High-school musicians haven’t got it easy. Most never make it out of their parents’ garage or, even worse, out of marching band. But for a chosen few, the music they started making in high school has lead to staggering success and a place on the world stage. Somehow, in the midst of science projects, book reports and seemingly lethal games of dodge ball, some of the most notable musicians around found one another and formed groups that went on to become bigger than anyone could have imagined. So, forget geometry and diagramming sentences, a few chords and a steady beat might be the only skills worth picking up this year — they’ve worked well for these bands that formed during high school.
Formed in: 1967
The school:: Charterhouse School, Goldaming, U.K.
What they've said: "I hated it," Peter Gabriel has said of high school. "I think people that flourish in public schools are either good at sports, work, the arts or gregarious, and I was none of these. So I didn't feel I fit in."
High school clique: Above-it-all art students preparing elaborate conceptual pieces instead of studying for trig.
Formed in: 1976
The school:: St. Wilfrid's Catholic School, West Sussex, UK
What they've said: Cure frontman Robert Smith reportedly explained that an early incarnation of his band was called simply "the group," because "it was the only one at school so we didn't need a name." Later on, the band would be called Brat's Club, Malice and Easy Cure.
High school clique: Goth kids smoking cloves, discovering "Just Like Heaven," blue-black hair dye, unisex eyeliner
Formed in: 1977
The school:: University High, Los Angeles, California
What they've said: "Mainly my reputation started in 10th or 11th grade. I just dyed my hair blue and lost all my friends in one day," late Germs front man Darby Crash is quoted as having said in the biography Lexicon Devil.
High school clique: Germs burns, acid-happy punks, smart-ass fake names
Formed in: 1977
The school:: Davidson High School, New South Wales, Australia
What they've said: "I'm pleased that we've been able to build a career for ourselves, and not just have one big album out of the blue," Michael Hutchence said in 1991. "There's something intrinsically Australian about a bunch of brothers and school friends getting together as a band at a very young age."
High school clique: The long-hair-and-leather-jacket look, "New Sensation" as a pep rally anthem
Formed in: 1983
The school:: Montesano Jr.-Sr. High School, Montesano, Washington
What they've said: "I think everybody who goes to high school pretty much wants to burn the place down," frontman Buzz Osborne said.
High school clique: Wildly good musicians who play sludgier music than they have to and are morally opposed to haircuts
Formed in: 1985
The school:: Abingdon School, Oxfordshire, UK
What they've said: "At Abingdon we'd rehearse, tape the rehearsal, listen to the tape of the rehearsal, [and] rehearse some more," guitarist Ed O'Brien has said. "Nobody liked us except us."
High school clique: Serious-beyond-their-years kids who might just be on to something
Formed in: 1987
The school:: Billie Joe Armstrong and Mike Dirnt met in junior high, but it was Pinole Valley High School in Pinole, California, that Armstrong famously dropped out of to become a musician.
What they've said: "School is practice for the future, and practice makes perfect and nobody's perfect so why bother," Green Day drummer Tre Cool reportedly once quipped.
High school clique: Masturbation jokers
Formed in: 1993
The school:: Jordan Middle School and Palo Alto High, Palo Alto, California
What they've said: "No more science, history/ English is just Greek to me/ I don't wanna know my score/ I don't wanna go to school no more," go the lyrics to "I Don't Wanna," off the band's 1997 self-titled debut album.
High school clique: Tough-as-nails all-girl bands, prom groups inspired by the Donnas' semiformal turn in the 1999 cult classic Jawbreaker
Formed in: 2005
The school:: Roselle Catholic, Roselle, New Jersey
What they've said: "Was I going to sob like this every morning? Would I have a nervous breakdown before I had even gotten my period? I had run out of options and the reality of my situation was agonizing," Marissa Paternoster has written of leaving public school for a uniform-happy Catholic academy.
High school clique: Bad-asses in uniform, Garden State DIY types
Formed in: 2008
The school: Various
What they've said: Singer-guitarist Elias Bender Rønnenfelt has said the band planned early tours around high school breaks and was once forced to cancel shows due to the possibility he wouldn't graduate. "I took some of my exams," he said of tests he'd failed, "but I hadn't been there, so I wasn't ready."
High school clique: Hooligans, the next gang of drop-outs to sell out your local DIY venue