The 7 Most WTF Post-Fame Careers of Famous Musicians

Rock stardom is fickle. One day you're riding the Billboard charts and a nonstop flotilla of groupies, the next you're filling in for the animatronic dog guitarist at your neighborhood Chuck E. Cheese's and asking out one of the nine Estonian spambots who follow you on Twitter.

So if you're about to sign a record contract, take a cue from these seven artists. All have played before thousands-strong audiences, and all have followed up their fame with successful (if totally random-ass) careers.

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7
Vanilla Ice Is Getting Rich Renovating Houses

The 7 Most WTF Post-Fame Careers of Famous MusiciansMark Davis / Getty

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Vanilla Ice has made a career for himself not sampling "Under Pressure" by Queen and David Bowie, becoming an honorary member of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and starring in Cool as Ice, a movie widely regarded by many to star Vanilla Ice.

The 7 Most WTF Post-Fame Careers of Famous Musicians
It was the brave story of one colorblind man's quest to buy a respectable pair of pants.

Every leap year or so, Vanilla Ice pops up again with yet another comeback -- he tried out rap-rock when rap-rock was something adults listened to and has rebranded himself as a Juggalo -- but honestly, the guy hasn't had either an album or a single chart since 1991. How's the man born Robert Van Winkle been paying the bills?

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After the Spotlight

Ice has been "flipping" houses. Meaning he buys undervalued real estate, goes in with a crew that restores the houses, then sells them for twice the price. And he's good at it. He's even written a book on the subject. Here's a whole interview he did about it in the New York Times. When a mansion foreclosed in Palm Beach, Ice swept in and bought it for $400,000. Then he renovated it -- and again, we're talking about Vanilla Ice renovating a house here -- and sold that shit for $875,000. Ice snapped up another foreclosure for $500,000, and after he got done with it, it drew offers of $2.3 million. Did we mention he's been doing this for 15 years?

The 7 Most WTF Post-Fame Careers of Famous MusiciansMark Davis / Getty
"Drop that zero house, and get with a hero house!" -Probably not what he says

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How in the fuck did Vanilla Ice get into this business? His own idiocy -- back in the day, he dumped a bunch of his "Ice, Ice Baby" money into a buttload of houses that he barely lived in. As time passed and common sense prevailed (and the Vanilla Ice bandwagon flew off the cliff and exploded), he started dumping the properties. Only he found that by fixing them up first, he could make half a million dollars a shot. He took a bunch of courses in real estate and parlayed the "LOL VANILLA ICE IS HANGING DRYWALL IN MY HOUSE!!!" factor into free promotion.

He even has a reality show on the DIY Network, a channel for home repair and design enthusiasts. Oh, he still looks, dresses, and talks exactly like Vanilla Ice, by the way.

The 7 Most WTF Post-Fame Careers of Famous MusiciansVanilla Ice Real Estate
Stick with what works, we always say.

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6
Terminator X, the DJ for Public Enemy, Became an Ostrich Farmer

The 7 Most WTF Post-Fame Careers of Famous MusiciansAl Pereira / Michael Ochs Archives / Getty

The Golden Age of Hip-Hop (approximately the 1980s to early 1990s) was a heady, anything-goes time. Groups like Run-D.M.C. were popularizing hip-hop the world over, the Beastie Boys were regaling audiences with giant inflatable dongs, and a pre-N.W.A Dr. Dre spent his days wearing a senior citizen's pajamas.

The 7 Most WTF Post-Fame Careers of Famous Musicians
It was the '90s. Dignity hadn't been invented yet.

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But then you had the politically charged Public Enemy. Along with blistering raps by Chuck D (one of the greatest MCs of all time) and the onstage antics of Flavor Flav (who had yet to go insane starring in VH1 reality shows), you had the backing of DJ Terminator X (aka Norman Rogers), who helped pioneer Public Enemy's sound.

The 7 Most WTF Post-Fame Careers of Famous MusiciansMTV
He was also a pioneer of large sunglasses.

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In 1994, Terminator X was in a serious motorcycle accident that pushed him toward a new vocation. So, what's the logical next step after being in one of the most important rap groups in the history of music?

After the Spotlight

You obviously become an ostrich farmer.

The 7 Most WTF Post-Fame Careers of Famous MusiciansVibe
Because emu farming would just be absurd.

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Yup, Terminator X retired from Public Enemy in 1999 to tend to African ostriches on a 15-acre farm in North Carolina. Sure, his new career has raised a few eyebrows in the hip-hop community, but declaring "I made Fear of a Black Planet and It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, now I'm going to raise giant birds" is easily one of the most magical mic drops in rap history.

Also, it's a far more graceful retirement strategy than Flavor of Love, Flavor Flav's reality dating show that reached its artistic zenith when a grown woman randomly took a dump in the middle of a crowded atrium.

