Ten WORST Rock and Roll Artists in History
Rock and Roll was never so annoying, lame and forgettable
Anybody who’s paid any attention to my articles knows that I’ve written plenty of rock and roll lists of one sort or another. Now it’s time to switch from the positive to the negative and poke fun at those boys and girls of rock who compel us to make a cross with our fingers and cry, “NO, EVIL!”
Before you read the list, please keep in mind that Keith Richards once said rock is “music for the neck downwards.” Also Neil Young said: “There’s an edge to real rock ‘n’ roll. It’s all that matters.” And Courtney Love said: “But, you know, all good rock is easy.”
Please enjoy the Ten WORST Rock and Roll Artists in History:
10. Sid Vicious
Sid Vicious may have been the most self-destructive rocker of all time – a feat of some magnitude, just ask the media! Vicious was best known as the bass player for the punk rock group the Sex Pistols, even though he couldn’t play bass worth a damn. Nevertheless, manager Malcolm McLaren claimed, “If Johnny Rotten is the voice of punk, then Vicious is the attitude.” Yeah, El Sid had plenty of ‘tude, snarling more than King Kong and picking more fights than Russell Crowe. Vicious and girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, made a dastardly duo, shooting up junk together and attaining status as about-town screw-ups. Then someone murdered Spungen and Vicious was implicated, though he never took the rap. Soon thereafter Vicious followed Nancy to the dead zone, overdosing on a massive slug of pure H at the age of 21. Maybe Vicious has finally learned to play bass at that big jam in the sky, whatdoyathink?
9. Wendy and the Plasmatics
Wendy and the Plasmatics were a shock rock group that hit the scene around 1978. Led by blonde boob queen and former porn starlet Wendy O. Williams (W.O.W), the Plasmatics chainsawed guitars, blew up speaker cabinets, sledgehammered TV sets and blew up cars – before they even tried to play music! I know rock is supposed to kick our asses, but these boys and girls excelled at nausea, not confrontation. At one performance in Milwaukee, Wendy, this vice squad mama, was busted for simulating masturbation with a sledgehammer, and then brawled with the cops when they tried to search her. Yawn. So what? Could they actually play rock? Well, their guitar work was okay, but Wendy screeched, howled and hissed like a turpentined cat stuck in a cement mixer. The band should have flipped off Wendy and had a life without her.
8. Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen is a great guy – everybody knows that. The Boss is likeable, affable and cool, and gosh darn it, he loves America too. Mr. Blue Collar also seems to have great passion for his work, his beloved rock and roll, and he’s got plenty of soul too. Unfortunately, I find his music monotonous and banal – three-chord rock squared, if you will. If they play “Born in the U.S.A.” at my funeral, thereafter they won’t have to bury me because that tune will put me six feet under. Bruce, it’s not too late to add a Beatle bridge or two to your songs. Or can you turn jazzy? Whatever you do, don’t go through a period where you play that acoustic, low-key, introspective stuff. What’s that you say? You already did? Peace out!
7. The Monkees
The Monkees were America’s answer to the Beatles and perhaps commercialism’s first exploitation of rock and roll. The quartet was created to portray themselves on a TV show of the same name from 1966 to 1968. At first, only two of the band members – Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork - could even play musical instruments. Over time, the Monkees became known in showbiz as the superhype, which they certainly were. For the most part, their music was bubblegum pop, and about as Beatle-like as the music of your typical organ grinder with his monkey. Get it? But I must admit, I liked some of their tunes, though I was very young back then. Please note: the Monkees once toured with the Jimi Hendrix Experience. When you want a belly laugh, just try to imagine it.
6. Ted Nugent
Ted Nugent is not a likable guy - unless you happen to belong to the Ku Klux Klan! Strangely, Nugent’s arch conservative views seem to fly in the face of the peace and love liberalism from which he sprang as a solo performer in the mid 1970s. Oh, and he doesn’t do drugs either. (Insert applause here.) But maybe Ted should try them; maybe he wouldn’t be so conceited and outspoken; maybe he wouldn’t be homophobic or profane; maybe he would play better too. Nugent’s style of frenetic hard rock is hard to listen to, unless you’ve just slugged down a twelve pack of beer, desensitizing your ears in the process. Of course, Ted can play fast, but that doesn’t mean he’s good. Too many, Nugent is a guitar god, but to me he’s just an oddball rocker, for whom, fortunately, there seem to be few imitators.
