Kill all your gods


I should have known — I remember when “Clapton is God” was a common phrase among the guitarists I knew. No more.

But when he saw Clapton at the Odeon theater in Birmingham in August 1976, Wakeling was gob-smacked. A clearly inebriated Clapton, who unlike most of his rock brethren hadn’t weighed in on topics like the Vietnam War, began grousing about immigration. The concert was neither filmed nor recorded, but based on published accounts at the time (and Wakeling’s recollection), Clapton began making vile, racist comments from the stage. In remarks he has never denied, he talked about how the influx of immigrants in the U.K. would result in the country “being a colony within 10 years.” He also went on an extended jag about how “foreigners” should leave Great Britain: “Get the wogs out . . . get the coons out.” (Wog, shorthand for golliwog, was a slur against dark-skinned nonwhites.)

A citizen of the pre-eminent colonizing nation now thinks being a colony is bad? OK.

That was in 1976. Now, though, he’s jumped on the wacky anti-vax bandwagon.

Clapton does appear to have a credulous side: In the book, he detailed the bizarre incident in the Eighties when “a lady with a strong European accent” called him at home, told him she knew all about his difficulties with Pattie Boyd (his wife by then), and persuaded him to try all sorts of odd rituals — like “cut my finger to draw blood, smear it onto a cross with Pattie’s and my name written on it, and read weird incantations at night.” (At her suggestion, he also flew to New York and slept with her before realizing that none of that madness would bring Boyd back.)

Clapton’s current public views are a hot mess of those tendencies churned up by a global pandemic, fake news, and his own health issues. In the past few years, Clapton’s health — his hands in particular — have made more headlines than his most recent albums. In 2016, he confessed to Rolling Stone that he was having “a neurological thing that is tricky, that affects my hands.” The following year, he told the magazine he was having “eczema from head to foot. The palms of my hand were coming off.” He also was dealing with peripheral neuropathy — damage to a person’s peripheral nerves, leading to burning or aching pain in the arms and legs.

Last year, Clapton began watching videos by Ivor Cummins, a chemical engineer and author who has questioned the British government’s handling of the pandemic. “I was trying to keep my mouth shut, but I was following the channel avidly,” Clapton confessed. Clapton made his own feelings first known by joining with Morrison for “Stand and Deliver,” a single that connected the lockdown to individual freedom: “Do you want to be a free man/Or do you want to be a slave?” Clapton issued a statement about the collaboration, “We must stand up and be counted because we need to find a way out of this mess. The alternative is not worth thinking about.” (In a strange coincidence, Morrison was a special guest star at Clapton’s Birmingham show in 1976.)

I guess Clapton is not god, which is a good thing: we don’t have to kill him. We should just ignore him.

Comments

  1. says

    He works in a musical genre created by African Americans and African Americans are his greatest musical heroes, many of whose songs he performs. WTF’s the matter with the man?

  2. birgerjohansson says

    Science fiction authors can also be problematic.
    Stanislaw Lem was misogynic (he was born in 1921, what did you expect) a flaw of too many in SF.
    Jack Vance definitely had a thing about homosexuals.
    Hugo Gernsback ….that would make a long list. Norman Spinrad wrote a satirical book where Adolf Hitler emigrated to USA 1920 and became a science fiction writer, effortlessly fitting in.

  3. cartomancer says

    Hmm, I don’t know – playing favourites with one race against another, promoting obscurantist mumbo-jumbo, anti-science, anti-evidence… sounds like your run-of-the-mill god to me.

  4. says

    On top of that, Clapton’s not particularly original. He lifted a lot of stuff from Robert Johnson and bought a bunch more from J. J. Cale (who wrote many of his hits) – that he’s an asshole on top of it is not a great surprise. I believe that he was so bad that other rockers had a “rock against racism” concert specifically because of him. [rock against racism]

    We must stand up and be counted because we need to find a way out of this mess

    I did. It was 2 quick jabs and all done.
    Meanwhile, Clapton’s concern about vaccines is misplaced – if you’d’a mixed it in with his cocaine he’d have snorted a jeep, back in the day. So much for concern about the safety of experimental drugs, huh?

