Can You Believe These Virtuoso Musicians Have Never Had A Lesson In Their Lives?

Way to make us feel useless...

By Frank Donovan

Ten points for team autodidact!

It’s crazy but true—many of the greatest musicians of all time, like Prince, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Clapton, all skipped music lessons and instead taught themselves their instruments. The question we can’t help but ask: were they incredible musicians because they didn’t take lessons? Take a look at our list of 10 examples, and if you’re like us, think twice before spending your free time on your news feed instead of becoming Prince.

Dave Grohl

Grohl is an enthusiastic proponent of autodidacticism. He taught himself drums by listening to Rush and punk rock, he says. He did try to supplement his skills with a lesson once, but decided it was best to go his own path than the prescribed one, a philosophy he said he would apply to Ikea furniture assembly.


The son of two jazz musicians, little Prince had taught himself how to play piano by the time he was just seven years old, then went on to guitar and drums as a teen, and today plays dozens more.

Jimi Hendrix

It’s hard to believe that a guitarist as brilliant as Hendrix was completely self-taught. Then again, that could be the reason his sound was unheard of and revolutionary.

Jack White

In the 2008 documentary It Might Get Loud we learned that White taught himself guitar, as did the other subjects of the film, The Edge and Jimmy Page.

Eric Clapton

Instead of lessons, Clapton listened to blues records and practiced incessantly on a guitar he received from his grandparents on his 13th birthday.

David Bowie

While he did take saxophone lessons, Bowie flew solo when it came to piano, guitar, and harmonica.

Noel Gallagher

Thirteen-year-old Gallagher was put on 6 months of probation after robbing a corner store. During this time he taught himself to play guitar. Boredom was different before smartphones!


When she was gifted a toy keyboard, teenage Banks channeled her emotions into it and taught herself to play piano.

John Bonham

Crazy but true—the Led Zeppelin drummer known for his loud and wild solos was self-taught.

Paul McCartney

The Beatle concentrated on teaching himself guitar after his mother passed away, and ended up teaching John Lennon the basic chords years later.