It’s almost been 20 years since School of Rock hit theatres, delighting audiences of all ages who were willing to find comedy in the story of an adult stranger defrauding a school and routinely abducting minors. Recently, star Jack Black claimed that the film was the “highlight” of his career – presumably because he momentarily forgot about that X-Files episode where he got electro-zapped by Giovanni Ribisi in an arcade parking lot to the sounds of Filter. 

While it didn’t come up in the interview, one weird detail not everybody remembers about the classic family comedy is that there was already a real-life “School of Rock” in Philadelphia that preceded the film, where kids could learn Jethro Tull riffs instead of, say, math and all that other useless crap.  

Founder Paul Green didn’t commit identity theft and a laundry list of other crimes, like in the movie, but there are still similarities; he was, not unlike Black’s character, a “chubby thirtysomething” rocker aging out of the scene. Green started teaching guitar lessons to pay the bills, and “on a whim” brought some students along to band practice and “invited them to jam along.” Before long, he was educating kids about Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin in his own “school” next to a parking lot and across from a Scientology building. Which pretty much sounds like the ending of School of Rock, minus the Scientology.

And while in School of Rock, the kids climatically play the local Battle of the Bands, which for some reason is taking place in the middle of a weekday to an inexplicably packed house –

Paul Green’s School of Rock ended each semester with a gig in front of an actual “paying audience.”

Back in 2004, Green’s students pointed out the similarities between their teacher’s story and the movie; one student claimed that “Jack Black looks a lot like Paul,” while another believed that the movie “ripped us off.” Green said at the time that he “considered suing” but decided not to because the movie was ultimately good for business. Jack Black acknowledged that he’d “heard about this guy,” but “the film’s not based on him,” adding: “If he wants to sue, go ahead. Good luck.” Screenwriter Mike White claimed that he had “never heard of Paul Green before” which Green said he found “fishy.” Green was later the subject of the documentary Rock School and is now attending law school – while his fictional counterpart would likely still be rotting in jail. 

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Top Image: Paramount Pictures

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