  5. hemidactylus says

    @2- stroppy

    I’ve been very dismissive of Nugent for years because his political stuff. I did recently see a show on his music that also touched on his politics. His guitar stuff with Amboy Dukes sounded pretty interesting IMO.

    Here’s Dickinson acting confused about how stuff worked out with Brexit:
    https://www.newsweek.com/iron-maiden-singer-who-voted-brexit-complains-about-resulting-eu-travel-restrictions-1604878

    But Dickinson seems more reasonable than Clapton on COVID:
    https://www.nme.com/news/music/iron-maidens-bruce-dickinson-on-covid-battle-its-not-just-a-flu-it-makes-your-willy-shrivel-3038365

    “The Iron Maiden frontman contracted the coronavirus last month, despite having received both doses of the vaccine.”

    Plus he gave the perhaps an insight that might get more male fans interested in vaccination. It caught my attention:

    “He continued: “There’s a really good reason to go [and get the vaccine] ’cause [COVID] makes your willy shrivel. Because the blood vessels with COVID can become really inflamed, so they get blocked up and your extremities don’t get enough blood, and, obviously, there’s one extremity which is dear to our heart as men, and if that doesn’t get enough blood, then, boy, you’re in for a world of pain – or not.”

    Take that Clapton.

  6. James Fehlinger says

    Science fiction authors can also be problematic.

    Jack Vance definitely had a thing about homosexuals.

    As did Frank Herbert (who apparently had a homosexual son —
    not Brian, continuer of the Dune franchise, but his brother,
    who died of AIDS — from whom the father was estranged).

    The earlier Dune cinematic adaptations (’84 movie and
    2000 SyFy version) both had a conspicuously homosexual/ephebophilic
    (and morbidly obese, and grotesquely diseased in the movie)
    Baron V. H. (as did the book). Presumably that’s going to have
    to be considerably toned down or eliminated in the Villeneuve
    movie (at any rate, Feyd Rautha — such a beautiful, beautiful
    boy! — is apparently not going to be in the movie, or at least the
    Part 1 movie, at all).

    And, of course, everybody knows about Orson Scott Card.
    (Which surprised me when I first discovered it long ago —
    the first Card book I read was Songbird , before I read
    Ender’s Game , and I thought the former was almost a
    celebration of, well, the thing that Card apparently
    abhors.

  7. christoph says

    @ Marcus Ranum, # 7: He (and his rock group Cream) also used a lot of music written by Howlin’ Wolf. Not sure if he ever got any royalties for that.

  8. mailliw says

    @7 Marcus Ranum

    It was Clapton’s outburst and David Bowie’s positive remarks about fascism that got Rock against Racism started.

  9. Rob Grigjanis says

    christoph @10: A lot of Howlin’ Wolf’s songs were written by Willie Dixon. One of them being “Spoonful”, which was covered by Cream.

    I don’t know about royalties, but AFAIK Clapton always gave attribution.

    Covers/arrangements of blues songs were very common among British groups in the 60s/70s. My own favourite is the Led Zeppelin arrangement of “When the Levee Breaks”.

  10. birgerjohansson says

    James Fehlinger @ 9
    “The morbidly obese baron V. H. ”
    Wow. I could play both Göring and Harkonnen if you need film extras.
    .
    OT about gods.
    I just learned the koranic command about hijab for women came about because Muhammed’s friend Umar kept pestering him about it (Umar clearly realised M. was making shit up).
    This is attested by numerous hadith graded “sahih” , the highest level of reliability.
    So a friend of M gave orders to the creator of the Universe.
    This is fun (to be impartially rude to religions, I recommend the awful hindu/Indian nationalist film “Vijayendra Varma; Power of an Indian”. It is the Indian answer to “International Guerrillas”. So bad it is good).

