Teachers often get a bad rap from rock-and-roll, dating back to “School Days” by Chuck Berry on through “School’s Out” by Alice Cooper, “Another Brick in the Wall” by Pink Floyd, and both hit versions of “Smokin’ in the Boys Room” by Brownsville Station and Mötley Crüe.
But what happens when the instructor in front of the classroom is actually a rock star? In some cases, they’re up-and-comers who teach by day and jam by night; in others, they’re established figures who return to school to share their unique knowledge.
So with school back in session, here’s a salute to ten major musicians who (at least) once stepped off stage and rocked a chalkboard.
1. Gene Simmons
For a brief spell in the early 1970s, Gene Simmons—AKA the fire-breathing Demon bassist of Kiss—taught sixth grade at P.S. 75 in New York City’s Spanish Harlem.
“The reason I quit after six months,” Simmons revealed, “is that I discovered the real reason I became a teacher. It was because I wanted to get up on stage and have people notice me. I had to quit because the stage was too small. Forty people wasn’t enough. I wanted 40,000.”
In 2005, Simmons hopped the pond to star in the UK reality TV show, Gene Simmons’ Rock School, where the God of Thunder was challenged, a la the beloved Jack Black movie School of Rock, to transform a classroom full of kids into a high-powered rock-and-roll ensemble.