26 October 2007

Rock 'n' Roll Lifestyle c.1955-2007

Rock 'n' Roll Lifestyle has thrown its last TV through a closed hotel room window and retired to the big mansion in the sky with the news that these days the addictive lines of choice of legendary hellraiser and gravel-voiced blonde chaser, Rod Stewart, are 00 gauge and have model trains running across them, as revealed on the front cover of this month's Railway Modeller.

Rock 'n' Roll Lifestyle was born under a bad sign in the mid-50s - the noisy, attention-seeking child of Rhythm and Blues and Elvis's unruly pelvis. Within weeks of its birth it was scandalising parents and politicians on both sides of the Atlantic through the onstage and off antics of Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and Buddy Holly in the USA and Cliff Richard in the UK(1).

Though Beethoven may have pounded in frustration at his piano and Mozart died young, it wasn't until the birth of Rock 'n' Roll itself that Rock 'n' Roll Lifestyle first reared its ugly head and vomited copiously out of a 17th-storey window onto a family of Pittsburgh Episcopalians breakfasting by the pool below.

Not content with pushing the envelope of popular music, by the mid-60s, rock stars were also pushing the envelope of pills, powders and halllucinogenic tinctures across the table towards each other. Indeed, the Beatles sampled so much LSD that Ringo Starr actually believed he was the drummer in the Beatles, while the Grateful Dead went so far out they still think Jerry Garcia is soloing 12 years after his death.

This grand social experiment in getting high, getting laid, driving a paisley Bentley into a swimming pool(2) and then trying to remember how to play G-C-D was not without its costs: Brian Jones, Keith Moon, Jimi Hendrix, John Bonham, Janis Joplin, Mama Cass and Jim Morrison - to name but a few - all succumbed to the Rock 'n' Roll Lifestyle.

In the 70s and 80s musicians continued to test the boundaries of moral acceptability in bacchanalian orgies of drugs and destruction or, in the case of Bananarama, to test the boundaries of musical taste(3).

But as the years passed ageing rockers, suddenly ambitious to get old before they die rather than the other way round, began to swap groupies for trophy wives and a life of raising hell to a life of raising trout. When that great rock survivor Keith Richards seriously injured himself - not by accidentally injecting Cillit Bang diesel into his veins or erroneously snorting a line of Sanatogen - but by falling off the ladder in his library, the writing was on the wall ... if he could still remember how to write and still remember where he'd left that wall(4). If Keef could mash himself up badly while peering over his half-moon specs and reaching for the latest Barbara Cartland, then what future for Rock 'n' Roll Lifestyle?

With the revelation that Rod Stewart was giving away his latest album exclusively in Railway Modeller, the last eardrums have been perforated, the last amplifiers blown and the house lights brought cruelly up as Rock 'n' Roll Lifestyle choked to death on it's own 1:87 scale replica of a young girl waving excitedly at a passing locomotive.

Rock 'n' Roll Lifestyle will be buried at the St Animal Church of the Submerged Muppet. The service will be conducted by the surviving members of Led Zeppelin and the congregation will sing Shine On You Crazy Diamond - if they can remember what comes after "three" as they count in the band...

Rock 'n' Roll Lifestyle is survived by Coldplay, James Blunt and Katie Melua.

(1) Not to mention skiffle legend Lonnie Donnegan, who in one notorious incident slightly grated a backstage manager with his washboard for serving the wrong kind of dandelion and burdock.
(2) Such was Keith Moon's passion for this aspect of The Lifestyle that his local public baths were forced to ban the submerging of any motor vehicles during the Mothers and Toddlers Swimming Class.
(3) and, in the case of Duran Duran, testing both of the aforementioned categories simultaneously.
(4) probably at the bottom of his swimming pool...