10 Great Musicians Who Didn’t Even Study Music Theory

It is a common misconception that famous musicians must have studied long and hard. We automatically think that they must have had extensive musical training and studied musical theory at college – how else could they have created such beautiful,…


Music Mayhem


Posted on June 4, 2020

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It is a common misconception that famous musicians must have studied long and hard. We automatically think that they must have had extensive musical training and studied musical theory at college – how else could they have created such beautiful, and iconic sounds?

The reality is, however, that many legendary musicians had no training or studying whatsoever. In addition, they never knew how to read music. Moreover, they didn’t need to use a premium quality essay service or have extensive music lessons. Indeed, a writing service or essay writing relating to music was alien to them.

Instead, they were often self-taught and simply learnt through practice! We have listed some of the best musicians of all time who never studied music or took lessons:

1. Elton John
This list would not be complete without listing the great Sir Elton John. His musical career has spanned many decades and he has created some of the most recognizable songs of all time – Rocket Man, Benny and the Jets, and Your Song, for example.

If you have seen the film Rocket Man, you will undoubtedly know that Elton John learned to play the piano himself from the age of three, and continued to do so until he was 7.

2. Louis Armstrong
Armstrong is a legend of Jazz music and known as one of the forefathers of the genre. He started learning to play the trumpet from an early age – the young boy was often sent to a home for troubled youths and this is where his talents flourished.

With a career that spanned 5 decades, Louis Armstrong is a testament that musical theory and studying are not the only requirements to become a famous musician – raw talent is just as important.

3. Jack White
Jack White is both the lead singer and guitarist of the solo act The White Stripes – he has also enjoyed a fantastic solo career and played in other bands too.

White began to learn a variety of instruments from an early age – cast-offs that his older brothers no longer wanted.

4. Prince
Prince was an iconic figure in the music industry – who could forget the amazing guitar solo in Prince’s legendary song, Purple Rain?

It may interest you to know, that Prince first learned to play the piano – 6 years before he taught himself to play the guitar and drums. This talented musician was just 7 years old when he started learning the piano – without any lessons or studying!

5. David Bowie
The late David Bowie was both a talented singer, but also a versatile and gifted musician. He could play a variety of instruments to a high standard including bass, percussion, guitar and piano.

You would expect that it would take hours of lessons and musical studying to have such a great range of talents. Some people, however, like Bowie, could pick up any instrument and quickly learn its functionality and sounds.

6. Keith Moon
The Who is perhaps one of the most iconic rock bands of all time they enjoyed immense success during the 60’s and 70’s and produced some amazing songs and sounds.

Keith Moon was the drummer of the band and had a notorious persona and crazy personal life. Nonetheless, he was a gifted drummer and contributed greatly to the band’s success. His drumming was both technically complex, but also improvised – having just a few lessons, Moon was largely self-taught.

7. Noel Gallagher
Gallagher is the notorious frontman of the UK band Oasis. This group enjoyed immense success during the 90’s and created some iconic tracks like “Wonderwall” and “Don’t Look Back in Anger.”

His trademark guitar stylings and musical talent helped produce the unique sound of Oasis. This style was not produced through studying and learning musical theory, however. Gallagher taught himself and learned to play to escape a frustrating upbringing.

8. Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton has a celebrated music career – inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he is widely considered one of the greatest guitarists of all time. Clapton played in various groups including Cream, and Blind Faith, but also had an amazingly successful solo career – who could forget the hit song Layla?

Regardless of his success and fame, Eric Clapton had no musical studying and could not read sheet music – this is something that often made him nervous before performances.

9. Jimmie Hendrix
Did you know that legendary guitarist and musician Jimmie Hendrix started learning music on a one-stringed ukulele?

He found the instrument in the garbage and became fascinated with learning the great Elvis Presley’s songs by ear – that’s right, he couldn’t read or write music, but just simply learned by listening. He stated in later years that his inability to read music helped him concentrate more on the sounds and notes he produced.

10. The Beatles
The Beatles remain one of the most influential and recognizable bands in history. It may surprise you, that Paul, George, Ringo, and John had no musical training – they couldn’t read or write music.

They were pure musicians that learned to play together and create amazing melodies and tracks simply by sound recognition. Legendary songs like Yesterday, Ticket to Ride, and Hey Jude were products of their innate talents – not study.

We hope you have found this article interesting. Whilst studying and an education are important, so are creativity, imagination, and personal determination. These legendary musicians are a testament to this fact – they managed to forge fantastic careers and produce historic music without any musical training!

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