20 Musicians With ADHD That May Surprise You

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  • Post last modified:April 4, 2023

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – commonly abbreviated as ADHD – is surprisingly common amongst the world’s greatest musicians.

A significant number of successful musicians today have ADHD. Many of these artists have discussed their condition in a public setting. Musicians with ADHD often offer a unique perspective to their art, bringing a level of hyperfocus that breeds intense creativity and an ability to think outside of the box.

ADHD also comes with its challenges. People with ADHD often experience difficulty with organisation and persistence. Many artists with ADHD have spoken openly about how their diagnosis has had a significant impact on their careers. Yet despite these hurdles, the majority of music artists who have ADHD embrace their diagnosis, allowing their talent to blossom.

ADHD Musicians You Probably Didn’t Know About

The casual listener will not necessarily be aware that some of their favourites artists may have ADHD. This list shines on a light on several high profile musicians with the condition.

Here are you twenty famous musicians with ADHD that you might surprise you.

20. Loyle Carner

loyle carner

English hip-hop artist Loyle Carner released his debut album Yesterday’s Gone in 2017 which earned him a nomination for the 2017 Mercury Prize. He released his follow up Not Waving But Drowning two years later and was also a nominee for three Brit Awards.

Carner grew up with ADHD. He claims to be most at peace “whenever doing physical things like football” with his mum even encouraging him to cook. As a result Carner would later start a cookery school and insists “it undoes negative wiring” associated with his condition.

19. John Lennon

best songwriters of all time

Legendary Beatles guitarist and songwriter John Lennon is thought to have had ADHD from an early age with his disruptive behaviour and inability to focus during lessons a big indication when he was growing up. 

Part of arguably the most successful songwriting partnership in music history, Lennon dropped out of college in his final year – at that stage no-one could have imagined the heights he would reach. Lennon was often hyper-focused on activities that stimulated him like writing music, which is a trait consistent with ADHD.

18. Elliott Smith

American singer-songwriter Elliott Smith was raised in Texas and lived most of his life in Oregon. He found notoriety playing guitar but is also highly skilled on the piano, bass guitar, clarinet, harmonica and drums. Smith’s vocal style is very distinctive with a “whispery, spiderweb-thin delivery” that achieves fascinating vocal textures and harmonies.

He has long fought with his demons over the years. Soon after being diagnosed with ADHD and major depressive disorder, Smith started to drink heavily and quickly developed a drug habit. That did not stop him from becoming one of the most celebrated songwriters of our generation.

17. SZA


SZA released two extended plays, See.SZA.Run in 2012 and a year later S, before signing with the hip-hop record label Top Dawg Entertainment. In 2014 she unleashed her third EP and co-wrote ‘Feeling Myself’ with powerhouse artists Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé.

The singer has never hidden her ADHD diagnosis and in a series of tweets she eventually revealed how the disorder has affected her life. “Having unmedicated adult ADHD is really f—g hard.” SZA tweeted. “Absolutely nobody has empathy for it.”

16. Park Bom

park bom

Main vocalist of South Korean girl group 2NE1 Park Bom was diagnosed with ADHD in middle school. It is rumoured that her symptoms may have began to show after tragically witnessing a friend’s death aged fourteen years old.

The group went on to become one of South Korea’s most popular and best-selling girl groups of all time. Park Bom has also released two solo singles ‘You and I’ and ‘Don’t Cry’ which both reached number one on the Gaon Digital Chart – the national music chart of South Korea.

15. Chris Webby

chris webby

Chris Webby is a successful American rapper whose EP There Goes the Neighborhood peaked at number 101 on the Billboard 200 in 2011. He has worked with various artists such as Joell Ortiz, Prodigy and Kid Ink. Webby released his debut studio album Chemically Imbalanced in 2014.

He has explained in interviews that he was diagnosed with ADHD at a young age and has been on attention medication throughout his life. Webby says to this day that he has manageable symptoms of the disorder and uses prescribed medication whilst in the studio.

14. Mel B

mel b

Former Spice Girl Mel B has revealed that she has been diagnosed with ADHD and uses exercise to help her focus. The English songwriter and television personality rose to fame in the 90s and was nicknamed Scary Spice. The group went on to sell over 100 million records worldwide and became the best-selling female group of all time.

Energetic and erratic at times, Mel B often displayed symptoms of the condition during her Spice Girls days in particular, revealing that she has also been diagnosed with dyslexia, dyspraxia and anxiety – again using exercise to “help her mind.”

13. Ozzy Osbourne

ozzy osborne

Ozzy Osbourne found prominence during the 70s as lead vocalist of the heavy metal act Black Sabbath. The “Prince of Darkness” was reportedly diagnosed with ADHD during his younger years, and in an interview with GQ magazine he revealed more about it.

“I am terribly dyslexic and have attention-deficit disorder. So I have to carry a tape recorder everywhere I go. If I get a melody in my head then I have to record it straightaway,” Osbourne explained candidly. “I hated school. When I was there nobody knew what I was about.”

12. Dorian Electra

dorian electra

“I get bored of things that aren’t extreme,” says American singer-songwriter Dorian Electra of her ADHD condition.

Her debut studio album Flamboyant was released in 2019 and then quickly followed by second EP My Agenda a year later. Electra identifies as genderfluid, renowned for non-conforming fashion choices and an experimental pop sound. She has discussed her experience of ADHD in depth in interviews.

“I like to use the ADHD to my advantage,” Electra explains. “It’s having all this like additional stimuli. It just helps you from getting stuck and myopically focused on one thing.”

11. Ben Weinman

ben weinman

Lead songwriter of mathcore band The Dillinger Escape Plan, Ben Weinman was reportedly diagnosed with ADHD as a child. Also a film composer and music manager, Weinman was the band’s founder and sole constant member throughout their twenty year career. 

