Pre-show superstitions and rituals of famous musicians

It’s easy to dismiss superstitious beliefs – Stevie Wonder famously sang about it in one of the catchiest songs of all time. However, performing a ritual before a stressful task – like playing a sold-out show, for example – can actually help alleviate anxiety, helping promote a good performance, a study by Harvard Business Review found. 

During the study, researchers conducted four experiments during which the participants performed a ritual before completing stressful tasks, which included singing “Don’t Stop Believing” for an audience and taking a math test. 

They concluded that performing a “ritual” before a high-stakes situation can ease feelings of anxiety, allowing the ritual-performer to do better on the task. 

Many famous musicians have pre-show rituals to help them perform their best. Here are some of them: 

 

The Rolling Stones

Don’t touch Keith Richards’ Shepherd’s Pie! The legendary Rolling Stones guitarist has a rule that he must have a pre-show Shepherd’s Pie (an English pub favorite) and that he’s the one who breaks the crust. “Nobody touches the pie till I’ve been in there,” Richards wrote in his 2010 autobiography Life.  “Don’t bust my crust, baby.”

 

Led Zeppelin 

Led Zeppelin was famous for their hard-partying antics during the band’s heyday – but the remaining members have calmed down a bit. During their reunion show in 2007, lead singer Robert Plant requested a special spot to iron his shirts. He explained that the task of ironing his own shirts helps to get him into the mood to perform. 


Foo Fighters

These rockers get ready for a show by listening to Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall album and downing some Jager bombs (aka “David Lee Roth juice”, lead singer Dave Grohl said in 2007

 

Coldplay

The British band has a quiet moment and a group hug together before they perform. Lead singer Chris Martin has some additional rituals of his own, including brushing his teeth. “For me, there are about 18 things I have to do before I can go out to perform—most of them are too ridiculous to repeat!” Martin told Clash Music in 2009. 



Taylor Swift

Triskaidekaphobia, where? Any true Swiftie knows that Taylor’s lucky number is 13, and the singer/songwriter used to write the number on her hand or body before each performance. She doesn’t appear to do this ritual anymore – but she now has the most number one albums by a woman in history, so maybe it worked! 

 


Mumford & Sons

Before a show, the members of Mumford & Sons light some palo santo wood, a type of wood native to South America and used in ritual purification there. Lead singer Marcus Mumford has said that the fumes of palo santo seem to be the only thing that can help his pre-show headaches. 

 

Leonard Cohen 

The late singer/songwriter used to prepare for shows with a whiskey and a Latin phrase – “Pauper sum ego, nihil habeo”, meaning  “I am poor, I have nothing.”



Do you have a pre-show ritual? Let us know what it is in the comments! 

Fret Zealot’s Fall 2023 playlist

Fall is here! Here are all of the songs the Fret Zealot team is listening to this season – and songs that remind us of autumn.

What are you listening to this season? Let us know in the comments.

 

Ways to avoid back pain while playing guitar

Whether you’ve been playing for a little while or a really long time, avoiding back pain is eventually going to be a factor for most guitar players. Especially if you spend a lot of time playing, paying attention to your posture will really affect your long-term comfort while playing guitar. 

@fret_zealot

Here are some ways to avoid back pain while playing guitar #guitar #guitartok #guitarplayer #guitarist #playingguitar #back #backpain #cramp

♬ original sound – Fret Zealot

The #1 tip for avoiding back pain is your posture. 

Keep your spine straight and afloat while playing. Try to avoid curling your spine over the guitar to look at your frets. Think about your vertebrae – you don’t want them crunched into each other. Instead, find a natural, comfortable posture where your neck and spine are straight. 

It’s important to have the right tools. 

If you like to sit while playing, use a stool rather than sitting in a chair with arms. This will allow your guitar to sit naturally, without you having to shift over and accommodate it. 

The most natural way to play guitar is to stand while you play. It’s recommended to stand for performances if you can to ensure that your back stays straight. 

It’s also important to have a guitar strap that fits correctly. If you find you have sore shoulders after a long playing session, look into getting a strap that has some padding, or is wider to better distribute the weight of your guitar. 

If you’re having back pain while playing guitar, check out how much your guitar weighs, and consider swapping it for a lighter model. Anything over 8 lbs. is considered a heavy guitar. 

For more advice in keeping good posture (and preventing back pain) in everyday life, check out the Alexander technique.

Add these movies about music to your streaming list!

If you love watching movies about music, check out these titles on your next movie night! From biopics to comedies, each of these movies also have great soundtracks. 



Walk The Line (2005) 

Drama/biopic 

Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon star in this biopic about Johnny Cash’s early life and his evolution into being the “Man in Black”. The film’s actors perform the songs in the movie, including “Folsom Prison Blues”. 

Folsom Prison Blues

 

This is Spinal Tap (1984) 

Comedy

“Spinal Tap – The Majesty of Rock” by kevin dooley is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

This mockumentary follows the fictional heavy metal band Spinal Tap on their tour of America. The film parodies the excesses of rock bands of the time, as well as documentaries about rock bands like The Song Remains the Same. The film also spawned the term “up to eleven”. 

