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Everyone's got to start somewhere. Even Brian Wilson. Even Ann Wilson. Instruments cost money and those bar gigs never pay much. Nothing wrong with a job on the side -- it doesn't mean sacrificing an iota of artistic integrity. Plus, four out of five studies show that crap jobs kick careers in gearfaster than hefty advances.
stephenmalkmus of Pavement
I painted curbs in suburbia. It was totally under the table -- the guy didn't have a real business license. That was fun -- my high school summer job on the hot streets of Stockton, California. 1997
billyjoel I went to the West Coast. I just disappeared. I really didn't want to leave, but I had to get out of these contracts [with Ripp and Paramount], and I didn't want these people to know what I was doing. I used the name Bill Martin and got a gig in a piano bar for about six months. It was all right. I got free drinks and union scale, which was the first steady money I'd made in a long time. I took on this whole alter identity, totally make-believe; I was Buddy Greco, collar turned up and shirt unbuttoned halfway down. The characters that Steve Martin and Bill Murray did as a goof, I was doing too, only people didn't know I was kidding. They thought, "Wow, this guy is really hip!" 1980
perryfarrell of Jane's Addiction and Porno for Pyros
I worked delivering liquor, and that led to a job at a strange private club in Newport Beach. They asked me to "model and dance." They were also pushing prostitution. I had to wear a Speedo. It was pretty sleazy stuff I bullshitted my way into being the star attraction everyweekend. Then I wanted to try singing, because there's not many things I'm better suited for. I don't know -- I just look like a singer. I feel like I'm a prostitute or an erotic dancer -- I go out there and the vibe is really a sex vibe. 1991
billyidol In England I worked as a postal worker at night in between college. It was pretty easy, and I liked working at night. But basically, all jobs seemed unromantic, undramatic dead ends. One night I was singing to myself "Don't Be Cruel" by Elvis Presley or a Lou Reed song, "Vicious" or something, and a bloke said the classic, "Don't ever try singing for a living." Eleven albums and a career spanning the world and I can still hear him saying it to me. Ha ha! 1998
andypartridge of XTC
The first job was in a newspaper office running messages from desk to desk. Most of day was spent getting hangover cures for the reporters. The last job I had was painting posters in a department store. At the time we were already touring around Britain. I'd be in Dundee or something and call in and say, "I've got acold." It just got to be too much; I couldn't come up with any more illness excuses. But, then again, it wasn't a stressful job. I'd sit there painting posters, drinking beer, listening to music. And trying to seduce the young girls in the window-dressing department. One day two men came in, they were reps trying to sell some product. About ten minutes later, one of these beautiful girls from window dressing came up and said, "There's a man in my office having a shit in my waste paper bin." And we were like, yeah, right. She came back five minutes later and said, "Honestly, he's gone now, but he's had a shit in my waste paper bin, one of these men in the suits." And sure enough, one of them had walked into her office and shit in her bin.