Where are the rock stars?

At the beginning of its conception, rock and roll always had its poster boys, from Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan to Axl Rose and Seven Tyler. However, the age of the rock star is gone. The days of sold out stadiums and arenas, the sex, drugs, rock n roll life style, and the iconic rock stars are all gone. Why has such a fantastic thing as that disappeared, or rather burned out?

Late music starlet, Amy Weinhouse has been ridiculed by the public as well as her family for her drug use. Why? She was a rock star, have we all forgotten the dazed and confused days of the seventies, or the hard rocking, hard living days of the eighties? It is a shame she died but I would think it was more of the pressures of the public, the paparazzi, and critics that drove her to madness. The danger around the fast lifestyle creates a persona, a dangerous mystery about her that has done nothing but help her career. However, today’s society is harsh about such a thing. In 1989 Sebastian Bach said in an interview, concerning the music festival he was at that promoted the absence of violence, drugs, and alcohol, “If we can’t use drugs, and sex is no fun because of AIDS, what’s so rebellious about rock and roll?” And he has a point, what is so rebellious about the commercialized “pop punk” that exists in the industry today? The aspect of the rock and rollers doing whatever they wanted had an appeal to it, especially to the angst ridden teenage crowd.

In society, the unfortunate trend of encouraged mediocrity has become the norm. The attitude doesn’t exist, the drive has disappeared. In the late eighties the bands wanted to be the greatest, and more often than not, usually thought they were. Being humble is a virtue, however one must strive for something, call them cocky, call them full of hot air, but their king of the world attitude paid off, and could be seen, every night on stage.


The concert going experience has also been altered dramatically: no longer can a band sell out a stadium with ease night after night, and most have trouble filling arenas. The path of the band used to travel from garage, to club, to theater, to arena, and finally, stadium. Now however, the path stops at theater and occasionally makes it to an arena or two. In 2007 average concert attendance was 3,293 people per show in the United States, in 1993 that number was over 7,000. People may argue that intimate shows are of higher quality; you may connect with the band, or become familiar with other concert goers. However, they shouldn’t be so selfish. The feeling that bands like Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, Motley Crue, KISS, and Van Halen must have gotten seeing the thousands upon thousands of people in front of them, hanging on every note, word, and movement, must have been absolutely incredible.

As Izzy Stradlin sang in the Guns N Roses song 14 Years, “14 years of silence, 14 of pain, 14 years that are gone forever.” Who knew that those words would be a chilling warning, for it has been fourteen years since we had our last rock star. In 1994 Kurt Cobain, guitar player and singer for grunge-rock band Nirvana, died. When his life ended, little did the world realize that the last rock star had burned out.

Check out my radio show, The Pumpkin Patch  , every Wednesday at 11 AM at KSSU.com

Sacramento State’s Student Run Radio

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