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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

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  • Before the Fame: From geeks to rock gods

    Sure, they’re (mostly) cool now. They’re music legends, hit makers, trendsetters. But back in the day? Not so much.

    The funny thing about nerds in high school is that they often grow up to be the smartest and most successful people around. So take note, you aspiring music stars: Just because you’re a nerd doesn’t mean you won’t make it. peels back the curtain on these formerly geeky rocks stars.


    [Seth Poppel/Yearbook Library, Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

    THEN: Steven Tallarico (a.k.a. Tyler) as a Freshman at Walt Whitman Junior High School in Yonkers, New York, in 1964.

    The big-lipped, loud-screamin’ Steven Tyler started singing in his church choir and later played in his school’s marching band (he was compelled to pin up his long hair for performances, no joke). Though Tyler played harmonica, keyboards, guitar, and percussion, he insisted on becoming the singing solo frontman when he joined his very first band, the Strangeurs.

    NOW: The lead singer of Aerosmith.

    His band of the last 40 years, Aerosmith, with lead singer Tyler, are still making music together. Their mega-hits include “Dream On,” “Walk This Way,” and “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.” Today on TV, Tyler’s contributions as a judge on “American Idol” have ranged from the downright weird to the wildly inappropriate (and hilarious).

    See all 28 pics in the Nerds to Rock Stars gallery at


    [Seth Poppel/Yearbook Library, Jason Kempin/Getty Images for ID-PR

    THEN: Bruce Springsteen as a Senior at New Jersey’s Freehold Regional High School in 1967.

    Springsteen originally attended parochial school but didn’t get along with the nuns or his fellow students. In ninth grade, he transferred to public school, but didn’t fare much better. “I didn’t even make it to class clown,” says Springsteen. ”I had nowhere near that amount of notoriety…. I was the kind of kid that never got into trouble, but trouble would gravitate around me.”

    NOW: The Boss.

    This legendary Rock & Roll Hall of Famer has always been a champion of the underdog and the outsider, perhaps because he was one from an early age. His social commentary (like the ode to a declining Main Street America in 1985’s “Hometown”) has never waned. His latest album includes the song “Death to My Hometown”.

    See all 28 pics in the Nerds to Rock Stars gallery at


    [Seth Poppel/Yearbook Library, Chiaki Nozu/WireImage

    THEN: Dee Snider Yearbook Photo, Senior Year 1973, Baldwin High School, Baldwin, NY.

    Before getting “twisted” into the make-up wearing front man of the band Twisted Sister, Dee was a pretty mild-mannered looking, nerdy kid with an impressive crumb catcher.

    NOW: Twisted Sister lead singer.

    Only recently cut, Dee Snider made to Round 8 on “Celebrity Apprentice,” raising $326,000 for March Of Dimes. He also hosts a syndicated radio show called “House of Hair,” (we hope it is about metal music… and not beauty advice…), does voice-overs, and has a memoir and a new album coming out.

    So, how does he do it all? “There’s an eight foot sign right over [my] desk that my wife had made out of wrought iron by a local artist,” he told in a recent interview. “It says, ‘Drink Coffee, Do Stupid Things Faster, And With More Energy.’ It’s my credo.”

    The Twisted Sister frontman will also soon appear on the new FEARnet series “Holliston,” a self-parodying sitcom about two guys who work at a Massachusetts cable station and want to make horror movies. The show takes serious liberties with reality and Snider plays the boss, Lance Rocket, who moonlights in a Van Halen cover band called (natch) Diver Down.

    Read the entire exclusive interview with Dee about his move into acting with “Hollister.”

    You can see all 28 pics in the Nerds to Rock Stars gallery at

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