Four Celebrities With Musical Careers (That You Never Knew About)

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If our persistent, chronic, and ongoing habit of singing in the shower has taught us anything, it is that vocalizing – with varying degrees of success – brings us joy.

However, not all of us are like me:

Unable to hit a note.

You have lots of company here, Blossom. It can be so embarrassing.
Fortunately, some of us have found a workaround.

Some people cannot hit a note, but have the money and resources to make it seem like they do. Others do have talent, I guess.

Enter “celebrities.”

Disclaimer: No actors were hurt in the creation of this caption.

For one reason or another, people can attain stardom – and all of the financial benefits that come from it. With all of that extra money, they can pursue their passions and projects, regardless of talent.

Many of them chose music.

Whether they’re good… or not, here are a few celebrities who are well-known for other pursuits – but have dabbled in musical careers that you probably didn’t know about.

Let’s count them down…

4. Jackie Chan

The MacGyver of martial arts, Jackie Chan, is most well-known for his action flicks and his on-screen ability to inflict serious damage with miscellaneous and random items.

However, he is also a singer. Not any singer, but a prolific one that has recorded since the early 80s over 20 albums and more than a hundred different songs.

In fact, his discography is big enough that it has its own separate Wikipedia article.

Although he sings in multiple languages, most of it is in Chinese, since his singing popularity thrives in his native country.

He provides the soundtrack for plenty of movies, including singing the Chinese version of Disney’s I’ll Make a Man Out of You from Mulan.

3. Stephen King

A prolific and renowned horror writer, Stephen King transcended the pages of his books to have an inconsistent yet wonderfully refreshing dipping in the world of music.

King has been known to cooperate with bands and musicians in all sorts of manners – from writing an extended music video script for Michael Jackson to providing spoken narrations for songs by Blue Oyster Cult and the Foo Fighters.

However, few know that he took part in a band. He was the guitarist for Rock Bottom Remainders, a 1992 supergroup composed exclusively of writers with little to no musical experience…

And a lot of goodwill. All proceeds went to charity!

2. Alyssa Milano

Well-known for her role in miscellaneous emblematic 90s and 00s shows such as Charmed and Melrose Place, Alyssa Milano went on to become one of the visible faces of the MeToo Movement.

But did you know: Big in Japan is more than just Alphaville’s 1984 hit – it also defines the successful musical career that Alyssa had.

She released a certified platinum album.

In Japan.

Milano signed a five-album deal with Pony Canyon, a Japanese record label. Her four albums were released from 1989 to 1992, alongside her thirteen singles and multiple chart-toppers across Asia.

1. L. Ron Hubbard

L. Ron Hubbard’s resume is already strange.

After all, how many of us can claim to be science-fiction writers… who also founded a church?

But it doesn’t stop there.

He also recorded many albums, most linked to the Church of Scientology and the soundtrack to his book and box-office bomb of a film, Battlefield Earth.

Of course, he did have a little help. One features Scientology-aligned superstars such as John Travolta, Frank Stallone, and Chick Corea.

And so, there’s a few that might have surprised you. Anyone else come to mind?

Do you know of any other celebrities that have had a “secret” recording career?


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cstolliver
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February 6, 2023 4:50 am

I knew about Stephen King’s group (I think Amy Tan was also in it?) but not about the others. Thanks for bringing them to our attention, Blossom. (And welcome back!)

Virgindog
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Virgindog
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February 6, 2023 9:59 am
Reply to  cstolliver

I read the Rock Bottom Remainders book years ago. Yes, Amy Tan was in it and Dave Barry, too. I just searched for them to get the other names but found the best part: Google lists them as a “Supergroup.”

Can’t argue with that.

lovethisconcept
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February 6, 2023 9:50 pm
Reply to  Virgindog

I loved that book, especially King’s chapter where he wrote about performing in Nashville. Al Kooper was in the group (he had written one book of memoirs), but he was definitely there for musical cred. I think that he was the arranger, producer, etc.

cappiethedog
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February 8, 2023 10:44 pm
Reply to  cstolliver

Wikipedia states that Barbara Kingsolver was a member of Rock Bottom Remainders. Unfortunately, no video exists. I’d like to see that.

