“Better to burn out than fade away,” from the seminal eighties movie Highlander, which apparently sourced it from Neil Young, and Kurt Cobain included the line in his suicide note; so it has real gravitas my friend. Punk rockers should “not go quietly into the night” counting their money and getting fat in the suburbs. No, rebellion asks complete sacrifice of security and comfort. Punk rock in its truest form is a bezerker phase, which demands blood sacrifice. The Sex Pistols exploded onto the world stage in the late seventies and Sid Vicious gave us the senseless death required. Ian Curtis from Joy Division hung himself; isn’t it ironic. Bon Scott drank himself to death, a la ACDC. Johnny Thunders, the New York Dolls, drug related. Rob Tyner, MC5, heart attack. Mick Ronson – liver cancer. Kristen Pfaff – overdose. Fred “sonic” Smith – heart failure. Ian Dury – liver cancer. Joey Ramone – cancer. Joe Strummer – heart defect. To name a tiny selection from a very, very, long list of dead rock stars and musicians.
What about those rich punks who frequent the wasted festivals of the world, strutting their stuff onstage, as exemplars of angry rebellion, but really more concerned with their bank balances and property portfolios. Who are they? Fat Mike from NOFX sold his house for five million dollars in 2008. The boys from Blink 182 are worth a conservative one hundred and fifty million dollars; disgusting. Dexter Holland from Offspring around sixty five million smackeroos. Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day fifty five million bucks; vomit. Davey Havok has twenty mill or more. This list is longer than one would think if you were an angry teenager forking out big bucks to see these guys and their bands perform; you might even need a few short term loans for your festival tickets.
Who are the punk rockers who are still poor and performing? Well any punk band just starting out is probably pretty hard up. Get it fresh if you want it real, is my advice, for rock music generally but especially in the punk category. Punks vent their spleens on stage and it is a pretty hard act to fake if you are going down on cocaine, Cathy and caviar every night. The angry man or woman needs the grist to grind in their guts to get up and bellow out the bile night after night. Punk rockers are not like fine wines, they are more like custard cream tarts in the sun, going off and hopefully dying before they grow old.