Careers Employment

Musicians Who Quit Music and Completely Changed Careers

Making it as a musician can mean adulation from millions, world tours and inconceivable wealth, making it a dream job for many aspiring stars.

However, when people actually attain that dream, some can decide stardom is not for them and leave music to embark on an entirely new career.

Below, Newsweek rounds up the musicians who ended up stepping away from the spotlight to pursue a surprisingly new line of employment.

MC Hammer

(Left) MC Hammer performs at the Met Center in Bloomington, Minnesota in 1990and (Right) MC Hammer speaks onstage during Capitol Music Group’s 2018 Capitol Congress
Jim Steinfeldt/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The early 1990s were sound tracked by MC Hammer’s seminal “U Can’t Touch This”, while his Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em album remains one of the best-selling hip-hop LPs ever.

Then in 1997, Hammer changed career to begin a television ministry called M.C. Hammer and Friends on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, as well as appearing on program Praise the Lord, where he went public about his devotion to God as an ordained minister.

Jeffrey Allen “Skunk” Baxter

Jeff Skunk' Baxter
Left) Jeff Skunk Baxter of Steely Dan in 1974 and (Right) Musician Jeffrey Allen ‘Jeff Skunk’ Baxter attends The Recording Academy Producers & Engineers
Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns/Getty Images

In his 20s, this American guitarist earned fame and fortune for his stints in the rock bands Steely Dan and The Doobie Brothers.

He fell into his later career in defense consulting almost by accident when his interest in recording technology led him to work on complex data compression algorithms.

Cindy Birdsong

Cindy Birdsong
R&B group The Supremes (L-R) Mary Wilson, Cindy Birdsong and Scherrie Payne pose for a portrait in 1975 in Los Angeles, California
Harry Langdon/Getty Images

Starting her pop career in Patti LaBelle & the Bluebelles, this American singer became world-famous as a member of The Supremes in 1967.

However, Birdsong had originally set her sights on becoming a nurse and finally fulfilled her ambition by working at UCLA Medical Center after leaving the group.

Vanilla Ice

Vanilla Ice
(Left) Vanilla Ice circa 1990 in New York City and (Right) performing at Mega Beer and 90s Music Festival in 2019
Robin Platzer/Manny Hernandez/Getty Images

In 1990, there was arguably no rap star more famous than Vanilla Ice, following the crossover success of the Queen-sampling “Ice Ice Baby”.

But Ice, born Rob Van Winkle, began buying houses in his early twenties, and the celebrity now concentrates his career flipping houses on his long-running hit TV show The Vanilla Ice Project.

Terminator X

Terminator X
(Left) Public Enemy’s Terminator X appears on Yo! MTV Raps in 1991 in New York City and (Right) performing onstage during the 28th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, 2013
Al Pereira/Kevin Kane/WireImage/Getty Images

The man best known by his stage name Terminator X won admiration by hip hop aficionados for his work as a DJ with influential rap collective Public Enemy.

Norman Rogers decided to retire from the music scene in 2003 to run an ostrich stud farm in North Carolina.

Jim Martin

Jim Martin
Mike Bordin, Mike Patton and Jim Martin of Faith No More attending the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Known for his trademark long hair, bushy beard, and red-rimmed glasses, American guitarist Jim Martin is best known for his role in rock band Faith No More for a decade until late 1993.

The rock musical legend has in recent years regained fame for his endeavors as a championship pumpkin farmer.

Mark Wahlberg

Composite of Mark Wahlberg in 1991, 2020.
Mark Wahlberg pictured (left) in Chicago on October 13, 1991, and (right) at the premiere of Netflix’s “Spenser Confidential” held at Regency Village Theatre in Westwood, California, on February 27, 2020.
Getty Images

Many people now forget Wahlberg first found fame as rapper Marky Mark, who achieved chart success with the Funky Bunch.

However, he left the music industry for Hollywood to pursue his dreams of becoming an actor, which worked out quite well for him.

Dean Ween

Dean Ween
Dave Dreiwitz (L) and Mickey Melchiondo aka Dean Ween of the Dean Ween Group perform at Tipitina’s on February 1, 2017 in New Orleans
Erika Goldring/Getty Images

Dean Ween was a guitarist with alt-rock band Ween until the band announced on Facebook in 2012 that they had finished.

Dean proceeded to change his name back to Mickey Melchiondo and decided to captain a fishing boat.


(Left) Coolio during 1994 MTV Video Music Awards and (Right) performing on stage at Groovin The Moo 2019 on May 11, 2019 in Australia
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic/Matt Jelonek/WireImage/Getty Images

The American rapper achieved massive mainstream success in the mid-1990s with his hit albums It Takes a Thief and Gangsta’s Paradise.

But Coolio has since turned his back on his hip hop career to become a celebrity chef, creating the web series Cookin’ with Coolio and releasing an accompanying cookbook.

Clay Aiken

Clay Aiken
(Left) Clay Aiken arrives at the premiere of X2: X-Men United in 2003 and (Right) discussing Ruben & Clay’s First Annual Christmas Carol in 2018
Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Clay Aiken became widely known around the U.S. for being the runner-up on the second season of 2003’s American Idol.

