Whilst most bands start up after having known each other for years or having met at a party, others start off their origin by selling their souls or were forced to form by their dad who had a clairvoyant experience as a kid.
Others still recorded the demos that became their debut album whilst working as a janitor at a local recording studio. The point we’re trying to make is there’s some cool band and artist origin stories out there.
Here’s some musician origin stories that we think might actually be the coolest.
Richard Lloyd (Television)
Let’s say you were hanging around your playground one day and had a peer come up to you claiming to know Jimi Hendrix. What would you do? Probably tell him he’s dreaming, right? Well, Television guitarist Richard Lloyd believed his pal Velvert Turner and it really paid off.
Turner not only knew Hendrix, but the iconic guitarist considered Turner his “little brother” and took him on as his sole protégé. Lloyd’s trust in Turner not only led to meeting Hendrix, but Turner asked Hendrix for permission to teach Lloyd what he was learning on the guitar.
Years later, but before he joined influential post-punkers Television, Lloyd moved to Boston where he was invited to sit in with blues legend John Lee Hooker at the Jazz Workshop on Boylston Street. The story goes that after telling Hooker he was a guitarist, the bluesman whispered to Lloyd “the secret of the electric guitar”.
Check out Television’s ‘Marquee Moon’:
Mississippi legend Robert Johnson has one of the most well-known and debated origin stories of all time. As the original member of the 27 club, Robert Johnson is said to have sold his soul to the devil in exchange for musical talent.
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Johnson is considered a pioneer of blues music and has influenced innumerable musicians since. Researchers often point to his lyrics, rife with occult references, as proof of the the legendary crossroads deal he supposedly made.
Learn more about the Robert Johnson crossroads myth:
Felix da Housecat
You may only know the name Felix da Housecat because of his brief flirtation with the mainstream via 2001’s elctroclash classic ‘Silver Screen (Shower Scene)’, but ask around in house music circles and they’ll tell you that Felix Stallings Jr. is a legend of the game.
Stallings started out as a keyboardist in a Prince cover band and got his start in the then still burgeoning house music scene through a chance meeting with DJ Pierre, a house music icon credited with inventing acid house, who took a 15-year-old Stallings under his wing.
Check out Felix da Housecat’s ‘Silver Screen (Shower Scene)’:
Starting so young they make Silverchair look lazy, Victoria natives the Findlay sisters – collectively known as Stonefield – started playing music together when Holly, the youngest, was only seven years old.
Raised on a solid vinyl collection full of Zeppelin, Hendrix, and Zappa, they begged their parents for a drum kit and pulled the band together from there. Throw in a triple j Unearthed discovery, and the rest is history.
Check out Stonefield’s ‘Midnight’:
Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails)
You probably know already that before he was the goth icon spinning through the air and indulging in mild BDSM in the ‘Closer’ video, Trent Reznor was the keyboardist in a New Wave synth-pop band named Exotic Birds. Probably because you saw him bouncing around in this viral news report from the ’80s.
However, Reznor actually left the band and presumably his Flock Of Seagulls-like hairdo after just three months and got a job at Cleveland’s Right Track Studio as a janitor, where studio owner Bart Koster remarked on the future alternative icon’s sterling abilities at waxing the floor.
Reznor eventually asked Koster if it would be okay if he used the studio to record demos of material he’d been writing during unused studio time. Koster agreed and the demos eventual nabbed Reznor a deal with TVT Records. That material eventually appeared on, Pretty Hate Machine, Nine Inch Nails’s debut.
Check out Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Head Like A Hole’:
Swedish rockers The Hives claim a man named Randy Fitzsimmons sent each of the members a letter asking them to form a band. All song writing on the band’s albums is credited to Randy who, along with discovering them, also manages the band.
Many fans believe “Randy Fitzsimmons” to be a pseudonym belonging to Nicholaus Arson (guitarist), and that Mr Fitzsimmons is nothing but a myth. The band, of course, denies this.
Check out The Hives’ ‘Hate To Say I Told You So’:
This might arguably be the most famous and fascinating bizarre origin story in music. The story goes that at a young age Austin Wiggin received a palm reading from his mother, who predicted that he would marry a strawberry blonde woman and have two daughters after her death.
She also claimed that Austin’s daughters would form a popular music group and when the first two predictions came true, Austin set about making the third come to fruition, taking his daughters out of school, buying them instruments, and paying for music and vocal lessons.
In 1969, Austin took his savings and paid for his daughters, now called The Shaggs, to record an album, Philosophy of The World. They recorded the debut in one day and the resulting recording is one of the most shambolic, unlistenable, yet oddly brilliant things ever committed to tape.
Famously rock critic Lester Bangs’s favourite album, Philosophy Of The World did not make stars out of Austin’s daughters, but they will forever remain one of the most intriguing chapters in rock history ever.
Check out The Shaggs’ ‘My Pal Foot Foot’:
Inspired by the shocking death of John Lennon, lead singer Susanna Hoffs decided to focus her life on making music. She placed an ad seeking “like-minded female musicians” in an LA zine and that lead her to sisters Vicki and Debbi Peterson.
They met in Susanna’s parents’ garage, played together, and following the addition of Annette Zilinskas on bass, The Bangles were born.
Check out The Bangles’ ‘Manic Monday’:
Rapper MF Grimm, best known for his association with MF DOOM, has quite possibly the coolest but least-talked about origin story in music. Grimm, real name Percy Carey, grew up next door to Morgan Freeman, who had him cast on Sesame Street, on which he appeared for four years.
As a teenager, Carey began rapping as well as dealing drugs, getting expelled from his high school after beating up the principal over owed drug money. Carey eventually moved to California where he became a sought-after ghostwriter, even contributing lyrics to Dr. Dre’s The Chronic.
In 1993, Carey had recorded an album’s worth material for his debut release, but was shot by rival drug dealers in an attempted homicide. The shooting left Carey deafened, blinded, paralysed from the waist down, and comatose. Carey eventually recovered his vision and hearing, but is still wheelchair-bound.
Following the attack, all music labels cut ties with Carey and much of the material he’d recorded was lost or stolen. Carey eventually went on to release several 12″ singles on Bobbito’s Fondle ‘Em label, the label MF DOOM called home, launching their collaborative partnership.
Check out MF Grimm’s ‘Earth’:
Lead singer Debbie Harry and guitar/bassist Chris Stein met when Chris joined The Stilettoes and began dating vocalist Harry, an ex-waitress and playboy bunny. When they left the band a year later, they took drummer Billy O’Connor and bassist Fred Smith with them.
Originally billed as Angel And The Snake, they changed the name after Harry was catcalled by truck drivers, and they’ve been Blondie ever since.