Celebrities come from all walks of life, as they like to remind us ever so often. For some of them, before they hiked up the Popularity Mountain, it all started with a simple task – riding around on bikes and making sure bunch of people got their stuff.
Carrying and delivering items by bike is a job that emerged almost immediately after the bicycle was invented. It still belongs among the fastest means of transportation in big cities, as it’s less subjected to hold-ups in traffic jams. For many of us, it used to be a job we once experienced, or the last resort in case we found ourselves in between jobs. All you need is what you like the most – your bike and hunger for never ending daily rides. We’re in this together with some famous people who also worked as bicycle couriers in the past.
Rolling Stone magazine ranked the Ramones as 26th on its list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”. The last surviving member Marky Ramone revealed in his biography Punk Rock Blitzkrieg: My Life as a Ramone that he used to work as a bicycle courier as a part of the twelve-step program to sobriety, founded by the organisation Anonymous Alcoholics. After he was asked to leave the band in February 1983 because of his drinking problem, the group’s drummer tried hard to get rid of his bad habit. Cycling as an undercover bicycle messenger through the streets of New York was one of the tools how to forget about booze as soon as possible. You can read It in his book: “I became a bike messenger. I would get up at five thirty in the morning, eat a big breakfast, ride the subway in with my bike, and report to the dispatch office on West Twenty-Seventh Street. I wore sweatpants and bicycle shoes. I tucked my hair into a baseball cap. People may have known who Marky Ramone was, but that was not me. This was Bike Messengers Anonymous.” He remembers the town as a jungle. Cars, taxis, trucks, and buses were predators for him, while he felt like a prey among them. “Intersections were like swamps – you hoped you and your backpack were going to make it out alive,” Marky writes in his biography.
GZA of Wu-Tang Clan
As there were countless hip hop groups and projects on the East Coast in the late 80’s, it was far from easy to break through and make a career with your music. In a short interview for the website UndergroundHipHop.com the American rapper, songwriter, and a founding member of the hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan Gary Price, better known as GZA, describes the part of his life before becoming a living legend. And you should be amazed by his words because even today he’s still pretty happy about many of his previous professions. GZA considers work of the bike messenger as one of the most flexible jobs he has ever had. “I was the independent contractor so I took the job if I wanted or stayed at home when it rained, and I didn’t go to work. And then when it was sunny, I worked again,” GZA explains. He admits that he made good money in that time, too.
It’s hard to decide if Rob Zombie became famous as a musician and the founding member of the metal group White Zombies, or as the director of horror movies like House of 1000 Corpses or the remake of the infamous Halloween. Prior to marching to the hall of rock and roll legends, the controversial artist moved to New York and worked as a bike messenger until 1985. According to quotes in his own bio on the IMDB, he didn’t enjoy this experience much. “Being a bike messenger in New York City was the worst job I’ve ever had… I got hit by a car twice and didn’t even get hurt. I mean how many times can you get hit by a car and walk away?”
Long before the successful Friends TV series begun, Jennifer Aniston had ridden the bike down the streets of New York with a tiny parcel and letters in her messenger bag. Remembering the days when she was just 19, trying to boost her actress career, the Hollywood Walk of Fame star owner who gained worldwide recognition for portraying Rachel Green said, that bike messenger was the toughest job of her life. As the hardest moment in her short mission as a bicycle courier, she depicted crashing into a car door that just opened in front of her front wheel. “I’m very uncoordinated and extraordinarily clumsy,” she confessed at the press conference for the Horrible Bosses movie.
Among other jobs like movie projectionist, assembly line mechanic, dish washer, or documentation mechanic, Chuck Palahniuk names also a bicycle messenger to play a significant role in the list of his employment history before becoming a world-famous writer. He rode a bike with deliveries in the rainy streets of Portland while he studied at the University of Oregon. Much later he compared the courier job and a newspaper journalist one in one of his interviews where he said that bike messenger definitely proved to be a better job income wise.