Musicians Who Are Known for Their Love of Gambling

Since the early days of music, certain artists have stood out for their brash personalities, unique vocals, and their ability to make the crowd roar.

Amidst all the fame, there were many who were known for their love of gambling, an addiction that came with money and the desire to take risks on stage.

Musicians at the time couldn’t go to a website to partake in gambling but would head over to Vegas, where the intoxicating atmosphere would bring out their risk-taking spirits. In this article, we will explore some fascinating stories about singers who danced with fate by gambling their earnings in the world of high stakes.

Early Examples of Musicians with a Passion for Gambling

In the early 1930s, an enigmatic American blues musician, Robert Johnson, emerged in the music scene. His eerie falsetto singing voice and masterful rhythmic slide guitar were not the only things he was famous for.

Johnson was a womanizer and a gambler. His love for gambling and risking high stakes was a part of his life, an integral part of who he was. There are many stories about how he died, with some stating that a man poisoned Johnson for sleeping with his wife.

Even before Robert Johnson, there was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Considered to be a prolific and influential composer of the classical period, Mozart was not only known for his musical genius but also for his gambling escapades.

Mozart bet on horse races and card games, with gambling becoming a significant part of his life. You can feel the spirit of audacity and his ability to take risks in his complex compositions.

In a single day, it is said that Mozart gambled more than 2000 Guldens ($800,000) while playing billiards. Mozart’s addiction led him to shallow friendships and soon became an antidote for his loneliness.

In the 1970s, he stayed at a hotel opposite a casino to satisfy his hunger for gambling. He would return to the gambling tables after his concerts and lose his earnings, eventually moving to a cheaper dwelling due to a lack of funds.

The Jazz Era and the Rise of Musicians as Gamblers

With the Jazz Era (from the 1920s to the early 1930s) came a wave of musicians associated with exuberance, hedonism, and gambling.

Renowned for his virtuosic trumpet playing and soulful vocals, Louis Armstrong loved playing dice games. According to The New York Times, Armstrong learned to love and play jazz in the company of gamblers, pimps, and prostitutes.

In a 1969 interview, Armstrong recalled how he had made money from music and decided to head to a nearby gambling house, where he lost everything.

He spoke about the dark times in his life when he was completely broke because of gambling and resorted to pimping to pay the bills. It led to him getting stabbed by a client. He even wrote a few songs about gambling, including “Gambler’s Dream” and “Gambler’s Blues.”

Rock ‘n’ Roll and Gambling: A Perfect Match

After the Jazz Era, rock ‘n’ roll emerged with its electrifying energy, larger-than-life personalities, and crazy stage antics. Rock musicians indulged in various activities, including gambling.

Motörhead, a legendary British band, was one of the most influential hard rock bands in history. The lead vocalist from Motörhead, Ian Fraser Kilmister, also known as Lemmy, was considered a godfather figure by many fans, including other rock musicians.

When he wasn’t composing music, Lemmy would often head over to the Rainbow Bar and Grill in Los Angeles, where he would play slot games and enjoy a couple of drinks at the bar.

Another American rocker known for his love of gambling is Salvatore Paul Erna Jr. He is the lead vocalist for the multi-platinum-selling post-grunge band Godsmack.

Erna is famous for being involved in one of the biggest coolers in poker history. During a game, he was holding four aces while his opponent across the table had a royal flush. He correctly read the other player and won the game. Etched in Erna’s memory, he tattooed this memorable moment in his life on his body.

Elvis Presley was another musician known for his love of gambling, with some stating that it played a major part in his financial demise. Despite selling millions of albums and performing across the United States, Elvis left no significant fortune behind at the time of his death.

The Pop World: Glitz, Glamour, and Gambling

The glitz and glamour of the pop world drew many musicians to the allure of high-stakes gambling, including Frank Sinatra, a musician responsible for reinventing the entertainment world.

Sinatra’s passion for gambling was no secret. In the 1950s, he performed in Vegas, quickly earning himself the title of one of the best-known residency performers in history.

The intoxicating atmosphere of Vegas and the overflowing champagne fountains fueled his eccentricity, and in 1967, he accrued a gambling debt of $500,000 in a single night at the Sands.

Gambling as a Creative Outlet: Musicians and Casino-themed Songs

The theme of gambling and casinos has found its way into many songs, becoming a creative outlet for artists to express their love for unpredictability and risk-taking.

A classic example of this is a song called “Tumbling Dice” by The Rolling Stones, where the lyrics create an atmosphere reminiscent of a casino floor. The song not only captures the essence of gambling but also showcases the band’s ingenuity and their ability to blend their music with “taboo” themes.

Another song that captures the theme of gambling is Madonna’s hit single “Gambler.” The song is not only catchy but also energetic, reflecting the adrenaline associated with high stakes. It evokes a sense of empowerment and encourages listeners to take risks in life by following their instincts.

Wrapping It Up

Whether it was the early bluesmen, the rebellious rockers, or the glitzy pop stars, many musicians were notorious for taking risks by venturing in different directions when composing music.

However, some would demonstrate a massive appetite for risk by indulging in an open love affair with gambling.

You can trace the enigmatic bond between musicians and gambling back to the 1700s when the glorious symphonies of Mozart spread across the world. Although the stories of musicians going bankrupt are heartbreaking, it is important to note that moderation in everything is crucial.

Remember, if you get too close to the sun, you’ll get burned, and gambling is no different. Gamble responsibly, enjoy your winnings, and don’t chase losses!