In what appears to be a running theme this week, several news stories have afforded us glimpses of often mundane and unsettling realities behind the glamour and glory of rock stardom. From Bill Ward publicly analysing the sense of loss he felt after estrangement from his oldest friend and bandmate (“I was still in a lot of grief,” recalled Bill of a low point following shoulder surgery last year; “I was grieving the loss of one of my best friends – Ozzy Osbourne”), to AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd pleading guilty to a charge of threatening to kill an ex-employee whom he blamed for the failure of his solo album launch, there’s been a marked disconnection between the deeply strange, flawed and vulnerable people who make our favourite music and the romantic mythology of their onstage alter egos. Even Opeth’s habitually cool and self-assured mastermind Mikael Akerfeldt has been confessing to feelings of musical unworthiness and low self-esteem. Asked this week what’s the closest he’s come to quitting music, Akerfeldt told Music Radar: “Every day. Not listening to music, but playing. Sometimes I don’t want to do it any more. It’s not that I don’t love it, because I do. It’s because I love it. It’s hard to explain. I have confidence issues and sometimes I feel like I shouldn’t be doing this. But on the other hand, it’s what makes me me. It’s a weird feeling, to be honest.”
This is the kind of tortured introspection and self-doubt that you’d never have heard from rock stars like Lemmy, but the ailing Motörhead legend was forced to pull out of Saturday’s scheduled appearance at Monsters Of Rock in Sao Paulo, after suffering “a serious gastric disorder, followed by dehydration” according to a statement by the festival organisers. Lem turns 70 this Christmas, and in recent years has been stricken with blood clots, diabetes and heart problems; he underwent tests in hospital while Motörhead’s place on the bill was taken by an all-star jam between guitarist Phil Campbell, drummer Mikkey Dee, members of Sepultura and other distinguished guests. Later, a tweet from Phil Campbell blamed Lemmy’s woes on food poisoning, adding “he is getting better, we see you all in Curitiba.” Hammer joins the rest of the world in wishing Mr Kilmister a full and speedy recovery.
We’re sadly having to get used to dealing with fears for the health of our favourite bands now heavy metal has reached its mid-40s. Last year, an exuberant Vince Neil announced that after the official final show of the final Mötley Crüe tour at the LA Staples Center, the band hoped to go straight to a final final show at the Whisky A-Go-Go in Hollywood: the site of Crüe’s first gig. This week, however, Nikki Sixx expressed doubts that a band in their mid-50s could stand that sort of physical strain. “By the time we get off stage and hang out it’ll be about 2 o’clock in the morning. Do we want to drive into Hollywood, get there about 4, play at 5am? It sounds all romantic – until you put the pieces of the puzzle together and you go, ‘Yeah, it’s actually not a very good idea.’ …I think I like the send-off at the Staples, where we blow the place up, rather than kind of hobbling through a set at the Whisky at 5 o’clock in the morning.”
A different kind of unflattering veil was lifted on the music industry by Scott Weiland, a week after the launch of a new video by troubled supergroup Art Of Anarchy, featuring Weiland alongside GNR’s Bumblefoot and Disturbed bassist John Moyer. The singer previously insisted he had never been a member of the band, and this week he explained the extent of his collaboration: “I had them send me the files and I worked in my studio with my engineer. I wrote the lyrics and the melodies and I sent them back.” The ex-Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver frontman went on to graciously insist: “I didn’t even know what their names were. I was paid to do it.” Asked about the press announcement listing him as the Art Of Anarchy vocalist, he retorts: “I wish I could say I was surprised. It was a scam from the beginning.”