I was flipping through the channels the other night, cozy on the couch in my fuzzy pink bathrobe, and as I usually do, immediately turned to one of my favorite music channels, Palladia: where your thirst for music knowledge can quickly by quenched! On the telly was the 2009 documentary directed by Tom DiCillo, The Doors: When You’re Strange.[x_pullquote cite=”The Showgirl Of Rock” type=”left”]”The general consensus seems to be that a rock star has to have originality, talent, charisma, and sex appeal.”[/x_pullquote]
Perfect timing! Not even an hour earlier, I had finished up a conversation with my fellow gal pal about Jim Morrison’s sensual stage swagger and unfortunate ending in a Parisian bathtub.
And there he was, the Lizard King himself, in all of his whimsical glory, flouncing about the stage with messy hair, in his iconic grunge-laden leather jacket yelling strings of profanity at the crowd in between poetic clusters of words.
“You’re all a bunch of slaves!” he shouted. “What are you going to do about it?! What are you going to do about it?”
And then all-too suddenly came the part when, in 1971, Morrison quit the band to dedicate his life to poetry and the gypsy lifestyle in France with California sweetheart, Pamela Courson.
“Without Jim, The Doors do not exist,” or so the narrator said something of the sort.
But, this got me thinking! How very true, that without their idolized front-men and front-ladies, what would our favorite rock bands be without them? For instance, take note of everyone’s favorite smoky-voiced wildflower Stevie Nicks—would Fleetwood Mac still have been Fleetwood Mac? Could Aerosmith continue with such unmatched success if Steven Tyler wasn’t the total package? He’s a babe with killer pipes and a closet any rock fan would raid in a heartbeat!
But in further consideration of what makes this rock-and-roll-Ferris wheel of badass lead singers go ’round, what makes them badass to begin with?
What makes a rock star a rock star?
The general consensus seems to be that a rock star has to have originality, talent, charisma, and sex appeal, while others approach the notion with a clever thought process saying things like, “you know someone is a rock star because, well, it’s the same concept as spotting any human with class,” or “you know it when you see it, and it can’t be bought.”
Guitarist Drew Fortier of Bang Tango says, “It’s how they carry themselves, and their known accomplishments play a part in how they walk into a room and command everybody’s attention without saying a single word. The energy they put out with their body language alone speaks more than any conversation that can be had.”
And I feel that is exactly what it comes down to. You know it when you see it!
I once ran into Jack White at a Walgreens on West 6th Street in LA. I had run in for a can of hairspray, on my way to an audition, and (coincidentally) Aqua Net was on Jack’s shopping list too.
He was dressed in red, with a sparkling purple scarf, and his hat tipped down to his nose. My first thought was, “Where’d he get those shoes?” Then I realized in a moment of girlish quiver that I was in the presence of Jack White! I am not one to be star struck, but there was something in his presence that felt so powerful and important, it left me curious and wanting to take a good long look at the guy.
Undoubtedly, there is something in the mere look of a rock star that makes us all stare and makes us googly-eyed. I think on that note we can all agree.
Sarah Hartshorne, fashion writer from America’s Next Top Model says with her iconic comedic twist, “I think there are two parts of what makes a rock star look like a rock star: aesthetic and mindset, and the former is fluid and has changed a lot over the years. You don’t have to wear leather pants and ripped denim to look like a rock star anymore (although damn do I love leather pants). I think music has led the world in terms of acceptance of diversity, and that has really broadened our idea of rock star fashion in awesome ways. Because what has always stayed the same is the mindset, that you have to have in rock and roll: do whatever the hell you want.”
She continues, “Part of being an artist, especially a rock star, is finding some way to not give a rat’s ass of what anybody else thinks about what you’re creating, or what you’re wearing because, at the end of the day, you know that you’re only doing it for yourself.”
We stay busy picking apart the look of a rock star, but I think Miss Hartshorne hits the nail on the head.
Rock and roll? It’s all about attitude! The message is to not give a damn! I’m not so sure one must be a musician to even be called rock star. The title is more a term of endearment, a pet name for the creative insane. And the engine driving the rock and roll machine is called art. Like Jim Morrison’s heavy, steady brain of beautiful words, or Frank Zappa’s quirky genius of theatrics and understanding of musical composition—the golden elements of the human soul, which sprout out of some like that fairy tale giant beanstalk that takes us to the clouds.
In art there is freedom, and in freedom there is an innocent but beastly heart to be whom and what you feel you are, despite the structured formality of humankind that for whatever reason came to be.
That’s what makes a rock star a rock star.
And I like it.
Story: Kate Catalina