Phylum of Alexandria
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February 6, 2023 9:39 am

Great topic!

Jackie Chan actually has an impressive singing voice.

Alyssa Milano seems less technically gifted, but has a charm along the same lines as Paula Abdul.

Just listened to L Ron Hubbard on “The Road to Freedom,” and it is terrifying. Scarier than anything Stephen King has written, or sung.

The only other example that comes to mind is author Alan Moore, who has recorded some collective pieces he considers to be musical works of magic.

But he also recorded with Bauhaus’ David J, including the absolutely magical quackery here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGL8Fx6SOjg

cappiethedog
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February 6, 2023 8:53 pm

Yes. If Jackie Chan couldn’t sing, Ani DiFranco would pass on “Unforgettable”.

cappiethedog
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cappiethedog
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February 6, 2023 8:56 pm
Reply to  cappiethedog

*would’ve passed…

Virgindog
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February 6, 2023 10:00 am

Two words: Leonard freaking Nimoy.

Also, William Shatner.

Phylum of Alexandria
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February 6, 2023 10:03 am
Reply to  Virgindog

I think Shatner should be regarded as a singer who happened to do a bit of acting.

After all, he gave us this masterpiece!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5d1u5NYXFKo

Virgindog
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February 6, 2023 10:11 am

It’s remarkable. I genuinely like his version of Pulp’s “Common People” more than the original.

https://youtu.be/ainyK6fXku0

JJ Live At Leeds
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February 6, 2023 12:54 pm
Reply to  Virgindog

Mostly Shatner’s ‘singing’ doesn’t do it for me but I absolutely love Shatner’s Common People. His Lucy In The Sky… is amazing but I couldn’t listen to it too much.

Hearing Leonard Nimoy’s Bilbo Baggins for the first time was jaw dropping.

mt58
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February 6, 2023 10:58 am

The good: Seth McFarlane.
Even if you don’t love his humor, you have to admit that the guy knows how find a good arranger, and can kinda carry a tune.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yYmXgDGl0s

The less good: John Travolta lifted himself up from a caricature on a tepid 70s sitcom to become a genuine movie star. But this… this is anesthesia, with six chords.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4VR5xp87XU

The horrific: This guy. Holy yikes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCBPlpPnVpk

Last edited 1 year ago by mt58
Virgindog
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February 6, 2023 11:45 am
Reply to  mt58

Though everyone knows him, I’m not sure that last guy qualifies as a celebrity.

mt58
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February 6, 2023 12:04 pm
Reply to  Virgindog

It’s like when they name a terrible person as Time Magazine’s “Person Of The Year.”

I was thinking of public figures. He’s “infamous.”

Virgindog
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February 6, 2023 12:13 pm
Reply to  mt58

At least he’s not touring much these days.

Phylum of Alexandria
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February 6, 2023 12:05 pm
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Kind of sounds like Van Morrison.

Thankfully he was locked up for Astral Decades.

thegue
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February 6, 2023 1:12 pm
Reply to  mt58

Well, I’m going to embarrass myself here: on my Tasmania Retro mix, I have a few tunes by Velvet Underground, and this one that I LOVE:

https://youtu.be/mpx4ODP35VQ

Also, did you know John Hinkley is currently touring as a singer? That he has a YouTube channel?

Pauly Steyreen
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February 6, 2023 12:06 pm

You could write a whole column about sports greats who also had musical careers or at least forays of note.

Oscar de la Hoya had an album nominated for a Grammy.

Wayman Tisdale has kept up an impressive career as a jazz bassist after retiring from the NBA.

Damian Lillard has been active as a rapper for several years while maintaining his NBA career.

Heck, Shaquille O’Neal has had 5 songs reach the Billboard Hot 100, the top track being “(I Know I Got) Skillz” which peaked at 35 in 1993.

mt58
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February 6, 2023 12:14 pm
Reply to  Pauly Steyreen

Fantastic idea. Five star.

Anyone? Anyone?

Edit: C’mon… this is a hit! Someone pitch me!

