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5 Famous Bands That Formed in College

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Featured image via Queen’s Facebook


College: studying, partying and, for these artists, the beginning of their coveted music careers. Meet five of the numerous famous groups that formed in college.

1. Queen

Queen formed in 1968 when Brian May, an Imperial College student, approached Tim Staffell, who was enrolled at Ealing Art College, about forming a band. The pair put out an ad on a college notice board to type cast a drummer which is how they discovered Roger Taylor, who was studying as a dental student. The trio formed the band Smile. Staffell had met Farrokh Bulsara, aka Freddie Mercury, at Ealing and Mercury eventually became a fan of Smile and joined the group. When Staffell left the group in 1970, Mercury encouraged the members to remain together and continue to work under the name “Queen.”

Queen went on to produce 11 platinum records, with three of those going 4x platinum. Their top singles include “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Are the Champions/We Will Rock You,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” and “Another One Bites the Dust.” Mercury died in 1991 due to AIDS, but did not publicly announce his illness until he was on his deathbed. The remaining three members of the group reunited for a world tour as “Queen + Adam Lambert” in 2014 and 2015.


2. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Matthew Burr approached Grace Potter in 2002 about forming a band together and the duo quickly became a trio with the addition of bassist Cory Beard. In 2003, Burr invited guitarist Scott Tournet to join the group, completing the quartet now known as Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. The band has released four studio albums, with their 2012 album The Lion the Beast the Beat debuting at number 17 on Billboard’s Top 200 chart. Grace Potter and Matthew Burr eventually married in May of 2013. Potter was also honoured with the ASCAP Harry Chapin Vanguard Award for her work remedying world hunger.


3. Vampire Weekend

The band members of Vampire Weekend met while attending Columbia University. Initially, Ezra Koenig and Chris Tomson formed a rap duo named “L’Homme Run.” The duo became a trio with the addition of bassist Chris Baio. The three shared an interest in punk rock and African music, resulting in their extremely unique sound. The band’s name comes from a short film that Koenig worked on between his freshman and sophomore years. The plot centered around a man traveling to Cape Cod in order to warn the President that the USA was being attacked by vampires. Vampire Weekend has released three studio albums, with their latest 2013 album Modern Vampires of the City debuting at number one on the Billboard Top 200 chart.


4. Talking Heads

While attending the Rhode Island School of Design, David Byrne and Chris Frantz formed The Artistics in 1973. The following year, the band dissolved and the pair, along with Frantz’s girlfriend Tina Weymouth, moved to New York City. Byrne and Frantz were not able to find a bass player and convinced Weymouth to learn bass. Their first show as the Talking Heads was in 1975, when they were the opener for The Ramones at CBGB. In 1977, the group added Jerry Harrison to the line up as a multi-instrumentalist and background vocalist. The group has released eight studio albums, two of which went platinum, and two live albums, one of which went platinum.


5. Lake Street Dive

Lake Street Dive is a soul pop quartet that formed while the members were attending the New England Conservatory of Music. Initially, the band was founded in 2004 as a “free country band,” as in country music played freely. According to trumpeter and guitarist Mike Olson, this was abandoned for something that “actually sounded good.” The band recorded a song written by bassist Bridget Kearney, which was then submitted to the John Lennon Songwriting Contest. The song won the Jazz Category, earning Lake Street Dive a cash prize and 1000 CDs. With these resources they recorded their debut CD in this episode…. The band is fronted by singer Rachael Price, and is completed by drummer Mike Calabrese. All of the band’s songs are written by the three instrumental members, who also sing background vocals. Lake Street Dive has self-released two albums, and produced three studio albums. Their latest album (and first under Nonesuch Records) titled Side Pony was just released on Feb. 19.

About Elisa Money

Music Industry, Drexel University, class of '17. Canada born and raised, American and Canadian according to my passports. Moved from Vancouver to Philly in 2013. Music, photography, athletics, name it! Wherever you are, make the world a better place :)

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