Famous rock musicians are often known for their ability to create and perform music, but there is some debate about whether or not they can actually read music. While some musicians in the rock genre have extensive training in music theory and can read sheet music, others rely on their ability to play by ear or to memorize songs.
One source, music educator and author Jonathan Feist, notes that many rock musicians "have a limited ability to read music," but that this is not necessarily a disadvantage in the industry. Feist suggests that being able to play by ear and to improvise is often more important in rock music than having the ability to read sheet music.
However, there are certainly famous rock musicians who are trained in music theory and can read sheet music. For example, Queen's lead guitarist, Brian May, has a Ph.D. in astrophysics and is also a classically trained musician who can read sheet music. Similarly, Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead is a trained composer who can read and write music.
It is also worth noting that the ability to read music is not necessarily a reflection of a musician's talent or creativity. Some of the most famous and influential rock musicians, such as Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain, did not have extensive training in music theory and could not read sheet music.
In summary, while some famous rock musicians can read music, it is not a requirement for success in the genre. The ability to play by ear, to improvise, and to write songs is often more important. However, there are certainly musicians in the rock genre who have extensive training in music theory and can read and write sheet music.