10 rock 'n' roll guitar brainiacs

1. Dexter Holland (The Offspring) 

Don’t be fooled by the skate-punk japester act. Aside from now being a trained pilot, the Offspring’s frontman and primary songwriter scored a degree in molecular biology before the band took off.

He later became a doctoral student at the Laboratory of Viral Oncology and Proteomics Research.

Holland also recently published a paper on microRNA in HIV genomes. We’re so thick, we admit that we don’t even know what that means. 

2. Chris Martin (Coldplay) 

As an undergraduate at London’s University College, Martin wasn’t big on sex and drugs (he clung to his virginity until the age of 22).

Instead, Mr Coldplay got his head down, emerging with an impressive First in Greek and Latin.

3. Duff McKagan (Guns N' Roses)

Admittedly, drinking so much your pancreas pops hardly smacks of genius. But in the post-millennium, the GN’R man studied business and economics at Seattle University.

The bassist proved so capable he was able to start his own wealth management firm and write a regular Duffonomics column in Playboy.

4. Rivers Cuomo (Weezer)

Weirdly, Weezer were already one hit album out of the blocks when the singer decided he fancied an elite Ivy League education.

“I applied to Harvard a few months after our first record came out,” Cuomo told Spin. “I already realised I was going to get really bored and depressed on the road.”

5. Les Paul 

The tack-sharp innovator created the basis for Gibson’s first solid body electric, pioneered multitracking and designed the echo chambers at LA’s Capitol Studios.

That’s compared to you, who can’t even wire the plug on the toaster.

6. Tom Scholz (Boston) 

More than a guitarist and smarter than a brain pie, Scholz aced high school and scored Bachelor Of Science and Master’s Degrees in mechanical engineering at the MIT before building the studio on which Boston recorded their squillion-selling debut. 

7. Ezra Koenig (Vampire Weekend)

He majored in English at Columbia University, and you can kinda tell, with Vampire Weekend’s lyric sheets hinging on smart-arsed literary references and words we have to look up in the dictionary.

Koenig even wrote a song about a punctuation mark, for God’s sake – see Oxford Comma above.

8. Sterling Morrison (The Velvet Underground) 

When the wheels fell off The Velvet Underground in 1971, the guitarist went back to college, earning a doctorate in Medieval Studies from the University of Texas.

His dissertation was on the work of Anglo-Saxon poet, Cynewulf.

9. Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine)

Morello graduated from Harvard with a BA in Social Studies and briefly looked set for a go-getting political career as the scheduling secretary of senator Alan Cranston.

“Most of that time was spent on the phone asking rich people for money,” the RATM man later grumbled. “I think rock ’n’ roll is a better job.”

10. Brian May

“I was a bit of a swot,” admitted the Queen man on Desert Island Discs.

Big understatement: May took a BSc in maths and physics at Imperial College and was chewing over a job offer from Jodrell Bank Observatory when the lure of fat- bottomed girls proved too strong for him. 

“The crunch came,” he recalls, “and I had to decide between astronomy and music...”