15 things the stars told us in Classic Rock 200

Classic Rock 200 is a mammoth, 240-page monster featuring 200 interviews with 200 stars. Here's a short sample of what 15 had to say.

Tony Iommi on Heroes & Villains: “I’ve met quite a few real-life villains over the years – ex-managers and the Mafia, that kind of thing. The band got mixed up in a lot of that in the early days. There were certain people who wanted to manage the band because it was another feather in their cap. There was Wilf Pine [gangster and one-time co-manager of Sabbath], who was involved with us in the early days. He and this big guy called Arnie used to go around carrying a large case with a hammer in it. And if you weren’t getting paid, they’d break somebody’s knees. That was the kind of thing that happened in those days because there weren’t any music lawyers. They’d have to beat somebody up to get money.”

Lars Ulrich on Art: “Instead of buying very expensive paintings by dead people, I started buying very reasonably priced paintings by living people. But there’s a fine line between collecting and hoarding. You’re the caretaker of it, the custodian, for a period of time. I was in a Danish museum recently, and one of the star pieces was a painting that hung in my living room for eight years. I have a small part in this painting’s history. But to me art is something you pass on. You shouldn’t hoard it. That’s not how art should live.”

Steven Tyler on Religion: “I’ve come to believe that even though I stand next to Joe Perry, who can be so powerful onstage, and that I watch videos of Alicia Silverstone, who can also be powerful, also that I’ve written powerful songs such as Dream On, that a power greater than myself is what sustains me.”

Nick Mason on Fame: “We all wanted to be pop stars. Or we thought we did. When we kicked off we were an R&B band, and it was about impressing a mostly male audience. The press likes to believe that rock’n’roll is all screaming girls, but it never was. It was all blokes walking around with long hair, raincoats and loon pants.”

Rick Wakeman on Politics: “We’re the only country that takes anything seriously. Take health and safety. Go to a café in France, Italy or Spain and the hygiene is so bad you’ll be sick outside. Regarding climate change, it depends on who you listen to. Look at photos from the smoke-filled Industrial Revolution, and now you’re telling me that we’re worse off than back then? No, the Earth is very good at coping with all it has thrown at it.”

Joe Bonamassa on Death & Morality: “I do believe in spirits, because sometimes you can feel something when you visit old hotels, but I don’t get into summoning up the dead. I figure if they’ve got business with me – if I owe them money for a guitar deal gone bad – then they’ll be in touch.”

Ray Davies on Death & Morality: “For the rest of my life I’ll have mobility problems because of the injury. It’s not so much the gunshot wound itself, but the care I had afterwards wasn’t good. So I’m reminded of it every day when I’m trying to walk around. Psychologically, it hasn’t affected me in the same way.”

Slash on Pastimes: “I follow dinosaurs on Google. I have friends who are palaeontologists who send me updates and photos on the latest developments, new digs – all the stuff they’re unearthing and what they’re working on in the lab. They just found a new titanosaur in Argentina. It’s a sauropod, a huge, four-legged animal with a long neck like a brontosaurus. There’s a whole lineage of them in South America.”

Jimmy Page on Rock’n’Roll: “The whole movement was about youth – it was a statement. The musical landscape was fascinating, with all these different characters presenting their own take on what was going on at the time. There was so much urgency conveyed in rock’n’roll. Young people were really drawn to it and I was no exception.”

Sharon Osborne on Rock’n’Roll: “Artists used to hone their craft, they would tour, they would know who they were and they’d come up with an individual identity. Now you get people who can sing okay-ish coming up through talent shows – and that’s why I say I’m a hypocrite, because I’ve been part of it – and they’re taught how to move and how to dress and they’re set into a little pre-packaged genre box. We create these artists who don’t have any identity or attitude and throw them out into the world.”

Bruce Springsteen on Inspirations: “I remember going to see Sam & Dave at the Fast Lane in Asbury Park in 1973 or ’74, which would have been near the end of their time together. The place was half- full but it was still so good. I felt like I was stood there witnessing a miracle. I actually cried – it was from seeing the beautiful and visible effort of the guys that were trying to entertain you.”

Steve Harris on Inspirations: “I wanted to be a drummer but realised I wasn’t mad enough. The next best thing was to try and play along with one. Guitars had too many strings.”

Geddy Lee on Family: “Coming back off tour wasn’t so hard for me, but the absence created huge gaps in your ability to communicate with each other. You end up developing independence, and it’s hard to mend the gap and act as a duo, rather than two solo acts. I’m very fortunate to have my wife. I adore her and we’re the best of friends.”

Rob Halford on Partying: “We got up to the same antics that Crüe did, I tell you. But we didn’t have the need to exploit it and make sure there were paparazzi waiting for us when we came out of a club, the way American bands do.”

Keith Richards on Legacy: “If I hear the Stones it’s usually on the radio and by accident, but sometimes it makes me go back and listen to something I haven’t heard for a while. When we’re rehearsing we listen to just about everything we’ve ever recorded in order to find out how we originally played it, and to pick the essence out of it.”

Gene Simmons on Legacy: “I could have picked an easier band to be in. Every night, I have to put on eight-inch platforms, fifty- five pounds of armour, sweat my balls off, spit fire and run the risk of burning my mouth or swallowing kerosene.”

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Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.