Last edited 1 year ago by mt58
Phylum of Alexandria
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February 6, 2023 10:45 pm
Reply to  mt58

From Quidditch to Queensryche: Seekers of a Career in Metal

JJ Live At Leeds
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February 6, 2023 12:59 pm

I knew about Jackie Chan but not the others. Not sure I want to search out L Ron’s musical visions. With help from the likes of John, Frank and Chick what could possibly go wrong?

I picked up the Dead Man’s Bones album when it came out with no idea for years that Ryan Gosling was behind it.

Pauly Steyreen
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February 6, 2023 1:20 pm

L Ron is a creepazoid of the highest order. He was a proto- Steve Bannon from another dimension.

thegue
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February 6, 2023 1:16 pm

I’ll share a few trivial tidbits!

  1. My favorite game show of yesteryear was OBVIOUSLY Match Game, but a close second was Love Connection!
  2. Love Connection was hosted by Chuck Woolery, more recently recognized as a Trumpette/conspiracy theorist.
  3. But, before it all, he was in The Avant-Garde, a psychedelic pop band with a top 40 hit!

https://youtu.be/iy8gkv3e0fM

Aaron3000
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February 7, 2023 8:37 pm
Reply to  thegue

I wasn’t aware of fact #2 (or should I say “2 and 2”?). Bummer.

Virgindog
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February 6, 2023 2:18 pm

Something about this column make my girl want to party all the time.

Pauly Steyreen
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February 6, 2023 2:43 pm
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Is she like the wind?

Phylum of Alexandria
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February 6, 2023 2:43 pm

Oh, also: Just as Angelo Badalamenti dabbled in a bit of acting, so David Lynch dabbled in music. From Inland Empire:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_ivA4Li9B0

blu_cheez
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February 6, 2023 5:17 pm

Warren Ellis has been doing a lot of (pretty cool) music with Nick Cave for the past few years.

Phylum of Alexandria
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February 6, 2023 6:10 pm
Reply to  blu_cheez

Those are actually two different people: one a musician and one a writer. This also confused me for a time.

blu_cheez
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February 6, 2023 9:02 pm

OH! Did not know that.

cstolliver
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February 6, 2023 6:01 pm

This is more fun to look at than to listen to. Though many of the actors (such as AMC’s Palmer — James Mitchell) have legitimate musical credits, the arrangements are elevator music dreck. But oh, how fun to picture folks from the mid-80s ABC soaps testing their pipes.

love-in-the-afternoon.jpg
Last edited 1 year ago by Chuck Small
mt58
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February 6, 2023 8:53 pm
Reply to  cstolliver

More details on this can be seen in a classic Chuck article from July of last year:

https://www.tnocs.com/i-miss-pine-valley/

cappiethedog
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February 6, 2023 9:02 pm

Milla Jonovich is legit. “Gentlemen Who Fell”, the lead single from The Divine Comedy, is a pretty great Kate Bush-inspired knockoff.

Virgindog
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February 6, 2023 11:10 pm
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Legit is right. I had forgotten how downright cool this song is.

https://youtu.be/fQ_I_aWsaRM

lovethisconcept
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February 6, 2023 10:03 pm

Christopher Lee did some heavy metal albums, including a Christmas album. His “Little Drummer Boy” has to be heard to be believed.

The concept album “Charlemagne: The Omens of Death” was released when he was in his 90’s.

Phylum of Alexandria
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February 8, 2023 7:36 am

I really like “Darkest Carols, Faithful Sing.”

Were you saving this cache for this year’s Quirky Christmas picks?

lovethisconcept
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February 8, 2023 10:57 am

You’re onto me. Already looking forward to next year’s contest.

Ozmoe
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February 7, 2023 9:52 pm

Don’t forget that one of the current stars of 80s for Brady had a minor Hot 100 entry singing the immortal Felicidad before winning two Oscars and an Emmy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GoXuGbvW0X0

dutchg8r
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February 8, 2023 12:40 pm

Had no idea Jackie Chan had been so prolific with his singing career, that is absolutely fascinating to me. Knew about Stephen King’s dabbling, and the Japanese’s love of Alyssa, but am slightly unnerved to hear of L Ron Hubbard’s side-side-side-side gig.

Nice to see you back Blossom!!

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