20 Photos Of Your Favorite Rockstar When They Were Kids
Ah, rockstars. Transcendents who have held the reins of music, tamed it, and let it graze on our souls. The world witnessed decades of its evolution and saw it weave itself into our culture and history.
But these rockstars started off as little bumbling humans who also had to find and fight their own way to greatness. These are 20 of your favorite rockstars as children:
1. Freddie Mercury
Freddie Mercury is a name that needs no introduction. Before he christened himself with such a cool name, Freddie was born Farrokh Bulsara in the British protectorate of Zanzibar (now part of Tanzania) on September 5, 1946.
The young Farrokh spent most of his childhood years in India where he lived with his relatives, taking piano lessons at the age of seven. By 12, he already started playing in a band he himself formed, the Hectics. One of his former bandmates recalled that he had “an uncanny ability to listen to the radio and replay what he heard on piano”.
2. David Bowie
David Robert Jones, before he was the extra-terrestrial oddity called Ziggy Stardust, was born on the 8th of January 1947 in Brixton, England. A clairvoyant midwife who attended to his birth told his mother that baby David “had been on Earth before”. Yeah, seeing how he turned out, that’s probably not a surprise.
Even at a young age, David was known as a gifted child, albeit a single-minded one. He was also known as a defiant brawler. That’s probably one of the reasons why he earned his otherworldly eyes after a fight.
The vividly artistic little Aladdin Sane was also gifted in music and dance and was introduced to rock and roll thanks to his father’s vinyl records of the Platters, Fats Domino, Elvis Presley, and Little Richards. When he first heard Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti”, little David claimed that he had “heard God”.
3. Kurt Cobain
This ill-fated spokesman of Generation X was born on February 20, 1967, in Aberdeen, Washington to humble parents Wendy and Donald. The young Kurt Cobain was described as a happy and excitable child, who developed an early interest in art and music.
The sunny little Kurt who often sang songs of The Beatles and Arlo Guthrie would soon become a sullen and withdrawn preteen after his parents’ divorce when he was nine. This change would influence heavily his music and art which can be seen and heard when he became the center of the 90s grunge scene with his band Nirvana.
4. Dave Grohl
Before he became the Nicest Guy in Rock, Dave Grohl was the nicest kid next door. Born David Eric Grohl in Warren, Ohio, on January 14, 1969, the future Rock and Roll Hall of Famer first taught himself guitar and played with his friends.
During his young teenage years, Grohl would turn to teaching himself drums while listening to Neil Peart, John Bonham, and punk rock. He honed himself playing for different bands until he became a part of 90s grunge icons Nirvana.
5. John Lennon
Rock royalty John Lennon was born on October 9, 1940, in Liverpool, England. This future Beatle had quite a terrible early formative years due to his parents’ separation and the ensuing custody conflict that saw little John having to choose between the two of them.
Due to this, and having to live with his aunt and receiving visits from his mother, young John developed quite a problematic and rebellious, albeit happy-go-lucky and easygoing, nature. His mother supported his musical inclinations and even bought him his first guitar, despite his aunt’s disapproval.
Lennon’s life and outlook in life would change after his mother got struck and killed by a car in 1958. He would later become more rebellious, drinking heavily and getting into fights. This dark part of his life would serve as creative fuel for Lennon, and would even inspire the Beatles’ song “Julia”.
6. Paul McCartney
The other half of arguably the most successful songwriting team of all time led quite a similar life to his partner, though they were handed different problems. James Paul McCartney was born to poor parents on June 18, 1942, in Liverpool. His parents, especially his mother, improved their work and life in the following years, and Paul as a result led a comfortable life as a child and teen.
Paul’s father was a musician himself and influenced his son to play trumpet and piano. Father Mccartney wanted him to play the trumpet, just like him, and gifted his son a nickel-plated trumpet for his 14th birthday. But the teenage Paul wanted to sing while he was playing, so he traded the trumpet for a £15 Framus Zenith acoustic guitar.
Some months later after his 14th birthday, Paul’s mother would die of an embolism as a complication of surgery for breast cancer. This loss would later connect him to his future bandmate Lennon, and this fateful bond would give birth to rock history’s most influential band.
7. Steven Tyler
Yes, the Demon of Screamin’ was once a child who went by the name of Steven Victor Tallarico, a boy born to European-American parents on March 26, 1948, in Manhattan, New York. Young Steven was musically influenced by his father, a classical musician, pianist, and music teacher.
