- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 11, 2006

Darkly comic director Terry Zwigoff’s new movie “Art School Confidential” (out today) follows an aspiring graphic illustrator through the bizarre byways of a chi-chi art institution. But we all know that every art student harbors secret fantasies of becoming a rock star — not without reason. Art schools have served as a veritable farm league for some of the biggest names in the business.

John Lennon — “The funny thing was, I didn’t even pass art … I spent the exam time doing daft cartoons,” the Liverpool Art College student once said. But it was there he first heard Elvis, and it was all downhill from there.

Keith Richards — This self-described “hood” was expelled from high school in 1959 and, as a sort of olive branch from the school headmaster, was offered a slot at Sidcup Art School. He whiled away his art school days “drawing pictures of women with no clothes on,” but made a fruitful connection with future Pretty Things guitarist Dick Taylor, who shared with Mr. Richards an enthusiasm for American blues and R&B.;

Pete Townshend — The Who mastermind enrolled in Ealing Art College in 1961, joined the Young Communist League and generally found there an atmosphere congenial to ungainly guys with big noses. “Incredibly beautiful women would talk to you without needing to see your credentials. It took me about a year to get over that,” Mr. Townshend once remarked.

Freddie Mercury — The late Queen frontman also attended Ealing. He studied graphic design and said the milieu continually informed his flamboyant sense of style. “Art school teaches you to be more fashion conscious, to be always one step ahead,” he said.

David Byrne — The ex-Talking Head, who dropped out of the Rhode Island School of Design and later attended the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, turned his training to advantage in live Talking Heads performances that featured prominent visual components. Mr. Byrne, also a successful photographer, released in 2003 the Microsoft PowerPoint-composed mixed media work “Envisioning Emotional Epistemological Information.”

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