SOME artists are so middle class it’s a constant distraction when you’re humming along, or not, in the case of Coldplay. Here are some who didn’t let a privileged background stand in the way of a successful music career.
Like many in the 60s, Jagger put on a working class accent. He probably got away with it so much because his strangulated faux-proletarian accent didn’t sound fake, just odd, like the sound of a cat being sucked down a drain.
Donny Tourette, the Towers of London
A tabloid expose revealed he wasn’t a working class Hackney ruffian but terribly middle class – he used to visit neighbour Leo Sayer’s mansion for tea. However the band mostly successfully distracted attention from their backgrounds by being enormous cocks.
Coldplay are the whipping boy for any journalist arguing about the middle classification of pop music. Chris Martin did indeed attend prep school and is related to various Tory grandees including, distantly, Winston Churchill. However, in much the same way that John Peel avoided a lot of paedo flak because people liked his work, Coldplay probably get extra class-based criticism because their music is f**king rubbish.
Mumford & Sons
All public school types, with two them including Marcus Mumford attending the prestigious King’s College School. Interestingly, another alumnus was WW2 traitor and radio broadcaster Lord Haw-Haw, so it has an impressive track record of producing hated entertainers.
Bruce Dickinson, Iron Maiden
Adding to the hilarity of Iron Maiden’s juvenile satanism, war and madness-themed tunes is the fact that Bruce Dickinson attended Oundle public school, as did Richard Dawkins. His poor parents, expecting Bruce to become an accountant, not start prancing around in spandex in front of nerdy virgins singing Number of the Beast, which isn’t remotely scary.
Ersatz Cockney sparrer who attended King Charles’ alma mater in Knightsbridge. More of a ‘bohemian’ background than anything else, to be fair, and she has been through the probable trauma of having Keith Allen as a dad. She probably got free DVDs of Rancid Aluminium and Beyond Bedlam for her birthday as a kid.
Famously formed at Charterhouse School. But by the time they were doing Land of Confusion and forming Mike and the Mechanics, listeners tended to feel indifference and/or pity rather than class grievance. Peter Gabriel getting to smooch with Kate Bush must have stung as well.
Went to Harrow, one of the hardcore public schools where they still wear top hats, and was a Captain in the Life Guards (part of the Household Cavalry, not working in a leisure centre). Served in Bosnia, but sadly no amount of humanitarian peace-keeping can stop You’re Beautiful being one of the most irritating songs of all time.
The Floyd’s middle classness hardly needs documenting, but it creates a certain dissonance when they’re singing ‘We don’t need no education’. Well you do, Roger, mate. If you end up being a council road sweeper you’ll really have something to be miserable about.
Joe Strummer, the Clash
Strummer was roundly mocked by other punks for his public school background and colonial civil servant dad, but he was sincere in his political views. In fact it’s best not to get to hung up on the concept of authenticity in punk. Sid Vicious thought heroin was authentic, and of course there’s Johnny Rotten’s eternal Country Life shame.