Silicon Valley's Secret Rock Star
From our colleagues at Fortune, comes a story about James Williamson, who grew up in Detroit and became guitarist for legendary Detroit band the Stooges in the '70s. Williamson strayed away from music in the '90s, to become a Silicon Valley executive. But now, he's back with the band.
Here's an excerpt:
Offices are full of people with past lives -- and for more than two decades James Williamson kept his a secret. Before retiring last year, Williamson was the vice president of technology standards at Sony Electronics, where he traveled around the world developing compatibility guidelines for products. Former colleagues describe him as calm and analytical. He looks the part of a Silicon Valley exec -- short white hair, suit jacket -- and enjoys vacationing in Hawaii and playing tennis. A few years ago he took up the ukulele and the slack-key guitar. It was his first time picking up an instrument, he says, since the 1970s, when he played guitar for the Stooges, one of the most famous punk-rock bands of all time. (That would be his secret.)
Williamson wasn't ashamed of his rock-and-roll past -- he just didn't bring it up, he says, and his co-workers didn't ask. Even the Stooges fans in the office would have been hard-pressed to make the connection between the strait-laced Sony (SNE) executive and the guitarist whose band members were known for violent antics like rolling in broken glass onstage and flashing the audience. So for years Williamson kept quiet, shunning interview requests until rumors of his new career began popping up on the Internet in the late '90s. After he agreed to appear on a VH1 program about the Stooges, his colleagues began to ask, tentatively, whether he was the guy from the band.
"I was sitting across the table from our deputy general counsel, who's a huge music fan, and he asked, 'Are you James Williamson from the Stooges?'" says Williamson. "It blew his mind." (The counsel, Christopher Ekren, says he always knew his co-worker's secret.)
Others were more taken aback. "James doesn't look like an entertainment guy," says Toshimoto Mitomo, Sony's senior vice president of intellectual property. "He looks better in a suit than anyone else."
Read the full story here.