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Is The Age Of The Rock Legends Ending?
In the past few weeks, three people who had a great influence on me growing up have died. Lemmy, Bowie and Rickman.
Although I am deeply saddened by the loss of Alan Rickman, the actor who played Hans Gruber, Metatron, Dr Lazarus and, of course, Professor Snape in some of my favourite ever films, I'd like to use my blog post to make an observation about the death of Lemmy and Bowie. It's simply this:
"We're running out of rock legends!"
In the early seventies, I would always look forward to Top Of The Pops on our black & white TV and clearly remember being super excited when Ziggy Stardust appeared. I guess jumping around my grandparents living room made up for the tin bath I was about to be dunked in, in front of our coal fire.
As a wayward teenager in the late seventies and early 80s, I was often sent to my room by my parents. At the time, the side-by-side integrated 'music centre' was all the rage and I would put the speakers on the floor with a pillow in between them.
I'd lie down and listen to everything from Queen, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull and Genesis to Bowie, Deep Purple, Rainbow and The Beatles, trying not to disturb my parents and blocking out my sadness of being shouted at yet again.
"My 18th birthday was spent at Knebworth!"
It rained all day and I was soaked to the bone and covered in mud, but I didn't care. I watched UFO, Judas Priest, Mountain and Meat Loaf, then fought my way through the crowd to get to the barriers at the front to see Ian Gillan and Richie Blackmore rock out with Deep Purple.
In my 20s, it was simply gig after gig after gig in Manchester, Liverpool and London then in my 30s, following my return from working in Los Angeles, I attended local music events at places like the wonderful Pitz in Milton Keynes, photographing the up and coming bands and letting the energy of the musicians and the enthusiasm of the crowd hit me like a tsunami as I sat happily in the photo pit snapping away.
Now I'm in my late 40s and I need some background noise when I sleep, so always have Planet Rock quietly playing in my bedroom overnight. I fall asleep to the dulcet tones of Alice Cooper and in the morning, when I edit my client's blog posts, I listen to the Classic Rock channel on Apple Radio. When I'm travelling, the Bluetooth in my car blasts out the expansive music collection from my iPhone.
But all of the rock legends I listen to are getting old now and, in some cases, are very old indeed! Bowie was a little older than my parents are now, and if you think about the likes of Alice Cooper, Rod Stewart, Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney and anyone else who formed bands in the 60s, 70s and 80s (yes, even Bono with U2 and Brian Molko from Placebo), well, they're all getting on a bit now aren't they?
"So who's going to replace them?"
I've spent the last week wracking my brains trying to think of younger musicians who could fit into the rock legend mould and I can't think of anyone. Yes, there are lots of good bands out there playing good solid rock music, but not one of them has a hard-partying, hard playing front man or lead guitarist who stands out for me.
I can only think of Steve Wilson and Porcupine Tree getting a little 'out there' with prog rock these days, but although I love his music and can listen to it for hours and hours, I can't class him as a legend; not yet at least.
As far as I know, there is now no rock musician who would drive a Rolls-Royce into a swimming pool, throw a TV out of a penthouse window or bite the head off a chicken on stage at a gig (although Alice Cooper denies this, the story still adds to his mythology).
No, I think the age of the rock legend will be over soon. In 10-20 years, all those wonderful musicians I danced around to as a small child, who I fell in love with as an isolated teenager, and rocked out at their gigs, will be gone.
That most perfect music genre of 'rock' will become a diluted shadow of its former self, no longer fuelled by the drugs, alcohol and arrogance of a five-album record deal, global stadium tours and more groupies than you could ever shake a stick at.
Who will write the next Stairway To Heaven? Who will harmonise the next Bohemian Rhapsody? Who will adlib a 20-minute drum solo onstage and keep 50,000 fans standing there in awe? Who will make a guitar scream whilst sending the girls in the audience weak at the knees? Who will hold the undying love of an audience in their hand for song after song after song?
Who will give that sad teenager the lyrics she can relate too and the soundtrack to her life? Who will make that small child dance happily around the living room?
So RIP Lemmy. Ace Of Spades probably helped destroy my neck and contributed to the development of my brain aneurysms, but I wouldn't have it any other way. RIP Bowie, Space Oddity was the first piece of music I can remember being excited to hear and Life on Mars still makes me cry.
RIP to all those rock legends who influenced my lifetime love of music, and who I still dance around my office to when their tracks play on Apple Radio. You all influenced who I am today.
It's only a matter of time before the rest of the rock legends check out, so please, will the next generation take a big step forward, because Kanye West proclaiming himself the greatest rock star of all time was probably the saddest thing I've ever seen.
Love, light and logic ...
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