There is a misconception that all inventors are eccentric old men who spend their lives tinkering with gadgets in a shed. This is not true (at least, not most of the time). However, most inventors are very creative and good at problem solving. As musicians are some of the most creative people around, it should not come as too much of a surprise that several famous musicians have patented inventions. This is a look at five interesting examples…
Michael Jackson’s Anti-Gravity Shoes
Patent No.: US 5255452
Issue Date: 26 October 1993
Michael Jackson’s amazing 45-degree tilt during performances of Smooth Criminal had scientists and dancers baffled, as he seemingly defied gravity. In fact, MJ had invented a special pair of shoes which have a slot in the heel that hooks on to a peg inserted through the floor. Not magic, but still impressive innovation!
Patent No.: US D349127
Issue Date: 26 July 1994
Prince obtained a US design patent for this new, slightly eccentric, keyboard-guitar hybrid which he dubbed the ‘PurpleaxxeTM’. The instrument was used in many of Prince’s recording and shows.
Neil Young’s Trains
Patent No.: US 5441223
Issue date: 15 August 1995
Neil Young — world famous rock legend — is also a huge fan of trains. An auction of some of Neil’s model trains in 2017 raised nearly £300,000. He has been named as an inventor on several US patent applications related to model train inventions. He even invented a model train controller which is easier for people with disabilities to use, as his own sons struggled to use existing controllers.
Van Halen’s Guitar Support System
Patent No.: US 4656917
Issue date: 14 April 1987
Eddie Van Halen is known for his wild guitar performances on stage. He even invented a support system for a guitar (or other stringed instrument) which mounts the instrument perpendicular to the user’s body, freeing their hands for some epic guitar solos (as shown in the patent drawing below)!
Harry Connick Jr.’s Digital Sheet Music for Ochestras
Patent No.: US 6348648
Issue Date: 19 February 2002
Harry Connick Jr. is known as an accomplished actor, composer and singer, but he has yet another string to his bow. He patented a digital sheet music system that allows a conductor to modify a musical score and transmit the modifications to multiple users— for example, all or part of the orchestra. Is there no end to Mr Connick’s talents?!
These examples show that you simply can’t stereotype an ‘inventor’. Today, all sorts of people hold patents and other forms of IP — for example, more women are involved in patent filing around the world than ever before. Hopefully this trend towards diversity will continue.