There is a strong possibility that you have never looked up the definition of ‘rock star’. Why would you? You know what they are, right? You may even have met one or two, had your picture taken with them, and got them scrawl something illegible on your t-shirt. Indeed, were you to look up the definition, you would find – once you’d got past endless pages of energy drinks and video game developers – that the Oxford dictionary defines a rock star as ‘a famous and successful singer or performer of rock music’. So that’s that, job done, we can all go down the pub.
But hold on a second, let’s not be so hasty. Further poking online finds various sites suggesting that a rock star is pretty much anyone who plays rock music, while dictionary.com goes so far as to claim that it’s ‘a star or celebrity in any field or profession’, giving the example ‘mom is a rock star!’ Seriously, look it up if you don’t believe me. And with the best will in the world, your ‘mom’ – unless she happens to be Joan Jett or Janis fucking Joplin – is not a rock star.
Rocks stars don’t do the school run, for one thing; being a rock star is a 24 hour a day, seven day a week thing, with no time off. Ever. It’s the same way that Hells Angels are always Hells Angels. It’s what they are, always, there is no ‘off’ button. Likewise, a proper rock star just is; they don’t get up in the morning and put on a rock star outfit – which rules out Alice Cooper. Hell, they don’t get up in the morning at all if they can help it. And they don’t play golf, for that matter – which also rules out Kid Rock, Meat Loaf, and some bloke from Linkin Park. Some bloke from Linkin Park is ruled out twice because you’re not a rock star if people have to Google you. Just a simple glance should be enough to confirm your identity.
As such, there seems to be rather a lot of grey area if we are to properly define the true meaning of ‘rock star’, which we probably should if ‘mom’ qualifies. And maybe we should raise the bar a little bit while we’re at it, trim off some of the fat. Obviously, you’re not a rock star if you have a day job – unless that job is being a rock star – but perhaps those who haven’t made a decent album in the past ten years might also be disqualified, as could anyone who hasn’t been around for at least that long. After all, how do we even know if you’re going to make it past that tricky second album before you’re back serving fries with that? Or, worse still, that you won’t do something embarrassing like tweeting your support for Donald Trump – sorry Zoltan Bathory, that’s you out, too! Although, Zoltan’s a pretty rock star name, and names are important, they have to be unique. You can’t have people asking, “which Sid Vicious?”
But Sidney wasn’t a rock star either. Even if he’d managed to string a couple of chords together before he overdosed – a standard, do-not-pass-go requirement for rock stardom – he can be discounted for lobbing a glass at The Damned and costing a girl in the crowd the sight in one eye. That’s not a rock star, that’s a dick. Rock stars are supposed to be cool and rebellious, outlaws in their own way. A night in jail might not hurt the image, but you’re not a rock star if you beat your girlfriend up, you’re just a dick. And you’re definitely a dick, Vince, if you kill someone in a drunk driving accident, get several more DUIs proving that you’ve learned absolutely nothing, and now have your own brand of tequila. Remember, rock star is a full time job, you can’t be a dick as well.
Or a celebrity get me out of here, or a judge on American Idol, or a Jehovah bloody Witness!
Frankly, we could be here all day sorting flotsam from jetsam and dickhead from doofus, each of them legends in their own lunchtime. Thankfully, however, there is one name that has never let us down, one name that never will, and it’s my proposal that we do away with all the definitions completely and just have a picture of this person under the entry for rock star. It will solve a lot of problems. He’ll be dressed in black in the picture, of course, wearing a cowboy hat and white cowboy boots, with a couple of distinctive facial moles protruding from under his trademark mutton chops… There, you see how easy that was? No name has even been mentioned and you already know who we’re talking about.
Hell, why not? Just have a picture of Lemmy and the words ‘rock star’. That way people can look it up and if they’re not Lemmy then they’ll know they’re not a rock star. Admittedly we’re setting the bar pretty high here, but why lower it? And it’s an easy checklist, too. Do people immediately know who you are and yell your name at you wherever you go? Check. Is your band a way of life? Check. Has your music changed thousands of lives for the better? Check. Was you latest album bad ass? Well, it was actually Bad Magic, but you get the point; it comes up Lemmy every time, like it comes up lemons on a one-armed bandit. Born to lose, live to win.
He got kicked out of Hawkwind in 1975 for doing drugs. Out of Hawkwind! And that was before Motörhead, before Ace Of Spades and Bomber and Overkill, Orgasmatron and Sacrifice, before any of that. Before most of you were any more than a glimmer in your dad’s eye, or possibly even your granddad’s eye. Lemmy has been a rock star for your entire life! Just think about that for a second. And he’s never killed anyone drunk driving, he just moved closer to the pub, walking distance to the Rainbow!
A proper rock star shouldn’t give a fuck, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t care; there’s a huge difference. So I’ll leave you with the tale of how I first met Mr Kilmister, many, many years ago, and you can decide for yourselves. I was seventeen at the time, drunk and wired on cheap speed, and, wandering the streets of London late at night, I spotted Lemmy inside the entrance of a nightclub. Being somewhat stupid, I strolled in without paying and asked if he’d sign my very grubby Ace Of Spades shirt. “Have you got a pen?” Lemmy asked, not unreasonably, having first told the bouncers not to throw me out. “Um, no,” I slurred. At which Lemmy thrust his drink into my hand. “Drink this, you look like you need it,” he said. “I’ll be back.” And ten minutes later he did come back, armed with a marker pen with which to scrawl something illegible. He certainly didn’t need to go to that effort and could, quite reasonably, have said no. But the point is, he’s a rock star, a proper fucking rock star, and unless you are Lemmy you are not.