x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Life after bands: what musicians do next

With the news that REM have split, we look at what other artists have done with their lives after leaving successful bands.

Michael Stipe. Sean Gardner / Getty Images / AFP
Michael Stipe. Sean Gardner / Getty Images / AFP

With the recent news that the American rock band REM would, in the words of the bassist Mike Mills to Rolling Stone, "shake hands and walk away as friends", the various members will soon be free to pursue other ventures.

Those will probably include ongoing humanitarian and political efforts, work in various music side projects and for the frontman Michael Stipe, more time to devote to filmmaking through his two production companies.

After 30 years and millions of records sold, none of them really ever needs to work again. Neither, one would expect, did David Lee Roth during his 22-year hiatus from Van Halen. Yet during that time he pursued a solo career, wrote a memoir and hosted a radio show - all in addition to training and working as a paramedic in New York City.

Members of other musical groups have not been so lucky. The California pop music authors Marti Smiley Childs and Jeff March, who have documented career changes in the lives of dozens of musicians from hit bands of the 1960s for their latest book Where Have All the Pop Stars Gone?, found bandmates of the past who ended up in everything from landscaping to car repair.

According to their research the English rock band The Zombies, who broke up after a seven-year run in 1968 (although the vocalist Colin Blunstone and the keyboard player Rod Argent are now touring under the band's banner) are a prime example: the original bassist Paul Arnold left early to become a doctor; Blunstone worked as an insurance agent dealing with burglary claims while the drummer Hugh Grundy served as chauffeur.

Many of the musicians included in the book blamed the physical, financial and family strains of the music industry for leaving the business entirely, the authors noted.

With files from AP