Decent music by famous non-musicians?
July 5, 2006 4:12 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for music written and performed by people who are famous for something besides being musicians.

Some of my favorite examples include Phantom Planet (ex-drummer Jason Schwartzman) and Marine Research (keyboardist Cathy Rogers). I'm interested in music that's worth listening to even without knowing the artist. (This, for example, would exclude Bruce Willis's The Return of Bruno.)

Extra points for music written and performed by people who are also not actors.
posted by Plutor to Media & Arts (62 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Music by Politicians:

The Songs of Senator Orin Hatch
U.S. Senator Robert Byrd: Mountain Fiddler

Music by Schoolteachers:

Happy Birthday to You (aka Good Morning to All)

Music by a Center Fielder:

The Journey Within by Bernie Williams
posted by paulsc at 4:40 AM on July 5, 2006

Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner are at the top of my list here.
posted by wackybrit at 5:00 AM on July 5, 2006

I second Shatner. Has Been is actually a great album.
posted by raf at 5:04 AM on July 5, 2006

Jenny Lewis and Blake Sennett are half of Rilo Kiley.
posted by brad! at 5:08 AM on July 5, 2006

Milla Jovovich has done a stack of music - not sure if the fact that it's better than her recent film work means it's decent, but The Divine Comedy album is well worth a listen.

Christopher Lee's work with Rhapsody is something else...
posted by sizemore at 5:23 AM on July 5, 2006

Nietzsche as composer. Amazon.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:25 AM on July 5, 2006

Six posts in and nobody has mentioned... THE HOFF!
posted by jedrek at 5:27 AM on July 5, 2006

Former-supermodel Carla Bruni, has re-fashioned herself into a singer/songwriter and from the reviews I've read for Quelqu'un M'a Dit on and offline, it's pretty good.

And just for laughs, click on the link to translate the German Amazon site and check out their Germglish. :)
posted by phoenixc at 5:28 AM on July 5, 2006


Rama 9
posted by the cuban at 5:29 AM on July 5, 2006

Paris Hilton.

(Someone had to say it.)
posted by youcancallmeal at 5:30 AM on July 5, 2006

Hehe.. the most recent example is Paris Hilton's song that came out recently!
posted by snarkle at 5:31 AM on July 5, 2006

Lots of the stuff in the right sidebar here would qualify.
posted by iconomy at 5:32 AM on July 5, 2006

Robert Mitchum's Calypso Is Like So...
posted by mds35 at 5:37 AM on July 5, 2006

Jared Leto is the vocalist and guitarist of 30 Seconds to Mars.
posted by donut at 5:39 AM on July 5, 2006

Steven van Zandt is probably even better known now as Tony Soprano’s sidekick than Bruce Springsteen’s.
posted by misteraitch at 5:40 AM on July 5, 2006

I would second Milla Jovovich's "The Divine Comedy." It didn't set the world alight but it's probably better than you think it's going to be.
posted by fire&wings at 5:41 AM on July 5, 2006

Ezra Pound.

misteraitch: While it's amusing that Steven van Zandt has become well known for acting, that doesn't make him a "famous non-musician."
posted by languagehat at 5:43 AM on July 5, 2006

Actress and screenwriter Julie Delpy.
posted by a. at 5:43 AM on July 5, 2006

languagehat: Ooops, yes… reminds self to actually read the question properly next time.
posted by misteraitch at 5:45 AM on July 5, 2006

Mr. T, Randy Macho Man Savage, Hulk Hogan, The Chicago Bears, .. oh wait, decent music?... I've got nothin.
posted by p3t3 at 5:47 AM on July 5, 2006

There are also those guys like Vincent Gallo and John Carpenter who are better known for acting/directing, but have done film music and albums too.
posted by p3t3 at 5:51 AM on July 5, 2006

Carla Bruini's album is really, really good, and I'd recommend it quite highly (in a way I wouldn't for Milla Jovovich's, which is on the low side of OK)

There's Juliette [Lewis] and the Licks.

