Death of the Rock Star

In Simon & Garfunkel’s classic song “Mrs. Robinson” the question was asked, “Where have you gone Joe Di Maggio? A nation turns it’s lonely eyes to you.” This obviously, hearkens back to a bygone golden age of baseball where players stayed with one team & played the game the way it should be , in an unpretentious manner.

So in that same vein I ask where have all the rock stars gone? Oh sure Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen & Bono are still tripping the light fantastic, but who in this current crop of musicians would be considered rock stars? Jack White? Maybe but while a talented musician would you really consider him rock star material? Mick Jagger & David Bowie had stage presence. Gene Simmons spit blood with his ginormous tongue & Ozzy bit the head off a bat. Jack White plays the music & leaves the stage which, don’t get me wrong, is amazing. He let’s the music stand for itself, but it leads little to his rock God status. Gimmicks are usually to distract people from the quality of the music. When bands like Gwar, Aquabats or Slipknot dress up it’s to garner a little attention in something other than music.

We’ve already discussed Jack White’s candidacy so let’s go over some other candidates for Rock Star status:

  1. Dave Matthews – Shoot yourself in the face if you think this untalented hack is a rock star. There is no way any jam band with a God Damn fiddle player has any rock star’s in it.
  2. Billy Corgan – Maybe ten years ago. NEXT!
  3. Chris Martin – My mom suggested this one over the phone while talking about my article – ‘Nuff said.
  4. Dave Grohl – Maybe…coming from rock royalty like Nirvana does lend one certain status but at the same time have they really been a relevant band for the past 5 years? Not so much.
  5. Billie Joe – There it is. Quicker than figuring out how to get from Queen Latifah to Kevin Bacon we have the first legitimate rock star of the 00’s. He has the stage presence, the quality of music that is adored by many & the obligatory past drugs & alcohol abuses.

The fact remains, however, that this era of rock n’ roll is bereft of rock stars compared to the eras before. Kurt Cobain was a rock star in the highest sense before he proceeded to paint his walls with his brains. The splintering effect of rock has created a sense of anonymity when it comes to our musicians. Too many subgenres have diluted the pool, like too much ice in whiskey. Punk, Alternative, Brit Rock, Electronic, Rap, Hip-Hop, Pop, etc. It’s become the dark ages of the rock star, but there will be others that distinguish themselves as these subgenres fade into the obscurity from whence they came.


3 thoughts on “Death of the Rock Star

  1. ravenval

    I’m agreeing with 99% of your post, but have you seen what Dave Grohl is up to lately? I’d say he’s definitely a rock star in my book.
    Them Crooked Vultures: Dave Grohl, Josh Homme, John Paul Jones (holy crap, yes really, it’s Jonesy!!!), played at Melkweg in Amsterdam (19-Aug-2009).
    You can find vids on YouTube and they have facebook and twitter accounts for more info. I’m just a fan, spreading the joy 🙂

  2. todd anderson

    Not quite sure i believe in this proposition as a whole. In part, yes, there is currently noone gracing the cross-generational media outlets that would have our parents, and in some cases children, agreeing upon the knighthood of a musician. But that is the crux. Sensationalism and good marketing brought the previous to the attention of the masses who were following media outlets of yesteryear. I don’t think it is as much as a ‘diluted pool’ of genres, but of the promotion side of the music business being irrelevant in the various outlets of new media.

    However, i do agree that the idea of a rock star is not subjective. One may not like Mick Jagger or the Stones’ music, but they cannot deny that he/they are not rock star(s). And we all do have someone that we idolize on stage – be it Billie Joe or Mark Arm or even Dave Matthews, that someone else might not know about but will be introduced to by our subjectivity. Who is or who will rise as the next overly publicized musical artist, i cannot say. Nor can i say that there will ever be one. But i do believe it has nothing to do with a dilution of genres, and rather, strictly to how anything BUT the music gets to peoples ears/eyes.

  3. sean

    Good points above. I am going to say that i think the reason that rock stars are hard to find is that the new media brings songs to light quicker making the longevity (and time in medialand) of the bands (and usually front man) that much shorter.


    Me personally whilst not Rock as such the guys from Justice seem to live the rock lifestyle of yesteryear.


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