Here’s some stuff I’ve uncovered so far. I am not be responsible for how you use this material, so be careful:

  • Before he joined Guns ‘N Roses, Axl Rose was so hard up for cash that he joined a UCLA medical study where he was paid $8 an hour to smoke cigarettes.

  • The National Orchestra of Monaco has more members than its army.

  • An early member of The Offspring quit the band because he didn’t see it going anywhere. Dr. James Lilija is now a respected gynecologist.

  • The saxophone in Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side was played by David Bowie’s childhood music teacher.

  • One of Bob Marley’s children played in the CFL. Rohan Marley had a career with the Ottawa Rough Riders.

  • The oldest performer to top the Billboard Album Charts is Tony Bennett. He did it earlier this year with his Duets II album at the age of 85.

  • Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day had a cat named Zero. It died under mysterious circumstances involving a washing machine.

  • You know the “follow the bouncing ball” method of synchronizing song lyrics to singing in karaoke-like films? That was invented by Max Fleischer, the guy famous for animating the original Popeye.

  • Concerned about hidden backward messages on records, the state of California considered a law to outlaw messages that “can manipulate our behaviour without our knowledge or consent and turn us into disciples of the Antichirst.” It didn’t pass.

  • When U2’s Bono was a kid, his nickname was Steinvic von Huyseman. He was later named after Bono Vox, a Dublin hearing aid store.

  • Before Rihanna recorded Umbrella, it was offered to Britney Spears and Mary J. Blige. They both turned it down.

  • Britney did choose to do …Baby One More Time — but only after it was rejected by both the Backstreet Boys and TLC.

  • And still speaking of bad decisions, Billy Idol and Brian Ferry both turned down a chance to record Don’t You Forget About Me. Even Simple Minds had to be talked into it by a record company.

Alan is the host of the radio show The Secret History of Rock. Reach him at
Latest From ...