Rock Stars Who Look Totally Different Today

We may receive a commission on purchases made from links.

The rock and roll life can take a heavy toll indeed. In the many decades over which a musician might enjoy a thriving career, a countless many things can come about to change their life. They could get hooked on drugs or alcohol, of course — the classic path — but they could also be afflicted by mental health issues or pressured with career woes. Equally, they might shirk off music altogether, becoming an artist or an actor or an activist, perhaps. No matter where they end up, however, it's a dead cert that, for better or for worse, the rock star today will almost certainly look, act, and live completely differently than they did back in the day.

These rock stars are among the music industry's greatest personalities: They've headlined festivals, trashed hotel rooms, feuded, loved, and, of course, released some of the most critically acclaimed and beloved music of all time. Now, however, they're politicians, radio DJs, novelists — even chiropractors. Who could have predicted all this?

Bob Dylan proves he can do literally anything

Bob Dylan is one of the most prolific musicians of all time. Ask anyone just what Dylan gave the world and you're more likely to hear something about his output during the '60s and '70s than anything else. "Blowin' in the Wind," "The Times They Are a-Changin'," "Like a Rolling Stone" — that kind of thing. And why wouldn't you? His music went far beyond music, driving the counterculture of that era.

While Dylan still plays, however, his career now has taken something of a new turn — in the 21st century, he's as well known in cultural circles as an author, a poet, and a visual artist as he is anything else. His paintings, which have received considerable critical acclaim, are slices of life in America. According to Dylan, he's interested in "people, histories, myth, and portraits; people of all stripes." For his musical endeavors, he also received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016 — an award he originally refused to accept. That he's become renowned as an all-round artist might be no surprise to anyone who recognized his skill as a musician back in the old days, but just how far he's managed to excel is still nothing short of incredible.

Iggy Pop takes a chill pill

Iggy Pop is a man who well deserved his moniker, the "Godfather of Punk." His band, the Stooges, were notorious for their heavy sound, their embracing of the rock and roll lifestyle, and their wild, unpredictable stage presence. They were as punk as punk gets: rowdy, angry, and fun as all get out. To say Iggy's career has since swerved away from that, though, really is an understatement.

While he hasn't given up music — not by a long shot — Iggy today is known for two things. The first is his acting career. While he's performed on the big and little screen for decades, it's in the last few years that he has truly proved his worth as a thespian, and his career has taken off as a result. He's appeared in productions as wide ranging as Terrence Malick's Song to Song and even Grand Theft Auto IV. Beyond this, however, Iggy is also well-known in the U.K. as a radio DJ and host of his own show on BBC Radio 6. Not exactly smashing televisions, is he?

Annie Lennox saves the world

To music fans, Annie Lennox is either Annie Lennox, one of the Eurythmics, or a member of the Tourists. No matter how you know her, however, she's easily one of Scotland's greatest cultural figureheads and a titan in the music industry. Her musical heyday was arguably the '80s and '90s, when the Eurythmics were at their peak and her solo career was beginning to take off. Today, however, she's known for so much more.

She supports no fewer than 44 charities, many of which are focused on world social and health issues, and is a stalwart campaigner for HIV/AIDS awareness, making repeated media appearances to champion the humanitarian side of the crisis. Beyond this, she's also become an advocate for LGBT rights, most recently taking a stand against transphobia. For all this work, she received an OBE in 2011 and now may be as famous for her charity work as she ever was for her music.

Keith Richards slows way down

Once upon a time, Keith Richards might well have been the most rock and roll person on Earth. His public image was that of a high-flying rebel, a Byron-esque conglomeration of drugs, booze, and serious partying. He's been repeatedly arrested for drug offenses, had a number of whirlwind romances, and practically began the cliche of the raucous rock star. Things, of course, change — as they probably will for you when you reach your 70s.

Today, Richards' life is a little more subdued. The Rolling Stones still tour, of course — and even continue to break new ground, like playing Glastonbury for their first time — but his private life undoubtedly sits on the straighter and narrower side of the spectrum. He gave up alcohol in 2010 and doesn't do drugs much anymore, though he's said that's at least partly because the drugs "are so bland these days." Of course, he bounced back and forth, sort of giving up alcohol again in 2018. Elsewhere, Richards presents the occasional BBC Four show (which is even more laidback than Radio 6, so take that, Iggy!) and spends time on Parrot Cay, a private island that regularly welcomes the world's biggest celebrities. Rich and relaxed — he's come a long way since the old days.

