’s Elvis week on the blog. Stop by each day for fun stuff including a free Rockabye Baby Elvis coloring page, activities, and more!
Can’t get enough baby Elvis? Listen to an exclusive full-length sneak peek of “Love Me Tender” (lullaby style) here.
Oh, and by the way, we’re giving away five Lullaby Renditions of Black Sabbath CDs! Enter here.
Ex-Black Sabbath frontman and prominent foul-mouthed madman Ozzy Osbourne recently decided to dedicate his body to science when he dies because, in his words, “It’s amazing I’m still alive.” Before the dark prince bit the heads off doves, bats, and whatever else he could get his hands on, the man was known as John Michael Osbourne.
Ozzy received his nickname in primary school and refused to go by John for the rest of his days. He suffered some learning problems early on, which he claimed were based on dyslexia, and often said that he was molested by older classmates. He attended Prince Albert Road Junior School and Birchfield Road Secondary Modern School during this time period. He would meet Tony Iommi at Birchfield, and would many years later go on to put together Black Sabbath with the future guitarist.
Ozzy always loved music, however, and starred in many school plays. At 14, he became obsessed with the Beatles, which would lead him to leave school at 15 to break out on his own. He was quoted as saying, “”When I left school I wanted to become a plumber. When I heard the Beatles I wanted to become a Beatle.”
He’d take on many odd jobs, such as construction site laborer, apprentice toolmaker, car factory worker trainee plumber, and slaughterhouse worker. He also spent six weeks in jail after not being able to pay a fine for a burglary charge at a local clothing store. Later he would be back again for punching a cop in the face. It was in Winson Green Prison where he tattooed the now famous letters O-Z-Z-Y across his left knuckles, which he did with a sewing needle and graphite.
Soon, after playing in various bands that would go nowhere, Ozzy found success with Iommi by forming Black Sabbath. The rest, as they say, is history.
Did you know that the Nine Inch Nails front man who wrote songs such as “Bite the Hand That Feeds” and “The Perfect Drug” was originally in a high school marching band? Yes, Trent Reznor, born Michael Trent Reznor had an interesting past before making the move to wearing mostly black and getting insanely jacked arms.
Reznor, who used his middle name because his father shared the same name, grew up in a Lutheran household in Mercer, PA until his parents divorced and he went to live with his grandparents. His grandmother pushed him into taking classical piano at age 5 and he showed a great interest in music.
When he hit high school, KISS and David Bowie became his main interests, though he’d go on to join his high school’s marching band and concert band. He played tuba and tenor saxophone. He also showed promise in theater, even having his classmates vote him “Best in Drama” after his roles as Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar and the lead in The Music Man. Yes, Trent Reznor was the lead, singing “Seventy Six Trombones” in a school play.
Later, Reznor would head to Allegheny College and join a band called Option 30. Though he’d lose interest in the band quickly and leave college after a year to head to Cleveland. There he joined a band called The Urge and later another called The Exotic Birds.
Still trying to find his sound, Reznor played keys for Lucky Pierre, The Innocent, and Slam Bamboo before landing a job at Right Track Studios as a janitor. During off hours, the owner would allow Reznor to record some demos, which would later gain the attention of several labels and the rest is history.
Classic rock radio staples Pink Floyd have driven more than one young man to a life of collecting black light posters or playing “Wish You Were Here” for spare change, but few were probably aware that the soulful guitar impresario, David Gilmour, did a bit of busking himself before joining the band. Students of The Wall might also be surprised to know that Gilmour was an excellent student.
Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour started out going to school up the street from his future band mates, Roger Waters and Sid Barrett, at a place called the Perse School in Cambridge. Waters and Barrett attended a rival school, the Cambridgeshire High School for Boys. Gilmour spent most of his time studying modern languages to A-Level (which is British for nerd), and like the man he’d eventually replace, Barrett, he also spent his lunchtime learning to play the guitar. Wish I went to a school that had allowed us to take our recess with a guitar.
Gilmour eventually started playing in the band Joker’s Wild in 1962 until 1966 when he decided to busk around Spain and France with some friends, though he found little success. In a July 1992 interview, Gilmour stated that he actually ended up being treated for malnutrition in a hospital because of how badly remunerated his music was then. After bumming around a bit more, in 1967 Gilmour returned to England driving a van with fuel that had been stolen from a building site in France. This adventure kind of sounds like the British version of Road Trip, or something from an episode of Benny Hill, at least.
It wasn’t until December of 1967 that Nick Mason, Pink Floyd’s drummer, approached Gilmour about joining the band to make it a five piece. This was of course before Barrett would go mad and be replaced by Gilmour. But we all saw that one coming after hearing his song “Bike” for the first time. Want to hear more baby Floyd? Check out Lullaby Renditions of Pink Floyd!
Okay, this post from 11Points.com is a must see. Yearbook photos from Avril Lavigne, Gene Simmons, Steven Tyler, Jim Morrison, Prince, Tina Turner, Eminem, Marilyn Manson and more– all proving it’s a long way to the top if you want to rock & roll. Read the rest here.
In honor of our new arrival, Rockabye Baby! Lullaby Renditions of Aerosmith, which came out yesterday, we prepared a new Before They Were Rock Stars quiz for all you rock lullaby trivia masters. This one focuses on The Bad Boys from Boston, when they were literally boys. Leave your answers in the comments and next week we’ll let you know if you were right!
TRUE or FALSE? Leave your answers in the comments:
Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler was born Stephen Victor Tallarico in Boston, Mass.
He got his nickname “Demon Of Screamin'” because he cried so loud when he was a baby.
In his teens, Steven held a job in a bakery.
Guitarist Joe Perry and Steven Tyler met at an ice cream parlor where young Joe was working.
Before Aerosmith, Joe Perry was in a band with Aerosmith bassist Tom Hamilton called The Peanut Butter and Jam Band.
Drummer Joey Kramer joined Aerosmith while he was still a teenager.
Before he joined Aerosmith, guitarist Brad Whitford was in a band called Justin Thyme.
P.S. Listen to a sneak peek of our lullaby rendition of Dream Onhere. Did we mention that Steven Tyler wrote the liner notes for our album? Oh, maybe only a few million times? Sorry, but you’d be braggin’ too if the Demon of Screamin’ was singing your praises!
P.P.S. Try our Dream On Green Beans, a healthy baby food recipe created exclusively for Rockabye Baby! by excutive chef Jeff Parker.