For all of the child wonders who begin performing at a young age and have a following from their teen years on, there are also incredibly gifted musicians who, for whatever reason, don’t get their big break until much later in life. For some this may be because they were pursuing other career options. Some might have been in the music industry all along but needed time to develop their music and wait for the golden opportunity to come along a little later. Here are six musicians whose big breaks came later in life. If you are a talented musician, but have not pursued music as a career, see what you can learn from their examples.
James Murphy– James Murphy’s first notable single “Losing My Edge” wasn’t released until he was 32 years old. An English major drop out from college, it took him a little longer to find his calling in music. Rolling Stones named his project, LCD Soundsystem, as one of the new immortals.
Debbie Harry– Debbie Harry, who cofounded Blondie with Chris Stein, was formerly a waitress and Playboy Bunny, though she had also been a part of a folk-rock band before the creation of their punk rock band. Blondie’s worldwide hit “Heart of Glass”, did not hit the scene until Harry was 33.
Andrea Bocelli– Completely blind from the age of 12, Bocelli faced many unique challenges and setbacks. He was 34 years old when he recorded a demo tape for Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti which resulted in him being invited to sing a duet version with the famous tenor. It was not long before he was performing and producing solo work.
Thelonious Monk– A talent jazz pianist and composer, Monk performed tirelessly for years with little recognition. He was somewhat quiet and shy about his talent, and a friend would often be his spokesperson. Not until he was 46 did he get wide recognition through his release “Monk’s Dream”. He is still inspiring people today, including musicians like L.A. duo holychild.
Rachel Platten– Rachell Platten had already released two albums before her debut single, “Fight Song” suddenly skyrocketed on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2014, peaking at number 6. She was 34 at the time. It was while singing back up in a friend’s band that she decided she wanted to pursue a music career more seriously. Now, with close to 5 million followers on Spotify, she has made her mark. You may not be close to the 5 million mark, but if you are recording music for Spotify, you can buy streams to give you an edge and help your music be discovered by more people.
Pharrell Williams– Though Pharrell Williams did have producing success at a relatively young age (including Britney Spear’s 2001 hit “I’m A Slave 4 U”), his name did not become recognizable as a singer and performer until later. He found appreciation from a much wider audience with the 2014 success of “Happy” when he was 40. Adored by countless fans of all ages, we are so glad he went beyond producing.
If you have had more time to invest in your music because your life has been turned upside down by quarantine, take advantage of the moment. We can learn from these examples that it is never too late to get started. If you are not ready for a solo career, see what you can do to join a band or even experience the producing side as Pharrell Williams did. Your knowledge and experience will only build from here.