Shock-Rock? I have to admit if I were writing this column 30 years ago, I could easily include everyone. But civilization has gone to hell in a handbasket over the past few decades and now what was once "shocking" is as normal and acceptable as brushing your teeth.
I mean, who doesn't keep a picture of Satan on their dresser?
Anyhow, I've tried to put some pretty good shockers on the list. I've left Elvis off, since swiveling your hips is now kind of passé. Besides, I had to make room for some of the suggestions brought to me by my friend Bill Billoney, who is a young rising star in the worlds of all that is evil. Look for him!
Well, let's get started. We've got 25 acts to make stuff up about! And just so you know, this is the PG-13 version where I've altered all the obscenities!
25) The Doors: Jim Morrison sang "Girl we couldn't get much higher" on the Ed Sullivan Show and led millions of kids into pot addiction. Then he allegedly whipped out his wee-wee at a concert in Miami, where he also called the audience a bunch of "freaking idiots," preparing at least one audience member for a comment he would hear for many decades to come.
24) Jimi Hendrix: Could just as easily have picked the Who for destroying their equipment, but I figure setting your guitar on fire is worse, since it's a leading cause of house fires in America.
23) New York Dolls: They were prettier than most girls, which led to a lot of scorn. Back in the 1970s, it was pretty controversial to cross-dress. Today, who doesn't sit around in their moo-moo and act like Truman Capote? I mean, really.
22) Frank Zappa: I've never found Frank to be all that shocking, but he enraged politicians in Washington and we all know how difficult that is to do. Those morality protectors never express dissatisfaction with anything unless it's really detrimental to our well-being. I trust the government. It's the reason I've never bought a W.A.S.P. album. For that alone, I should be thankful.
21) Pussy Galore: Proof positive that if you can't play your instruments, you should learn to curse instead. Pussy Galore went from D.C. to New York and made records like Groovy Hate Forget and Dial 'M' For MotherLover that sounded like a David Mamet play being performed next to a construction site. It's GREAT!
20) Madonna: At this point, we're probably all bored by her. She edges out Prince, since Prince technically spent more time on his music than his salacious image. Madonna, on the other very wet hand, pretty much worked on ways to shock people who are easily shocked by the idea that sex exists.
19) Wayne / Jayne County: Wayne became Jayne and inspired David Bowie, who was always smart enough to be the second person to do anything (and to add his own authoritative spin, it should be fairly noted). It's odd but the amount of transsexual rock stars is actually very low. Bunch of posers! But not you, sweet Jayne. "Feeled By The Devil" and other classics remain feared by the people you hate.
18) The Fugs: East Village bohemians back when you could score drugs and get killed in the East Village. They sang songs about getting high, slum goddesses and NOTHING. God rest ye, Tuli. The rest of you current residents--out of the East Village, Take your money and annoying entitled attitudes and go to the suburbs where you belong. It's like a man can't even get mugged anymore!
17) Marilyn Manson: Who hasn't watched Marilyn and thought it was at least cool that he "worried" so many people who needed a reason to be worried? I heard one of his songs on the radio once and thought I should look into this guy and then I saved a bunch of tracks to my computer and I'm still thinking about listening to them one day. Should I? I like staring at album covers so much more.
16) Blowfly: For some reason, no matter how many times you sing about sex, it's always shocking to someone when you use filthy language to describe it. The same language you hear in R-rated films and at angry family dinners across America.
15) Rob Zombie: With White Zombie and on his own, Rob Zombie has turned his love for cartoons and odd creatures into his own cottage industry. The most shocking thing about him is how organized and serious he is about dominating his industry.
14) Bad Luck 13 Riot Extravaganza: It would figure that the City of Brotherly Love, already known for their overly-enthusiastic sports fans, would also be home to a hardcore punk band whose onstage antics got them banned from nearly every venue they ever played. Prodigy sung about fire-starting but these guys apparently really did start fires. God, I love music!
13) 2 Live Crew: "Me So Horny" is arguably the most profound song of its time.
