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The Bass Player in Vixen Wants to Sell You Your Next House

What do members of bands like Alice Cooper, the Dandy Warhols, Vixen, Slayer, and Hatebreed have in common? Besides gold records and juicy stories of life on the road, one of the above also might be the real estate agent who sells you your next home.

With the loss of revenues from record sales and paltry streaming royalties, an increasing number of rockers are turning to careers in real estate as a way to make ends meet. And this trend only increased when the pandemic shuttered the live performance game.

Zia McCabe, the keyboardist for Nineties alternative rockers the Dandy Warhols, is one example. Seven years ago, the Portland-based musician felt she needed a change from a life spent largely on the road.

“We still wanted to keep the band going but desired to tour less, to cherry-pick good gigs and spend more time with our families,” she says. “There was less income from live performances and merch sales. And we didn’t want to go back to the beginning — traveling and sleeping in a van.”

“I was introduced to my mentor by the woman who sold me my house,” continues McCabe, who now works for Living Room Realty. “He was a touring musician and a broker… I had a cubicle and went to the office every day to learn the ropes. It was 2017, the gravy train years where interest rates were low and sales started hopping for me pretty quickly.”

As it turns out, many of McCabe’s clients are musicians and artists. 

“Musicians are natural networkers with a hustle mentality that translates well to real estate work,” McCabe says. “I started by selling to my friends in the arts and fans. As artists, we’re led to believe we don’t deserve things like health insurance and owning a home. So, it has been really gratifying for me to educate my fellow artists about the lifestyle and financial benefits of home ownership.”

Like many, McCabe finds the flexibility of her side hustle in real estate the perfect complement to a musician’s life. She’s able to negotiate sales when she’s on tour or deejaying at a club and says she spends 20 to 50 hours a week working in real estate. “Sometimes it’s reasonable,” McCabe says, “sometimes it’s like having two full-time jobs.”

For Share Ross, bass player for the Eighties hair-metal band Vixen, the move into real estate has been more all-encompassing and certainly more financially rewarding. 

When Ross finally left Vixen in 2022, even with platinum album sales and major tours, she says she “never made a penny.” Today, she is a top-producing real estate agent with eXp Realty in West Palm Beach, Florida, with sales of $18 to 22 million per year.

At the end of 2017, Ross was still playing music part-time and working as a life coach. Through a realtor friend, Avery Carl, the wife of SiriusXM “Hair Nation” DJ Luc Carl, Ross became intrigued with the prospect of working in the industry. By the fall of 2018, she had secured her license and began to quickly close deals in Boca Raton, Boyton Beach, and Del Rey Beach.

But unlike McCabe, Ross kept her rock life on the Q.T. with clients. 

“I bought a conservative suit and never led with my rock past, but a couple of times clients did find out,” she says. “The most memorable was an 80-year-old couple who ‘googled’ and saw my outrageous glam outfits. They thought it was all ‘very cute.’”

The increase of music industry folk seeking work in real estate has given birth to a company dedicated to it – Heavy Realty.

Heavy Realty is the brainchild of Juliet Lalouel, a Colorado and Hawaii-based realtor and investor. The daughter of a musician, Lalouel first dipped her toes into real estate by flipping a few houses in Salt Lake City. But she secured her license and began her career in earnest with a move to Hawaii in 2018.

“It really clicked for me when the lockdown happened,” Lalouel says. “I was hearing from music industry friends who were hurting because they couldn’t tour. They were looking for a way to survive and maybe a side career that could help them through the feast and famine of a maturing musicians’ career. I started this community to help educate musicians about the benefits of homeownership and investing – whether it led to becoming a realtor or an owner.”

But what about today’s tough market, with high interest rates and debates over realtor commissions and its impact on the business?

“The music business, like real estate, is cyclical — a bit of feast, a bit of famine,” Lalouel says. “Musicians can have good times when the hits are coming and there’s profitable tours, then there’s the times when times are not so hot. So, the inevitable down cycles in real estate are something they experience in their musical lives. Having a license and a supplemental income that selling real estate can provide is something that can support their artistic lives, especially in the fallow times.”

Yvette Uhlmann supplements her income as a tour manager for bands like Bush by selling houses.

Courtesy of Yvette Uhlmann

Lalouel’s Heavy Realty is today a community of 20-plus music industry professionals/real estate agents and investors spanning the nation. It includes not only musicians, but guitar techs, A&R execs, music publicists and veteran tour managers like Yvette Uhlmann.

