|"Rock and roll is sexual energy expressed in sound"
Have you ever heard a concise 9 word definition of rock and roll that really nails it?
It all started with "Elvis the Pelvis". Why do you think all the girls started screaming and fainting all over this country when they saw Elvis for the first time?
It was because nobody had ever seen a man get up on stage and shake his booty around like he did. Being sexy like that just came naturally for Elvis, and the girls picked up on it immediately like some kind of sexual email was being sent directly into their brains! And other rock and roll stars followed in Elvis' steps very quickly. Jerry Lee Lewis knew what to do and he got himself into a great big ball of fire with his underage lover. Chuck Berry was another natural, and he also created some serious trouble simply because he was black and the white girls went for him big time. I think that may have been the first time that the pathetic and hung up white male population had to deal with the racial sex issue at this level.
And then there were The Beatles. Same phenomenon as Elvis, except all The Beatles really did was just stand up there, shake their mop top heads around and look cute, and thousands of girls got wet panties all at the very same time. Of course, it didn't hurt their effect on everybody that their songs were unbelievably memorable simple love songs, and those young girls who were coming of age and dreaming about falling in love really connected on that level too. Mick Jagger was another natural, just like Elvis. "The Lips" knew what to do without even trying very hard. Strangely enough, it wasn't Mick who actually got all the girls into bed, it was Bill Wyman, the Stones' bass player. In his autobiographical book Bill told all, and his groupies totaled in the thousands. He never really made it clear in his book exactly why that happened to him and not the same way to Mick, who simply must have gotten and still be getting whoever he really wants to have. But it did happen and all Bill ever did was stand there completely still and play his bass guitar looking sort of sad and forelorn. There simply has to be a logical explanation for Bill's success, and I think I know what it is. (Don't ask, I won't tell).
And then came Jimi Hendrix. The pun is intended. Jimi had to have been the sexiest black musician of all time, and there were few girls who didn't agree with that statement. They actually used to line up outside his dressing room backstage and Jimi would come out and choose whoever he wanted, one at a time or more than one. He was another one who simply couldn't help himself, although he did understand exactly what he was doing and why. Later on in his career, he stopped it on purpose because Jimi really was a serious musician who wanted people to appreciate his playing and his songwriting for being as creative as it was. He felt that his sex show was getting in the way of that kind of appreciation toward the end of his life, so after the Experience broke up, he just got out there and pretty much stood still, playing with his eyes shut because he didn't even want to see the girls out there anymore. In my not-so-humble opinion, Jimi was the only true genius in rock and roll. That word "genius" is highly overused and it's often applied to people who are just extremely talented. I disagree with the dictionary when it equates genius with "exceptional intelligence", and what I think the word "genius" is supposed to refer to is a person who creates something that's new, and not only new, but significantly new, important, and somewhat of a milestone in human development. And that's why I call Albert Einstein the premier genius of the entire human race - because the Theory of Relativity was a giant jump in the understanding of the way our universe operates, and to this day, few people actually understand anything other than the bomb part. I say that Jimi Hendrix was the one true genius of rock and roll because he was the only one who really did invent something new: and that was his use of feedback, which nobody before Jimi even thought of doing. And he even took his invention one step further. Until that time, all music since the time of Mozart and Beethoven has been built on chord structure. And rock and roll music uses simple chord structure. Jimi actually used feedback alone to construct song structure in a few, but not all of his songs (i.e. Third Stone From the Sun). And to this day, nobody has been able to do what Jimi did. In fact, Jeff Beck bought Jimi's strat at an auction, and even the super talented Jeff admitted that he couldn't get the same sounds out of the very same guitar as Jimi got.
But I think the best example of sexual energy expressed in sound has to be Led Zeppelin. Whenever they played live, Jimi Page sort of staggered around the stage as if he was drunk, but he wasn't drunk. It was just that the hurricane of sexual force that blew out of his amp was too much for even Jimi to withstand. And John Bonham, who was unquestionably the best rock and roll drummer who ever walked the face of this planet, pounded his drums with such force and shear creativity as a drummer that Led Zep's sexual energy increased geometrically. There are so many good reasons why Led Zeppelin is the #1 Rock and Roll Band of All Time. That label has been pinned on The Stones, probably because they toured more than anyone else and Mick really does put on a great show every single time. But if you think about it, there are only one, maybe two Stones albums where every song is great. All the rest of their albums have a diminishing number of great songs with the rest pretty much being "fillers". On the other hand, Led Zep's debut album stands up as being the best one of all time (including even Cream), and Coda which was their last album is virtually perfect too. All the rest of their albums are chock full of absolutely brilliant tracks, so when you add up the sum total of their work, it stands alone in terms of brilliant rock and roll intensity, unmatched level of musicianship, creative songwriting, and the shear volume of great tracks they recorded. Not even The Beatles top Led Zep for all the great qualities thrown into one, and I don't say that lightly at all because The Beatles were my major musical influence. That's because I was knocked out by The Beatles way before Led Zep was even formed, and I could comprehend their music and attempt to derive something I could work with to produce something of my own. I can't possibly begin to play on the same level as Led Zep's four players, and nobody else can either. That's why nobody with a shred of common sense covers Led Zep's songs - you'd have to be able to play Jimi's riffs and the drum and bass guitar parts if you wanted to do a cover version, and nobody can do it.
OK, ending up with little ol' me. If I managed to get pure sexual energy into my music at all, it would have to be in Knight in Shining Armor, in Mona, and in Favorite Toy . That's not really my opinion here, it's what the young kids tell me these days and have always told me in the past. Please don't mistake what I'm saying here because I wouldn't begin to compare myself or my music with the stars I've just discussed. It's just that I had to conclude my diatribe with something . . .
Peter Cross is a singer/songwriter/producer who was among the first to put music on the internet in downloadable format in 1996. To this day, he is one of the only musicians who has created and designed his own music web site in html, and at 104 pages filled with entertaining content, it's one of the largest. Check it out at: The Immortal Soul of Rock and Roll
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