Umm. Who else. Pele, the world's greatest ever sportsman, has just released an apparently not bad at all album: Amazon Link.
posted by Hartster at 5:51 AM on July 5, 2006

Paul Bowles composed quite a lot of music, although I'm not sure how much he recorded.
posted by OmieWise at 5:53 AM on July 5, 2006

OK, how about James Joyce: ‘Singer … pianist … composer … entertainer … impresario.’
posted by misteraitch at 5:53 AM on July 5, 2006

If you want to go really old-school, Henry VIII wrote 'Greensleeves,' if my memory of eighth-grade history class isn't failing me.
posted by hazelshade at 6:09 AM on July 5, 2006

Jaded, featuring Tina Yothers (of Family Ties fame)

I don't know how decent it is, but Shaquille O'Neal has released several rap albums (enough to have a Greatest Hits album!)
posted by SisterHavana at 6:21 AM on July 5, 2006

Adam Brody from the OC drums in a band called Big Japan. They're pretty, um, pants. Also Dogstar had Keanu Reeves on bass and Russell Crowe is in a band called 30 Odd Foot of Grunts (although apparently, they're now called The Ordinary Fear of God). Oh and 'celebrity chef' Jamie Oliver was in band called Scarlet Division. Really, though, I don't think any of them are worth listening to if you don't care about the people in the bands.
posted by featherboa at 6:43 AM on July 5, 2006

Hungry Eyes by Patrick Swayzee. It's the Swayzee-ist
posted by dobie at 6:48 AM on July 5, 2006

Oh damn. I mean, She's Like the Wind, also from the Dirty Dancing Soundtrack.. I'm so ashamed.
posted by dobie at 6:51 AM on July 5, 2006

Skateboarder Tommy Guerrero actually has some pretty good instrumental albums. the stuff is laid back jammy, post-rock, funk, both solo and with jet black crayon
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 6:53 AM on July 5, 2006

Robert Schwartzman is in Rooney. Brother to Jason. He hasn't been in much but was in the Princess Diaries.

The Rock Bottom Remainders include several people like writers Amy Tan and Stephen King.

Bernie Williams from the Yankees

Charo is most known for her Cuchi-Cuchi" but is one hell of a guitar player.

Then there is Keanu Reeves and Dogstar. I heard that they were not so good.
posted by nimsey lou at 6:57 AM on July 5, 2006

Steven Segal's Songs From The Crystal Cave and Mojo Priest.

Jason Schwartzman used to play drums in Phantom Planet.
posted by zonkout at 7:01 AM on July 5, 2006

Hulk Hogan and the Wrestling Boot Band.

Macho Man Randy Savage "Be A Man"
posted by zonkout at 7:05 AM on July 5, 2006

Albert Schweitzer was an organist and Bach scholar.

omiewise: I was surprised to learn that Paul Bowles studied composition with Nadia Boulanger as well as Copland.
posted by horsewithnoname at 7:20 AM on July 5, 2006

There's Kevin Bacon and his brother Michael Bacon.

As well, though I don't think it's what you're after, there is an MP3 floating around of Plastic Jesus, the song Paul Newman sings in Cool Hand Luke.
posted by mikel at 7:22 AM on July 5, 2006

Albert Schweitzer was an organist - and he has sold several albums playing Bach
posted by seawallrunner at 7:43 AM on July 5, 2006 [1 favorite]

Jim Carroll, author of The Basketball Diaries, had a long second career as a musician: "People who Died" was his most famous record, and is well worthwhile.
posted by escabeche at 7:50 AM on July 5, 2006

Smile, composed by Charlie Chaplin
posted by Robot Johnny at 8:22 AM on July 5, 2006

Mr. T! Oh, wait, you said good? Skip this, then.

Sean Penn's brother first, a musician second (though a first-rate musician), Michael Penn is completely worth a listen.
posted by ChuckLeChuck at 8:29 AM on July 5, 2006

Robert Downey Jr. has a surprisingly good voice, and makes some perfectly acceptable (if very very mainstream) music. I discovered this while watching Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (which is awesome, by the way), for which he does the end credit music.
posted by biscotti at 9:01 AM on July 5, 2006

Gleaned from Bob Dylan's new radio show, Jimmie Davis the man who wrote "You are my Sunshine" was also Governor of Louisiana.
posted by tfmm at 9:02 AM on July 5, 2006

Robert Schwartzman is in Rooney. Brother to Jason.
Jason himself was the original drummer for Phantom Planet.

Minnie Driver's album is supposed to be decent.