Nashville-based Uhlmann notched a wide range of experiences behind-the-scenes in her 25 years in the music business. She was the personal assistant to Black Sabbath’s guitarist Tony Iommi on their final tour and a manager, publicist, and A&R executive for hard rock bands and labels. She has spent the last 10 years as tour manager for Bush.

“When the pandemic happened in March 2020, everybody thought we’d be back to touring in the fall,” Uhlmann say. “But I saw the writing on the wall and got my license fast. Fortuitously, a lot of my friends in the music business want to move to or rent in Nashville. So, 95 percent of my initial deals came from this network.”

Now that the touring business is back in full swing, Uhlmann is keeping her hand in both music and the real estate game.

“I was on the road for 10 weeks last summer with Bush and Alice in Chains, but I would fly home and schedule closings around my touring,” she says. “As I get older, I don’t see myself doing tours much beyond the next 10 years. So real estate is providing me with a supplemental safety net for now and a solid financial option for my future.”

Some of Lalouel’s affiliated brokers even come from the world of hardcore music, including Queens, New York-based Warren Lee and his twin brother Royce. The duo work for the Ideal Properties Group, doing sales and rentals in Forest Hills, Rego Park, and Kew Gardens.

Both brothers came out of the city’s infamous hardcore scene of the early Nineties, working as bassists, guitar techs and tour managers with notable bands like Slayer. 

“We both got our licenses during Covid,” says Warren Lee. “It was a way to remain solvent when touring was on hiatus and when record sales died. Today, I’m back on the road as a guitar tech for Rancid and it’s a nice supplemental income. But then it really was the only option for income.”

Neal Smith, today, and behind the drums with Alice Cooper.

Courtesy Neal Smith; Erica Echenberg/Redferns/Getty Images

One of the most successful rocker-turned-realtor transitions is that of Neal Smith, the drummer and founding member of the Alice Cooper band.

From 1985 through his retirement in 2015, Smith was an agent for William Pitt Sotheby’s in Westport, Connecticut. By this time, Smith had largely left the world of music, shorn his waist-length hair and looked like “a nice clean-cut Lutheran boy.” 

“Our manager Shep Gordon was very savvy and imparted a lot of his financial wisdom to us,” says Smith. “When we hit it big with our album Billion Dollar Babies, we all bought houses. My first was in Phoenix and I tripled my investment when I flipped it a couple of years later. That, and the fact that real estate wasn’t a 9-5 job and left plenty of time to play golf, is what sold me on it.”

Over his time with William Pitt Sotheby’s, Smith averaged 12 residential sales a year in the monied burgs of Westport, Weston, and Wilton. His largest single sales transaction was a $6 million dollar home in 2001. Smith was so enthralled with his new chosen profession that he even hosted a local radio show called “Let’s Talk About Real Estate” in the mid-Nineties.

As for his rock star status, Smith kept that quiet. “Most people are hyper-focused on buying a home. They want to see as many as possible in a day and rarely bother to ask about your personal life. I was very studied in keeping my two lives separate.” 

Today, Smith divides him time among homes in Connecticut and Phoenix and a farm in Finland. 

He also back to pursuing music with his solo project, KillSmith.

“I can say I was very happy with both careers,” Smith says. “I’m also proud that I am the only rocker/real estate agent in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”

While some rockers are finding financial security as agents, many others have found buying and selling real estate not only a smart investment but a lifelong passion.

One such rocker is Carmine Appice, the legendary drummer for Vanilla Fudge, Rod Stewart, and Ozzy Osbourne, among others.

“I’ve been seriously involved in real estate since I bought my first home in Oceanside in 1969, when I made from my first real money with Vanilla Fudge,” says Appice. 

Since that time, Appice estimates he has invested in well over three dozen properties including residential homes and multi-unit buildings in Southern California, New York, Las Vegas, Hawaii, Florida and Memphis. He even once traded a car for a house and invested in a block of mobile homes in Burbank.

“When it comes to real estate, Trump was my idol,” confesses Appice. “I had read all his books and saw what he did in New York and, that side of him, was an inspiration to me.”


A native New Yorker who spent 40 years in Los Angeles, Appice is now residing in Florida, in a home with a recording studio where he does remote sessions with top-flight musicians all over the world. 

And while Appice chronicled his crazy rock life in a 2016 book, his latest project is a little more sedate and perhaps more useful: He is shopping a proposal for a book about his property adventures called Rockin’ Real Estate.

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