10 Rock Legends That Were Athletes
The Rolling Stones live in 1964 - British Pathé / Youtube
Since we are so engrossed with rockstars and their equally rock and roll lives they live on and off stage, it is quite peculiar to find out that they once had a career that was totally different from what they are now known for. In this case, some of your favorite rockers were actually athletes before donning the musical mantle and forging careers out of such. Here are some rock legends that were once involved in sports, not to mention, excelled as well.
Cream’s neurotic Ginger Baker wanted to become a pro in cycling in his younger years and raced a ton of laps as a result. However, things turned around (for the better) when he revealed in a 2013 interview with the Calgary Herald that: “One day I had a smashup and the bike was a write-off. I had to earn some money, and this mate of mine said, ‘Why don’t you play drums?’ It’s funny – they all knew I was a drummer, and I didn’t.”
Before becoming Iron Maiden’s vocal powerhouse, Bruce Dickinson was first involved with fencing. He was a representative for his school at the age of 13, moved up to be team captain, and went on to become the No. 7th fencer in all of Britain. Unlike others, Dickinson didn’t abandon the sport even when he got successful in music. “For me, fencing is training. I fence because I enjoy it and the by-product is that I end up getting in reasonably good shape. Actually, fencing is very similar to the way I run around onstage. Or maybe I run around onstage like that because I fence. Either way, it works for me,” he shared with Aftenposten in 2013.
The ever-charismatic Bob Seger was a cross-country runner in his high school years, which probably explains his amazing lungs for singing. “I was a long-distance runner in high school and I think that’s where I get my tenacity,” he said to CBS This Morning on what inspired his song, “Like A Rock”.
Brian Wilson/Al Jardine
Beach Boys bandmates Brian Wilson and Al Jardine were teammates on Hawthorne High School, Southern California’s football team. Wilson played quarterback while Jardine was a fullback, but the former didn’t like it when he was told he’d be benched on his senior year. According to his childhood friends, “He could throw the ball a long ways, probably farther than anyone else, but Brian was flaky on the field and couldn’t hit the target he was throwing at.”
Crazy Horse and E Street Band veteran Nils Lofgren was a competitive gymnast in his high school years, which he never really left behind even when he became a musician. Lofgren is known for his somersaults and stunts on shows with Bruce Springsteen, showcasing his skills regularly.
Mick Jagger’s father was the PE teacher and basketball coach at Dartford Grammar School, so it was no surprise that the Stones frontman was athletic as well. “He was excellent at basketball and cricket, but he didn’t want to be tied down to all of the practice,” said his father Joe in a Rolling Stone interview.
The lyrical genius of Pink Floyd was once Cambridge High School’s fly-half for its rugby team, in which he was teammates with Geoff Mott, who led the local rock band Geoff Mott and the Mottoes. He was recruited by Mott to play bass for the band and met Syd Barrett who was also part of it. The two became members of Pink Floyd later on.
Rod Stewart was once enthralled with the thoughts of going pro in soccer, which reflected on his performance as the captain of his high school team. At the encouragement of his father, who was also an amateur player and coach, Stewart tried out for the local pro club, Brentford FC, where it was successful but he wasn’t signed to a contract. Instead, he went to music, saying in his 2012 autobiography: “A musician’s life is a lot easier, and I can also get drunk and make music, and I can’t do that and play football.”
Who would’ve thought that the delicate art of the Piano Man followed his time being an amateur pugilist? He won 22 matches and even competed in New York’s Golden Gloves tournament before giving up shortly after, having broken his nose in his 24th match.
The Purple One wasn’t only a virtuoso musician – he was also sick on the hardwood. Author of the 2013 book, I Would Die 4 U, Toure wrote of Prince: “He moved like a player and played like one of those darting little guys you have to keep your eye on every second. He jitterbugged around the court like a sleek little lightning bug, so fast he’d leave a defender stranded and looking stupid if he weren’t careful.”