The 6 Strangest Previous Careers of Famous Musicians

With the exception of the Justin Biebers and Michael Jacksons of the world, nobody can boast that "famous musician" was their first job. All of the artists you know worked fast food or mopped floors on the side while their garage band was turning into a real band. But then you have the rock stars who actually had serious careers going before the whole music thing panned out, and some of them are rather mind-blowing. For instance, try to wrap your head around the fact that ...

#6. Gene Simmons Was an Elementary School Teacher

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Quick, name the absolute last thing you'd ever want to see Gene Simmons doing.

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Statistically, about 10 percent of you have parents who slept with this man.

OK, the second last thing you'd want to see him doing. If you said "teach small children," step forward and claim your prize of one slap to the face for thinking way too hard about potential professions for Gene Simmons. Also, that's exactly what Mr. Simmons used to do, before he turned an unnaturally long tongue into rock stardom.

After he'd finished high school, this living cartoon of a man enrolled in college and got himself a degree in education. And unlike his later smarmy persona would imply, he wasn't some comfy-ass private school teacher: Simmons went the whole nine yards and taught sixth grade in a public school in New York's Spanish Harlem. In later interviews, he claimed he was fired for "replacing the works of Shakespeare with Spider-Man comics, which he thought the students were more likely to actually read." Or maybe he was just a crappy teacher.

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To be honest, this really could have used more goblin gliders.

Also, on a completely unrelated note, Simmons wrote the lyrics to a Kiss song called "Christine Sixteen," about a middle-aged man who has the hots for a 16-year-old schoolgirl:

I don't usually say things like this to girls your age
But when I saw you coming out of the school that day
That day I knew, I knew
I've got to have you, I've got to have you
She's been around, but she's young and clean
I've got to have her, can't live without her, whoo no
Christine sixteen, Christine sixteen.

So there's that.

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Definitely who you want near female students about to discover hormones.

Anyway, after teaching, Simmons wasn't done not being a rock star yet. Next he kicked around at a few lady fashion magazines, at one point even landing the job of personal assistant to the editor of Vogue. Wait, Vogue? As in, that Vogue?


He had to get his inspiration from somewhere.

#5. System of a Down's Frontman Owned an Accounting Software Company

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For those of you out of the System of a Down loop, System of a Down is this Grammy winning metalish band that's been around since System of a Down began, which was 1994. And Serj Tankian is their lead singer. This is him:

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Photographed right after an audience member said that show's secret word.

The fun thing about System of a Down is that one, the members are Armenian-American political activists who use their songs to talk about genocide, and two, they sing really fast, kind of like Rage Against the Machine, but more so. Now, knowing how intensely serious and metal this band is, what would be the least metal thing a member of it could do? Ride a unicycle while making armpit farts? Maybe. If that were a career, which it's not, so let's drop it. How about create a company that sold accounting software?

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OK, yeah. Now we're seeing it.

Despite his liberal ideology, devilish pointy beard and rock god status, Tankian is actually a marketing and business graduate from California State University. His business line of choice was software, and before he was strutting around the stage doing this ...

... he was running his very own code monkey company. Their product was something called "proprietary vertical industry modular accounting software," which we're almost sure is a made-up term. But to be fair, Tankian didn't start speaking English until he was 8, so maybe he thought it made sense at the time.

Tankian was happily running his business and probably two steps away from taking up golf, switching to khakis and having talks with Bill Gates when his band suddenly took off. After what had to have been an extremely difficult decision preceded by some truly bizarre "pro or con" conversations with family and friends ("But will the band offer you the same 401(k)?"), it was goodbye accounting software, hello Ozzfest.

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"Mom, stop worrying. Our bass player's going to introduce me to his retirement guy at Wu-Tang Financial."

#4. Jack White Was a Furniture Upholsterer (a Good One)

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Before Jack White became known as the singer/guitarist for the White Stripes, and as the guy who could pass for a goth ghost or pre-dead Michael Jackson on a bad day, he was dead serious about making a career out of building custom sofas for rich people.

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"Really, I'm a fan of any career path that keeps me out of direct sunlight."

And we're not talking about some part-time job he took to pay the bills while he was waiting for a record label to call. White not only went through an upholstery apprenticeship for three years, but also traveled to work under various masters of the craft to further educate himself. And then White became his own master and set up a shop of his own, called Third Man Upholstery.

And he did alright ... until he figured out that he absolutely sucked at the business side of things. He liked building the nice furniture, but wasn't crazy about managing the money part. So instead of making himself sick trying to keep his business afloat, he wrote poetry inside his cushions and stopped giving a fuck.

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Which really helped him blend in with the rest of Detroit.

But here's the kind of cool part: White's then-band (known as, naturally, the Upholsterers) made a recording of which only 100 vinyls were ever pressed. Then they supposedly hid them in the furniture, and none have ever been found. So if you happen to live in the Detroit area and own some antique furniture that was at some point fixed by a pale lanky dude, it might well have an extremely well-hidden valuable rarity somewhere inside the cushions. Happy hunting!

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