 

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) 

Biopic 

Bohemian Rhapsody follows the life of Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury, from the band’s inception to their iconic 1985 Live Aid performance. The soundtrack includes many of the band’s songs and previously unreleased recordings. Including “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, and “We Will Rock You”. 

 

Wayne’s World (1992) 

Comedy   

“Wayn’s World” by Ned Vizzini is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

 

Based on an SNL sketch, Wayne’s World follows a pair of metalheads who run a public cable access show in Aurora, Ill. The film features cameos from Meat Loaf and Alice Cooper, and the soundtrack famously features “Bohemian Rhapsody” in a driving scene. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Purple Rain (1984) 

Drama 

Purple Rain features Prince in his acting debut. The musician had told his manager after the release of his album 1999 that he wouldn’t renew his contract with him unless he was able to star in a studio film. He also scored the film, including the title track, “Purple Rain”. 

 

Straight Outta Compton (2015) 

Biopic 

This biopic details the history of hip-hop group N.W.A. Original members of the group Dr. Dre and Ice Cube served as producers on the film, as well as Eazy-E’s widow, Tomica Woods-Wright. MC Ren and DJ Yella were creative consultants on the project. 


A Star is Born (2018) 

Romantic drama

The 2018 version of this movie, starting Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, is actually the fourth American adaptation. The 1937 original starred Janet Gaynor, 1954’s starred Judy Garland, and 1976’s starred Barbara Streisand. The lead song off of the 2018 soundtrack, “Shallow”, won an Oscar for “Best Original Song”. 

Shallow from A Star Is Born Fret Zealot lesson Lady Gaga Bradley Cooper

 

The Wall (1982) 

Musical drama 

The 1982 film The Wall was based on Pink Floyd’s 1979 album of the same name, and Pink Floyd bassist and vocalist Roger Waters wrote the screenplay. The film is metaphorical and features little dialogue, driven instead by music from the album, including “Another Brick in the Wall pt. 2”. 

 

La Bamba (1987) 

Biopic 

La Bamba followed the life of Chicano rock and roll star Ritchie Valens. The title comes from a Mexican folk song, famously recorded by Valens in 1958. Los Lobos covered the song for the soundtrack. 

What are your favorite music movies? Let us know in the comments!

Meet the Fret Zealot instructors – Dan Holton

In this new series, we’re introducing you to the Fret Zealot instructors! Fret Zealot has dozens of teachers with unique backgrounds and styles, so that you can find the one who’s right for you. 

 

Name: Dan Holton

 

What’s your name/organization?
Dan Holton/Your Guitar Academy Ltd

How long have you played guitar?
20 years

What got you into guitar?
Eric Clapton!

Why are you passionate about music?
The guitar is a beautiful blend of creativity and expressionism that I fell in love with at the age of 16 and never looked back!

Who is your favorite band/artist? 
Clapton, Bonamassa, Radiohead, Muse, Jeff Buckley, Vulfpeck… and many more!

What’s your favorite style of music to play on guitar? 
Blues and soul
Here are some of Dan’s lessons and courses:

Can being good at video games help you with playing guitar?

Were you a true “Guitar Hero” back in the day? Those skills might give you a leg up when it comes to actually playing guitar over other non-musicians. 

According to a 2016 study by the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, people who played music video games like “Rock Band” and “Guitar Hero” outperformed non-musicians with their musical listening skills, including perception of melody, tuning, tempo, and rhythm.

The study looked at three groups: musicians who had formal music education, non-musicians, and music video game players. All of the groups took a Profile of Music Perception Skills – a test of basic musical listening abilities. 

The results showed that both musicians and music video game players scored higher than their non-musician peers. 

It wasn’t clear from the results whether music video games help sharpen musical skills, or if those who are good at the games simply have more natural musical abilities. But there’s a good chance that if you could beat “Through the Fire and the Flames” on expert in Guitar Hero, you can learn guitar in real life! 

Fret Zealot is great for music video gamers who want to make the leap into real-life instruments. The Fret Zealot app has hundreds of step-by-step video lessons so you can learn anywhere, anytime, and the optional LED attachment makes learning more visual – and much faster. Get started today. 

Meet the Fret Zealot Instructors – Andre Von Berlo

In this new series, we’re introducing you to the Fret Zealot instructors! Fret Zealot has dozens of teachers with unique backgrounds and styles, so that you can find the one who’s right for you. 

Name: Andre Von Berlo

How long have you played guitar?
31 years

 

What got you into guitar?
A friend of mine played “Hotel California” on his acoustic guitar. I asked him to teach me the song. He said that I should start with something simple like “Blowin’ in the Wind” by Bob Dylan. I just kept asking until he agreed to do “Hotel California”. After about an hour I had it all memorized and it started to sound a bit like music. I never stopped playing since.

 

Why are you passionate about music?
It is the place where you loose yourself and find yourself at the same time. Time and space disappears and all there’s left is music.

 

Who is your favorite band/artist? 
I have too many to name but here are a few: Pat Metheny, Tommy Emmanuel, Mateus Asato, John Mayer, Gustav Mahler, Paco de Lucia, Django Reinhardt, Dream Theater, Scott Henderson, etc etc.

