Maybe you’ve seen his recent Instagram post or maybe you’ve just wondered throughout the years, can Johnny Depp play guitar? He certainly looks like a rockstar—but does he have musical skill to back it up?
Johnny Depp can indeed play guitar, kind of. His ability to play guitar has been assessed in different ways by different people. Depending on who you ask, you may discover that he’s worthy of fans as a musician—or that he’s deserving of all the criticism he’s received.
Believe it or not, Johnny Depp was a musician before he was an actor. Over the years, he’s dabbled in music and has even released a full album. He certainly plays guitar, but does he play it well? It depends on who you ask.
Depp’s Garage Band Days
Depp was born in Kentucky, USA and raised in Florida. His early years were rough, as his family struggled with divorce and homelessness. Like many kids who would end up becoming famous, Johnny Depp dropped out of high school at 16 years old.
Joining a local garage band called the Kids, Depp quickly fell in love with music and did nothing but play for a few years. The band became pretty popular, opening up for the likes of the Talking Heads and the B-52s.
Like many other bands, the Kids struggled financially. They barely made ends meet and Depp actually spent a few months living in a car. A few years after the band was formed, Depp moved with his new wife to Los Angeles.
This event became a turning point in Depp’s career as it introduced him to the world of acting.
He’s In The Band
Many people can quickly recognize Depp and the roles he’s played in countless movies over the years, but few people recognize or remember Depp’s musical endeavors.
In 1993, several years after Depp got his first acting gig, he joined two business partners to purchase L.A.’s Viper Club—one of the hippest clubs on the Sunset Strip. Depp used the venue as a way to showcase his newest foray into music, his band P.
However, the success of The Viper Club and P were short-lived after a teen heartthrob tragically died from a drug overdose just outside the club.
For the next several decades, Depp’s musical involvement was varied. In the early 90’s, he contributed background “weird guitar noises” for punk-blues bands and even played guitar in an Oasis song. He joined infamous band Iggy Pop and contributed to then-girlfriend Vanessa Paradis’ 2011 album.
Appropriately playing a guitarist in the 2000 film Chocolat, Depp contributed three jazz songs to the soundtrack—becoming the first of many films he would star in and also contribute music to.
2016 Grammy Performance
Depp has continued dabbling in the musical world—joining famous musicians like Patty Smith, Marilyn Manson, and Ryan Adams.
Depp’s current band, Hollywood Vampires, was formed in 2015 and has been touring ever since. The band is made up of Depp, Alice Cooper, and Aerosmith’s Joe Perry. It has also welcomed big names like Dave Grohl and Paul McCartney.
Hollywood Vampires (and Johnny Depp himself) may have received some criticsm at their 2016 performance at the Grammy’s, but that doesn’t mean that hardcore fans didn’t love their cover of The Who’s My Generation.
A Love for Music
Once people get over the shock and awe of seeing a guitar in Depp’s hands, most of them are pretty impressed with his musical prowess. While he has received a lot of criticism over the years, most people would agree that he can play the guitar—and he does a pretty good job at it.
At the end of the day, it all doesn’t really matter. Depp loves playing the guitar, and if there’s one thing we know about the star, it’s that he’s going to do whatever he wants to. Plus, as stated by friend and band member, Alice Cooper, “Johnny Depp would rather play guitar than act.”