Most successful people are driven by an innate self-belief and self-confidence that spurs them to continue looking for a sniff of opportunity that may lead onto something bigger. And in their quest to secure that lucky break they still have to make a living like the rest of us. While these wannabe celebrities were working their way to the top, many of them made ends meet by flipping burgers, serving pints, scrubbing floors and plenty more besides.
If you have dreams of becoming the next big thing but feel that you may become trapped in your current job, don’t despair. Some of the world’s most famous people weren’t afraid to roll their sleeves up and get their hands dirty by doing some of the most unexciting, monotonous and sometimes downright filthiest jobs imaginable.
By the time he headed to the bright lights of London in search of- and finding- fame and fortune as the front man of The Police in 1977, Tyneside’s-own Gordon Sumner had dropped out of the University of Warwick after just one term, worked as a construction labourer, tax officer and bus conductor before becoming a teacher — a role which inspired the songs “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” and “Roxanne.”
Long before he became the pop mogul he is today, Simon Cowell had his fair share of menial jobs. Having left school with just two ‘O’ Levels, he made ends meet with a series of jobs which included being a runner at Elstree studios but, after a series of personality clashes with a number of colleagues, Cowell’s music industry father — who was an executive at EMI — offered him some salvation and gave him a job in the post room. However, Cowell being Cowell was not content with that and as he recalls, “I’d go into my boss’s offices and tell them they should give me a better job.” And they did. He soon became an A and R (Artists and Repertoire) man and signed a number of successful artists including Westlife, Five and Robson and Jerome. He now reportedly earns around $50 million a year.
Despite earning the epithets ‘Prince of Darkness’ and ‘Godfather of Heavy Metal’, John “Ozzy” Osbourne was a surprisingly shy and quiet 20 year-old when he became the lead singer of metal legends, Black Sabbath. Having left school at the age of 15 years, “Ozzy” spent the next five years working as a labourer on a building site, car plant worker, trainee plumber and standing up to his knees in blood and guts on the ‘kill’ floor of an abattoir.
Prior to asserting himself as ‘The Chief’, the Oasis front man has never been afraid of hard work. Expelled from school for throwing a bag of flour over his teacher at the age of 15 years soon followed by a spell in prison for stealing, Noel Gallagher spent much of his late teens as a construction worker for his father. But the turning point came when he learned that fellow ‘Madchester’ band the Inspiral Carpets were looking for a new lead singer. Although he never got the job, he joined the band as a roadie for three years before being persuaded by his younger brother, Liam, to join his band The Rain — soon renamed Oasis.
America’s People magazine has voted William Bradley Pitt the sexiest man alive — twice. But before superstardom and the lovely Ms Jolie came his way, the blonde-haired start of “Fight Club” and the “Ocean’s” trilogy followed the long line of celebrity university drop-outs to pursue his dream of acting, earning a crust by driving limousines for strip-o-grams and dressing up as a chicken to entice people to eat at a Mexican restaurant.
Heralded as one of Britain’s finest ever comics, Jo Brand developed her trade in one of the most unlikely of environments: a hospital. Before earning her big break on “Friday Night Live” in 1988 at the age of 29 years, Jo spent more than 10 years working in psychiatric nursing as a senior charge nurse.
Loud, brash and often referred to as the bad girl of pop, Pink shot to stardom in 2000 at the age of 21 with the release of her first solo single “There You Go.” But before she won what would become a lucrative record contract, Pink, or Alecia Beth Moore, spent several years earning minimal wage flipping burgers, cleaning out the toilets and mopping the floors in McDonald’s.
Pink isn’t the only one who scrubbed floors for a living before making the big time. Prior to becoming the style icon she is today with an eclectic entourage, “Hollaback Girl” Gwen Stefani’s pre-No Doubt days were typically spent with a mop and bucket on the floor of American fast-food chain, Dairy Queen.
From the age of 16, Johnny Depp pursued a career in showbiz — but not as an actor. For a number of years Depp was angling for success as a rock musician and for a while it looked like his dream would come true, especially when his band was the support act for the likes of The Ramones, Talking Heads and the B-52s. But the record deal never came and he resorted to taking a job in telesales selling pens before a chance meeting with Nicholas Cage persuaded him to try his hand at acting. A role in “Nightmare on Elm Street” soon followed and the rest is history.
Before being heralded as the founding father of ‘grunge’, the late Kurt Cobain spent a number of years making a living in a more mundane way: as a caretaker or ‘janitor’. Kurt was employed by Lemon’s Janitorial Services to clean the local YMCA in his native Aberdeen in Washington State and in true anarchist style, decided to spray paint the entire hallway only to learn that it was his job to scrub it all off the following day. Nevermind, eh?