101 more facts you never knew about music: part 2

Rihanna's in the garage
Rihanna's in the garage

Back at the start of 2009 MusicRadar brought you a random collection of weird facts and trivia. We called it 101 facts you never knew about music.

But hey, now we have many, many more. Read part 1.

In this part 2 feature we have crazy musical facts about 'meteor' plectrums, the world's most expensive drumkit, just how many kilometres of wire are in a Gibson Les Paul and much more.

Revel in being a music nerd. It's MusicRadar's gift to you.

Read on for part 2 of...

101 more facts you didn't know about music…

26. Michael Jackson
was only five years old when he first performed with his siblings as the Jackson 5. They were only paid $8, but over $100 was thrown on to the stage for them by the audience.

27. Ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr owns a modified Fender Stratocaster with nine (yes, nine) adjacent single-coil pickups. He says: "I thought, if Kraftwerk played guitar, they'd play this. But it sounds shit."

28. Zildjian
is the oldest family-run business in America and one of the 300 oldest companies in the world. Its first cymbals were produced in 1623 in Armenia.

The world's most expensive-ever guitar plectrums (or is it plectra?) cost $5,000 AUS a pair. The 2007 Starpics were made from meteors that were 4 billion years old. (Or 4,000,000,002 years by now).

Meteor picks: holy planet, they're expensive!

30. Prince
could play a dozen instruments before he was 16.

Green Day singer/guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong's cat Zero died in his washing machine.

32. Bronzed-metal mentalists Manowar claim to be the loudest band ever, for their perfomance of 139dB at 2008's Magic Circle Fest. Guinness World Records declines to recognise Manowar's claim, because it no longer includes a category of loudest band - Guinness says it does not want to encourage hearing damage.
(Perspective? 120dB is the loudness of a transatlantic jet taking-off off at 200ft away. Most medics officially consider 130dB as "the threshold of pain").



The macho Manowar: oh, buy some clothes!

The world's most expensive drum kit belonged to The Who's Keith Moon. His 'Moon The Loon's' custom-made 1968 Premier drum kit was auctioned off at Christie's in London in 2004 for $252,487.

Jay-Z, Busta Rhymes and the late Notorious BIG all attended the same Brooklyn high school.

Rick Rubin coined with the label name Def Jam and the hip-hop empire's logo. Rubin's most recent success? Producing Neil Diamond.

Def jam

Def jam

The iconic Def Jam label

Oh, and Neil Diamond's middle name is Leslie.

37. Lil Wayne
signed to Cash Money Records at the age of 10.

38. Ronnie Scott's jazz club in Soho, London, was the setting for the last public appearance of Jimi Hendrix. Hours later the guitarist was found dead having swallowed his own vomit after taking barbiturates in the Samarkand hotel.

The beats of Rihanna's Umbrella were created via a slowed-down drum loop from Apple's free GarageBand software program (Vintage Funk Kit 03).



Rihanna: GarageBand queen

Seasick Steve and Kurt Cobain were once neighbours in Olympia, Washington. "He was a nice boy... I would have killed myself too if I was married to that chick (Courtney Love) he had," says Steve.

Seasick steve

Seasick steve

Seasick Steve: grunge neighbour, marriage counsellor, straight talker

41. Courtney Love
's real name is Love Michelle Harrison.

Oh, and Courtney Love was the first person to have their e-mail subscription shut down by AOL after using the service to send, allegedly, death threats.

42. Sex Pistol Steve Jones' mother was a hairdresser.

The only member of the 'Rat Pack' to win an Oscar was Frank Sinatra.

Brad Wilk, of Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave, is a Buddhist. He is also diabetic.

Each bobbin of a dual-coil humbucker pickup can have 5000 turns of wire. So, for a three-pickup Gibson Les Paul 'Black Beauty', that could be over 3km of pickup wire.

Gibson les paul

Gibson les paul

Gibson's Les Paul 'Black Beauty' - whole lotta wire

Queen's Brian May solely used old-school curly guitar leads (cords) well into the 1990s. He favoured them because they reminded him of vintage telephones.

Steely Dan guitarist Jeff 'Skunk' Baxter is a self-taught expert in ballistic missile defence. In April 2005, he joined NASA's Exploration Systems Advisory Committee (ESAC).

48. The Beatles featured two left-handed members. But while Paul McCartney played bass (and guitar) as a leftie, Ringo Starr played the drums as a right-handed drummer would (hi-hat to his left, floor tom to his right).

Roland's TR-series of drum machines - notably the TR-808 - stands for 'transistor rhythm'.

Roland tr-808

Roland tr-808

Roland's TR-808

Madonna's hit Like A Virgin was originally written for a male singer. Writers Thomas Kelly and Billy Steinberg also co-wrote Cyndi Lauper's True Colors, later covered by Phil Collins. Madonna-to-Collins, in one swift step. Thank us later.

We'll have even more facts tomorrow!

Liked this? Then try:
101 facts you never knew about music
The 10 guitars that changed music
33 insane facts about Chinese Democracy

Sign up for our free weekly newsletter
The free MusicRadar newsletter serves up the week's biggest artist and product news stories alongside exclusive tuition and gear reviews. Sign up here!

Follow MusicRadar on Twitter
Get instant updates and bonus content plus chat with the team. Start here!


MusicRadar is the number one website for music-makers of all kinds, be they guitarists, drummers, keyboard players, DJs or producers...

  • GEAR: We help musicians find the best gear with top-ranking gear round-ups and high-quality, authoritative reviews by a wide team of highly experienced experts.
  • TIPS: We also provide tuition, from bite-sized tips to advanced work-outs and guidance from recognised musicians and stars.
  • STARS: We talk to musicians and stars about their creative processes, and the nuts and bolts of their gear and technique. We give fans an insight into the craft of music-making that no other music website can.