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Webby
topic
10:33:39 PM Mar 6th 2012
The reason this is a No Real Life Examples, Please! trope is so people won't put Real Life musicians— but people seemed to think it meant "no examples in a folder labelled Real Life".

    Music 
  • The Portsmouth Sinfonia, an orchestra where musicians were not required to have any idea how to play their instrument. It was formed as an experiment to figure out whether you could communicate a song even if you didn't, technically, play any of its notes. As it turns out, you can. As an added bonus, they also turned a pretty good profit as a comedy act. Their version of Also Sprach Zarathustra, for your enjoyment.
  • P.D.Q. Bach, as rediscovered by Peter Schickele, is what happens when one of these becomes a composer. ("... in general the dance music of P.D.Q. Bach, although we have no documentary evidence of this, suggests that one of his legs was shorter than the other.")
  • The poet and songwriter Shel Silverstein, perhaps best known for "The Unicorn Song" and "A Boy Named Sue," once recorded one of his own poems, "Sarah Sylvia Cynthia Stout." If you ever have a chance to listen to it, don't. His speaking voice combines all the worst qualities of a braying mule, a rusted hinge, and a badly played trumpet. And it's disgustingly nasal.
    • Yeah, Your Mileage May Vary. Said recording is pretty popular with many, having even been included on the Dr. Demento 20th Anniversary Collection.
  • Mrs. Miller, who in the 60's mangled many songs - most notably the Petula Clark hit 'Downtown'.
  • William Shatner. If you're extremely brave, listen to at least the last few seconds of this. If you're suicidal, he put out a whole album full of it — though he now swears it was all just a joke.
    • Ironically, his cover of Elton John's "Rocket Man" is now considered a classic.
    • The Transformed Man was supposed to be a pairing of the works of classic poets with "modern poets," such as Bob Dylan and The Beatles. His second album, Has Been, was produced by Ben Folds and was actually pretty... good. The music career of one Leonard Nimoy was far less beneficial to humanity, and—to put it bluntly—was a highly illogical career choice.
  • Rhino's Golden Throats collections gather various (pretty awful) recordings of celebrities singing/speaking other artist's song. Where else will you hear the likes of Telly Savalas covering "I Walk The Line"?
  • While touring in Hamburg, Germany in 1960, The Beatles had a bass player named Stuart Sutcliffe and a drummer named Pete Best. Sutcliffe was, by all accounts, a dreadful musician whose heart was never in music. His friendship with John Lennon and Paul McCartney (who played rhythm guitar at the time) is dramatized in the 1994 film Backbeat though the only place in which his dread can be heard is on the 1995 CD set Anthology Vol 1. In 1962, producer George Martin agreed to produce their first single on the proviso that Best was fired (Ringo Starr came along, the rest is history). His drumming, also available on Anthology Vol 1 and several cheap compilations of pre-fame Beatles recordings, was flawed, but not quite "dreadful," though your mileage may vary.
  • Sid Vicious - Lemmy stated "he still couldn't play bass when he died", and sometimes the tour managers even turned Sid's bass off, with nobody noticing. And of course, there's this.
  • Richey James Edwards is a literal example. He was a childhood friend of the band members who, being the only one of the four with a driver's license, started out driving the band to gigs. He eventually became recognized as a full member of the band as a "guitarist," miming the guitar on stage. James Dean Bradfield did virtually all the guitar work both onstage and in their recordings, while Richey's guitar playing appeared in only the songs "La Tristessa Durera" and "No Surface All Feeling" (the latter finished posthumously). Richey, as self-depreciating as he was, admitted that he'd rather play video games like Sonic the Hedgehog than practice guitar. However, in spite of his lack of skill and confidence as a musician, he nevertheless became the face of the band, not only by gathering attention ala Sid Vicious through his self-destructive antics, but by designing the sleeves and concepts of the three albums he was involved in, along with writing a great deal of the lyrics. His lyrics poetically and painfully reflected his inner turmoil and, in 1995, on the eve of the band's American tour promoting their masterpiece "The Holy Bible," Richey disappeared, having left his car at a gas station near the Severn Bridge, an infamous suicide spot. The band cancelled their tour before it began and eventually reformed as a trio, recording more mellow music, openly missing Richey, and leaving royalties to him if he ever were to return. He hasn't been found since, and he was declared legally dead in 2009.
  • Mercedes Lackey's song "Dark and Stormy Night," set in Valdemar, is about a Countess who thought she should have been born a bard. She practiced every night...
  • The original vocalist of Kamelot, before they got Large Ham opera-trained singer Roy Kahn and became awesome, was not especially talented.
  • In their early days, Gene Simmons of Kiss would frequently flub his basslines while attempting to pull off the theatrics that the band would become legendary for once they got the kinks worked out.
  • Siouxsie & The Banshees at their debut gig. Taking the DIY attitude of punk literal, they bashed out a 20 minute version of "The Lord's Prayer" which was described by some people as one of the most dreadful things they ever heard. They subverted expactations when they made their major debut and turned out to be very fine musicians after all.
  • Pendragon, a long-running neo-progressive rock band, are headed by Nick Barrett, whose guitar playing is excellent, and whose vocals are... well... interesting.
  • Florence Foster Jenkins, known as "The World's Worst Opera Singer." Critics agree that she had absolutely no musical talents whatsoever, not even pitch or rhythm, but her recitals did manage to draw large audiences through a real-life combination of So Bad, It's Good and Bile Fascination. She was also a striking case of Giftedly Bad, believing the continual outbursts of laughter at her concerts to be the work of rivals jealous of her abilities.
  • In The Annoying Music Show on NPR, Jim Nayder showcases some truly impressive examples. Would you believe a Japanese bluegrass tribute to Madonna? Dentists rapping about gum disease? "California Girls" covered by The Alexandrov Red Army Ensemble of Leningrad?
  • Trent Reznor managed to put this to use while recording The Fragile by playing instruments he had no previous experience with to generate eerie melodies and soundscapes.
  • The Shaggs were a band created by their father, whose wife had once recieved a vision that his three daughters would form a successful rock band, and he set out to make it come true. The girls had no talent, but enjoyed cult success as an outsider music group.
tophat665
11:24:02 AM Sep 10th 2012
While I understand why this would be the case, I would say that Florence Foster Jenkins, if no one else, does belong on this page, if only because she knew it. The Epitaph on her headstone reads, "Many said I couldn't sing. No one can say I didn't."
sinndogg
08:23:10 AM Jul 6th 2014
edited by 203.57.209.105
I'd say that some Idol auditions from around the world definitely qualify for Real Life examples, such as this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTfKTKGyJIs
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