Sure they studied, but for these 10 acts, the musical careers that spawned from their college years outweighed any senior thesis.
Before they ascended to super-mega-stardom, Coldplay was once beloved in college rock circles. Before that, the quartet came together in college themselves, forming at University College of London in 1998.
The band behind hits like “Brick House” and “Just to Be Close to You” met in the late 1960s while studying at Alabama’s Tuskegee University. After playing locally for several years, they signed with Motown Records in 1972 and went on to the big time.
The earliest incarnation of Pink Floyd formed in 1965, featuring Syd Barrett, Roger Waters, Rick Wright and Nick Mason. All but Barrett were studying architecture at London Polytechnic; the guitarist-singer was studying art, but caught on from being Waters’ childhood friend.
Before the Pixies immortalized their collegiate legacy in the song “U-Mass,” vocalist-guitarist Black Francis and guitarist Joey Santiago met while studying at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. They later dropped out, enlisting bassist-vocalist Kim Deal and drummer David Lovering to form the band.
Chuck D and Flavor Flav met while studying at Long Island’s Adelphi University in the early 1980s. Back then, they would perform at open mic events and had a radio show with their friends on the campus station, WBAU. Fellow student Bill Stephney was the program director that gave them their first shot, and he later convinced them to cut their first album for Def Jam, where he eventually became president.
They were called Smile at the time, but the founding members of Queen met in the late 1960s while studying at university. Guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor met during their time at London’s Imperial College, and later on, Freddie Mercury became the lead vocalist. He was studying at Ealing Art College, now known as the Ealing campus at the University of West London.
R.E.M. is often credited with creating (or at least popularizing) the term “college rock,” so it’s appropriate they formed on campus — the University of Georgia, to be specific. Frontman Michael Stipe met guitarist Peter Buck at a record store, and fellow students Mike Mills (bass) and Bill Berry (drums) formed the band with them in 1980.
The Strokes will be forever tied to New York University and the city’s rock scene in the early 2000s. Julian Casablancas, Nick Valensi, Fabrizio Moretti, and Nikolai Fraiture actually began playing together when they were all in prep school, but they didn’t call themselves the Strokes until 1999, when they met guitarist Albert Hammond, Jr., who was studying at NYU.
Talking Heads are often associated with the 1977 CBGBs scene in New York, but David Byrne, Chris Frantz, and Tina Weymouth actually met years before that, while attending the Rhode Island School of Design in the early 1970s. After performing as the Artistics, they played their first gig under their familiar moniker in 1975 after moving to New York City.
Vampire Weekend broke big with their self-titled 2008 debut, and challenged the then-popular notion that all the cool New York City bands were from Brooklyn. The college buddies came together while studying at Columbia University on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. They played their first gig at an on-campus battle of the bands; the chandelier photo that adorns their first album cover was actually shot at a party they played in their early days.