12) Millie Jackson: Before 2 Live Crew, there was Millie Jackson doing for soul music what "classier" singers would not do. I stand behind the fact that "Muffle That Fart" may be the best b-side I've ever listened to on a diner jukebox.
11) N.W.A.: The Geto Boys would make hip-hop even more worth your entertainment dollar, but N.W.A. were among the first to truly turn cursing into an artform. "Forget the Police" is a burning indictment against the police state. That's one of those meaningless statements I make when you should really just listen to the song.
10) Kiss: Before the M&Ms, the coffin, the dolls, the comic, the cards, the pinball machine...Kiss were once a band who looked like they were out to do some serious shocking with their onstage antics of fire-breathing, blood-spurting, guitar smashing and drum rising. I remember being young and arguing over whether or not it was "real" blood that Gene Simmons was spitting. Nowadays, people argue over whether or not Kiss were real music. Stick with their great movie.
9) The Sex Pistols: Cursing on British television and getting thrown off record labels for being even more abrasive than initially anticipated, the Sex Pistols featured one of the world's finest bass players in Sid Vicious. His lone solo album, Sid Sings, remains a masterpiece and gives us an idea of all the great music we lost when heroin claimed his life at the age of 21, an age that sounds younger to me with each passing year.
8) Insane Clown Posse: Known for profanity and nudity and currently a "caged boy" onstage, I.C.P. are clearly a threat to something. And should, therefore, be stopped by any means necessary during regular business hours. Or you could be like Tila Tequila and learn the hard way that everyone must get stoned!
7) Plasmatics: Who hasn't wanted to blow up a car onstage? Isn't that every musicians' dream? The only truly disturbing thing about this group is that they were managed by Rod Swenson, who is listed as a Yale University Art School Graduate. Is there anything Yale doesn't control?
6) Alice Cooper: Long before Alice Cooper found golf, he liked to play with snakes and sing about "Cold Ethyl" and let all us know that School was out forever, though if you're like me you still have those dreams where you're back in class and haven't studied at all for the final exam and you don't even know how to get to your next class and on top of it all you forgot to wear your clothes!
5) Gwar: Nominated for TWO Grammys? That's more shocking than anything the band could do onstage. What's next? Lunch with Regis?
4) The Voluptuous Horror Of Karen Black: Not sure how shocking you can be when you're part of the Whitney Biennial--I should've taken Lisa Suckdog instead--but let's let the Whitney do the explaining: "Kembra Pfahler is the woman behind The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, a theatrical rock group that links a hideous monster aesthetic to a dark, hysterical feminine archetype. Named in honor of cult horror film heroine Karen Black, Pfahler's band performs heavy-bottomed punk-metal songs amid elaborate hand-constructed sets where she engages an animalistic, fetishistic practice of acting out transgressive physical feats." Gotta love a "dark, hysterical feminine archetype," no?
3) Lady GaGa: Is Lady GaGa a dark, hysterical feminine archetype? A great wearer of clothes? A controversial pop star? Does she shock? Are there answers to these questions? Or is all just blowing in the wind? Y'think she's only here because it seemed like a good idea at the time?
2) Burzum: Norwegian black metal is pretty darn dangerous! Varg Vikernes was convicted for the murder of guitarist Oystein "Euronymous" Aarseth, who played one too many unsatisfactory guitar solos and probably suggested the band try a pop number "for the kids." Vikernes was also convicted of the arson of several churches. Whether or not his sins will be forgiven is unclear, but he is out of jail so I'm going to make sure my reviews of his albums are all completely super-positive!
1) GG Allin: A hero to this column for such great hits as "I Want to Feel Your Brains Out," "Drink, Fight & Feel," "Eat My Runny Discharge" and "I Wanna Slurp Your Private Body Parts," G.G. Allin was apparently unfamiliar with the health industry claim that human fecal matter is dangerous to humans and other living things. Or else he had one serious phobia regarding public restrooms.