 

What’s your favorite style of music to play on guitar? 
Depends on my mood, currently I play a lot of gypsy jazz, Tommy Emmanuel and Mateus Asato tunes.

Check out some of Andre’s lessons and courses below! 

Time After Time 

Here Without You 

New Fret Zealot song lessons for September 2023

Need to fall back in love with playing guitar?

Check out these song lessons we added in September 2023.

 

“Daydreamer” – Adele

“Daydreamer” is the first track off of British singer Adele’s first album, 19. She played guitar on the studio version of the track.

 

“Demons” – Imagine Dragons 

The music video for Imagine Dragons song “Demons” was dedicated to Tyler Robinson, a fan of the band who died at the age of 17 in March 2013 following a battle with cancer.

 

“Hey Joe” – Jimi Hendrix 

This lesson is a three-parter – learn the intro, solo and chord progression for this song!

 

“The Trooper” – Iron Maiden 

“The Trooper” is one of the English heavy metal band’s best-performing songs in the United States. The song is about a battle in the Crimean War called the “Charge of the Light Brigade at the Brigade of Balaclava 1854. Lord Alfred Tennyson wrote a poem of the same name in 1854.

 

“Give a Little Bit” – Super Tramp 

Supertramp co-frontman Roger Hodgson wrote “Give a Little Bit” years before the band recorded the track – when he was 19 or 20. Hodgson said that the song was inspired by The Beatles’ “All You Need is Love”. He told PROG in 2023, “Even at an unwizened young age when I wrote this song, I saw that the world needed love. I believed in love – it was always for love – and I just felt that was the most important thing in life.”

 

“All Out of Love” – Air Supply 

Australian soft rock duo Air Supply had a huge hit on their hands with 1980’s “All Out of Love”. The song had already been a hit in Australia after coming out in 1978 – but the original version had some different lyrics, including “I’m all out of love, I want to arrest you” – meaning to “get your attention. American record producer Clive Davis knew the line wouldn’t fly in America, so he suggested changing it to “so lost without you”.

 

We also dropped a new course!

Jack White Player Study 

Learn Jack White’s blues-inspired signature style with this course.

 

Meet the Fret Zealot instructors – Todd Porter

In this new series, we’re introducing you to the Fret Zealot instructors! Fret Zealot has dozens of teachers with unique backgrounds and styles, so that you can find the one who’s right for you. 

 

Name: Todd Porter

How long have you played guitar?
30 years.



What got you into guitar?
My uncle and brother played.


Why are you passionate about music?
I love the feeling of being in the moment with other people making new music.



What’s your favorite style of music to play on guitar? 
Rock/Folk.
Check out some of Todd’s courses and song lessons below!

 

One-hit wonders who rocked

Sept. 25 is National One-Hit Wonder Day. Here’s a list of some bands that made it big – just briefly. 

 

‘Tainted Love’ by Soft Cell (1982)

The song “Tainted Love” was originally recorded in 1964 by American artist Gloria Jones. Originally a commercial flop, the single was purchased by British DJ Richard Searling in 1973 while on a trip to the U.S. Searling played the track in clubs in Northern England, where the “Northern soul” movement was popular.

English vocal-and-synth duo Soft Cell recorded a version of the track in 1981, which shot to the top of the UK charts and then the U.S. charts as well – staying 43 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, a record at that time.

In 2006, Rihanna’s “S.O.S.” sampled the iconic hook of the song.

 

‘Eye of the Tiger’ by Survivor, 1982

Sylvester Stallone wanted to use Queen’s song “Another One Bites the Dust” as the theme song for Rocky III. When Queen declined, Stallone asked American rock band Survivor to write a song for the movie. The result was “Eye of the Tiger” – their best-selling hit of all time. It spent 15 back-to-back weeks in the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100.



‘What’s Up?’ by 4 Non Blondes, 1993

The phrase “What’s Up” doesn’t actually appear in the lyrics for thi song – it was given the name “What’s Up” so that record stores wouldn’t confuse the track with “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye. The all-woman band only produced one record – “Bigger, Better, Faster, More!” in 1992 before breaking up in 1994. Founder and vocalist Linda Perry went on to have a very successful songwriting career, writing hit songs for Christina Aguilera, Pink, Gwen Stefani, and other artists. 

 

‘Tubthumping’ by Chumbawamba (1997)

British rock band Chumbawamba credited a pub for the inspiration for “Tubthumping”. The band was living in Leeds at the time, near a bar called “Fforde Grene”, and had a next-door neighbor who would patronize the bar every weekend, falling down drunk while trying to get back into his house. 

 

‘Take On Me’ by A-ha (1985)

Norwegian synth-pop band achieved huge success with their 1985 hit “Take On Me” – largely thanks to the song’s creative music video, which featured a live-action animation sequence. The video took six months to create and took home six awards at the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards.


‘La Bamba’ by Los Lobos, 1987

Los Lobos covered “La Bamba” – a Mexican folk song, famously recorded by Ritchie Valens in 1958 – for Valens’ 1987 biopic, La Bamba. Los Lobos’ version was the fourth non-English language song to top the Billboard Hot 100.