  11. friendsofdarwin says

    With the notable exception of his guest appearance on Stephen Stills’ ‘Go Back Home’, Eric Clapton’s guitar playing has always sent me to sleep.

    This seems hardly surprising from someone whose name is an anagram of ‘narcoleptic’.

  12. robro says

    We should just ignore him.

    With a few rare exceptions, good advise for the opinions of any musician, actor, and artist. I’m a musician of sorts and I’ve known quite a few, although none as famous as Clapton and Nugent. Our opinions are not worth any more than anyone else’s, of course, and given the proclivity by some to self-medicate probably less than average.

  13. consciousness razor says

    A lot of Howlin’ Wolf’s songs were written by Willie Dixon. One of them being “Spoonful”, which was covered by Cream.

    I don’t know about royalties, but AFAIK Clapton always gave attribution.

    Yes, he’s not alive anymore, but his publishing company owns his catalog now, administered by BMG under the umbrella of Sony Music.

    Clapton is with Warner Music Group, one of the other “big three.” They also get a cut for the Cream performances/recordings (and some of that goes to Clapton), but not for the song itself.

  14. consciousness razor says

    Actually, I was looking at Clapton, but it looks like (at least some of?) Cream is under Universal Music Group, the last of the big three labels. I don’t know. It’s usually a confusing mess.

  15. chesapeake says

    @ 7 Marcus ranum “It was 2 quick jabs and all done.“
    Maybe not done. I had two Pfizer shots and 7 months later got a mild case of COVID from a 6 yr old as did 3 others at the birthday party; got a booster today. I’m reading that you can get COVID more than once. Also important to get a flue shot.

  16. birgerjohansson says

    Steppenwolfs “Monster” -written during or shortly after the Vietnam war- has an intetesting text. It was rarely played during the Reagan years.

  17. birgerjohansson says

    Just in: even having just one vaccinated family member significantly reduces the risk of others in the family getting covid.
    .
    Can we finally say the plot of the film “They Live” is the official ideology of the Republican base?

  18. birgerjohansson says

    In one of Orson Scott Card’s books – not set om Earth- he had one homosexual character that was portrayed in a sympathic way, and he also mentioned the random violence homosexuals can be subjected to by straight men. This made the later developments surprising to me.

  19. Jazzlet says

    Rock Againt Racism, gosh that takes me back. Yeah Claptons been an unpleasant individual for years, the vast majority of his work is to my mind anodyne, so I’ve not had a problem avoiding him.

  20. Frederic Bourgault-Christie says

    Yeah, it is hilarious how much the anti-vaxxer crowd have to rest their arguments on slippery slopes. If the government puts microchips into us, that’s a problem. Until then, I’ll happily go to my private fucking local pharmacy, get my jabs and be done.

  21. says

    robro@17

    Wise words. It just goes to show that anybody can be an idiot outside their own expertise.

    I wouldn’t trust celebrity advice on anything unless it is clear that the person in question has relevant experience in the matter at hand.

    With regard to technical matters that have some intersection with my experience or interests, I often find it relatively easy to discern if somebody is talking out of their hat.

  22. says

    Frederic Bourgault-Christie@26

    The same people that rant about microchips in vaccines generally seem to have no trouble carrying creditcards, smartphones and lots of other stuff (like a face and fingerprints, keyless entry systems for cars) that can identify them. In case of a smartphone or face even at a distance and without the wearer being aware of it.

  23. says

    Peripheral neuropathy can be a consequence of a number of diseases including diabetes but also chronic alcohol use. And a dozen other possibilities.

  24. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    The one joke I had back in high school that would always bring a chuckle:

    Slowhand? Sheesh, must be difficult for him to masturbate!

