Stop The Presses!

April Fool’s Flashback: Chris Gaines

Lyndsey Parker
Stop The Presses!


There comesa time in the otherwise charmed career of a multi-platinum megastar when his/hermany past successes, coupled with the intense adoration of legions of fans andquite possibly the voracious ingestion of various mind-altering substances,cause said megastar's already enormous ego to inflate to colossal proportionsusually associated with Macy's Parade balloons. It is around this time thatthis megalomaniacal celebrity--delusionally convinced that everything andanything he/she touches instantly becomes a brilliant work of art--foolhardilyignores the sensible, cautionary advice of his/ her manager, agent, A&R rep,lawyer, accountant, personal assistant, bodyguard, mother, psychologist, yogaguru, past-life regression therapist, hairstylist, etc., and embarks on someoverly ambitious art project so ill-advised, that only by blaming theultimately ridiculous and embarrassing result on those aforementionedmind-altering substances can the artist hope to save any face whatsoever. Thehistory of pop music, and pop culture in general, is packed with examples ofsuch massive lapses in judgment and taste by these legends-in-their-own-minds,some of which make for extremely enjoyable entertainment--though probably notin the way the artists intended.

Some stunninglyJonestown/Heaven's Gate-like instances of this group-think phenomenon are the1978 RSO box-office bomb Sgt. Pepper'sLonely Hearts Club Band, the equally astounding Village People-ValeriePerrine-Bruce Jenner film Can't Stop TheMusic, the career-killing Vanilla Ice vehicle Cool As Ice, Madonna's SEX book, MC Hammer's Hammerman cartoon, Kiss's "artistic" album The Elder, and Styx's musical Kilroy Was Here. But perhaps one of thebest (or is that worst?) examples is Garth Brooks's ill-advised and short-livedrock 'n' roll alter ego, Chris Gaines.

Chris Gaines was a fictional rock singer that was supposed to be the star of the aborted movieproject The Lamb--and was in fact thestar of a long-since-vanished faux BehindThe Music special on VH1 and a musical guest spot on SNL. The mysterious character gave Garth the opportunity to sport AdamLambert-like guyliner and act all angsty and grungy and very un-Garthy, which of course deeply confused many country fans. Although the one Gaines-billed album, Greatest Hits (titled such to further the myth that Chris was a real person), did hit number two on the pop album chart and yielded one top 40 pop single, itwas for the most part considered a dismal, abysmal failure.

Garth'scamp has since tried to bury Chris, but thanks to the archival powers of theInterweb, Chris Gaines will not die. Enjoy his resurrection here in the flashback above!

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