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5
Dan Spitz, the Guitarist from Anthrax, Is a Master Watchmaker

The 7 Most WTF Post-Fame Careers of Famous MusiciansDavid Pomponio / FilmMagic / Getty

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Speaking of Public Enemy, one of their most famous collaborations was with Anthrax, one of the "Big Four" thrash metal bands of the 1980s (the other three being Metallica, Megadeth, and Slayer). Throughout their career, Anthrax sold 15 million albums, accrued an army of loyal fans across the globe, and even found the time to inexplicably cameo in the 2003 British comedy Calendar Girls.

The 7 Most WTF Post-Fame Careers of Famous Musicians
"This is exactly the sort of thing relevant musicians do."

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But in 1995, shredding furiously just wasn't doing it anymore for Anthrax guitarist Dan Spitz. Nope, Spitz needed something new to pique his interest. Was this new endeavor a metric ton of cocaine shaped like Mount Rushmore, with a gaggle of naked gymnasts forming Teddy Roosevelt's head?

After the Spotlight

Of course not. Spitz became a master watchmaker.

The 7 Most WTF Post-Fame Careers of Famous MusiciansComstock/Comstock/Getty Images
The "lead guitar" of the time-keeping world.

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In fact, Spitz grew so bored with punishing riffs that he reportedly gave away all his guitars to the Hard Rock Cafe. Upon quitting the band, he remembered his second love: slow, tedious tinkering with tiny, precision-fitted clockwork gears under a magnifying glass. For hours and hours, working in cold, lonely silence. That's basically the same thing as playing metal guitar in stadiums, right? So, he decided to pursue a career in watchmaking, which makes sense, as, uh, Anthrax once sang a song about time?

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OK, so it was an entirely left-field career choice, but at least Spitz was good at his new job. Upon leaving metal, Spitz attended the WOSTEP School of Watchmaking in Neuchatel, Switzerland, and became an expert in crafting exquisitely intricate timepieces in an era when most people have clocks on their phones.

The 7 Most WTF Post-Fame Careers of Famous MusiciansPaul Hawthorne / Getty
"Wait, what?"

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After many years in the luxury chronometer game, Spitz has returned to music, but only after an impassioned phone call from Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine, who himself became a black belt in taekwondo during his off hours.

The 7 Most WTF Post-Fame Careers of Famous MusiciansWorld Taekwondo Federation
Making Megadeth the second worst band to mug. (Elton John regularly packs an Uzi.)

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4
Stooges Guitarist James Williamson Became a VP at Sony

The 7 Most WTF Post-Fame Careers of Famous MusiciansSteve Jennings / WireImage / Getty

In the late 1960s, crooner/scarecrow made out of beef jerky Iggy Pop rose to fame with the Stooges. This band out of Ann Arbor, Michigan, thrilled audiences with their pioneering proto-punk sound and Iggy's unhinged dance routines, which involved rolling around in broken glass, exposing his junk, and smearing hamburger meat and peanut butter all over his writhing body.

The 7 Most WTF Post-Fame Careers of Famous MusiciansYouTube
We've all been there.

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After years of commercial failure, the Stooges broke up in 1974, following an infamous concert in Detroit where hecklers threw bottles, shovels, light bulbs, eggs, and firecrackers at the band. Where does one go after years of being splattered with Iggy Pop's blood and jock sweat?

After the Spotlight

Well, you could become the vice president of technology standards at Sony.

The 7 Most WTF Post-Fame Careers of Famous MusiciansSamir Hussein / Richard McCaffrey / Getty
Does the open vest come with the beer belly?

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Yeah, this is about as inspirational as career reinventions get. Don't think you can pursue your dreams as a writer just because you've spent your whole life as a pipefitter? Well, this guy had nothing but commercially failed punk rock on his resume, but James Williamson decided to drop that so he could help build the future of goddamned technology instead. He went to college, then got a job designing computer chips. And no, he didn't even have Vanilla Ice's "Hey, let's hire this weirdo, it'll be hilarious" factor -- most of his co-workers were completely unaware of his punk past. Purely on his own talents, Williamson managed to rise through Sony's corporate ranks, eventually becoming the VP of technology standards in 1997.

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In fact, Williamson kept his former life as a rock star hidden from his various colleagues for over 30 years, avoiding interviews and keeping a low profile in Silicon Valley. All this changed in 2009, after he retired from Sony and joined the reassembled Stooges at the ripe age of 60, having to relearn the guitar/how to lure Iggy Pop off the garage roof when he gets himself trapped up there.

The 7 Most WTF Post-Fame Careers of Famous MusiciansClassic Rock Magazine / Getty
"A five-gallon bucket of assorted pills usually does the trick."

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3
The Lead Guitarist of Ween Became a Fishing Boat Captain

The 7 Most WTF Post-Fame Careers of Famous MusiciansSteve Jennings / WireImage / Getty

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In the early 1990s, the alternative duo Ween rose to fame after their helium-voiced single, "Push Th' Little Daisies," baffled the shit out of Beavis and Butthead.

