Since so many bands start on second-hand instruments in their parent’s garage, I’m sure there’s a gigantic list of musicians who have never formally learned how to play their instrument. Many of these artists have learned tips and techniques along the way during their professional careers, but have actually never taken a lesson.
Matt Helders didn’t even start playing drums until Arctic Monkeys were forming. He would just put on a record and play along with it. Sometimes it was a rap album because they often have a slower pace and he could add his own flare and fool around without losing his place. You’ll notice 12 years later ‘AM’ is known for its sparse hip hop type drumming.
Dave Grohl is one of present day’s biggest names in music after drumming for Nirvana and forming Foo Fighters. He’s won over 10 Grammys with Foo Fighters alone and has never taken a guitar or drum lesson. He says if you’re passionate enough about something, you can do pretty much anything that you want to do in life.
Prince had a passion for music from a young age. He started playing piano when he was 7, then guitar at 13, and drums at 14, teaching himself how to play each of them. He joined his first band at 14 and signed his first contract at 20 with Warner Bros.
Patrick Carney (drummer from The Black Keys) has taken lessons, but they were guitar lessons. His dad bought him a guitar when he was 12 and even with the lessons he says he was terrible because he doesn’t have an ear for pitch. With drums, he claims he’s never taken a lesson or bought a drum magazine unless he was in it.
This band has a pretty unique story – they grew up together and out of sheer boredom all learnt to play their instruments together. They say if one of them isn’t there it doesn’t feel right since they all grew up listening to and creating the same music.
In the documentary It Might Get Loud with Jack White and The Edge, Jimmy Page says the interesting thing about all of them is they are all self-taught guitar players. When Jack White was 11 he taught himself to play drums on a kit he found in his attic. After that he taught himself guitar and piano, and then years down the road he taught Meg White how to play drums.
Jimi Hendrix started playing guitar when he was 15. He was left-handed and famously played a restrung right handed guitar upside down because that’s what his dad bought him. He’s #1 on Rolling Stone’s list of 100 Greatest Guitarists so he definitely deserves to be on this list.