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9 Interesting Facts About Famous Musicians That You Didn't Know

Updated: Mar 16

Oh, our beloved musicians and artists - they fascinate us, they move us, they inspire us… Here is our take on some interesting facts about famous musicians that could surprise even their biggest fans!

1. Mozart sold more CDs than Beyonce in 2016

In October 2016, the Universal Music Group released a box set celebrating the 225th anniversary of classical composer Mozart's death. The number of sales outperformed Beyoncé, Adele, and Drake who had all won Grammys in that same year. Though this could have something to do with the fact that each set sold contained 200 discs, and each disc counted as one sale, it is still an impressive feat for a three-century-old composer!

2. “Rap God” by Eminem, the song with a world record

Eminem’s hit song Rap God, released in October 2013 in the album The Marshal Mathers LP 2, detains the world record for the highest number of words contained in one song. It has an astounding 1560 words at an average of 4.28 words per second, compared to:

  • Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen which averages at 281 words

  • The Beatles’ Abbey Road which averages 102 words and Let It Be which averages 139 words

3. The biggest ever free concert, courtesy of Rod Stewart

The Guinness World Records have reported that Rod Stewart’s 1993 New Year's Eve concert on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is the free concert attended by the most people in history. It is said that there were an estimated 4.2 million people at the performance. Some other highly attended free concerts are:

  • Jean-Michel Jarre's 1997 free performance in Moscow, with a reported audience of 3.5 million

  • Jorge Ben Jor, on New Year’s Eve 1993 on Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro, with 3 million people in attendance

  • The Beach Boys played a free concert at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1985 for Independence Day and 1 million people reportedly attended

4. Prince played 27 instruments in his debut album

Prince's first album ever released was called For You, and it came out when he was just 20 years old. On it, he reportedly played 27 of the musical instruments included in every song. He is listed as the vocalist, and as the player of electric guitar, acoustic guitar, bass, bass synth, singing bass, Fuzz bass, electric piano, acoustic piano, mini-Moog, poly-Moog, Arp string ensemble, Arp Pro Soloist, Oberheim four-voice, clavinet, drums, syndrums, water drums, slapsticks, bongos, congas, finger cymbals, wind chimes, orchestral bells, woodblocks, brush trap, tree bell, hand claps, and finger snaps. Wow! Pretty impressive for a twenty-year-old!

5. Only Metallica has played in all of the 7 continents

Any Metallica fan knows how prolific the band is in regards to concerts, having played around 1,600 shows in the lifetime of their band. In 2013, the hard-rock band Metallica became the first musical act to play a concert on all seven continents. In Antarctica, they performed for 120 scientists and competition winners in a see-through dome at Carlini Station in Antarctica. The band has even performed concerts on all seven continents within one year, with tour dates in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia.

6. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana is actually about a deodorant for teenage girls

Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit", which now has more than 1 Billion Views On YouTube, changed music forever with its air of youth and rebellion. However, it is actually about deodorant for teenage girls.

The lead singer of Bikini Kill, Katherine Hanna, bandmate of Kurt Cobain’s girlfriend at the time, wrote the phrase “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on Cobain’s wall as a joke, mocking him about his scent. Cobain, taking the sentence for a rebellious phrase, made it a song that helped Nirvana’s album “Nevermind” to sell 30 million copies.

7. Guns N Roses wrote Sweet Child O’ Mine in five minutes

"Sweet Child o' Mine" from Guns 'N Roses's debut album "Appetite For Destruction" is an emblematic rock song, still heard frequently today. Surprisingly, the hit tune is merely the result of the band playing around with their instruments. Slash, in an interview with Rolling Stone, said: "It was an interesting sort of pattern, I never thought it was going to become a song."

Lead singer Axl Rose finished writing the lyrics in five minutes while hearing the guitar ringing from another room. As a result, "Sweet Child o' Mine" spent 24 weeks in the charts in number one place, which is absolutely mind-blowing when you realize it was written in minutes!

8. Michael Jackson’s “Scream” has the most expensive music video of all time

“Scream” is the first single from Michael Jackson’s HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I album. If you’ve seen this video before, you’ll probably remember the exact time and place when you saw it for the first time. It’s one of a kind - why? Probably because it is the most expensive music video ever produced.

The music video for Scream takes place on an intricate spaceship set, which cost an extravagant $10.7 million to make. It then went on to win a Grammy for Best Short Form Music Video.

9. The Beatles got rejected in an audition for a record company

Imagine the feeling of regret this record company must have felt decades later having made this terrible decision… On January 1, 1962, the Beatles performed 15 songs in only an hour as a part of their audition for Decca Records, a London record company. Some days later, the record company contacted the band, rejecting their application to their roster of artists, on the grounds that guitar groups were on the way out, and that they couldn’t see a future for The Beatles in show business. Years later, and The Beatles have:

  • sold 1.6 billion singles in the United States

  • sold 177 million albums in the United States

  • sold 600 million albums in the world

  • had 21 number one "Billboard Hot 100", the most any band has ever.

Tough luck for Decca Records! Here at Greater Toronto Music, we like to think we are training the next generation of Beatles, who’ll make anyone regret rejection! We know these things happen a lot in music, and we provide a safe space for children, teens and adults to learn music and perfect their talent. Our music lessons are conveniently offered online and in-home and aim to provide students with a strong musical foundation and inspire creativity and passion. Come and join us, sign up today!

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