4 More Celebrities With Surprising Musical Talent

Sep 20, 2017

Last week we took a little look at a list of some famous people who play a musical instrument on the side. And while that was fun, the list ended up being made up of entirely entertainers. And out here, in the real world, it’s not just people with a flair for creativity or drama who have hidden musical talents. In fact, this week, we’re going to do a whole new list of famous people who play or played a musical instrument, only this time, not a single one of them will be part of the entertainment industry at all. Rather, this week, we’re going to focus on physicists, inventors, politicians, and explorers!

Albert Einstein – Piano and Violin

Arguably the most well know scientist of all time, Albert Einstein developed the theory of relativity and the most famous equation ever written, E=mc². He laid down the very foundation of modern quantum theory and won a Nobel Prize. His name has become another word for “genius.” But central to all of this, and everything else he did in his life, was his music.

Music was his constant companion, and even helped him think through his theories and math. As his second wife noted, “Music helps him when he is thinking about his theories. He goes to his study, comes back, strikes a few chords on the piano, jots something down, returns to his study.”

He would even carry his music with him everywhere he went. It was rare to see him traveling anywhere without his beloved violin “Lina” at his side. And when he and his wife settled in New Jersey in the ’30s, they hosted chamber music sessions in their home every Wednesday night. These sessions were so important to the physicist that he was constantly rearranging his schedule to make sure he would be home for the performances.

President Bill Clinton – Saxophone

In 1992, just one day after winning the California primary and clinching the Democratic nomination for president of the United States, Bill Clinton did something no presidential hopeful had ever done before. He donned dark sunglasses, hoisted his tenor saxophone like a seasoned blues performer, and channeled Elvis on The Arsenio Hall Show. He played “Heartbreak Hotel” and introduced the world to a new kind of politician.

Many people in the political world were put off by Clinton breaking the mold in this way, but it allowed him to reach out to voter in an entirely new way. Before his appearance on late-night TV, Clinton had been seen as a smooth, “fast-talking” politician, and he was trailing behind President Bush on trustworthiness by nearly 25 points in the polls. It was Clinton’s media adviser, Mandy Grunwald, who came up with a new, bold, pop-culture approach to reintroduce Clinton to the entire nation.

Unfortunately for the candidate (or fortunately, however you look at it), once he won the election, there wasn’t much time for him to play. In fact, other than at the inaugural ball, there is only one other “documented” instance of him playing his saxophone while in office. In 1994, President Clinton was presented with a specially painted red, white, and blue saxophone, which he had a few minutes alloted to play on. Apparently he went over his time, as no one wanted to inturrupt the president as he was enjoying playing the instrument.

Thomas Edison – Piano

Inventor Thomas Edison is known for a great many things, a few of them even music related. He invented the motion picture camera, the phonograph, and depending on who you talk to, he’s well known for either inventing or stealing the light-bulb. But one thing he isn’t really known for is his love of music. But love music he did, and just like his many attempts with the light-bulb, he was eventually successful in learning to play the piano. He made several recordings of himself performing famous composers’ works, like Rachmaninoff and Brahms.

But what is perhaps most interesting about Edison’s love for music and the piano in particular, is what it eventually led him to attempt. At some point in his life, Edison got it into his head that he could make pianos out of concrete. At the time, handcrafted wooden pianos were so expensive only the super-rich could afford them. Edison wanted to manufacture pianos at such a cheap cost that every family could own one.

His plan didn’t quite pan out, and his concrete piano was never successful.

Chris Hadfield – Guitar

Canadian Astronaut turned YouTube sensation Chris Hadfield has probably one of the most amazing music videos you’ll ever see. Hadfield, who lived on the International Space Station from 2012 to 2013, and was the first Canadian to do a space walk, brought a three-quarter-size travel guitar from Larrivee Guitars in Vancouver on his last trip to space. While up there, he recorded the most out-of-this-world cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” we’re likely to see in our lifetime. If you haven’t seen it yet, be sure you check it out here.

Apparently, there were a few unforeseen difficulties actually playing his guitar in space, and he had a few pointers for future musical endeavors on the station. First, you have to actually press the guitar into your body as you’re playing, so it doesn’t float away. All while trying to move your hand up and down the fretboard. The weightlessness also impacted the muscle memory of where his hands belonged to play certain chords. He said that to simulate playing guitar in space, try standing on your head for a few hours, and then try to play upside down; “You kind of have to learn how to be a space musician.”

Now that’s a job title I want!

Music can enrich your life no matter what your occupation or where your talents lie. Without music we might not have the theory of relativity. George H.W. Bush might have won a second term as president of the United States. Edison probably wouldn’t have been the person to invent the phonograph and musical recording. And we wouldn’t have space musicians!

Make music a small part of your everyday life, and you can reach the stars too!