Michael Des Barres: The Problem With Rock Bios? It’s the Myth That Matters

Guest blog: When rock stars spill the beans on themselves, it destroys the magic that made them heroes in the first place

The proliferation of rock idols confessing their sins and extolling the virtues of redemption, sharing near-death experiences, multiple OD's, addictions, escapades and inevitable sobriety and compassionate efforts with rescue animals, rain forests and baby seals has created a familiar milieu.

There is a definitive trajectory found on the shelves of book stores under "Rock Bios," in between "Rock Climbing" and "Raising Awkward Children."

Mythological and eternal stardom is based on secrets. The great stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood were created and fabricated by a former shoe salesman who now ran a star factory, their personas crafted to appeal to a naive and eager audience desperate for a royal family, a touchstone of glamorous,allegiance.someone to emulate,inhabit and become.

But most of all, it was someone to pay to go see shine on a silver screen.

Rock 'n' roll was invented by working class kids who,like ghetto athletes,fought to get out of the mundanities of life with guitar in hand and the siren's in their ears.singing songs of raw passion  to a bluesy beat.

Also read: Neil Young's Autobiography: It's Not Satisfying, But at Least It's Interesting

The 1960s exploded with paisley precision. Fantasies of anarchic adventures began to emerge from album covers,lyrics,photographs and most of all the music –.obscure,sexy and dangerous. Who are the purveyors of the devil's music? Are there any clues I've missed in reading the album covers ,the Rolling Stone interview?

New heroes and heroines were birthed to serve a new need. Post-World War II youth needed someone with a guitar not a rifle. They didn't want a cowboy or a marine to shower with affection and respect .to emulate, to be fascinated by, to want to have wild sex with..It was a new mythology for a rock and roll generation.

Jimi Hendrix kissed the sky goodbye. Jim Morrison groaned with hellhound romanticism.Janis Joplin swigged Southern Comfort from the bottle.but got no comfort at all.

Woodstock, Monterey, Altamont — the .mythic,specific sport of gods and goddesses who flashed across the firmament and crashed and burned in a fiery exit from an unworthy world.joining the pantheon of eternal brilliance.forever young.

However some lived. they did not crash and burn,and they wrote about it.

Why has fame now become about regular folk? Why have  the Kardashians, Honey Boo Boo and bounty hunters become our new stars?

It seems the eccentricities of "normalcy" are our new cultural obsession. The absurdity of today's real life has taken precedence,replacing the shining stars of yesteryear.

Tales of super fame,superstars and super excess are now familiar and repetitive. A 6-year-old trailer park child with a family of crude, sweet eccentrics is the new rock star.

Rock stars are no longer "rock stars."

The literary efforts and predictable confessions are just too familiar now..The rock myth is predicated on youth..Living to tell the tale seems awkward and far too normal.Of course there are exceptions..The true poets and philosophers/feral/sexy/prescient giants you are all familiar with continue to excite,question and entertain and provoke us. They are few and far between however, which is how it should be..

The only points of interest about our aging idols are weight gain, surgery and wigs — not cool, not cool at all. Then there are the self-congratulatory Hall of Fame jams that sound like every bar band in America. the only difference being the teleprompters for lyrics to songs they've all been singing for years.

Rock 'n' roll? Teleprompters? Yikes!

The great and powerful Keith Richards himself in describing Mick Jagger's penis as "a tiny dodger" delivered the death blow. Is anyone safe after this? Jumping Jack Flash with a "tiny dodger"? That's rock 'n' roll buzz kill on a grand scale. We don't want to be brought down to earth.we want to soar forever to the riff from "Satisfaction."

Silence is platinum.spilling the beans on one's self is a dreadful idea. Let others speak of you derisively or lovingly.

As Saint Bob Dylan said, "'you can fool some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time." Ironically. I devoured Dylan's "Chronicles" in two hours!

The secret? He allowed us to continue to use our imagination.
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