6 Famous Musicians Who Started Out By Busking

by Tim Redford, Jan 2, 2018 . 3 min read

6 Famous Musicians Who Started Out By Busking

We all see street performers downtown and busking in high traffic public places, it’s a good way for musicians to make some money while sharpening their skills. Did you know that some of the world’s most famous musicians got their start as buskers?

B.B. King

BB King

King had a difficult life growing up. When he wasn’t at church or picking cotton in the fields, he would busk for extra change with simple 3 chord songs that he picked up from the radio and would sing along to them.

He developed a special kind of reach with his music that stayed with him from the streets all the way up into packed concert halls.

Glen Hansard

Glen Hansard singing on stage

An unlikely Oscar winner for his movie “Once” about a busker who starts a band and writes music with a girl he meets on the street. The story reflects his real life start busking on Grafton street in Dublin and all over Europe.

An example of how years of experience in front of a passing audience can give someone super powers of captivation on stage.

Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran

Sheeran began his career by travelling around the UK sleeping on couches, playing open mics, and busking everywhere he could find an audience who would listen. Eventually Jamie Foxx would come across him and invite him to play one at one of his house parties. He’s now known for having the most streamed song of all time on Spotify with “Shape of You”.

Jewel

Jewel singing on stage

Jewel spent a time living out of her van while travelling across the US playing on the streets and doing small gigs in coffee shops. Her music and songwriting took her all around the country, and eventually the world as a chart topping singer songwriter.

Beck

Beck performing on stage

Beck deserves an award for the most varied music one artist has brought into the world. Everything from weird hip hop to experimental rock, his humble beginnings are in roots and folk music that he would play as a busker on street corners in L.A.

Tracy Chapman

Tracy Chapman with guitar

Tracy was such a natural in her early 20s that she scored a busking pass for the lucrative Harvard Square. A fellow student discovered her and happened to be the daughter of a record exec for a label called SBK. Her passion and persistence put her on track to being a celebrated songwriter in history.

Get Out There and Play

If you’ve had the urge to get out there and play your music in front of thousands of total strangers, not only is busking great practice, but as we can see from these examples it can be a possible doorway to a career with your music.

With your Roadie 2 tuner in your bag, you’ll be tuned up and ready in mere seconds.

Gather some courage and give it a try!

 



Get our free Alternate Tunings Guide!
Submit

Check out some other similar articles

Although women by no means are under-represented in the music industry, female instrumentalists are not quite as common as we’d like them to be –

Frederik Nielsen
Mar 8, 2020 . 4 min read

A list of musicians who died before the age of 30 would be too long to write. Even going through all of the members of the infamous “27 Club” would take ages.

Frederik Nielsen
Mar 4, 2020 . 3 min read

While most people are not sure if they have one genuine talent, some people are much luckier. 

Tamara Habchi
Mar 3, 2020 . 4 min read

In most cases, parents are proud when their kids reach a developmental milestone ahead of their peers.

Tamara Habchi
Mar 2, 2020 . 4 min read

There are enough obstacles to making it in the music industry. Succeeding with a disability is nothing short of a miracle. But it’s not impossible.

Frederik Nielsen
Feb 25, 2020 . 4 min read

People who speak more than one language are impressive to all of us. And musicians that play more than one instrument are even more impressive.

Frederik Nielsen
Feb 25, 2020 . 4 min read

Despite what many people will tell you, you can earn more than decent money as a relatively unknown, professional guitarist. There are many ways to make money:

Frederik Nielsen
Feb 24, 2020 . 3 min read

When you think of the ukulele, you probably think about a tropical, Hawaiian beach with lots of sunlight. But people from all over the world have fallen in love with ukulele.

Frederik Nielsen
Feb 18, 2020 . 5 min read

The second month of the year comes with a lot of celebrations. We have the Presidents’ Day, there’s also Valentine’s Day, plus all of the birthdays of amazing people we look up to.

Frederik Nielsen
Feb 17, 2020 . 3 min read

New year, New reviews? But wait, before we officially welcome 2020, let’s look back at some of our favorite reviews of 2019.

Tamara Habchi
Jan 8, 2020 . 4 min read

In this edition of Roadie Spotlight, we’re checking out the Japanese guitar virtuoso ichika [sic] who has taken the Internet by storm with his amazing skills.

Frederik Nielsen
Dec 31, 2019 . 3 min read

Not all stars are plastered across social media. Some manage to create a buzz without resorting to self-aggrandizing promotion techniques. 

Frederik Nielsen
Dec 24, 2019 . 3 min read

We’re almost at the end of 2019 and thought we’d round off the year with more spotlights on great guitarists that we come across online.

Frederik Nielsen
Dec 20, 2019 . 3 min read

Annie Plays Guitar is a name that has popped up on social media for the past few years. We’ve had a listen to Annie Wagstaff’s music and also looked at her new project HANNIE in this edition of Roadie Spotlight.

Frederik Nielsen
Dec 16, 2019 . 3 min read

We’re once more putting the spotlight of some of our favorite artists here on the Roadie blog. Some of them are famous, others are emerging — but all of them are amazing.

Frederik Nielsen
Dec 5, 2019 . 2 min read

Ever wondered what equipment some of the greatest guitarists of all time used?

Then look no further.

Frederik Nielsen
Oct 30, 2019 . 4 min read

Today’s Roadie Spotlight series will introduce Adam Nitti, a world-renown bassist, music teacher, composer, and recording artist.

Randall Nashleanas
Aug 9, 2019 . 3 min read

Roadie Tuner has received much support from musicians all over the world, as they share their personal preferences and opinions on how they use Roadie products.

Frederik Nielsen
Jul 10, 2019 . 2 min read

While it’s true that the music industry can often seem like a young person’s game, there are more than a handful guitarists who made it later in life.

Frederik Nielsen
Jul 4, 2019 . 3 min read

Western and non-western civilizations across the globe contain a plethora of various genres of music. Although these cultures aren’t universally on the same page – music is the universal language.

Randall Nashleanas
Jun 21, 2019 . 5 min read
We'll be bringing you recommended tabs and plenty of interesting quotes from guitar legends along the way!