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Since then, Ween -- which consisted of Gene Ween (Aaron Freeman) and Dean Ween (Mickey Melchiondo) -- became the very definition of a cult act, attracting thousands of fans while charting virtually no Billboard hits.

The 7 Most WTF Post-Fame Careers of Famous Musicians
Chalk it up to savvy underboob marketing.

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Until 2012, that is, when Gene announced that the band was breaking up in an interview with Rolling Stone, leaving a confused Dean to respond "This is news to me" on Facebook.

After the Spotlight

But Dean's life wasn't exactly left in a lurch, as he happens to be a deep sea fisherman when he's not playing songs about mollusks and dead ponies.

The 7 Most WTF Post-Fame Careers of Famous MusiciansChris McKay / WireImage / Getty
Something tells us his guitar face is the same as his pooping face.

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To be fair, Dean Ween's been fishing since he was 7. When the band was still together, he would schedule his fishing expeditions around Ween's annual touring schedule. Nowadays, he's a full-fledged fishing boat captain who books tours through his website. Hilariously enough, his site offers basically no evidence of his musical past, save a few snapshots of Primus singer Les Claypool stopping by to say hello.

The 7 Most WTF Post-Fame Careers of Famous MusiciansMickey's Fishing
And this picture of him enjoying the sea with partner Gene Ween.

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2
David Lee Roth Secretly Worked as an EMT

The 7 Most WTF Post-Fame Careers of Famous MusiciansMichael Ochs Archives / Getty

David Lee Roth was the lead singer of the only worthwhile incarnation of Van Halen, a fashion icon who pushed spandex to the limits, and easily the greatest scat musician ever to grace the planet. Before grunge music made it unacceptable to act like a one-man keg party, Diamond Dave was the feather-haired avatar of debauched good times.

The 7 Most WTF Post-Fame Careers of Famous MusiciansChelsea Lauren / WireImage / Getty
And he could lay down a mic-stand beating like nobody's business.

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After the Spotlight

Between leaving Van Halen in 1985 and reuniting with the band in 2006, Roth found inner peace working as an emergency medical technician in New York City. Yes, that David Lee Roth -- who sang "I reach down between my legs 'n' ease the seat back" and spent most of the 1980s doing airborne splits -- rode with ambulance crews in the dead of night, racking up 200 individual rides and becoming handy with a defibrillator. Apparently Roth took this gig quite seriously -- despite his reputation as a good-time letch, Roth's supervisors gave him top marks.

The 7 Most WTF Post-Fame Careers of Famous MusiciansChris Walter / WireImage / Getty
His abs alone saved dozens of lives.

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And to prevent himself from being recognized and coming across as a glory hound, Roth shaved his sexy mane, although we kind of wish he had gone dressed up in his stretch pants circa 1984. Elderly folks would have constantly been mistaking him for a very flamboyant angel of death.

1
Guitarist Jeff "Skunk" Baxter Became a Missile Defense Expert

The 7 Most WTF Post-Fame Careers of Famous MusiciansEd Perlstein / Redferns / Getty

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You know when your dad says he needs his "philosophy time," locks himself in the garage, blasts his old eight tracks, and emerges an hour later, tittering and referring to the dog as "my son with four legs"? Well, there's a good chance he was listening to either Steely Dan or the Doobie Brothers, two bands that hit their stride in the 1970s and benefited from the guitar work of noodler Jeff "Skunk" Baxter.

The 7 Most WTF Post-Fame Careers of Famous MusiciansDavid Warner Ellis / Redferns / Getty
Seen here being the classiest man in rock 'n' roll.

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After the Spotlight

Even though he rose to fame as a favorite of secretly stoned dads everywhere, Skunk's main gig these days is as a missile defense consultant for the Pentagon.

The 7 Most WTF Post-Fame Careers of Famous MusiciansR. Diamond / WireImage / Getty
"For the first three years, I was just talking about my wang."

Baxter's interest in military technology began in the 1980s, when his neighbor bought him a subscription to an aviation magazine. This casual interest led to a full-time hobby, which eventually led to placement on a congressional panel for missile defense. Over the years, Skunk became known around Washington for devising creative new counterterrorism strategies, a skill that's made the former Doobie Brothers guitarist one of the Pentagon's leading experts.

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So if civilization ever needs to form the Musician Avengers, Skunk would qualify as our Nick Fury stand-in, recruiting black belt Dave Mustaine, Iron Maiden lead singer/noted fencer Bruce Dickinson, and that guy who punched out Danzig.



For more bizarre post-fame careers, check out The 7 Most WTF Post-Fame Celebrity Careers. Or learn about 5 Great Careers Destroyed By The Post-Oscar Curse.

If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out The 5 Most Irresponsibly Badass Live Rock Shows Of All Time.

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