    Thank you, I’ll be here all week

  25. Alan G. Humphrey says

    UnknownEric the Apostate @ 30

    Those in the Premature League can relate to Slowhand.

  26. unclefrogy says

    gives a deeper understanding to the cream song “politician”

    the is available on youtube a Live at Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis and the jazz orchestra playing the blues with guest Eric Clapton and Taj Mahal that is really good. the one who is the most uncomfortable on stage is Clapton interestingly enough.

  27. mailliw says

    @25 Jazzlet

    Rock Againt Racism, gosh that takes me back. Yeah Claptons been an unpleasant individual for years, the vast majority of his work is to my mind anodyne, so I’ve not had a problem avoiding him.

    David Bowie’s enthusiasm for fascism was also important in factor in bringing about Rock Against Racism, I get the feeling that nobody wants to talk about it because Bowie is considered “cool” while Clapton isn’t.

    From an interview in Playboy in 1976:

    Bowie: Christ, everything is a media manipulation. I’d love to enter politics. I will one day. I’d adore to be Prime Minister. And, yes, I believe very strongly in fascism. The only way we can speed up the sort of liberalism that’s hanging foul in the air at the moment is to speed up the progress of a right-wing, totally dictatorial tyranny and get it over as fast as possible. People have always responded with greater efficiency under a regimental leadership. A liberal wastes time saying, “Well, now, what ideas have you got?” Show them what to do, for God’s sake. If you don’t, nothing will get done. I can’t stand people just hanging about. Television is the most successful fascist, needless to say. Rock stars are fascists, too. Adolf Hitler was one of the first rock stars.

  28. mistershelden says

    @34 that looks very bad for Bowie, but it did sound a bit like he was talking as some sort of character, and here’s what I found when I looked (wikipedia warning):

    The Thin White Duke was the persona and character of the British musician David Bowie during 1975 and 1976. He is primarily identified with Bowie’s 1976 album Station to Station and is mentioned by name in the title track, although Bowie had first begun to adopt the “Duke” persona during the preceding Young Americans tour and promotion in 1975. The persona’s look and character are somewhat based on Thomas Jerome Newton, the eponymous humanoid alien played by Bowie in the 1976 film The Man Who Fell to Earth.[1]

    The Thin White Duke was a controversial figure due to ostensibly pro-fascist statements made by Bowie in press interviews during this period. Soon after making the comments, Bowie claimed that they were “theatrical” remarks made in character and did not reflect his actual views. In later years, he blamed his erratic behaviour during his mid-1970s Duke era on an “astronomical” use of hard drugs (particularly cocaine) while living in Los Angeles.

    Bowie left California for Europe in late 1976 to improve his mental and physical well-being. He settled in West Berlin in early 1977, at which point he quietly retired the Thin White Duke persona.

    I think the positive remark about Hitler is a tell that he is not espousing his own views, although this character was clearly a very bad idea.

  29. John Morales says

    Bowie?

    This 1983 interview of Bowie taking MTV to task is indicative of his attitude:

    (4 minutes 39 seconds)

  30. Andy Geth says

    Just to add to the various comments about “problematic” sci-fi authors, even Phillip K Dick, most of whose work I generally like and admire, was anti-choice and wrote a short story “The Pre-Persons” which was written in opposition to Roe v. Wade.

  31. mailliw says

    @35 mistershelden

    Soon after making the comments, Bowie claimed that they were “theatrical” remarks made in character and did not reflect his actual views. In later years, he blamed his erratic behaviour during his mid-1970s Duke era on an “astronomical” use of hard drugs (particularly cocaine) while living in Los Angeles.

    This looks very like the kind of excuse that right wingers frequently make – say something outrageous and then say afterwards that it was purely rhetorical or that you were only joking. The hard drugs are no more of an excuse than Clapton’s alcoholism.

