7 Celebrities With Surprising Musical Talent

Sep 13, 2017

Is it just me, or does it sometimes seem like a lot of celebrities aren’t happy unless they’re known for two different things? For example, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson thrilled fans as “the most electrifying man in sports entertainment history,” before bringing his undeniable dramatic flair to the silver screen. And while he isn’t the first professional wrestler to make the jump from the ring to the screen, film stars trying their hand at music is even more common. Jared Leto, the most recent “Joker” on-screen, is also the founder and lead singer for the band Thirty Seconds to Mars. And who can forget William Shatner’s spoken word performances?

Most of these multitalented celebrities have no problem showing off their abilities, and can become quite famous in both arenas. On the other hand, many try their hand at it, and decide maybe it’s not for them (Eddie Murphy or Bruce Willis for example). But what is even more rare are those celebrities who can, and do play music, but aren’t known for it. Which is exactly where we’re going this week. So strap yourself in, this might get interesting.

Flavor Flav

I’m starting out with an odd one, I know. Despite being known by many people for appearing on reality television shows, Flavor Flav is a member of the hip-hop group Public Enemy, and therefore already a musician. But what you may not know about the giant-clock-wearing rapper, born William Jonathan Drayton Jr, is that he was a musical prodigy who taught himself to play the piano at age five. He would go on to sing in his church choir, and mastered the piano, drums, and guitar at a young age. According to his bandmate Chuck D, Flav can play no fewer than 15 instruments, and is actually the only member of Public Enemy who could play any instrument, or even read sheet music.

Clint Eastwood

The myth, the man, the legend. I know when I think of the archetypal cowboy, it’s Mr. Eastwood I see, don’t you? From cigar chomping hombres, to hard-nosed cops, nobody pays tough and mean like Clint Eastwood. But what that rough, gruff exterior hides is the soul of a musician. Eastwood is a passionate lover of music, with a particular interest in jazz and, you guessed it, country music. He’s also a skilled pianist and composer. He even composed the film scores to some of the films he’s directed, including Million Dollar Baby and Mystic River.

Sir Anthony Hopkins

Over his long and illustrious career, Anthony Hopkins has played kings, presidents, statesmen, geniuses, heroes, and even gods. He won an Oscar for his portrayal of one of the most notorious, and terrifying, criminal masterminds in cinematic history: Hannibal Lector, the cannibal psychiatrist with a love for Bach. We was even knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. You can also add accomplished classical composer to his long list of achievements. The legendary actor once told NPR that he had always wanted to be a composer, but sort of became an actor “by default.”

“I got a scholarship to a college of music and drama, hoping to take a music scholarship. But I ended up as an acting student, so I’ve stuck with that for the last 50-odd years… So life and destiny are very peculiar. God, whatever God is, has a great sense of humor. And here I am, composing at the age of 74.”

Jada Pinkett Smith

Although this Matrix star’s husband got famous for his musical career before jumping to acting, Jada has plenty of musical talent herself. In 2002, and performing under her middle name, Jada Koren, she formed the hardcore metal band Wicked Wisdom. The group opened for Britney Spears, and played Ozzfest in 2004. They released a self-titled debut album in 2006 and even appeared on David Letterman. Even Sharon Osbourne was impressed with the band and had only good things to say about their talent: “I wasn’t sure what to expect when I went to see Wicked Wisdom play, but let me tell you, I was blown away. When you see and hear Jada with her band, it’s apparent that she has nothing but love and respect for this genre of music.” High praise indeed.

Billy Bob Thornton

Known for a wide range of films, from Sling Blade to Armageddon, Billy Bob Thornton is about as recognizable an actor as you can get in Hollywood. And on the side, he still manages to find time for his music. His career as a musician has included singer-songwriter credit on three country albums, as well as time spent as the frontman for the blues-rock cover band, Tres Hombres. More recently, he moved a bit to the rockabilly side of the genre with the band The Boxmasters.

Nicole Kidman

If you saw 2001’s Moulin Rouge! it won’t be a surprise to you that Nicole Kidman has an amazing singing talent. What you might not know is that since debuting her voice on the screen, she has released a number of covers of songs. She likes to dabble in a range of genres, releasing versions of songs from everyone from Frank Sinatra to Prince. She’s also collaborated with British singer-songwriter Robbie Williams a few times. Her voice has even been featured in musical animated films like Happy Feet and Nine.

Richard Gere

Best known as the Hollywood heartthrob in countless romantic comedies, Mr. Gere is also an accomplished musician. He can play the trumpet, piano, and guitar. And not only did he actually play the piano in that now famous scene from Pretty Woman, he also composed the piece! He’s also an avid collector of vintage guitars, with one collection of 110 guitars and amplifiers selling at auction for nearly $1 million. At the time he said he had never planned on assembling a guitar collection, it just sort of happened as he bought guitars that he liked and sounded good to him. But isn’t that how most collections start?

Sometimes it’s just not fair that these celebrities get to be good at more than one thing. But in reality, they just love music as much as the next person, and there’s nothing stopping you from starting up your own band, or composing a waltz, or singing for a rockabilly cover group!