Prep rally

Rock's rich history of boarding-school brats
By DANIEL BROCKMAN  |  January 5, 2010


Stroke of genius: Julian Casablancas goes it alone. By Daniel Brockman.
Much of the early backlash that followed the Strokes' meteoric rise had to do with the idea that a '00s punk revival couldn't be spearheaded by a band of moneyed prep-school twerps — as if boarding school and rock stars didn't go together like marmalade and scones. Whether we're talking about Julian Casablancas meeting several future Strokes at Switzerland's Institut Le Rosey or a young John Mellor (later Joe Strummer) plotting his assault on the bourgeoisie at the prestigious Freemen's School in Surrey, a number of rock's most potent powder kegs have started off in crested blazers. Here are just a few of the preppiest insurrectionists:

FREDDIE MERCURY OF QUEEN | The young Farrokh Bulsara blossomed as a musical prodigy when he left the family nest in Zanzibar to study at St. Peter's boarding school in Mumbai. It was here that he started his first band (the Hectics) and began calling himself Freddie, planting the seeds for the persona that would front one of the most successful (and flamboyantly awesome) acts of all time.

BRUCE DICKINSON OF IRON MAIDEN | At heart, boarding schools are about escape — which in young Master Bruce's case meant goodbye to Nottinghamshire and hello to Northamptonshire's Oundle, as well as to the school war-games society that he co-founded. A fitting pursuit for the future belter of "Die with Your Boots On" and "The Trooper."

TIM AND NEIL FINN OF SPLIT ENZ/CROWDED HOUSE | Boarding school can be as brutal as it is posh — in his native New Zealand, at Auckland's Sacred Heart College, Tim Finn set a school record by receiving 35 canings in one year. He passed on his defiant spirit to his younger brother, Neil, and the two would go on to form two of NZ's most exciting bands. Both have spent decades using their musical careers to benefit various social causes — no doubt in large part because Tim understands what it means to be at the other end of the lash.

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