So, is that a good thing? Do we as fans enjoy reading quotes from one-time members of admired bands getting in a swift metaphorical kick to the groin off someone with whom they used to share a stage, studio and a drug habit? I do question the wisdom of such activity.
Right now, it seems that every day brings an escalation in the vitriol between various members of Ratt. Oh, and let’s not forget that Michael Schenker appears to be taking every chance to hit out at his supposedly ‘cheating’ brother Rudolf. And Steven Alder bleats on endlessly about how badly he’s being treated by Guns N’ Roses. Oh, and the endless verbal diarrhoea that flows between Bill Ward and the other three Sabbath originals shows no sign of abating, even though the band might well now be over.
This is merely a small sample of what’s going on in cyber space. And it’s exacerbated when musicians are given license to write autobiographies. Again, this used to be the province of the very biggest names. But now, if you released a half decent single in 1982, then it would appear you are eligible to get your ‘truth’ into print and on to bookshelves. Will this nonsense ever end?!
Sadly, it would seem that the chances are this avalanche of moaning and self-absorbtion will carry on regardless, because there are just so many people eagerly devouring the continual floods of supposed insight from those they love – or, a least, used to love. However, all a lot of these musicians are proving is that they really were well served in their heyday by managers, record labels and publicists, who carefully built a public persona and kept those in the spotlight from embarrassing themselves.
Of course, what Facebook and Twitter have done is allow the stars to talk directly to the fans. The heroes descend from their own purpose built Mount Olympus, and consort with mortal beings. Now, there’s no need for carefully manufactured publicity campaigns; the stars are in touch with those who have helped to give them careers. Now, they can find out for themselves what the people really want? Except that you have to wonder how many of them truly care about the feelings and emotions of their loyal and devoted following. And aren’t many musicians using these instant outlets to inadvertently show everyone what they are really like – namely, shamelessly arrogant buffoons.
Of course, there are thankfully enough musicians out there who are bright, articulate and genuinely do want to know what the fans are like. But they are still a minority. For most, access to the internet is dangerous. It exposes these heroes to self-proclaimed ridicule, and inexorably makes them unexpected targets for ridicule. It’s daft they have the outlets to fall prey to their own foibles. And once a battle of words rages between musicians, it is hard to quell. Because there’s no longer a filtering system which prevents ‘rock stars’ from behaving like kindergarten bullies in public.
The same is also true of the tirade of autobiographies which now litter book stores of all kinds, from the high street to online. There are a few which are gold dust. Ones that are insightful and well written. They enhance the reputations of those responsible, even if some are ghost written. But there are others… sheesh, you wonder what was the point of these people being given access to such damaging weaponry as the written word. How many times can you write about shagging groupies, tying up women, snorting copious lines and downing gallons of bourbon? Yes, we know these people did a lot of this in their earlier days. But. So. What? It adds nothing to the supposed life story. And when it comes to the juicier bits, which concern controversies or mythical tales behind the scenes, the authors conveniently gloss over the facts, and indulge in vacuous rhetoric. Some of the musos who’ve written such books in the past few years should have fascinating stories to tell. But they’re so wrapped up in being the ‘victims’ of circumstance, and proving how debauched they are, all that happens is they come across as… BORING!
Hilariously, a sizeable percentage of them admit they spent a long period totally off their heads. So, how can they have a clear recollection of the stories they spread across these tomes? Yet, they all appear to have remarkably enhanced memories now when it comes to writing exactly what occurred. The wonders of the human brain, eh? The reality is that many of these books end up making those who are telling their stories come across as irrelevant, lying plonkers. Now, this would be forgiveable if the books were entertaining. But they are not. How many times can you read about a superstar frontman bemoaning that everyone in his life has taken advantage of him? Or, read about how the man in question loves his wife and family, and yet cheats on them at every turn? Or… well, you get the picture.
The fact is that those who have amazing stories to tell – and I am thinking of the likes of Jimmy Page – have distanced themselves from being the subject of such exposés. This only enhances their stature as legends, rather than having feet of clay. Those who reach out to Facebook, Twitter or autobiographies to give free rein to their need for instant gratification only succeed in belittling themselves in the public eye. Hopefully, those who enjoy slagging off others, or giving us every sordid detail of a sexual encounter in 1990 will soon realise that all they’re doing is inducing a mega yawn – welcome to the pleasure drone? If these folk keep their mouths shut, and fingers off the keyboard, nobody knows how dull and superficial they really are. Keep the pretence in place by refusing to give in to the temptation of the written word.