A wise music industry person once told me that the average lifespan of a band is about seven years. You form, get better, get big, peak, enter a decline, and then break up. You burn through all your youthful angst and energy, grow older, gain new perspectives, find yourself with new responsibilities and interests, and move on with your life.
But what’s next? Some, hoping for a second chance, try to plow ahead. Others, though, realized that the gig is up and it was time to find something new. Here are a few examples of musicians transitioning to civilian life.
Open a Gas Station
Ivan Moody is still the frontman for Las Vegas’ Five Finger Death Punch, but he’s already laying the groundwork for what’s coming next. He’s something of a serial entrepreneur having already founded a CBD company called Moody’s Medicinals. Moody has moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming, to open a gas station called Moody’s Rock Stop. He’s also behind Ciarra Corral, an outpatient facility that provides help for people with addiction and mental health issues. Both will have their grand opening on July 15.
Study to Become a Chiropractor
Terry Chimes was recruited by The Clash when originally drummer Topper Headon couldn’t continue (he could have used a place like Ciarra Corral). He also had gigs with Generation X, Hanoi Rocks, and Black Sabbath. In 2003, he made it into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Clash. Outside of music, he was greatly involved in the British branch of the Boy Scouts while running his chiropractic practice in Essex. Got a crick in your neck? Dr. Chimes can help.
Learn to be a Watchmaker
Dan Spitz thrashed all over Anthrax records for a couple of decades before moving on to horology. He has Swiss and American degrees in watchmaking and is now a certified instructor for Chopard, one of Switzerland’s most famous luxury timepiece brands. Spitz is considered to be one of the foremost horologists in the world. If you want to follow up, there’s a documentary on Spitz’s work called Great Big Story.
Achieve expertise in Ornithology
In the late 1970s and early ’80s, Robert Dean was a member of Japan, one of the more interesting groups to come out of the immediate aftermath of British punk. When that gig ended, he played with ABC and Gary Numan before decamping to Costa Rica where he indulged in his love of wildlife. He began watching birds and then painting them. He’s now considered to be an expert in South American birdlife.
Become an Acclaimed Painter
During the drug-addled days of Britpop, Elastica’s Justin Frischmann was one-half of a power music couple with Blur’s Damon Albarn. When that relationship, the band, and the scene fell apart, she stuck with music for a while, hosted a series on architecture for the BBC (she once thought about following her father into that field) before throwing herself into visual arts. She’s now considered to be a world-class painter.
Practice as a Doula
Need someone to help you give birth? Neo-soul singer Erykah Badu qualified as a doula in 2011 — she goes by the name “Badoula” for that gig — and has help bring nearly 50 babies into the world.
Richard Coles first got into music as a choirboy before moving onto theatre and then the gay-positive band Bronski Beat. When singer Jimmy Somerville left, Coles joined him in The Communards as a keyboardist. That lead to work as an actor, a writer, and a radio host while still being heavily involved in studying theology. He was ordained as a priest in the Anglican Church in 2005 and served as a vicar until his retirement in 2022.
Grow Giant Pumpkins
Jim Martin was the guitarist on Faith No More’s biggest records through the 1980s and ’90s before unexpectedly leaving the band after 1992’s Angel Dust album. Although he’s dabbled in other bands and acting (you can spot him in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey), his real passion is growing giant pumpkins at his home in the Castro Valley of California. He discovered a package of pumpkin seeds in his local hardware store and started a gardening experiment. Some of his gourds tipped the scales at over 1,000 pounds.
Become a Ballistic Missile Specialist
If you go back to the early days of Steely Dan, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter was the go-to guy for Walter Becker and Donald Fagen’s songs as well as contributing to the Doobie Brothers. The rock star life was fine, but Baxter’s real passion was gaming out nuclear wars. He became a consultant and ballistic missile defence specialist for the U.S. military. How does someone make that kind of career change? Turns out his neighbour was a retired engineer who worked on Sidewinder missiles. They got to talking and Baxter threw himself into the subject. He authored a paper on how the U.S. Navy could turn its Aegis missile into a defence system, and handed it to his Republican congressman, who passed it up the chain. Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars Initiative? Baxter was part of that.
Alan Cross is a broadcaster and podcaster with Q107 and 102.1 the Edge and a commentator for Global News.
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