Steven was influenced mainly by the Rolling Stones (particularly Mick Jagger) and Janis Joplin, and he would later pattern his stage persona and style based on these artists. Steven’s experience as a teenager inspired him to write “Dream On” years before he established Aerosmith. The song would later jumpstart their career as one of the best-selling American rock bands.
8. Mick Jagger
Another songwriting partnership that helped its band flourish was the Jagger-Richards tandem of the Rolling Stones. Half of it was Sir Mick Jagger, who was born on July 26, 1943, to a middle-class family in Dartford, Kent, England.
Mick was encouraged by his father to follow his career path of becoming a gymnast or a PE teacher, but he wanted to sing. He said in the book According to the Rolling Stones: “I was one of those kids who just liked to sing… I was in the church choir and I also loved listening to singers on the radio”.
Later on, he would form a garage band with his friends playing rhythm and blues, until he met his former classmate Keith Richards on a train platform, forming the musical partnership that would etch its mark in rock and roll history.
9. Keith Richards
Of course, this wouldn’t be complete without Mick Jagger’s partner, the legendary Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards. Keith was born on December 18, 1943, also in Dartford, Kent, England. With most of his family leaning toward the political career path, Keith draw musical inspiration from his maternal grandfather, Augustus Theodore “Gus” Dupree, who toured Britain with a jazz big band
His grandfather was also the person who gifted him his first guitar. Thanks to this grandfather’s influence, Keith grew up listening to and playing jazz songs from the likes of Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, and Duke Ellington.
In spite of his father’s disapproval, Keith went on continuing his love for music, until he met a familiar face on a train platform that led to the enduring partnership and subsequent establishment of the Rolling Stones.
10. Bob Dylan
The Bard was once a baby born as Robert Allen Zimmerman to Jewish parents on May 24, 1941, in Duluth, Minnesota. Little Bobby moved to his mother’s hometown Hibbing when he was six due to his father contracting polio. It was in Hibbing that he grew up and embraced his musical talents, influenced by his radio surfing for blues and rock and roll.
Bobby would form several bands during his high school days, performing covers of songs by Little Richard and Elvis Presley. In his yearbook caption, he said that he would “join Little Richard”.
He would soon go play solo and christen himself ‘Bob Dylan’. His musical journey and poetry would influence American folk music, and his ever-present voice and style would endure decades to this day.
11. Jimi Hendrix
James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix led a hard life. Born Johnny Allen Hendrix (his parents changed his name to James Marshall in 1946) on November 27, 1942, in Seattle, Washington, Jimi‘s family life was a turbulent affair of being always threatened by parental separation.
After being honorably discharged from the army, his father struggled with alcohol after failing to find a stable job. Jimi was constantly exposed to his parents fighting, and this made the little boy grow up shy and sensitive.
Hendrix had a habit of carrying a broom to emulate a guitar, and this led to a social worker writing a letter to help young Jimi buy a guitar. His father initially refused, but Jimi found a way to own a dilapidated ukulele and, later on, a $5 acoustic guitar.
Seeing how his son loves music, his father relented and bought Jimi his first two electric guitars, instruments that helped cement his legacy as a virtuoso guitar legend.
12. Janis Joplin
The first queen of rock and roll was born Janis Lyn Joplin on January 19, 1943, in a predominantly Christian household in Port Arthur Texas. Young Janis was exposed to blues after befriending a bunch of outcasts. Janis herself also branded herself a misfit who read and painted.
Her high school life was a tumultuous time of being bullied and ostracized, and the only bright spot was being able to sing blues and folk songs with friends. Her outcast life would continue to college, though she would have more friends and colleagues.
Janis would not complete her college studies, and would instead cultivate a rebellious persona patterned after her blues heroines and the Beat poets of the 1950s. This would influence her style on stage as she embark on a legendary albeit short-lived music career.
13. Jim Morrison
He was known as the quintessential rock bad boy who lived a short controversial rockstar life. But in 1943, he was James Douglas Morrison, born on December 8 of that year to a family led by a future rear admiral of the US Navy.
Jim was a high-IQ military brat who consumed literature from well-known philosophers and poets. The most formative event of his life, as he claimed, was when he allegedly witnessed a traffic accident that killed several Native Indians. He referenced this incident in his poems and songs.
It would take quite some time before Jim finds himself attracted to music. By that time, he was already a young lost poet who took drugs and booze to numb himself.
14. David Gilmour
Before he melted everyone’s faces with his iconic solos, David Gilmour was a tottering baby on a trike in Cambridge, England. He was born on March 6, 1946, to an opulent family. His parents encouraged him to pursue his interest in music.
