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Before They Were Famous Musicians... They Were Total Nerds
As everybody's favorite college town band, Radiohead (from Oxford), releases their album onto the Internet this week, academic reverence seems timely.
Many musicians enrolled in prestigious universities before their careers took off; some graduated, some did not. Here, we take a look at those who had the brains to get into great schools and went all the way...or found something more interesting to do.
Ma has studied at the Juillard and Columbia, and he graduated from Harvard in 1976 (they also gave him an honorary doctorate in 1991). He was a legit child prodigy and played the violin, viola, and cello at the age of four. Dude is mad smart!
Greg Graffin - Bad Religion
Aside from co-founding Bad Religion, Graffin has a history of being a champ in the classroom. He double majored in anthropology and geology at UCLA before getting a masters there in geology. He went on to receive a PhD in zoology from Cornell for his dissertation, "Monism, Atheism and the Naturalist Worldview: Perspectives from Evolutionary Biology." He currently teaches life sciences at UCLA.
Drew Daniel - Matmos
One half of the electronic experimental duo Matmos is no slouch in the academic department. He recently received his PhD from Berkeley (his dissertation was on the literary cult of Melancholy) and he is currently an assistant professor in the Department of English at Johns Hopkins University.
Gregg Gillis aka Girl Talk
Gillis studied at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland before he took up a career as a biomedical engineer. He has since ditched the day job to focus on spinning his funky fresh sounds.
Tom Morello - Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave, The Nightwatchman
The non-sampler and guitar virtuoso graduated with honors in political science.
Raitt entered Radcliffe College in 1967 as an African Studies major. She recalls, "My plan was to travel to Tanzania, where President Julius Nyerere was creating a government based on democracy and socialism. I wanted to help undo the damage that Western colonialism had done to native cultures around the world. Cambridge was a hotbed of this kind of thinking, and I was thrilled." She didn't finish college due to growing musical success.
Gram Parsons - The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Byrds
Before pioneering country's fusion with rock, Parsons studied theology for a semester before dropping out.
Rivers Cuomo - Weezer
Graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard by studying on and off and getting laid...never.
Pete SeegerThe protest singer-songwriter won a scholarship, but left during his Sophomore year.
Those nerdy glasses weren't just for show: She graduated from the Providence institution in 1990 with a degree in comparative literature.
Damian Kulash - OK Go
The treadmill dancer graduated from Brown in 1998 with a degree in art semiotics.
The son of Anthony Perkins finished school before starting his band, Dearland, who tours with bands like Cold War Kids, Dr. Dog, and My Morning Jacket.
Semiotics again. How does this translate into music?
George's son studied physics and industrial design before he was playing the guitar on Wu-Tang´s latest song.
Mary Chapin Carpenter
The country/folk artist graduated from Brown in 1981 with a degree in American Civilization before she began her music career.
Will Oldham aka Bonnie 'Prince' Billy
Oldham studied acting at Brown University, but dropped out after a semester.
Art Garfunkel - Simon and Garfunkel
The other half of Simon and Garfunkel has a B.A. in art history and a master's degree in math, both from Columbia University.
Keys graduated from the Professional Performing Arts School as the Valedictorian and was offered a scholarship to Columbia. She decided to pursue her musical career instead.
Lauryn Hill - The FugeesLauryn
Hill left Columbia after her first year to begin her career of making great tunes and scaring men and white people alike.
Peter Yarrow - Peter, Paul, and Mary
Yarrow was "puffing the magic dragon" as an undergraduate psychology major at Cornell. He finished up in 1959.The Disco BiscuitsAll of the members of the Disco Biscuits met as undergrads at The University of Pennsylvania. Yes, drug users are smart people, too.
Huey studied engineering at Cornell before dropping out his junior year.
Craig Finn - The Hold Steady
The Hold Steady frontman graduated from Boston College in 1993. Yeah, that's my alma mater. Get up Eagles! Number Four football team in the country! Boosh, boosh, boosh!
Stephen Malkmus - Pavement
SM studied art history at the University of Virginia where he also DJed at the radio station, WTJU.
Bird graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in violin performance in 1996. Turns out he still uses said skill in his music these days.
Win and William Butler - The Arcade Fire
The Butler brothers both attended the prestigious Phillips Exeter boarding school before pursuing their studies separately. Will attended Northwestern and Win studied at Sarah Lawrence and McGill (in Montreal).
Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons
Rubin and Simmons met while undergrads at NYU and started Def Jam Records in Rubin's dorm room -- forever changing the face of hip-hop...and faces with enormous beards.
Diamond entered NYU as a pre-med student, but ended up dropping out with less than a year left. Damn you organic chemistry! No big deal, though, the school awarded him an honorary PhD in 2003.
Kweli studied experimental theater at NYU, which is awesome in so many ways. So many...
All of the original members of Interpol met while students at NYU. What, their swanky suits didn't give them away?
Albert Hammond, Jr. - The Strokes
When Albert moved from L.A. to study at the Tisch School of the Arts, he met up with the rest of The Strokes and the revolution was born!
Jim Morrison - The Doors
Morrison famously studied film as an undergraduate at UCLA, where he made two films.
Before he went to UCLA, he briefly attended Florida State and participated in a promotional film for the university
Davey Havok and Jade Puget - AFI
Both of these eyelined rockers met while they were students at the University of California at Berkeley.
Anthony Kiedis - The Red Hot Chili Peppers
Kiedis got into UCLA, but, unfortunately, he also got into drugs and dropped the f out.
Iggy got into his local University of Michigan -- no small task -- but dropped out to take his shirt off and sing, damn it, sing.
Four of the original Umphrey's members met at Notre Dame and started playing together ten years ago. They later moved to Chicago, where the band took off.
Ted Leo - Ted Leo and the Pharmacists
Ted didn't study to become a pharmacist at Notre Dame; he graduated with a degree in English in 1993.
Mick Jagger - The Rolling Stones
Mick got into the London School of Economics and studied accounting and finance. He, of course, left after less than a year to start this small band that never really accomplished that much.
Drake studied English literature at Fitzwilliam College at the University of Cambridge. He began his career in his dorm room by recording on a four-track.
Colin Greenwood - Radiohead
Greenwood was born and raised in the academic mecca that is Oxford, England (he still lives there today with most of the other members of Radiohead), but he decided to go to rival Cambridge University for his studies. Greenwood studied English and focused on modern American authors.