Chicago Punk Rock Musicians with Unexpected Day Jobs

Daryl Wilson seems to like confounding expectations. “I mean I’m a 6-foot-4, 230-pound guy with dreadlocks who walks into a room and says ‘I’m your physician.’”

Dr. Wilson is also the lead singer in a Chicago punk rock band.

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He first set his sights on a career in medicine when he was 7 years old and saw his grandfather dying of cancer. Today he is a physician in the emergency department of Edward Hospital in Naperville.

His interest in punk rock started in middle school when his parents’ marriage was breaking up. “I found the aggressive nature of the music was a good way to release energy in a way that wasn’t dangerous,” he remembers. “And the music was cool. A lot of it was political so I liked it.” 

For many years, Wilson was just a fan, listening to the music in clubs. But when the Bollweevils were getting started in 1989, he was recruited by the band’s guitarist Ken Fitzner, who had been in the crowd with him at other shows. “We just thought he looked cool,” Fitzner remembers. “So it was like, ‘Alright, do you want to be in our band? Here’s our tape, we practice next Sunday.’”

Today, Fitzner also has a day job not normally associated with punk rock music: he is the principal of Reilly Elementary School in Chicago.

“My passion is being a principal,” he said. “It gives me such satisfaction. And where the punk rock comes in is that it becomes an outlet and a place for me to be a little bit more crazy, a little bit different.” 

At first he hid his musical life from his students and colleagues, he says. But now he sees it setting a positive example. “My life growing up in the city was tough as well, much like these kids here. And I think it’s really important that they have something that lets them express themselves,” he said. “Having an outlet for those emotions is probably one of the best things that’s ever happened to me.”

Note: This story first aired March 27, 2018. 

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