    But Bowie’s right that big rock concerts have a certain fascist vibe to them. When I saw the Who live in the 70s and they played some of Tommy it gave me a very uncomfortable feeling. The Reichsparteitagsgelände in Nuremberg is used for rock concerts nowadays, that must make for a pretty weird atmosphere.

    “Let me make it plain – gotta make way for the homo superior” David Bowie “Oh You Pretty Things”.

  32. mistershelden says

    This looks very like the kind of excuse that right wingers frequently make

    I agree with that, the only reason it seems more plausible with Bowie is that he definitely spent a lot of time explicitly creating characters and then acting them out. He even gave them names! Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, The Thin White Duke, Halloween Jack:

    Ziggy Stardust allowed Bowie to be comfortable and be himself, ironically so, as he had a mask on and couldn’t be further away from who he really was. Then again, Bowie never really knew who he was – this was part of his method and what enabled him to develop new characters in the first place.

    https://faroutmagazine.co.uk/david-bowie-different-personas-a-complete-guide/

    I do not have secret information that the real Bowie was actually a leftie. But current evidence does not quite pin him down as a fascist, either. Was ‘The Thin White Duke’ a fascist? Yes. Was it just a character that Bowie was playing, like the alien ones? I think that’s got to be considered possible.

  33. Walter Solomon says

    @ 36

    Bowie also played Soul Train to a majority Black audience a few years before this interview.

  34. mailliw says

    @40 Walter Solomon

    But does that really count for anything?

    After all, here is Clapton playing with BB King in front of a majority black audience at the Harlem Apollo

  35. birgerjohansson says

    Fortunately there are a lot of good musicians that unambigiously are sensible people with values that do not make you cringe.
    This is something I have to remind myself of every time some musician is revealed as some kind of kook or sexual predator.
    George Michael was one quite generous guy and Bob Geldof has been into causes since the 1980s
    And the chess world had Bobby Fisher, but also many nice people.
    Comedians…. values change. Sometimes people change along with them, sometimes not.
    The good thing is, you can keep counting on Spitting Image, South Park and Family Guy to be incredibly rude.

  36. consciousness razor says

    But does that really count for anything?

    After all, here is Clapton playing with BB King in front of a majority black audience at the Harlem Apollo

    But Clapton sounds like an anti-immigrant nationalist type of racist, which is not the same thing as generic all-purpose racism. In his mind, B.B. King wasn’t “invading” Britain, so he’s cool. And that allows him to play the music that he respects, with musicians that he respects, attracting a wider international audience and providing him with a veneer of authenticity or credibility. So there’s plenty of room for self-interest to play a role. And I think that action (performing at the Apollo) doesn’t suggest we should interpret his stated views very differently than we already did. Maybe from his statements you had concluded that he must hold all of the racist views that one can imagine, but when you take out some which may not fit, you’re still left with others that do.

    In contrast, I think Bowie’s general behavior (not just being on Soul Train) does force you to think that statements made by his “characters” simply don’t reflect his own views at all and shouldn’t be treated as such. Also, you can see in the video that John Morales linked in #36 that he was serious about promoting black artists on MTV. That’s not just about those he most cared about or respected, or specifically those who could help to advance his own career by performing with him, because the complaints were about how MTV was discriminating against black musicians in general.

  37. Jazzlet says

    mailliw @34
    Yeah regarding Bowie, while I think it’s impossible to be certain with some one who played with personas the way Bowie did, my end take is that his actions over the years strongly suggest that he wasn’t either racist or facist. One big difference I see between him and Clapton is that Bowie really learned from other people, and that learning changed him, which is what we sceptics claim to expect of each other – that when the evidence changes we change. But at the end of the day my attitude has always been bemusement at the whole idea of having heroes, heroes are people and people make mistakes, if they are prepared to learn from their mistakes I don’t hold the making of a mistake against anyone.

  38. consciousness razor says

    PaulBC:
    It must be the one who sorts all and only those who don’t sort themselves.

