Punk rock PhD?
December 18, 2010 8:01 PM   Subscribe

Is there a list of rock and punk musicians who are also PhDs?

I've been trying to think of this for a while, but I've pretty much stopped at five. So far, the obvious ones are:

* Brian May of Queen (PhD in astrophysics)
* Greg Graffin of Bad Religion (PhD in zoology)
* Milo Aukerman of Descendents (PhD in Biochemistry)
* Franklin Bruno (PhD in philosophy)
* Daniel Snaith, aka Caribou (PhD in mathematics)

Any others? I don't think I've exhausted this.
posted by unfairlight to Media & Arts (19 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know if you want to count Buffy Sainte-Marie as rock, but she's got a PhD in Fine Arts.
posted by treblemaker at 8:11 PM on December 18, 2010

And Sterling Morrison earned one in medieval studies.
posted by lisa g at 8:13 PM on December 18, 2010

Sterling Morrison of Velvet Underground (PhD in medieval studies)

I couldn't find any other well known bands that had members with a PhD. It isn't that surprising, as the time when you would have been building up your band probably collides directly with when you would have been getting your PhD. I think it would be unlikely to finish a PhD and then embark on a rock music career, considering the time already invested and the cost. And getting a PhD after you are already a successful musician seems just as unlikely.
posted by sophist at 8:15 PM on December 18, 2010

Best answer: Here's a list.
posted by lukemeister at 8:32 PM on December 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

Graeme Downes of The Verlaines (PhD in music)
posted by embrangled at 8:33 PM on December 18, 2010

Phil Alvin of The Blasters earned a PhD in mathematics from UCLA during the band's hiatus, I believe.
posted by LinnTate at 8:34 PM on December 18, 2010

Drew Daniel of Matmos in English.
Coulda sworn Nick Zammuto of The Books had a PhD, but looks I just assumed. I think he taught a seminar in physics at Williams.
posted by jng at 8:39 PM on December 18, 2010

Vic Bondi of Articles of Faith has a PhD in history, and taught for a while at (I believe) either the University of Massachusetts or Northwestern.
posted by ryanshepard at 8:40 PM on December 18, 2010

jng: No, Zammuto went to Williams but never taught there.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:44 PM on December 18, 2010

This is a stretch, but Peter Weller, the actor who is also a jazz musician, is currently working on a PhD in art history from UCLA.

Dexter Holland from The Offspring was a PhD candidate in Molecular Biology from USC, but he dropped out. He has a Master's in Molecular Biology and a Bachelor's in Biology.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:50 PM on December 18, 2010

Karl Precoda (Dream Syndicate): PhD in English from the University of Virginia.

Seth Kim-Cohen (The Fire Show, Number One Cup): PhD in Aesthetics from the University of London.

Robert Leonard (Sha Na Na... yeah, I know, not really punk rock, but still): PhD in linguistics from Columbia; as I understand it, he's actually a Pretty Big Deal in the field of forensic linguistics.

honorary mention: Dexter Holland (the Offspring): PhD candidate in molecular biology at University of So. California, but left the program for the band, man. (on preview: jinx!)
posted by scody at 8:55 PM on December 18, 2010

Lane Pederson, drummer of the (fucking kickass awesome, well, at least the first two records were) punk band Dillinger Four was working toward a PhD in psychology, though I don't know if he finished it.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:17 PM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Steve Mallinder, founding member of Cabaret Voltaire has a PhD in Music & Popular Culture.
posted by bunglin jones at 10:39 PM on December 18, 2010

Sara C. - are you thinking of Brian Cox? Though he's more a PhD who was in a couple of bands than a musician who has a PhD...
posted by russm at 10:47 PM on December 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

Dan Yemin (Kid Dynamite and Lifeline), PhD in Clinical Pysch
posted by k8t at 4:09 AM on December 19, 2010

Lane Pederson finished it! Time to go listen to Midwestern Songs of the Americas.
posted by The White Hat at 9:04 AM on December 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

John Tichy, formerly of Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen, has a PhD in mechanical engineering from Michigan, and was also a department head at RPI.
posted by Wet Spot at 1:41 PM on December 19, 2010

do the members of the 21st Century Monads count?
posted by dizziest at 10:48 AM on December 21, 2010

@russm: it's worth mentioning that Brian Cox's PhD (here) is in freakin' particle physics, and he devotes a lot of effort to science education and making science accessable to non-scientists. He's currently got a pretty nifty series on the Science channel (in US) called "Wonders of the Solar System". The girlfriend is addicted, and says of his calm style and sing-songy accent, "he could be talking about digging a ditch and I could listen to him all day".

Strikes me as someone I'd really like to get to know.
posted by kjs3 at 8:10 AM on December 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

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