AlfieDavenport on 10/25/2012 at 08:52AM
Sometimes musicians say outrageous things. Big deal, we’ve all got that ‘edgy’ friend who talks about overthrowing the government, banning civil unions or voting Ron Paul after a drink or two; the only difference is no-one publishes his opinions next day and calls it news. So what? While that’s mostly true, there are still some musicians out there who seem to make a point of saying things even your drunken ‘friend’ would hesitate to claim. Bizarre, often libellous things like:
“When you think about it, Adolf Hitler was the first pop star.” (David Bowie)
Look, we love Bowie, but seriously: Hitler? That was even less-cool then than it is now. Known for his strange flirtations with the odder recesses of both fashion and the human psyche, Bowie gets a pass from us purely because this quote was made in the 70’s; a decade he spent pounding back enough cocaine to keep the entire narcotics industry afloat. He would later retract the statement, claiming he was bored in an interview and just said the most controversial thing he could to get a reaction. Well it worked: the British music press of the day absolutely eviscerated him.
“The sorrow of the Brighton bombing is that Thatcher escaped unscathed.” (Morrissey)
The Moz has a well-deserved reputation as a loudmouth. Over the years, he has expressed a desire to punch Vic Reeves in the face, called Bob Geldof ‘nauseating’ (which is debatable) and had a very public row with NME over supposedly xenophobic comments made back in the 90’s. But this quote has to be the mother of them all. Timed to be delivered with maximum insensitivity, in the wake of the IRA bombing of the Tory Party conference that killed 5 people, it ensured outrage and lots of publicity for the group. Think that’s bad? A few years later Morrissey released a solo track entitled ‘Margaret on the Guillotine’.
“I won’t be happy until I’m as famous as God.” (Madonna)
Does anyone remember when Madonna used to be great? Like, genuinely incredible? No? Man, we feel old. Regardless, before she became the most annoying pop star this side of Bono, Madge was something special: a star with looks, talent and (metaphorical) balls. This quote, made at the start of her career, encapsulated everything that was great about her. It was subversive, defiant and a covert swipe at the Beatles ‘bigger than Jesus’ claim. Looking back now, when the dust has settled, just makes us feel a bit embarrassed. Definitely one of those ‘be careful what you wish for’ moments.
“Somebody said to me, “But the Beatles were anti-materialistic.” That’s a huge myth. John and I used to literally sit down and say ‘now, let’s write a swimming pool.’” (Paul McCartney)
A kick in the nuts for Beatles fans, who were still reeling from finding out ‘Revolution’ really meant: ‘buy more trainers’. Honestly, these guys rode the anti-establishment vibe so long it’s nothing short of depressing to hear stuff like that. ‘Paul is dead’? Yeah right. If you play Sgt. Pepper’s backwards it probably advises you on stock options.
“Vote for Enoch Powell… I think Enoch’s right.” (Eric Clapton)
There’s a lot more to that quote, but we’re trying to keep our rage-levels to an acceptable low. For those of you lucky enough to have never heard of Enoch Powell, he was a mega-racist, like Bernard Manning on steroids, and Clapton was more than happy to be his messenger. This infamous outburst led directly to Rock Against Racism being formed, and to whole new-levels of disillusion for an entire generation. In 2004 Clapton was given the chance to retract his statement and instead praised Powell as ‘tremendously brave’. The same Powell who once claimed ‘in this country, in 15 or 20 years, the black man will have the whip hand over the white man.’
Yeah, we’re struggling to keep those rage-levels down after all.
Author: I've written about music in a few places, particularly RMX.com and Blazingminds.com. For my day job I work for DV247; Pro Audio specialists.