  39. mailliw says

    @45 Jazzlet

    I remain puzzled as to why people seem so intent on condemning Clapton and defending Bowie.

    They have both made some great music, but why not accept that from a moral and political point of view they are/were both arseholes?

    I agree with you completely about heroes. There are musicians whose music I enjoy and who I admire for their technical proficiency. There are also some musicians who fall into this category whose political views I agree with and endorse – Ry Cooder being a very good example – but none of these people are heroes.

  40. John Morales says

    mailliw:

    Skin dance back-a-the condo
    Skin heads getting to school
    Beating on blacks with a baseball bat
    Racism back in rule
    White trash picking up Nazi flags
    While you was gone, there was war
    This is the west, get used to it
    They put a Swastika over the door
    Under the God, under the God
    One step over the red line
    Under the God, under the God
    Ten steps into the crazy, crazy
    Washington heads in the toilet bowl
    Don’t see supremacist hate
    Right wing dicks in their boiler suits
    Picking out who to annihilate
    Toxic jungle of Uzi trails
    Tribesmen just wouldn’t live here
    Fascist flare is fashion cool
    Well, you’re dead, you just ain’t buried yet
    Under the God, under the God
    Under the God, under the God
    As the walls came tumbling down
    So, the secrets that we shared
    I believed you by the palace gates
    Now the savage days are here
    Under the God
    Under the God, under the God
    One step over the red line
    Under the God, under the God
    One steps into the crazy, crazy
    Crazy eyed man with a shot gun
    Hot headed creep with a knife
    Love and peace and harmony
    Love you could cut with a knife
    Under the God, under the God
    Under the God, under the God

    Source: LyricFind
    Songwriters: David Bowie
    Under the God lyrics © O/B/O Apra Amcos

  41. Silentbob says

    In case anyone doesn’t know why Clapton was called “God” back in the day – this was recorded when he was 20 years old. It’s a cover of Freddie King’s Hideaway. You have to listen to the whole thing to get it because the guitar playing becomes increasingly prodigious as it goes along.

    (And no, none of that excuses racism. Fuck racism, and fuck Clapton’s racism specifically.)

  42. littlejohn says

    This didn’t much surprise me, as in the first interview of Clapton I ever read, in Rolling Stone, he repeatedly referred to Jimi Hendrix as a “spade.” My first reaction was that perhaps that word was considered less offensive in England, but I now know better. I always wanted to think highly of him, but just as I now know that John Lennon was a mean drunk who was cruel to his friends, Clapton has always been something of a bigoted lout. The musical skill is wonderful, but it doesn’t cancel his character flaws.

  43. mailliw says

    @50 John Morales

    If we are to accept the position apparently put forward in this song then we have reject the role-playing excuses for his previous support of fascism – otherwise how do we know that these lyrics don’t represent yet another role Bowie is playing?

    Therefore Bowie was a reformed fascist – which is obviously a good thing.

    Is Clapton’s apology for his racist outbursts to be considered insincere? If so why?

  44. PaulBC says

    littlejohn@52

    The musical skill is wonderful, but it doesn’t cancel his character flaws.

    I was tempted to make this general point when the thread started, but I hope it is already obvious. Being exceptionally good at any one thing does not mean you’re good at anything else or even a good human being, let alone a “god.”

    There is a point where someone is so awful, that I can’t even separate their creative output from their character. Nobody is so great at anything that I can’t find a substitute. I never gave Clapton much thought and have less incentive to do so now.

  45. mailliw says

    It would make no significant difference to my life to never hear anything by Van Morrison, Eric Clapton or David Bowie ever again.

    The Morrison, Clapton pandemic thing is not only stark raving bonkers but dangerous too.

    I saw Van Morrison live once, I have never in my life seen such a display of prima donna-ish unprofessionalism. I would never go and see him again – and his recent behaviour persuades me that going to one of his concerts would not only be unpleasant, but a serious health risk.