Then in 2004, Aiken became a UNICEF ambassador, a position he held until 2013 in order to run for Congress—yet despite winning the Democratic primary, he lost to the Republican incumbent in the general election.

Dan Spitz

Dan Spitz
Dan Spitz and Joey Belladonna of Anthrax during Anthrax and God Forbid in Concert at the Nokia Theater in New York City – January 7, 2006 at Nokia Theater in New York
David Pomponio/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Thrash metal group Anthrax scored their biggest UK hit in 1990 with an unlikely cover of Joe Jackson’s “Got the Time.”

The band’s lead guitarist Dan Spitz shortly afterwards began studying the art of watchmaking and has since chosen to devote his time as a master craftsman.

Kevin Jonas

Kevin Jonas
(Left) Kevin Jonas attending the J Martell Foundation Seventh Annual Kids Day in 2006 and (Right) backstage for the 2021 Billboard Music Awards
Stephen Lovekin/WireImage/Rich Fury/Getty Images

Following exposure on the Disney Channel, The Jonas Brothers sold an impressive 20 million records in their time together at the start of the millennium.

When the brotherly trio parted ways in 2013, Kevin Jonas set up a real-estate development and construction company and the ex-rocker has since also become the co-CEO of a social media marketing company.

JB Gill

JB Gill
JB Gill attends the launch of Berkley London, a bespoke luxury chauffeur & concierge founded by John Newman, at The Yard, Shoreditch, on March 4, 2020 in Londo
Getty Images/Dave Benett

Following success on the U.K.-version of X Factor, JB Gill shot to fame as a member of one of the world’s biggest boy bands, JLS.

Then, while still in the group, JB and his wife decided to buy a pig and turkey farm in the countryside, where he now spends his days.

Bill Berry

Bill Berry
(Left) Bill Berry attending the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards as R.E.M and (Right) performing with Big Star Third at College Square in 2014 in Athens, Georgia
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic/Chris McKay/Getty Images

Highly influential indie rock outfit R.E.M. was co-founded by drummer Bill Berry and lead vocalist Michael Stipe in 1980 while both were University of Georgia students.

But a brain aneurysm that caused Berry to collapse on stage persuaded him to change tack. Berry left the music business in 1997 to become a hay farmer in Farmington, Georgia.

James Williamson

James Williamson
James Williamson of Iggy and The Stooges participates in a fireside chat at the C2SV Technology Conference Day Three at McEnery Convention Center on September 28, 2013 in San Jose, California
Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

After his time playing guitar for 1960s punk pioneers The Stooges with Iggy Pop ended, James Williamson returned to college.

Williamson then started designing microchips and was eventually promoted to the position of vice president of cutting-edge tech company Sony.

Ronnie DeVoe

Ron DeVoe
(Left) Ron DeVoe and Ralph Tresvant of New Edition perform at BET’s 25th Anniversary and (Right) Ronnie DeVoe of Bell Biv DeVoe attending the 2020 American Music Awards
M. Caulfield/WireImage for BET Network/Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

As a member of Boston-based R&B group New Edition, Ronnie DeVoe shot to the top of the charts with “Candy Girl” in 1983.

Then, shortly after hitting the pinnacle of fame, DeVoe abruptly opted for a change of pace and moved into real estate, and he is now the co-owner of DeVoe Broker Associates in Atlanta.

Terry Chimes

Terry Chimes
Former member of The Clash, Terry Chimes attends the NME Photographers Awards sponsored by Nikon at Getty Images Gallery on November 7, 2012 in London
Samir Hussein/Getty Images

Terry Chimes was the original drummer for seminal English punk rock group band but left immediately after recording their self-titled debut album.

Chimes has been a qualified chiropractor since 1994 and in 2008 he was nominated as an ambassador for Greater London’s Scout Association.

Joey Fatone

Joey Fatone
(Right) Joey Fatone of NSYNC during *NSYNC in Concert at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre in 1999 and (Left) Joey Fatone is seen on February 29, 2020 in Los Angeles
SGranitz/WireImage/TM/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images/Getty Images

Joey Fatone is best known as a member of 1990s U.S. boyband ‘NSYNC, in which he sang baritone.

When the group split to make way for Justin Timberlake’s solo career, Fatone switched jobs to become the host of Common Knowledge and Impractical Jokers: After Party.

Brian Cox

Brian Cox
Professor Brian Cox poses for a portrait after speaking at Sightgeist at Science Museum on March 28, 2019 in London
Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

Brian Cox enjoyed a bizarre and brief brush with fame after joining English 1990s one-hit wonders D:Ream as a keyboardist.

Then after acquiring a PhD in high-energy particle physicals from Manchester University, Cox has since become a popular TV science educator in the U.K.

Russell Senior

Russell Senior
Guitarist and violinist Russell Senior performing with English pop group Pulp on the NME Stage at the Glastonbury Festival, Somerset, 26th June 199
Kevin Kane/Getty Images

The English guitar player was in the 1990s catapulted into rock stardom as a member of indie band Pulp.

Senior then surprised his bandmates by deciding to pursue a new career as an antiques dealer at the height of the band’s fame.