John Lennon, Carlos Santana, Bruce Springsteen Make List of ‘Biggest Classic Rock Douchebags’…Wait, What?!?
You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs, or so the old saying goes, and you also can’t make it to the big time without stepping on a few necks along the way. We’ve grown accustomed to finding out our heroes weren’t always saints in their private lives, but it’s still occasionally entertaining to criticize them for their failings, which is why publications like the L.A. Weekly can get away with running features like their recent list of ‘The 10 Biggest Classic Rock Douchebags.’
Like most lists of this nature, it’s a blend of well-known stories, somewhat more obscure trivia, and the writer’s own prejudices; in other words, your enjoyment of the piece will vary depending on your tolerance for bashing on sacred rock cows such as John Lennon, Carlos Santana and Bruce Springsteen — all of whom made the Top Five.
Before getting to those three, however, author Jonny Whiteside trains his sights on the Grateful Dead‘s Jerry Garcia (a drug addict whose “guitar was always listless, flabby and aimless”), Bob Dylan (“a serial plagiarist”), John Fogerty (a master of “sanitized bubblegum blues and all around douchery”), and Lou Reed (a pretentious “chronic dullard”).
Also coming under fire: David Crosby, whose “appalling legacy of faux-folk rock epitomizes the worst of hippie-era dreck”; the “overheated and overinflated” Springsteen; and producer Phil Spector, lambasted for his “rotten, overdone music” and “aberrant, murderous nature.”
Lennon, meanwhile, is accused of being an abusive potential racist, while Santana is a predictable guitarist-turned-footwear mogul. Frank Zappa, for his part, tops the list due to his alleged status as an inveterate loudmouth who’s revered for his music despite being “an overstimulated, unfocused megalomaniac who wanted to come off as smarter than you.”
The moral of the story, then, is that nobody’s perfect and there isn’t a single public legacy that can’t be picked apart if you’re really in the mood to do it. Whether Whiteside was entirely successful is up to you and your own musical biases, but the list is an entertaining (albeit overheated and overinflated) compendium of bad behavior, and you just might pick up a dark trivia nugget or two along the way.