The Future of Rock and Roll
The calendar says it's 1995, but the vibe in rock and roll these days is decidedly mid-Seventies. As the Jimmy Page-Robert Plant juggernaut makes its way across the land, we're reminded that the biggest draws in last year's fair-to-middling concert season were highly profitable treks by the likes of the Eagles, the Rolling Stones, and Pink Floyd.
Meanwhile, Mick Jagger and Steven Tyler continue to preen, pout, and shake their moneymakers on MTV in steady rotation with young bucks like Green Day, Offspring, and Hootie and the Blowfish. It's a good bet that in 1996 you'll still be seeing plenty of Tyler and his bandmates between promotional spots for The Real World 5, while the best chance to catch a glimpse of any given member of the Blowfish will be behind the seafood counter at some SoCal A&P.
Even mod-rock geezer Rod Stewart, whose once illustrious career peaked with "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" in the late 1970s despite a string of fluffy pop hits in the late 1980s, enjoyed a not-so-insignificant resurgence in popularity and sales on the heels of an MTV Unplugged appearance a couple of years back. As have Eric Clapton, Neil Young, and now, Bob Dylan. (Come to think of it, the Unplugged phenomenon is a whole other ax to grind, and leads to some nightmarish conclusions. For example: Grand Funk Railroad's "I'm Your Captain" is tailor-made for the show's format. Can a Mark Farner revival be far off?)
The continued success of Plant, Tyler, and their 50-something cohorts testifies to the amazing longevity of rock and rollers who, after all, depend so much on their looks (and wardrobes) to perpetuate the fiction of youthful rebellion and maintain a psychic connection with the Alternative Nation. Which gets us to wondering: Do today's young music celebs have what it takes to go the distance? Sure, Billy Joe Armstrong and Snoop Doggy Dogg may be hot now, but will they be able to maintain their high Q ratings among teenage and twenty-something consumers in the mid-2010s?
Wonder no more. We've dusted off the old crystal ball to see what the future holds for selected members of what Rolling Stone magazine has dubbed rock and roll's Generation Next (the numbers in parentheses indicate the performers' age in 2015, the year at which we gazed). As you can see, time generally waits for no one.
Billy Joe Armstrong (31)
Armstrong and his former bandmates in Green Day still hold the record as the youngest performers to ever play the now-annual Blockbuster-Woodstock Family Music Festival. Armstrong called it quits in the music business in 2002 when, having reached the age of eighteen, he was offered the opportunity to fill in the "conservative" chair on CNN's Crossfire.
Quote: "They...just...don't...get it. People, we need to send those folks in Washington a message."
Rat Bastard (52)
Following the startling and unexpected success of the Miami band To Live and Shave in L.A. in 1996, Bastard succumbed to the temptations of stardom and moved to Los Angeles. He split from To Live the following year to form ASCAP Sound Machine, an all-star band with vocalist Axl Rose, ex-Smashing Pumpkins guitarist Billy Corgan, and drummer Don Henley. With the money from last year's record-breaking concert tour safely in the bank, the members of ASM are now putting together a boxed compilation of their work. Bastard also found a lucrative sideline developing and producing halftime shows for the NFL's Super Bowl. Last year's show, "Up With People: The Reunion" actually garnered higher ratings than the game itself.
Quote: "Turn off that fuckin' noise! I'm tryin' to work here!"
Kurt Cobain (48)
Apart from the execution of convicted double murderer O.J. Simpson, the most sensational story of 1997 surrounded the re-emergence of Cobain. In a surprise appearance on the Larry King Show, Cobain admitted he had faked his suicide in 1994 to escape the pressures of stardom. Near tears, the soft-spoken, apologetic singer-songwriter said he'd had time to sort out his personal demons, and was ready to start over with a new perspective on life. However, two conceptual solo albums revolving around his experiences watching the Home Shopping Network failed to make a dent in the charts, and Cobain quietly retired just outside of Seattle in 2000. He is now a certified Sandwich Artist at a Subway in Bremerton, Washington.
Quote: "I shoulda stayed dead."