He was influenced by Bill Haley, Elvis Presley, and the Everly Brothers, and later taught himself how to play guitar using a book and a Pete Seeger record. At 11, he would meet his future Pink Floyd members Syd Barrett and Roger Waters.
David would later busk in Spain and France with Barrett. In a sad turn of events, he would meet a mentally ill Barrett who failed to recognize him when he went to see the latter’s band, Pink Floyd. David became a member of the band, replacing his increasingly erratic friend.
15. Robert Plant
Robert Anthony Plant was born to a well-to-do family on August 20, 1948, in West Bromwich, Staffordshire, England. At an early age, Robert developed an interest in singing rock and roll, and would often emulate Elvis. In a 1994 interview with Andrew Denton, Robert would share the following:
“When I was a kid I used to hide behind the curtains at home at Christmas and I used to try and be Elvis. There was a certain ambiance between the curtains and the French windows, there was a certain sound there for a ten-year-old. That was all the ambiance I got at ten years old … And I always wanted to be … a bit similar to that.”
His strong passion for blues would prompt him to leave his studies and seriously pursue a singing career. He would go through a variety of jobs and bands as he continue his singing until he met John Bonham, future legendary drummer and Led Zeppelin bandmate.
16. Ozzy Osbourne
Ozzy’s lyrics and musical style were partly influenced by his unfortunate life. The Prince of Darkness was born John Michael Osbourne on December 3, 1948, in Marston Green near Coleshill, England to an impoverished family with five siblings. Ozzy lived and grew up in a small two-bedroom home in Aston, Birmingham.
He has had his “Ozzy” nickname since primary school. Young Ozzy was dyslexic and, at one time, was sexually abused by bullies. He left school at 15 and was employed at a construction site doing all sorts of work.
The future Black Sabbath frontman’s life of hard grunt work and crime ended when he decided to become a rockstar, after listening to the Beatles. “I knew I was going to be a rock star the rest of my life,” Ozzy would later say in a 2011 documentary.
17. Chuck Berry
This pioneer of rock and roll was born Charles Edward Anderson Berry on October 18, 1926, in St. Louis, Missouri. Thanks to his parents’ decent livelihood and his upbringing, Chuck was able to pursue his interest in music from an early age.
His first performance was during his high school days. This start would be cut short when got involved in robberies that sent him to jail for three years. He still sang and performed inside the jail by forming a singing quartet.
A year after he came out, Berry started a family and lived his life working for varied jobs. He later started performing blues in clubs for extra income, until he played regularly with a band. A predominantly black audience would soon get curious about his style, calling him a “black hillbilly at the Cosmo”.
This laid the groundwork for his eventual development of rhythm and blues, earning him the nickname “Father of Rock and Roll”.
18. Elvis Presley
The King of Rock and Roll was once a baby boy named Elvis Aaron Presley, born on January 8, 1935, in Tupelo, Mississippi. Elvis found his early musical inspiration in an Assembly of God church that his family attended.
He impressed one of his teachers in primary school with a rendition of Red Foley’s country song “Old Shep”. Despite his shyness, he joined the contest held at the Mississippi–Alabama Fair and Dairy Show. It was the first public performance of the future King of Rock and Roll.
Elvis would find a loner during his schooldays, often ostracized for being devoted to music. He would cultivate a passion for guitar and singing and would be mentored by senior hillbilly rockers until he found his confidence in singing publicly.
19. Axl Rose
Before developing an appetite for destruction, Axl Rose was a young church singer who believed his name was William Bailey. Axl was born William Bruce Rose Jr. on February 6, 1962, in Lafayette, Indiana to young parents who did not plan for it.
Young William Rose was exposed to a troubled childhood and was allegedly subjected to sexual and physical abuse from both his birth father and stepfather. Despite singing in a church choir since five with his siblings, Axl “wasn’t allowed to listen to music” by his stepfather.
Singing grew on him, and he still continued singing in choirs in high school and even formed a band with Jeff Isbell, who would later be known as future Guns N’ Roses bandmate Izzy Stradlin.
20. Neil Young
Neil Percival Young was born on November 12, 1945, in Toronto, Canada. The future “Godfather of Grunge” contracted polio at a young age, which left him partially paralyzed on his left side.
Young became interested in music after listening to a variety of music, such as rock and roll, rockabilly, doo-wop, R&B, and country in the middle of the 50s. With plenty of musical influences to draw on, he began to play music himself using a plastic ukulele.
Young Neil would eventually drop out of high school in favor of his pursuit of music. He would bounce from band to band and bar to bar before forming Buffalo Springfield.