An old friend from Revere went to NYC to see Jack White perform at Radio City Music Hall this past weekend and walked away crushed. She waited an hour and a half to meet him, but he blew past everyone and hopped into a waiting van. No hellos. No autographs.
“What a disappointment. Just waited an hour and a half for him to just dash out and jump in his van,” she said on her Facebook page.
Then he put on a dismal performance, insulted the crowd repeatedly and stormed off stage after barely an hour of performing.
“Wow! Just can’t get any worse. As if earlier wasn’t bad enough, JW decided to blow off his entire audience and killed his show and walked after an hour because the crowd wasn’t loud enough for him,” she posted.
And so went the latest lesson of how our musical heroes sometimes fail to live up to their gifts when the human being behind the rock god armor is exposed.
I’ve never been snubbed by a favorite rock star, but I’ve been disappointed by my musical heroes over the years and it sucks. A couple examples:
- Vince Neil. I wanted to believe the Mötley Crüe vocalist learned something after his 1984 DUI accident, which killed Hanoi Rocks drummer Nicholas “Razzle” Dingley and injured two others, leaving at least one of them with permanent brain damage. Neil was unharmed, did 30 days in prison, did 200 hours of community service, and paid millions in restitution. Over the years, his drinking has remained on full display, but I assumed his days of drunk driving were over. Then, two years ago, he was sent to jail for drunk driving in Las Vegas.
- Axl Rose. The Guns N’ Roses vocalist regularly shows contempt for his fans, going on stage hours late, storming off stage before the show is finished and, in some cases, sparking riots in the process.
The common element for me is that both men front bands that were very important to me as a disgruntled teen. Instead of taking all my anger, grief and sorrow out on other people and stealing cars, I listened to Mötley Crüe and Guns N’ Roses. The music wrung out all of the violence within me and kept me sane. Because their music did this for me, I assumed the artists were the nicest guys on Earth, living on some higher level of existence.
Sadly, in the case of these two, it didn’t turn out to be that way.
But I still listen to the music. It still speaks to me and keeps me grounded. I feel the same way about Jack White’s music.
I’ve learned to divorce the personalities from the music. Maybe that’s a survival instinct. I know people who refuse to listen to a band that includes musicians they consider assholes.
Part of my reasoning is that these stars are flawed human beings like us, not gods. They have good days, when they are nice to everyone they come in contact with. And they have days when they treat their fellow human beings with contempt. It could be that White was simply having a shitty day. Maybe he got some bad news or simply wasn’t feeling well.
Whatever the case, he should apologize for his NYC clusterfuck. We’re all human, but fans are paying customers, and you have to make things right with your customers if you want them to stay customers.
Even so, I hope my friend doesn’t stop listening to White, especially if the music has helped her in times of need.
Photo credit: Douglas Mason/Getty Images Contributor