5. Tin Machine
Tin Machine provided glam legend David Bowie with a vehicle for resurrection after his solo career fizzled in the middle 1980s. In this hard rock assemblage, Bowie sang the lead, sounding like a Sammy Hagar wannabe, yet that David Bowie warbling was unmistakable. Overall, Tin Machine’s music sounded noisy, overproduced and, at best, garden variety. But I will give Bowie credit for reinventing himself a number of times in his illustrious career. At least he’s willing to take a chance and kick out the jams, so to speak. Nevertheless, Tin Machine is destined to be little more than a footnote in a grand career whose overexposure couldn’t mar it to death, although Bowie seems determined to give it a go even if the result sounds, er, uh, tinny.
4. The Cranberries
The Cranberries play what is called alternative rock – alternative to what, beating on tin cans and wooden logs? Led by lead singer Dolores O’Riordan, the Cranberries emerged from Ireland in 1989, playing a brand of soft rock designed to make you think. Or put you to sleep? These folks make the Monkees sound like Led Zeppelin! Oh, to what depths has our beloved rock ‘n’ roll fallen? Anyway, at least the Cranberries don’t play death rock as loud as a volcanic eruption, and I thank them for that! However, at times they actually play a hard rock tune, and the results aren’t bad. Perhaps they should let an old hand such as Pat Benatar beckon them to the rougher side of the tracks, from wince rock came and is hopefully still headed.
3. Jim Morrison
Jim Morrison, the lady-killer, poet-rocker could really belt-out the raw, thunderous lyric. Just listen: “I’m a backdoor man! The men don’t know, but the little girls understand!” Ya gotta love it! Unfortunately, Morrison was also one of the biggest creeps in the world of rock. One night on a hotel balcony, Grace Slick saw Jim nude, down on all fours and howling like a wolf at the moon; Janis Joplin hated Jim so much she hit him over the head with a whiskey bottle; and Eric Burdon, in order to get rid of Jim and his groupies, had to fire a .44 magnum into the ceiling of his home! After helping the Doors produce two great albums in the middle 1960s, Morrison got potbellied, grew an ugly full beard, started singing pop tunes, got busted for indecent exposure in Miami and then expired in a bathtub in Paris. And many rock enthusiasts think this guy was something special?
Prince is the James Brown/Jimi Hendrix/Stevie Wonder wannabe who plays 25 musical instruments and gyrates all over the stage – well, he used to gyrate until he hurt his hip – that is assuming he had any “hip” to hurt! I know Prince has accumulated a pile of awards that seemingly reach to the moon, but I’ve never liked his sound. Simply put, the chills never come when I hear his music. He’s got soul, I guess, and plays funk okay, but he has no . . . je ne sais quoi. At any rate, he’s no great lead guitarist – just average. I’ve never liked his pretentious attitude as well, his nose always in the air, ya know? Talent, Prince has plenty of, but heart, well who knows?
Kiss is a band that flashes more clichés than the movie, This Is Spinal Tap, but isn’t near as entertaining. Bass guitarist Gene Simmons once said on National Public Radio that Kiss has sold more records than the Beatles, insinuating that the music of Kiss was better. That’s like comparing the music of the Beatles with that of the Archies! (Remember them?) Simmons is, by the way, the pompous butt of this showy assemblage of elderly pop maniacs. (I refuse to call them rock musicians.) By the way, Simmons, alias “the Demon,” after getting cosmetic surgery, remarked, “Have no second thoughts. I am more stunning now than ever.” Hey, who’s more conceited, Ted Nugent or Gene Simmons? Anyway, when God created Kiss he produced his own mockumentary in human form and gave it to the world. Thank you God! I think.
© 2010 Kelley Marks