I’m in a rather recognizable band (never mind which one) that has just gotten back to touring again. My son, who is 16, keeps asking me to take him on the road. My girlfriend thinks it’s a great idea, but his mother says absolutely not. Will you help me settle this potentially explosive situation?
Singing the Blues
Since you’re old enough to have a 16-year-old, you prob- ably know that tours have changed since the days when Mötley Crüe and Guns N’ Roses ripped through the countryside on a spiky wave of inebriants and braggado- cio for GNR’s Appetite for Destruction Tour in 1987. Of course, as a memento of those times, we’ll always have the deathless photographs of Slash, passed out cold after losing a drinking contest with Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee, Sixx’s balls artfully placed on his chin. (Note to Blues Jr.: Never black out during a booze-off among strangers.) These days not even the Crüe tour like the Crüe—the strongest drug on their rider is Advil. But the road is still lousy with groupies, after-after-parties, and fentanyl that looks like SweeTarts. All the same, I can still get behind taking your offspring on tour. Unless you’re Offspring. Then it just sounds stupid.
As for being a “rock parent,” I found out I was going to have a baby shortly after getting off a Hall & Oates tour, and realized that being on the road was just a really bad idea for someone three months pregnant. (Being on a Hall & Oates tour was also a really bad idea, but that’s a story for another time.) I didn’t go back to work as a music journalist-slash-interrogator until my daughter Hayley Elisabeth was 14, then I started doing my own version of Take Your Daughter to Work Day. A lot. I figured if I let her see artists up close while I grilled them, she wasn’t as likely to run off with someone from the Strokes or Interpol. She was very cool about it all. I was the one who made the grand faux pas: I was interviewing Oasis for a cover story and while I was with Noel Gallagher, unbeknownst to me, Liam Gallagher had come over and started flirting rather outrageously with Hayley, inviting her to the band’s after-party. To their great credit, Hayley and Liam came up to me and asked if it was okay. I took a long, hard look at Liam, then turned to face Hayley and, in my most wither- ing voice, said, “Are you serious? It’s a school night.” A moment that belongs in the Uncool Mom Hall of Fame.
As for Hayley? She ended up marrying the touring drum- mer from Fischerspooner. Guess a mother’s wisdom is no match for the allure of love among the rock savages. (No, I really, really like him.)
So, “rather recognizable band (never mind which one),” does that mean you want us to guess, Mr. Rossdale?
Love the magazine. Is it true what they say about the ’70s, were orgies de rigueur? And am I using “de rigueur” properly?
Dear Grammar Slut,
I don’t actually think you are using “de rigueur” properly. Not about orgies anyway. The old reliable Merriam-Webster dictionary says that “de rigueur” means “required by fashion, etiquette, or custom.” For instance, tattoos are de rigueur among punk rockers. And that’s not even strictly true. So, if you follow the logic, not everybody in the ’70s took part in orgies. And if they did, they seemed to have been bored housewives and their beleaguered spouses, or Little Richard, who at the height of his popularity (and obviously his powers) hosted an orgy after every show. As for ’70s rockers, imagine how hard it was to take off those codpieces that were so de rigueur with the smart set. Even the notoriously promiscuous Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick eschewed social group sex, something she was afraid would be on the menu when she met Mick Jagger. “The Brits were different,” she opined in her outrageously confessional autobiography Somebody to Love. “I was invited with [Paul] Kantner to meet Mick Jagger at his Chelsea home to discuss the Altamont concert. I was scared because I thought we were going to walk into an orgy. I’m not against orgies, but I’m not a good multitasker. I like one man, one child, one house, and one car.” There were persistent rumors of druggy group saturnalias at Haddon Hall, the large house David Bowie shared with his first wife, Angela Bowie, in Greater London. It was said to be outfitted with a fur-lined orgy pit, although I can’t be sure. I mean, who brings a camera to an orgy, and if you did, where would you hide it?
Following Bowie’s first-ever Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars show in Detroit in October 1972, I was about to find out. While the show was tremendous, and eye-opening, what happened later was maybe even more so. My editorial cohort Ben Edmonds and I were invited to an after-party at the swish Hotel St. Regis. We hobnobbed with photographers Mick Rock and Leee Black Childers while Iggy Pop lurked around the edges of the room. After vodka gimlets and small talk, Ben and I were invited to a party within the party by Childers. A little nervous and grossly underdressed for this fast and rich crowd, I said yes with great trepidation. But once I opened the door, I realized at once that being under- dressed was not going to be a problem: Sprawled before me on the plush rose carpeting were 25 or 30 naked bodies writhing and panting in various states of ecstasy. Except for one lone figure, standing fully clothed in a suit at the far end of the room, fashionably smoking and moodily raking his eyes across the crowd. It was one of the most unnerving things I had ever witnessed—but I’m still not sure what was more surreal, the two-dozen-plus people rolling around on the floor...or Bowie, fully dressed.
What can I say about the ’70s? Too much, sometimes.