He currently plays rhythm guitar with both crossover thrash band Suicidal Tendencies and progressive rock supergroup Giraffe Tongue Orchestra. Weinman has explained in interviews that he struggled to find his place in both the classroom and the wider world because of his condition.

10. Example

example adhd

English rapper and record producer Example was diagnosed with Asperger’s when he was younger before later developing symptoms of ADHD and mild autism

Example’s stage name derives from his initials being E.G, an abbreviation of the Latin phrase exempli gratia, which in English means “for example.”

“I was amazing with numbers,” Example explains in an interview with NME. “I had a photographic memory and I hated reading fiction. I prefer books on nature and history.”

9. Brendon Urie

brendon urie

Brendon Urie is best known as former lead vocalist and frontman of Panic! at the Disco. He was the only original member to remain across the band’s nineteen year career. Many of his songs have been commercially successful on Billboard charts and have accumulated millions of sales.

“From the time I was in school until I was about thirteen, teachers didn’t know what was wrong with me,” Urie remembers in one interview. “Every week they would call in my mom and be like, ‘How much sugar do you give your child?’” 

“(They’d say) We can’t contain him. He is rambunctious. His behaviour is insubordinate,” the artist continues to recall. “He’s terrible. He’s making everyone laugh while I’m trying to teach them.'”

8. Dave Grohl

dave grohl

Former Nirvana Drummer and The Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl has been open about his struggles with ADHD and how it has plagued parts of his life. 

He has previously spoken about his condition as part of a 2020 YouTube video titled “In Defense of Our Teachers,” where he revealed his childhood diagnosis, explaining a poor academic performance and early exit from high school.

Despite the challenges that are attached to ADHD, Grohl has typically used his energy or passion to fuel his music and performances. He has also raised awareness about the importance of seeking help and treatment for ADHD, advocating for mental health awareness and a need to remove the stigma around neurodiversity.

7. Aaron Bruno

aaron bruno

Aaron Bruno was first diagnosed with attention deficit disorder in high school and from an early age used his character traits to creatively influence his musical output. During high school he was nicknamed “AWOL” which was a nod to his habit of leaving parties early. He has even previously used this nickname in rap battles.

Bruno is the founder, lead singer and last remaining original member of Awolnation. He is also a former performer in the post-grunge band Home Town Hero, indie rock outfit Under the Influence of Giants and Insurgence.

6. Joyner Lucas

joyner lucas

Joyner Lucas first received critical acclaim after the release of his single ‘Ross Capicchioni’ in 2015 and eventually announced his debut studio album ADHD five years later. He has been quoted confirming his ADHD diagnosis early in life. Lucas embraces his condition but struggles with mental health and so channels his frustrations into his music.

“When I was a kid I was diagnosed with ADHD,”  Lucas said, speaking to Billboard Magazine in October 2018. “They said I was aggressive, fidgety, hyperactive and impulsive.”

5. Solange Knowles


Solange Knowles is an American music artist and actress who featured as a backup dancer for her elder sister Beyoncé’s group Destiny’s Child before eventually signing with her father Mathew and his Music World Entertainment label. She went on to become a hugely successful neo-soul artist in her own right.

“I was diagnosed with ADHD twice,” Knowles said when previously discussing her diagnosis in an interview. She revealed that while “always being full of energy” Knowles believed that her sporadic speech and extroverted nature led to people believing she was on drugs.

4. Will.i.am


Black Eyed Peas star Will-i-am received his ADHD diagnosis some time ago and has lived with its symptoms for years. The pop music and hip-hop producer has worked with numerous high profile artists including Michael Jackson, Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj.

“One thing I learned about ADHD is that it’s hard to keep your attention, you can’t sit still, you’re always moving and thinking about a whole bunch of things,” Will.i.am explains in an interview with Understood. “But those traits work well for me in studios and in meetings about creative ideas.”

3. Adam Levine

adam levine

Adam Levine became famous as lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist for the pop rock band Maroon 5. He was finally diagnosed with ADHD during his early teenage years. Levine is said to have understood the stigma that can come with being a high profile musical and being associated with mental health.

“ADHD is not a bad thing,” the Maroon 5 frontman insists in one interview, lending his influential voice to those looking for acceptance, understanding and even treatment advice. Levine began his musical career in 1994 yet it wouldn’t be until 2002 and their album Songs About Jane that Maroon 5 found real success.

2. Britney Spears

britney spears

“Princess of Pop” Britney Spears is often credited with influencing the revival of teen pop during the late 90s and early 00s. However, she was reportedly diagnosed with ADHD in her teens whilst making her way into the industry. The pop culture icon finally went public with her ADHD in 2012 while performing as a judge on The X Factor.

Her unpredictable behaviours have often unfairly been attributed to ADHD although struggles with the conditions may have heightened her sometimes erratic nature. Spears has been involved in a number of high profile incidents over the years which could likely be down to her symptoms and an attempt to cope with the extreme pressures of fame.

1. Justin Timberlake 

justin timberlake

Justin Timberlake confirmed that he had ADHD during a 2008 interview with Collider. Despite not speaking publicly about his conditions, the superstar has never let ADHD – or OCD, another condition he struggles with – stunt his career progress.

Timberlake has over 88 million record sales and numerous accolades including ten Grammy, nine Billboard Music Awards along with the Contemporary Icon Award by the Songwriters Hall of Fame. According to Billboard, Timberlake is the best performing male soloist in the history of the Mainstream Top 40. He has also gone on to have a successful acting career.

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Adam Leadbeater

Adam is a freelance writer, and a regular contributor at Pink Wafer.

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