The 10 Biggest Classic Rock Douchebags

Categories: Columns

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Photo courtesy of FLICKR/Takahiro Kyono

While rock 'n' roll is necessarily classified as a form of pop music, it is actually an idiom whose radical, destructive primitivism established a new type of socio-cultural disorder. It's about rejection of the status quo and celebration of the dis-imprisonment it instills.

Always exploited for profit, rock's unmanageable aspects have been steadily diluted by a sinister, commercially driven course of revisionist myth-making. There is no acceptable role in the marketplace for radicals like Charlie Feathers, Poly Styrene, Lux Interior or Roky Erickson, but there's always room for the homogeneous, money-hungry, play-it-safe phonies on this list.

These douchebags all have one thing in common -- they screwed up rock 'n' roll, big time.

See also:
The 10 Biggest Douchebags in Country Music
The 10 Best Songs from Awful Musicians

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Arista Records
10. Jerry Garcia
Garcia's gutless, drug-addled brand of candyass jamming wreaked havoc on rock 'n' roll, derailing what had been a form of rebel confrontation and paving the way for spineless hippie quasi-folk. Garcia's guitar was always listless, flabby and aimless. He never went anywhere and always took his sweet time doing it, yet is endlessly venerated as a soloist on par with the greatest names in musical history. Hogwash. The ultimate illustration of Garcia's dead-from-the-neck-up approach came when an SFPD officer, patrolling Golden Gate Park at noontime in January 1985, got an acrid whiff of Garcia's burning cocaine -- the peace-and-love icon was freebasing in the front seat of his BMW. Far out, man.

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Courtesy of the label
9. Bob Dylan
A serial plagiarist (Google that -- the citations are endless) and "moon/June"-level lyricist, Dylan's masterly employ of the mediocre -- that ingredient so essential to American pop culture enshrinement -- has kept millions of unthinking listeners in a somnambulistic state. Seriously, kids, just because it rhymes ("the pump don't work 'cause the vandals took the handle") doesn't add any weight, and just because it's topical (whether Emmett Till or Rubin Carter) doesn't make it significant. Even Dylan's primitive vocal style is entirely hijacked, from bluegrass singer Carter Stanley. His peer Joni Mitchell said it
best in a 2010 L.A. Times interview: "He's a plagiarist, and his name and voice are fake. Everything about Bob is a deception."

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Courtesy of FLICKR/ceebdub13
8. John Fogerty
Consumed by an obsessive victim mentality, Fogerty allowed a standard music rip-off deal orchestrated by Fantasy Records' Saul Zaentz to transform his life, music and personality. In the resulting frenzy of litigation, he sued everyone, repeatedly, including his former Credence Clearwater Revival bandmates, and spewed his venomous frustration in a series of ridiculous songs, notably the idiotic "Zanz Can't Dance." Snatching karmic defeat from the jaws of legal victory by refusing to let his former colleagues perform at Creedence's Hall of Fame induction, Fogerty's self-propelled legacy of sanitized bubblegum blues and all around douchery is unparalleled.

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Courtesy of FLICKR/Man Alive!

7. Lou Reed
A chronic dullard whose turgid output steadily degenerated over six interminable decades, Reed, like his stale monotone vocal delivery, was so relentlessly and unengagingly depressive that the approximately 20 minutes of influential rock 'n' roll he participated in wholly invalidates itself -- and brings to mind the infinite monkey theorem (wherein a primate with a typewriter would eventually produce the complete works of Shakespeare). If, as Reed so pretentiously did, one feels compelled to identify oneself as "a poet from New York City," fine. Just stay the hell away from rock 'n' roll.

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25 comments
PerryMoore
PerryMoore

Your sense of history is appalling. Some people remember the condition of pop music before John Lennon came on the scene. Shortsighted, immature ingrate. You must be a young American.

burnsz61
burnsz61

Wow. I guess it takes one to know one...which makes Jonny Whiteside a 10X douchebag.

SarcasmoJones
SarcasmoJones

I signed in and read up to shred up the author but I ended up agreeing with most everything written. Well played, sir.

skeeterskier1
skeeterskier1

WOW! As a lover of all things music and a self-proclaimed historian of sound, I typically loathe articles that slam musicians.

But I kinda feel ya on just about everyone you took to task, Jonny.

Good article.

rbtxcat75
rbtxcat75

Geez, louise!  The hipster list to beat all hipster lists!  Lots of "purest" talk from a site that hits me with an advertisement every time I switch pages.

meanfish
meanfish

I recommend Xanax and Lonestar. You need it.

tarotchan
tarotchan

I was going to eyeroll at the obvious trolling but then you put Frank Zappa at the top. Well played.

rkm200
rkm200

...and that whiney voiced grandstanding know-It-all, semi-pedophile Pete Townsend, that smug faux hippie head bopping mumbling self-centered Paul McCartney, that heroin-draining, overwrought guitar wanking, self-indulgent Stevie Ray Vaughn and not to mention that fake blind, race-baiting, pajama wearing, Grammy hogging Stevie Wonder.Geez dude, can you show us some hate???

enderspam
enderspam

Wow, man, that is some NEXT LEVEL trolling right there. Really ahead of its time.

**golf clap**

gmit
gmit

...and no mention of the Grammy that Carlos won for "his" album that was composed of duets written by the half of the duet that wasnt him! Basically him playing guitar over songs that other artists donated to hyping him in the late 90s - early 2000s. 


Look it up

darrylrs
darrylrs

Ted Nugent would be #1 on this list. The fact that he isn't listed makes me wonder about the political agenda of this particular writer.

The_triplefake_Brandon_Eley
The_triplefake_Brandon_Eley

I fell for the click bait so I may as well comment.  You wouldn't know a douche bag if it were dripping in your mouth. 

Lance_
Lance_

It's pretty sad you guys cover the Gathering of The Juggalos and stories from other Village Voice papers more than you do local and state music.  But, good on you for knowing there are at least four Denton bands.

AmputeeMcNeil
AmputeeMcNeil

When LA Weekly printed this, it was linked on Fark as "Now, THIS is how you effectively troll an entire generation."


I guess the Observer couldn't find their own troll journalist this week.

txmuzik
txmuzik

couldn't agree with MattL.11 more. I don't even know what a juggalo is, and really really don't care. Now let's trash the biggest ten rock stars in history. This guy could find reason to call Jesus a douche.

justme
justme

Fantastic writting!

MattL11
MattL11

While I may disagree with some of the content here, I'm just relieved it's not about Juggalos. 

rkm200
rkm200

@tarotchan I hope weasels rip your flesh.

And I mean that in the best possible way!

rkm200
rkm200

@enderspam  Its somewhat inspirational in a perverted kinda way.

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