YSU history professor is former UK pop star - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

YSU history professor is former UK pop star

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College professors often have wildly different backgrounds, but there aren't too many like this one. At Youngstown State University, there's a former British pop star teaching history.

Before he was a professor and chair of the history department at Youngstown State, Dr. Brian Bonhomme was playing guitar for a British band called Roman Holliday.

"We used to sleep in a bus and live in a van and all that sort of stuff. Things are a bit more refined I guess, being a historian," said Bonhomme.

He freely admits it was bubble-gum music; a pop/swing mix that helped Roman Holliday crack the Billboard charts and had them touring with the Stray Cats and Culture Club, earning their own dose of fame in the process.

"We were on medium rotation on MTV. I don't know if anybody remembers when MTV used to play videos, but we had several different songs on MTV during '83 and '84," said Bonhomme.

After a couple years and a couple albums, though, it all started falling apart. Bonhomme needed a plan B.

"I thought I wanted something a bit more steady so I went to college and I was going to do something like mathematics or engineering or something like that. My first semester I took a world civilizations course and I just got totally hooked on history," said Bonhomme.

This chapter of his life is filled with Russian history books, but his music career isn't far removed and he looks back on it with some fond memories.

"We went to Japan and we were on stage. We'd been playing for like half an hour or an hour, something into the concert," said Bonhomme.

"Our main hit was a song called "Don't Try to Stop It." As soon as we started, the first line the audience just went crazy. I just remember standing there thinking 'Oh my God, I wrote this song and I'm getting this reaction.' And I remember sitting in my bedroom a year or two earlier writing the song. And to be on a stage and get that reaction to it was so amazing," said Bonhomme.

He still plays today. You'll catch him at open mic nights here and there, but the touring days are over. They're history, so to speak, leaving this history professor with a lifetime of memories and quite the journey to Youngstown State.

He's had lunch with Bruce Springsteen and opened for The Clash. It's almost a secret identity, although he says every couple years a student or two somehow finds out. The rest of them probably don't even realize they're in class with a former pop star.

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