Billy Bob Thornton has also put out some albums, and guested on a Warren Zevon album.
posted by MonkeyMeat at 9:42 AM on July 5, 2006

I mentioned Rooney because the orginal poster said one of his favorites was Phantom Planet.
posted by nimsey lou at 9:46 AM on July 5, 2006

Peter Gammons, the baseball analyst on ESPN recently released an album called "New Slow Down, Never Grow Old." It features lots of Red Sox in the background and all proceeds resulting from sales go to charity.
posted by blim8183 at 10:04 AM on July 5, 2006

I personally like the song stylings of Eddie Murphy.

Jennifer Love Hewitt has recorded a couple of albums. She has a great voice, but most of her songs are just OK.
posted by bove at 10:37 AM on July 5, 2006

Timothy Leary has two CDs of music available. This one is good (amazon link), and include Stephen Stills and Jimi Hendrix as part of the band. The link says some tracks are spoken word, but they are spoken word over good music.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 10:43 AM on July 5, 2006

Charles manson's music was actually decent which is how he knew the beach boys. I think the serial killer thing was his plan B.
posted by GleepGlop at 11:49 AM on July 5, 2006

Our Lord and Savior, L. Ron Hubbard.

Our Lord and Slayer, Charles Manson.

Our Lord and Snuffer, Jack Kevorkian.

Our Lord and Senile, Cornell West.

Our Load and Slobber, Traci Lords.
posted by dgaicun at 12:06 PM on July 5, 2006

Second Robert Downey, Jr., who sings in and composed music for Two Girls and a Guy. Nice voice. Not bad on the piano either. And I like that film.

Former NBA player Wayman Tisdale has several albums as a fusion bassist. He's pretty good, too.

John Lurie of the avant-jazz band, The Lounge Lizards has had a dual career as actor and musician.

Lurie has acted in several films by Jim Jarmusch, who has also played in a no wave group called The Del-Byzanteens.
posted by wheat at 12:13 PM on July 5, 2006

*uck Me Kitten has William S. Burroughs singing on top of a riff laid down by classic REM. It's become one of my favorite REM tracks.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:30 PM on July 5, 2006

Wow, thank you a hundred times to everyone. There's so much more out there than I expected. And now I have a huge variety of genres and original-professions to select from.
posted by Plutor at 12:39 PM on July 5, 2006

Julian Schnabel, painter, produced a good rock album called Every Silver Lining Has A Cloud

The director of movie Leaving Las Vegas (can't remember name) also wrote the music.

BTW, John Lurie also a fashionable artist, recent solo show at PS1.
posted by londongeezer at 1:04 PM on July 5, 2006

Wow, I can't believe no one has mentioned Clint Eastwood. Very good at jazz and the Blues, and has composed for a good number of his movies -- Unforgiven's soundtrack is quite good.

In fact, I think there are a couple of documentaries out about Eastwood, blues, and jazz. Maybe he produced one? Can't think of the name of it right now.
posted by ontic at 2:20 PM on July 5, 2006

wheat's mention of Wayman Tisdale reminded me that Shaquille O'Neal tried his hand at a rap career. Can't speak to whether he's any good or not, but I'd lean more towards the latter despite the Best of...collection he released.
posted by phoenixc at 2:47 PM on July 5, 2006

Hmmm, no one mentioned Maya Angelou's calypso album: Miss Calypso. A personal favorite.

And, did not one but two shows dedicated to celebrity covers. (The second link goes to the index- the celebrity cover show was episode two).

Does a remix of our president count?
posted by rodz at 5:04 PM on July 5, 2006

Does Leonard Cohen count? He was well-established as a poet in Canada before he began recording, wasn't he?
posted by misozaki at 6:06 PM on July 5, 2006

You guys missed another Trekkie... Brent Spiner's album of standards Old Yellow Eyes Is Back. In fact some of the tracks include backing vocals by LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Jonathan Frakes, and Patrick Stewart.
posted by kimdog at 7:33 PM on July 5, 2006

Louis Farrakhan was an accomplished violinist and calypso singer. [via]
posted by horsewithnoname at 7:39 PM on July 5, 2006

Denis Leary had some good songs, for a comedian.

Traditional Irish Folk Song is cool. For a comedian.
posted by raider at 8:20 PM on July 5, 2006

Gary Sinise plays bass and quite well too.
Comic Jeff Altman plays drums.
posted by nimsey lou at 11:10 PM on July 5, 2006

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