rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Feminist Current

Feminist Current's picture
Feminist Current was founded by Meghan Murphy, a freelance writer and journalist who has been writing about feminism since 2010 and has been producing feminist radio since 2007. Meghan is from Vancouver, B.C. and holds a Masters degree in Women's Studies from Simon Fraser University. You can find more of her writing in New Statesman, Truthdig, Vice, Ms. Magazine, Herizons Magazine, The Globe and Mail, the Vancouver Observer, Al Jazeera, and more.

The list of men who made great music but were not always great people is expansive

| January 13, 2016
The list of men who made great music but were not always great people is expansive

Like this article? rabble is reader-supported journalism. Chip in to keep stories like these coming.

We are a lucky species, in that we are able to hold more than one thought in our heads at once. We can enjoy films that may not be in line with our political ideology, dance to music created by assholes, and appreciate art made by idiots. In fact, this is mostly what we do all the time. If we didn't, we would have very few options for entertainment. The reality is that most of our favourite actors, musicians, and artists are... Wait... Maybe you should sit down for this one...

...

... Kind of stupid.

I'm sorry but it's true.

I hate listening to radio interviews with actors and musicians I love because they are almost always disappointing idiots. I am exhausted by a culture that desperately wants our celebrities to be everything: intellectuals, political commentators, spiritual guides... It's ridiculous. Actors are actors, rock stars are rock stars, artists are people who make art. None of these qualities necessarily makes these individuals qualified to do anything more than that. If they happen to be intelligent, political beings on the side, great. But it's just as rare to find that our idols also share our ethics and politics as it is to find this in any other very wealthy narcissist.

This reality is compounded when we're talking about male stars. This is because we live in a misogynist society that not only teaches men that women are not so much full human beings deserving of respect, but that women are more like cars or fancy watches: things that are more easily acquired with fame and fortune. "Money, power, women" is the male American dream and it's one that treats commodities as priorities and women as among those commodities.

Wholly interconnected to this is rape culture -- that thing where sexualized violence and male entitlement to sexual access to women is so normalized that even what we understand to be "consensual" sex is steeped in the same values. Sex is something men "get," through whatever means possible and, when they succeed in "getting" said sex, they are congratulated, made to feel powerful and virile -- like real men -- rather than punished.

Knowing all this, is it any real shock that so many of our favorite male artists and entertainers turn out to be abusive dirtbags? I don't say this to excuse men's behaviour -- this is not a "boys will be boys" argument, rather it's an argument that says: Don't idolize your idols. Particularly when they are men. Rock stars are not gods. And when it turns out that your favorite comedian, director, or musician is a rapist or an abuser, try not to let idolization fog that reality. It doesn't necessarily mean you have to unlike whatever music that man created or forget the ways in which that art impacted your life or created a soundtrack for your formative years, but it also doesn't mean you ignore the truth about these men, simply because it makes your desire to bask peacefully in the warm glow of nostalgia more difficult.

On that note, here is a list of men who created what many consider to be great music who were not necessarily great people:

1) Jimmy Page kidnapped 14-year-old Lori Maddix and raped her. (We're all aware that kidnapping a 14 year old and having sex with her never counts as "consensual," right?)

2) John Lennon openly admitted that he beat women in his younger years.

3) James Brown was an extremely violent abuser who beat his second wife, Deirdre Jenkins, to a pulp on a regular basis. She wasn't the only one. His third wife, Adrienne Rodriguez, had him arrested four times on charges of assault and in 2005 a woman named Jacque Hollander accused him of raping her in 1988.

4) Um, Michael Jackson...

5) Miles Davis beat his wives regularly, by his own admission.

6) Rolling Stones guitarist, Bill Wyman, "dated" 13-year-old Mandy Smith when he was 47, eventually marrying her.

7) In 1993, Tupac was arrested for sexually abusing a 19-year-old-woman. From the sounds of it, he participated in a gang-rape with three of his friends. (This is a tough one for me, I'll be honest...)

8) Sid Vicious abused Nancy Spungen and was charged with her murder.

9) Chuck Berry was convicted of transporting a 14-year-old Indigenous girl across state lines for sex.

10) Ozzy Osbourne tried to kill his wife (and was subsequently arrested for domestic abuse) in 1989.

11) Iggy Pop had sex with "baby groupie," Sable Starr, when she was 13.

12) Dr. Dre beat up two women in the '90s.

13) It's common knowledge that Ike Turner viciously abused Tina Turner while they were together.

14) Elvis Presley began pursuing Priscilla Presley when he was 24 years old and she was only 14. Looking back on their relationship, she said, "I was someone he created. I was just a kid and I was consumed by him. All I desired was not to disappoint him."

15) In 1992, Wilson Pickett's girlfriend, Jean Cusseaux, filed a domestic violence complaint against him.

16) R. Kelly, who some might not consider "great," but I was a fan and many others are/were too, raped girl after young girl. (He also married Aaliyah when she was 15.)

17) At 27, Steven Tyler convinced 14-year-old Julia Holcomb's mother to sign over guardian rights to him so he could take her across state lines with him while he was on tour. Of her relationship with Tyler, Holcomb said, "I was subordinate to him as in a parent relationship and felt I had little control over my life." She also pointed out that Tyler referred to her as "my Little Oral Annie" in his memoir.

18) And finally, Lori Mattix told Thrillist that, in the early '70s, "[David Bowie] escorted me into the bedroom, gently took off my clothes, and de-virginized me." This took place when she was around 13 or 14 years old (some sources say she was 15, but in a VH1 documentary, Mattix says this happened before she was with Jimmy Page (at which point she was only 13 or 14). He also faced rape allegations in 1987.

This list could go on... And while we are free to continue to value and enjoy the music these men produced, the desire to appreciate said music shouldn't override the truth about rape culture and violence against women that exists behind it. In fact, denying this truth perpetuates the very culture that allowed these abuses to happen in the first place.

Like this article? rabble is reader-supported journalism. Chip in to keep stories like these coming.

embedded_video

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.