Adam Ant faces his demons

Adam Ant had quite the decade, back in the '80s. His new wave band, Adam and the Ants, was one of the most popular and fashionable bands of the era, while Adam (real name Stuart Goddard) later went on to enjoy a successful solo career, too. His hits, including "Antmusic," "Stand and Deliver," and "Goody Two-Shoes" are among the funnest tunes of the '80s, and Goddard himself inspired a generation of youths with his foppish, dandy style. That all came to an end, however, in 2002, when Goddard was arrested under the Mental Health Act for threatening locals with an imitation firearm at a pub in London.

In recent years, Goddard has overcome his mental health issues and spoken candidly about that time in his life. Today, he not only continues to tour and record music, but is also a staunch advocate for mental health awareness, including working with the British charity SANE to help begin a national conversation about depression and suicide.

Art Garfunkel becomes a bookworm

Art Garfunkel — perhaps best known as the "Garfunkel" in, well, you know — may have seen his career peak during the '60s and '70s, but that doesn't mean it came to an end after his break-up with Paul Simon. Despite a few low points (such as a fight with depression after the death of his father), Garfunkel saw a resurgence during the early 2000s with a comeback to the music scene and, far more excitingly, a cameo on Flight of the Conchords.

Unfortunately, he began to suffer from problems with his vocal cords around 2010, an issue which has plagued his singing career since. Despite this, however, Garfunkel has made a name for himself in other artistic circles: He's published two works of poetry (in 1989 and 2017) and has become a champion supporter of writing and literature. This has culminated in The Book List, a collection of titles for every book Garfunkel has read since 1968, available to browse on his website in case you want to follow in the steps of a man who just can't stop turning the pages.

Nick Cave grows in the face of grief

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds formed during the 1980s and quickly became a formidable presence on the British music scene. Before the turn of the century they'd released no fewer than 10 studio albums (and have released six since), while Cave himself became quickly established as one of music's most engaging and terrifying front men.

Since the Bad Seeds' early days, though, Cave has gone on to become so much more than that. For one thing, he's enjoyed a spectacular career as a film composer, working frequently with Warren Ellis and scoring such works as Lawless (a film he also wrote the screenplay for), The Road, and Days of Grace. On top of that he's also a prolific novelist. Cave returned to the studio in 2015 to write The Skeleton Tree, but his son died suddenly as he was finishing up, and he started over to take the album in a new direction. Cave later appeared in a documentary about his life in which he attempted to make sense of his grief. Today, he is more a cult figure and cultural maestro than a simple musician.

David Ellefson turns to God

David Ellefson came to fame as the bassist and founder of a folksy little band called Megadeth. He was with them through the entirety of the '80s and '90s, touring and recording almost perpetually with the band, making him the only member (aside from Dave Mustaine) to have stuck with the band through the entirety of its existence prior to their breakup and reformation in the '00s.

In perhaps the most surprising move a heavy metal musician can possibly take, Ellefson revealed in 2012 that he had become a seminarian — essentially, a pastor in training — through an online seminary operated by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Since then, Ellefson finished his training and has been candid about his Christian faith, even discussing the theology behind heavy metal lyrics. Not a bad pivot for a guy who once wrote an album called Killing Is My Business ... And Business Is Good.

Dave Rowntree does ... a lot

Dave Rowntree is a British musician who is best known as the drummer for Blur. He joined the band after being introduced to Damon Albarn by Graham Coxon in the tail end of the '80s and was with the band through the highs and higher highs of their '90s career. In essence, Rowntree was one of the titans of Britpop — but his career since has taken him to far stranger places.

Let's count this off. He's an animator, having founded the animation company Nanomation. He also became an attorney after Blur went on hiatus in 2004 and is now a criminal lawyer who specializes in cybercrime, computer crime, and technology. On top of this, he's a radio DJ with a show on Britain's XFM channel and a politician to boot, having been elected as a Labour Party councillor for Norfolk in 2017. Considering Blur was still releasing music and playing live as recently as 2015, that's pretty impressive.

Terry Chimes wants to crunch away pain

Terry Chimes was once a drummer for The Clash. In fact, he was their first, and recorded with the band on their first album, The Clash. He also toured with the group across the USA and the U.K. and has also played with rock stars like Black Sabbath, Billy Idol, Hanoi Rocks, and Gen X. Naturally, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003 along with the rest of The Clash.

Despite founding one of the greatest bands to ever bless the genre of punk rock, however, the Chimes of today is more or less unrecognizable. Terry — who has admitted he wasn't exactly the drugs-and-booze kind of rock star, even back in the day — ended up quitting music in 1989 and becoming a chiropractor, inspired into the career when another chiropractor helped soothe his sore shoulder after a particularly long day at the bowling alley. He currently runs his own clinic in South Woodford, a quiet corner of East London. He also joined a band called Crunch in 2013.