  46. PaulBC says

    mailliw@55 What’d Van Morrison do? I have Brown Eyed Girl on the USB drive in my car. It’s not my favorite or anything, but I didn’t realize I was going to have to take a stand.

  47. consciousness razor says

    mailliw, #53:

    If we are to accept the position apparently put forward in this song then we have reject the role-playing excuses for his previous support of fascism – otherwise how do we know that these lyrics don’t represent yet another role Bowie is playing?

    Therefore Bowie was a reformed fascist – which is obviously a good thing.

    I think it’s fairly obvious which is real and which is fake. And I’m not saying that as a big fan of his work, because I’m not one. I just think the guy clearly wasn’t a fascist, a supporter of fascism, or a reformed fascist.

    This feels like ultra-skepticism to me. But if you really want evidence, you should be willing to look for it yourself. Or at least you can take it seriously when such evidence is presented to you.

    Honest question: will it ever be good enough? I think you may just be committed to some kind of principle that “role-playing excuses” shouldn’t ever be allowed or acknowledged. Or more naively, it’s that “role-playing” (or a performer adopting a persona, or any form of satire) simply isn’t a real thing that people do.

    (1) How do we know that Jonathan Swift didn’t seriously believe that poor Irish people should sell their children to be eaten by the rich? Who’s to say?
    (2) Oh, what’s that? There’s plenty of evidence that this wasn’t sincere?
    (3) Therefore, Swift is a reformed cannibalism proponent, which is obviously a good thing.

    But that’s all very silly. Swift wasn’t a cannibalism proponent in the first place, so there was nothing to reform.

  48. Rob Grigjanis says

    mailliw @53: We obviously have a very different reading of the Bowie interview excerpt in your #34. One sentence;

    The only way we can speed up the sort of liberalism that’s hanging foul in the air at the moment is to speed up the progress of a right-wing, totally dictatorial tyranny and get it over as fast as possible.

    He’s saying (perhaps jokingly, we don’t get tone from a transcript) that liberalism has stagnated, and that a short sharp dose of fascism might give society the kick in the arse it needs to actually progress. Not so different from what mnb0 and The Vicar seem to have been preaching. Bowie at least had the excuse of youth and massive drug use.

    FWIW, the last part of that interview:

    Last question. Do you believe and stand by everything you’ve said?
    Everything but the inflammatory remarks.

  49. mailliw says

    I just think the guy clearly wasn’t a fascist, a supporter of fascism, or a reformed fascist.

    I’ll repeat the section from the Playboy interview – with Cameron Crowe’s question:

    Crowe: You’ve often said that you believe very strongly in fascism. Yet you also claim you’ll one day run for Prime Minister of England. More media manipulation?
    Bowie: Christ, everything is a media manipulation. I’d love to enter politics. I will one day. I’d adore to be Prime Minister. And, yes, I believe very strongly in fascism. The only way we can speed up the sort of liberalism that’s hanging foul in the air at the moment is to speed up the progress of a right-wing, totally dictatorial tyranny and get it over as fast as possible. People have always responded with greater efficiency under a regimental leadership. A liberal wastes time saying, “Well, now, what ideas have you got?” Show them what to do, for God’s sake. If you don’t, nothing will get done. I can’t stand people just hanging about. Television is the most successful fascist, needless to say. Rock stars are fascists, too. Adolf Hitler was one of the first rock stars.

    What answer would someone who wasn’t actually a fascist give to Crowe’s question?

    Does Bowie at the end say he is only joking?

    This wasn’t an isolated incident.

    In an NME interview in 1975:

    You’ve got to have an extreme right front come up and sweep everything off its feet and tidy everything up. Then you can get a new form of liberalism.

    So the best thing that can happen is for an extreme right Government to come. It’ll do something positive at least to the cause commotion in people and they’ll either accept the dictatorship or get rid of it.

    Dictatorship,” says Bowie. “There will be a political figure in the not too distant future who’ll sweep this part of the world like early rock and roll did.

