5 Musicians Who Walked Away from Music

Leaving the allure of fame can be a difficult thing to do. Many musicians have claimed retirement only to return a short time later. However, there are a few musicians that have stuck to their guns, leaving the spotlight forever.

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From Lauryn Hill to Captain Beefheart, find five musicians that decided to walk away from music, below.

[RELATED: 7 Rock Stars Who Walked Away Too Early—From Bill Wyman to Meg White]

1. Lauryn Hill

After the release of This Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, the singer was primed to take over the world. Nevertheless, Hill decided to leave music after sharing that record – save a few Fugees reunions and the odd single here or there.

Hill’s only other solo release was a live album captured for MTV’s Unplugged series in 2002. “I’m just retired from the fantasy part,” Hill said around the same time. “I’m glad that I don’t have to slave anymore.”

2. Daft Punk

Daft Punk – consisting of Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo – brought electronic music into the mainstream in a way seldom seen before. The Parisian duo secured countless hits, both on their own and with other chart-topping artists. Despite their success, the group announced their split in 2021.

As to why they decided to walk away, Bangalter said he worried about the group’s influence on AI and creativity. “Daft Punk was a project that blurred the line between reality and fiction with these robot characters,” he once said. “It was a very important point for me and Guy-Manuel to not spoil the narrative while it was happening.”

3. Captain Beefheart

Captain Beefheart changed rock music forever with his 13 studio albums. His unique brand of musicality was like nothing ever heard before or since. Even so, the Captain – aka Don Van Vliet – decided to make his 1982 album, Ice Cream for Crow, his last. After announcing his retirement, Van Vliet decided to focus on visual art out in the Mojave Desert. “People are just too far out. Do you know what I mean? Too far out — far away from nature,” he once said.

4. Fred Neil

Though Fred Neil might not be as well-known as the other artists on this list, his contributions to the Greenwich folk scene were indispensable – so much so that Bob Dylan used Neil as a mentor when he first arrived in New York. He is most known for his track “Everybody’s Talkin,'” which was made popular by Harry Nilsson.

Despite becoming a renowned figure in folk, his occasional efforts in music eventually became a means to an end. In the early ’70s, Neil decided to leave music behind and instead focus on The Dolphin Research Project, which Neil co-founded with his music-made money, in an effort to combat the exploitation of the animal.

5. Cindy Birdsong

Cindy Birdsong found success in music twice over. She first garnered fame as part of Patti LaBelle and The Bluebells. Despite their success, Birdsong decided to leave the group to become a Supreme alongside Diana Ross.

Birdsong remained a part of The Supremes until 1977 when she became frustrated with the group’s manager and decided to jump ship. The Supremes became her last group. She instead decided to go back to her original career goal of being a nurse.

(Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

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