Snoop Doggy Dogg (44)
Dogg (born Calvin Broadus) turned his back on the gangsta lifestyle after a near-fatal auto accident in 1997 and a subsequent six-month stay in the hospital gave him time to reflect upon the entertainment industry's impact on young people. At the end of the Twentieth Century, Dogg pioneered the "Virtuous Rap" sound, having founded the record label Westa White Guys Ain't So Badd with William J. Bennett. Dogg, Time magazine's man of the Year in 2011, now makes his home on Martha's Vineyard.
Quote: "You want it Virtuous style?" (Bill Bennett response: "Oooh Doggy, I love it Virtuous style.")
Beck Hansen (45)
The world's most famous one-hit "Loser" found his true calling in 2004, and now makes a comfortable living concocting humorous scenarios for Mentos commercials.
Quote: "So, this guy, like, he's out goofing around with his buds, right? And he, like, you know, takes like, a piece of paper off the floor and, like, uh, no wait! He, uh, like, uh..."
Kasmir Kujawa (43) and Ferny Coipel (46)
The former Goods drummer and the I Don't Know front man left their respective bands at the height of the groups' popularity in 1999 -- on the eve of a joint world tour -- to pursue their common lifelong dream of opening a national chain of This Old Man day-care centers. The two are now serving multiple life sentences on a variety of child molestation charges in a federal correctional facility in Des Moines, Iowa.
Quote: "Got a cigarette?"
Nil Lara (51)
Though celebrated for his hypnotic blend of Latin rhythms and American rock and roll, Lara's musical accomplishments were overshadowed in 1998 when he won a Nobel Peace Prize for brokering an end to the hostilities between Arthur Barron, the owner of Rose's Bar, Lounge & Supermodel Emporium on Miami Beach, and Peter Honerkamp, who had owned the Stephen Talkhouse in the same city until 1995.
Quote: "Basically, we all agreed that the issue of wearing sunglasses in dark clubs was not worth the risk of a nuclear war."
Liz Phair (48)
Phair continues to be the world's most wonderful, talented, and gorgeous woman, and resides in Miami with husband Jim Murphy, who she met on a whim following the publication of an article by Murphy speculating on the future of selected rock stars. The happy couple is frequently spotted at Churchill's Hideaway, sharing a bowl of Shepherd's Pie and engaging in good-natured verbal sparring with the house band, the Holy Terrors.
Quote: "I'm certainly glad I called Jim Murphy on a whim following the publication of his article about the future of selected rock stars."
Henry Rollins (54)
Beginning with his hard-core band Black Flag in the early 1980s and continuing with his "spoken word" work through the end of the century, Rollins steadily built a reputation as rock's "kooky intellectual" and amassed a huge following of fans. But in 2005 Rollins's career took a dive when, asked to recite a poem for the inaugural ceremonies of Pres. John J. Kennedy, Jr., Rollins pulled out an early work titled "No Deposit, No Return." Amazed at the sheer vapidity of the piece, critics re-examined the Rollins oeuvre and declared the artist "intellectually bankrupt." Rollins soon abandoned rock and roll and went to work for Kenner Products, where he helped develop the best-selling interactive computer program for children, My First Poem.
Quote: "There once was a rock star from Nantucket..."
Adam Sandler (48)
In the mid-1990s, Sandler was pegged the "next Gallagher" by some, the "next Weird Al Yankovic" by others. But the supremely unfunny comedian's career faltered by the turn of the century as audiences realized they were just hearing the same joke, recycled over and over and over, delivered in the guise of the same grating, tinny-voiced character.
Quote (in tinny voice): "'Table' rhymes with 'Grable.' Dontcha get it? Pleeeeeease say you get it?"
Eddie Vedder (51)
Once considered rock's best hope, Vedder experienced a string of setbacks at the turn of the century. In 2004, after several years of bitter litigation with his estranged ex-bandmates, the last original member of Pearl Jam was denied the right to use his former group's name. In 2005 Vedder launched the Joy of Angst Tour, but audiences stayed away in droves. Undeterred, in 2007 Vedder persuaded his wheelchair-bound hero, Neil Young, to join the band for a world tour. Tragedy struck at the first show when an exuberant Vedder slapped Young on the back in the middle of an extended guitar solo during "Cortez the Killer," causing Young to slowly roll off the stage and into the audience. Vedder immediately retreated into seclusion and has not been heard from since.
Get the Music Newsletter