    “You probably hope I’m not right. But I am. My predictions are very accurate … always.”

    I think Bowie regretted all this later which is to his credit, but I don’t accept his drug excess excuses for it at all. The man was a fascist sympathiser for period in the 1970s.

    In any case these two interviews played just as much a role in inspiring Rock against Racism as Clapton’s racist outbursts. The shock value use of swastikas by punk artists like Siouxsie and the Banshees were also a motivating factor.

  50. mailliw says

    @57 PaulBC

    What’d Van Morrison do?

    Get on stage and spout anti-vax nonsense after which Clapton joined in with enthusiasm.

    Dangerous, idiotic old men.

  51. consciousness razor says

    Bowie at least had the excuse of youth and massive drug use.

    And at worst, that’s accelerationism.

    But as you say, this isn’t a sober, considered view anyway. And was there any actual political plan here? Did he work out or recommend anything specific or substantive that was meant to make something along those lines happen? No, nothing like that. He was reportedly just rambling, impatient, frenetic and saying shit for shock value, during a series of interviews with a porn magazine.

    Bowie is expertly charming, whether in the company of a stuffy film executive, another musician or a complete stranger. He is fully aware that he is a sensational quote machine. The more shocking his revelation, from his homosexual encounters to his fascist leanings, the wider his grin. He knows exactly what interviewers consider good copy; and he gives them precisely that. The truth is probably inconsequential.

  52. mailliw says

    @57 consciousness razor

    Was Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” really understood as advocating cannabalism in Ireland? No. At least not by me.

    Did BowIe’s comments about fascism play a major role in provoking a movement in music against racism and fascism in Britain? Yes. Because Bowie’s statements were taken for what they were – at face value.

    This is how it was interpreted at the time by most people on the left politically. Therefore I consider Bowie had real fascist sympathies at the time.

  53. mailliw says

    @61 consciousness razor

    I think he’s a reformed fascist – Cameron Crowe’s comments make him sound like Donald Trump.

    I shall stick with my more complimentary view of the man.

  54. Jazzlet says

    mailw
    The last time I saw Morrison, probably twenty years ago, he spent the whole gig with his back to the audience. I don’t pay to see a gig to watch someone’s back, however illustrious, when you have an audience of people who have paid to see you perform your songs it is rude and insulting to treat them with such disdain.

  55. mailliw says

    @64 Jazzlet

    At the concert I went to someone shouted out for him to play a particular song to which he replied “fuck off we’re trying to work up here”.

    The rest of the show was a prolonged exercise in going through the motions.

  56. consciousness razor says

    Jazzlet:
    Sounds like a Miles Davis copycat.

    Miles (on a few occasions I think) was just giving cues to his band, since they were playing complicated arrangements that actually warranted such cues. When asked about it later, his reasoning was apparently that people were there to listen to them play, not to look at his face, which is a good point. It did offend some in the audience, but that wasn’t the purpose behind it. He really did have to play the role of a bandleader/conductor a lot of the time, which is okay and also totally normal. That’s just how the process works, and if you don’t want to see how the sausage is made, you can buy recordings and listen to those.

    But if you’re trying to give the impression of being a “serious musician” by pretending to be like Miles, and you do it the entire time even when that isn’t necessary (because you don’t understand why Miles was doing it), then I think that’s just plain arrogance, which should piss people off.

  57. Jazzlet says

    consciousness razor @66
    Thing is I’d seen him play before and he didn’t spend any time with his back to the audience. He was clearly in a bad mood and was too artistic to bother with performing to the people that gave him his living. I quite understand musicians not wanting to perform, and that’s ok if they can manage to have a career without doing so, but to commit to perform and then not bother seemed, well, fraudulent. It’s not even as if he did a lot at the shows where he did face forward, he’s not the dance routine type after all, but there was some interaction with the band and the audience.

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