When Musicians Invent Stuff

Not only a rock god

As if they’re not talented enough, they write their own music, pen hit songs and pretty much live as they please. But did you know that some of the most famous musicians of all time have invented stuff too? It seems these folks are bottomless pits of inspiration.

Neil Young – Model Train Controller

We told you before of Neil Young’s unusual hobby, but what we didn’t know at that time was that he took his hobby extremely seriously. You see, Neil Young loved model trains, and there’s nothing he loved more than to play with his trains with his son Ben. The problem was that with Ben’s cerebral palsy, he found it hard to control the trains.

Neil set about inventing a controller that would allow Ben the freedom to enjoy their hobby without needing his father to control the trains. He designed and created the Trainmaster Command Control, which solved this problem and became a hit with model train enthusiasts worldwide. Impressive stuff.

Glenn Frey – Eagle Poker

Legend has it that inimitable 70’s rock band The Eagles spent a great deal of their downtime between shows playing poker. In fact, they spent so much time playing that they gained a reputation as the band that played poker. But it wasn’t your common-or-garden Texas Hold ‘em. No, they took things a step further.

Taken with cards and poker, founding member and singer/songwriter Glenn Frey went right ahead and invented his version of the game. He called it Eagle Poker, which is rather apt considering its origins. It involved betting on the value of a third dealt card and whether its value fell in between the first two cards dealt or not. The game became popular among 70’s musicians, but unfortunately, that was as popular as it got. Nevertheless, it’s still a claim to fame that Frey took great pride.

Paula Abdul – Dynamic Microphone Stand

As we all know, Paula Abdul likes to dance. In fact, she likes to dance so much that she often has trouble keeping hold of the microphone. Now, we know what you’re thinking: Isn’t that what those Janet Jackson earpiece things do? But Paula wasn’t into those and decided she needed something better.

So, she went ahead and invented a mic stand that didn’t hinder her moves. This stand allowed singers to grab the mic and dance around without getting all tangled up in cables. At the time, it was quite modern, but like many other musical innovations of the 80s and 90s, there’s not much use for it now.

Bruce Dickinson – Airships

Bruce Dickinson, the tattooed millionaire, has many claims to fame. He’s the lead singer of Iron Maiden, had a successful solo career, runs a brewing company, holds a commercial pilot license and yes, he also helps design airships. Maybe we’re stretching the limits of what “inventing” means here, but this is too good to pass up.

Dickinson was an early investor in the Airlander airship and helped design it. He also piloted the maiden flight of the original airship. The company has since hit a few bumps on the road, but according to reports, they plan to start producing commercial airships soon.

Bill Wyman – Metal Detector

Wyman is far more metal than you think

Well, he didn’t invent the metal detector, but he did invent an entry-level metal detector that would allow anyone to search for lost gold by investing heavily in such equipment. Wyman is an avoid detectorist (yes, it’s a word) himself and wanted everyone to share in his joy at finding old coins and bits of metal on beaches or in fields. So, he designed and patented a detector that used minimalist tech but was still highly effective.

It was an instant hit and spawned a new age of metal detecting throughout Britain. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that popular, but Wyman raved that it would bring his hobby to a wider audience than the “anoraks.” We’re not sure how that worked out for him because we don’t know a single person with a metal detector.

It seems that all you need to become an inventor is a hugely successful musical career, boatloads of cash and plenty of free time in between album recordings and tours. Not much at all, is it? Seriously, though, we were already jealous of these folks having the life any musician would dream of having. But now that we know some are bona fide geniuses outside the realm of music, too, our envy knows no bounds.