The great Rock & Roll ego is one of the enduring cliches of modern music. From band members travelling in separate limousines to singers refusing to go onstage because they’ve been given the wrong brand of mineral water, it is the greatest obstacle to an audience’s affections (though evidently an infinitely surmountable one).
But what does it really mean to have a rock and roll ego? I’d argue that storming off because the lights are the wrong shade of puce or swearing at fans who want to be close to you are not necessarily examples of arrogance but rather insecurity. The real ego maniac is the one that stands on a stage and mistakes the moment with forever, who believes that what goes up need not necessarily come down. Someone who ignores the great career graveyard of icons past and declares “I am the exception.”
Often it’s not the established acts that manifest this trait, but rather those starting out – the quick success stories who don’t acknowledge that the speedier the climb the more rapid the fall. Also the hopefuls – those that never were nor will be – pushing and pushing and pushing, in the thrall of a misplaced notion that says “if my songs reach millions of people that will be all I need, my life will be sorted/fixed/meaningful… that will be it.”
But what happens afterwards? What will you do when they begin to stack the chairs and sweep away the popped balloons at your big party? I hear the Bee Gees invested their early royalties into cheap housing rented out by agencies (or is that one of those urban myths?). If their stardom had stalled the Gibbs would not have starved. Of course, their souls might’ve.
It’s hard to look at your own career objectively. Only the other day I asked myself a difficult question: Have I already peaked? And if so, how long will it take me to realise? And what will I do next? I’m not sure I’m really the landlord type…