Dad rock, that most boring of genre of music, which encompasses everything from California country to blues-inspired folk, is so snooze-inducing the musicians who play it must be the most insipid people on Earth, right? Well, not exactly. There are some boring musicians who used to be hardcore af. Before they cleaned up, there were plenty of boring bands who were crazy back in the day. Like, chainsaw-through-a-hotel-room crazy. It’s time to expand your musical knowledge with this collection of crazy musicians who calmed down with age.
With a few notable exceptions, most of the musicians who were addicts covered here had their heydays in the '70s, when their brand of dad rock peaked. While some had continued success into the 2000s, many of these dad rock musicians who did hella drugs became so boring as time went on the world stopped listening, so they started racing yachts or opened tea shops.
It shouldn't really come as a surprise that a musician, no matter how boring the music, can get up to no good on the road. All of the crazy Led Zeppelin stories you've heard exist because four lads from England had lots of money and nothing to do for hours on end, so they got into witchcraft and started shoving fish into people. The same goes for everything you’ve heard about Ozzy Osbourne. But audiences expect crazy stories about those artists, whereas the boring AF dad rock artists on this list might actually surprise you with their shenanigans.
Everyone knows Billy Joel sucks. He's just the worst. His music is boring and he looks like the dad of every guy's high school girlfriend, the one who showed you his samurai sword collection.
It turns out that, while Joel was recording "rockers" like "Uptown Girl," he was also heavily into drugs. He told Howard Stern his song "Scandinavian Skies" is about heroin, saying:
"This was back in the late '70s, I think. We were in Amsterdam, and there was all this stuff going on, so I said 'Let me see what this is like.' It got me so high I didn't know how to deal with it. You just get way out, just go to another place, and you're into the blues. All you want to hear is the blues. You start drooling, and you get sick."
But that didn't stop Joel, who continued his hard partying New Jersey ways into his twilight years. In 2004, he crashed his third car in two years. That's dedication to being hardcore.
#27 on The Best Rock Vocalists
#30 on The Best Singers of All Time
The singer/songwriter who proclaimed no jacket was required to listen to his album was a different kind of hardcore crazy person in his younger days than many others on this list. While Phil Collins was busy working on snooze rock staples, he was also a major rage-a-holic, according to his first wife, Andrea.
When Andrea left Phil, he told everyone she "ran off with the decorator." But, according to her, Phil drove her away by being a super violent bully who wanted to argue all the time. Also, he cheated on her. As Andrea recalls:
"I divorced him – not him me – on the grounds of his adultery and he agreed...
There was also the fact that, within a day or two of me leaving the hospital after giving birth to our son, Simon, he went off on a two-year world tour with Genesis.
He’s made a lot of money singing about the break-up of our marriage and his heartbreak, and he’s never stopped to consider my feelings or those of our children. All these years on, he’s still playing the victim, and I think it’s time he stopped."
Does this also make Phil a compulsive liar? He's some kind of monster for fabricating a tale of heartbreak just to sell records and look good in an interview. Somewhere, Noel Gallagher is cackling.
#30 on The Best Rock Vocalists
#55 on The Best Singers of All Time
Moby, the human equivalent to skim milk, has never struck anyone has being all that crazy. Even at its most experimental, his music is fairly danceable, and that one "thrash" record people talk about is just a high school jock's idea of what Minor Threat sounds like, with some dandy ambient tunes tacked on and a very '90s-sounding Mission to Burma cover shoved in the middle.
That was all to say Moby is fine but boring AF. However, in the '90s, Moby was losing his mind. He was living in New York City, DJing, hanging out with a dominatrix, dating strippers, and squatting in a warehouse with people who wanted to set him on fire. As you might be able to surmise, there was a liberal use of substances.
In an interview with the Guardian (the headline of which is "There were bags of drugs, I was having sex with a stranger") about his autobiography, Porcelain, Moby described the process of looking back at his life in the 90s:
"I still recognize that person, stumbling through life without much agency. There’s enthusiasm and a good work ethic, but ultimately complete cluelessness, being baffled by everything. It’s like being a snowball rolling down a mountain. The snowball might have started kind of pure, but by the end, it’s filled with dead squirrels and sticks and rocks and wellies and garbage. You’ve got this snowball at the end, but to what extent does it relate to or resemble that original snowball?”
He's seen fire, he's seen rain, and he's put a generation of people to sleep with very boring, blues-inspired folk music. While James Taylor's music was a gentle flower on a spring morning, his personal life was a fire threatening to consume an orphanage. First, he was into acid, which had him "jumping great gaps between the roofs and swinging on fire escapes.”
In 1968, at age 20, Taylor moved to England to record his debut album for Apple, the label run by the Beatles. While in London, he got way into heroin. While recording sleepy acoustic jams, he liked to hole up in the studio bathroom and get high, much to the chagrin of the Beatles, who were recording in the same complex.