In the last millennium, artists could only communicate with their fans via their songs, their concerts or their interviews. What they said in those interviews, they would argue, was sometimes taken out of context. But when Twitter arrived, it finally gave the average rock star a completely unmediated way to speak to the world.
For some, it’s been a springboard into a bold new future, but for others it’s proving equal parts gallows and a pie in the face.
Here, then, are some of the worst offenders.
Eric Clapton @EricPClapton Slowhand was what they called him back in the 1970s, but Slowerfinger might be more appropriate in the age of social media. He joined in April 2011 and has yet to post a single tweet. Well, actually, Twitter says he’s tweeted four times, but they must have been deleted, perhaps to be reissued as a luxurious archive boxset in 2025. Amazingly, 77,500 people are following him in the forlorn hope that today is the day he’ll “shred” in 140 characters.
The Cure @thecure It’s mainly posts about upcoming gigs and missives that appear to be written as a fat, brooding spider squats down on the caps lock key. Boringly, they are very, very annoyed that a Guardian journalist didn’t like one of their shows and, like a bungling argument in a pub car park, they keep coming back with “AND ONE MORE THING…” when, really, it’s bedtime for everyone. Strangely, The Cure only follow one other account, which belongs to Robert Smith… who’s never tweeted.
Richard Ashcroft @richardashcroft “Getting a new website,” he tweeted back on 4th July 2009, suggesting a new digital life for Wigan’s valiant sonic adventurer. Three days later he’s back. “learning about twitter,” he says, showing admirable disregard for the rules of proper nouns. It’s been radio silence ever since, suggesting that “learning about twitter” is an academic undertaking akin to doing two PhDs back-to-back. Oh Lord – tempus fugit, as the great man himself might sing.
**Poison **@PoisonTweets The Glam Metal stalwarts joined Twitter with a flourish in 2012, expressing their excitement using the age-old technique of multiple exclamation marks. “Hello World! First Poison tweet!!!”, they shouted. Worryingly, this enthusiasm swiftly dwindled, and two years (and just nine tweets) later, the world clearly isn’t paying much attention. Five of these tweets have been adverts for Rikki Rockett’s drum manufacturing business.
The Edge @360FromTheEdge It all started swimmingly as he posted links to photos from inside the world’s biggest band on tour, but heartbreakingly, he’s not tweeted since their final show in July 2011. Some 111,000 followers are still hanging on, hoping he’ll come back with tweets about effects pedals or where he buys his hats. Distressingly, his last tweet says “Thanks everyone!” and links to a photo of our hero poking his head out of a giant washing machine while wearing shades.
James Hetfield @officaljames_ Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich is a loquacious tweeter but singer Hetfield is altogether more circumspect. This has opened up the field for impersonators, including offical [sic] James Hetfield, who now boasts an impressive 77,000 followers. Two tweets on the same day (15th November 2010) make up his total output. “Hey Man Iam The Real james hetfield” was an encouraging, if typographically scrambled, opener. This was followed with “Mexico Prepare for a concert in the foro sol in june tickets on sale on feb hell yeah”. This is what happens if someone claims your identity on Twitter and you do nothing to fix it, although, given Metallica’s experience hounding fans during the Napster debacle, one can understand any reluctance.
Steven Tyler @IamStevenT With a singing voice akin to an elephant setting up a deckchair in a storm, Tyler does not know the meaning of understatement. Everything, it follows, is in caps, which gives the impression of constantly being told off for some imprudence. “LADIES…AS LONG AS I HAVE THIS FACE…Y’ALL HAVE SOMEWHERE TO SIT…. LOVE, ST FROM ATL,” he writes, and it’s as if everything since the 1970s never happened.
JJ Cale @SlowerBaby A freewheeling guitarist he might have been, but it was all quacking bum notes when he grappled with a keyboard – a minimalism at utter odds with his fretboard freneticism. One self-descriptive tweet from March 2009 (“I make rock n roll records”) was to prove his grand and, tragically, final social media statement (he passed away in 2013), leaving 1,400 followers staring at a void that will never be filled.
Missing in action
If you haven’t claimed your Twitter name by now, someone else will and is guaranteed to turn it into a frightful “parody” account. Those who have missed the bus include:
Sting: too much Tantric and not enough Twitter saw him fail to claim the @Sting handle. A wrestler has it now.
Ritchie Blackmore: famously taciturn, small talk is probably not for him. Although his wife is on there as @TruCandiceNight
Angus Young: because of his dress code, he’s probably deemed too juvenile to be allowed on the internet without parental supervision.
Chris Martin: he can’t even “consciously uncouple” from Twitter as he was never on there in the first place – although @Coldplay are.
Rob Halford: he may have trademarked the “Metal God” name but is in no rush to become a “Twitter God”.
Bob Geldof: his charity work possibly takes up too much time or maybe he just knows he’d just go on there to piss and moan about everything.
Rick Parfitt: it’s a shame he’s not on there as we’d finally be able to see if he knows more than three tweets.