7 World Famous Rock Bands That Started in High School

A red guitar played by someone in a high school rock band in blue jeans and a black T-shirt, with a drummer and drum set in the background.
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Ahhh, the high school years. It’s when we experience some of life’s major milestones. You learn to accept responsibilities and follow through on them, how to stand on your morals, and that you won’t always be able to depend on mom and dad to get you out of a tough spot

High school is also when you learn to socialize as adults and build relationships based on common interests. Teen angst, impending adulthood, and greater awareness of the world around us create the perfect storm for budding musicians to come together and form a band. The high school rock band is almost a rite of passage in American culture, but a rare few have the stamina to last – never mind to hit superstar status. From Green Day to Boyz II Men, here are the origin stories of 7 bands that started in high school.

Bands That Started in High School

Some of these musicians have been friends since grade school. Others met through an ad on the school bulletin board. The good news is that eventually, the stars aligned, and great bands were formed. This guide will take you for a walk down memory lane while telling the origin stories of these 7 bands that started in high school.

Green Day

Billie Joe Armstrong and Mike Dirnt were middle school buds who started a punk band called Sweet Children after moving on to Pinole Valley High School in California in 1987. A drummer change occurred after the second album, and they eventually became the power trio now known as Green Day, with drummer Tre Cool. They have sold more than 75 million records throughout the world.

Boyz II Men

Six young boys from Philadelphia knew they had the right sound when they formed a band called Unique Attraction while attending Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts in 1985. Members came and left as they graduated, but by 1989 they had a core group. 

They renamed themselves Boyz II Men after a New Edition song. They snuck into one of the famous band’s concerts for an impromptu performance for them that eventually landed them a record deal. The group’s founding member, Marc Nelson, left just before they started recording their music. The result was the quartet that rocketed to fame in the late ’80s: Michael McCary, Nathan Morris, Wanya Morris, and Shawn Stockman.


Larry Mullen Jr. decided he wanted to start a band while attending Mount Temple Comprehensive School in Ireland in 1976. He put up an ad on the school bulletin board. Paul Hewson (Bono), David Evans (the Edge), and Adam Clayton showed up to answer the ad, and U2 was born. Sort of. They went through some name changes and struggled with a lack of musical knowledge, but eventually hit their stride to become the international superstars they are today.

The Beatles

John Lennon formed a folksy band of teen musicians when he was 15. Paul McCartney joined soon after and recommended George Harrison. They played together as The Quarrymen, a name chosen from their school’s name, the Quarry Bank high school in Liverpool, England, in the late ’50s. 

Soon Stuart Sutcliffe joined, and they had the founding members that became The Beatles. Eventually, Stuart left to become a painter, and the band began to earn local stardom. Ringo Star joined in the early ’60s, and the rest is history.

The Who

Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, and John Entwistle were friends from grammar school in Great Britain in the late 50s. Daltrey formed a band called The Detours but changed the name to The Who when Pete and John joined in high school. Soon Keith Moon came aboard, and with him, their style changed from a folk sound to a more edgy rock feeling. By the late ’60s, the group had attained worldwide recognition and was well on its way to superstar status.

Maroon 5

Kara’s Flowers was the original high school band name for Maroon 5, formed by Adam Levine, Jesse Carmichael, Mickey Maddin, and Ryan Dusick in Los Angeles during the mid-’90s. One of the few bands to be signed while still in high school, their first album was somewhat disappointing. 

The guys turned their focus to college for a while, but they re-emerged as Maroon 5 in 2001 with the addition of guitarist James Valentine. Their second album went quadruple platinum in 2005, and they’ve never looked back.

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem was the first name chosen by the iconic band Red Hot Chili Peppers. Anthony Kiedis, Hillel Slovak, Flea (Michael Balzary), and Jack Irons started the band when they were classmates at Fairfax High School in L.A. during the mid-’80s.

Slovak and Irons decided that another band held more potential and moved on, and as a result, Cliff Martinez and Jack Sherman were recruited. The band’s first album was released in 1984, and even though it sold over 300,000 copies, they were disappointed with the over-polished sound. Eventually, Sherman was fired, and Slovak rejoined in 85, helping to take the band to the stardom it enjoys today.

How inspiring is it to learn that some of the world’s most loved, respected, and successful bands got their start in high school? It lets us all know that chasing your dreams is worth a shot.

Sloan School of Music Helps High School Rock Bands Build Their Talents

Making it in the music industry takes more than desire. Pure talent isn’t even enough. It also takes dedication and discipline. Sloan School of Music provides private, group, or virtual lessons in all types of musical fields for people of all ages. It also offers a store selling top-of-the-line musical instruments and accessories. There’s also an opportunity to rent instruments for those who do not want to own their own. Check us out today to get started with your band tomorrow!