And so, with Music Month™ drawing to a close, we feel we must present
Gheorghe: The Blog’s list of
The 20 Biggest Douches in Rock and Roll
[Editor’s Note: For reasons of brevity, we’re excluding record company owners, execs, promoters, critics, and even producers. It’s common knowledge that nearly every one of these roles is filled by humans of staggeringly over-inflated self-worth. From the murderous Phil Spector to the worse Suge Knight to . . . really, almost all of them, there are too many to mention, and it’d be worthy of a post here if we could actually find a few good seeds.
We’re also sticking to people who are still alive. You know, on the off-chance they Google themselves. Which means Ike Turner gets off really easy.]
Here we go…
Honorable Mention: Bono, John Lydon, Henry Rollins
Pretentious; arse-style over kick-arse substance; and a fight-picker. But I actually enjoy each of these guys despite the feathers they ruffle. They aren't on the list.
20. Lou Reed
Almost an “honorable mention” because I listen to his music and I laugh at what he says, but Lou Reed is something of an all-time douche in rock history. He speaks his mind, and most of what’s on his mind is how much better he is than you. Which is often true. It’s a tricky thing, being a rock genius (trust me), so where to draw the line when Jagger, Lennon, Townshend, and the aforementioned Paul Hewson all had egos understandably swell to moon-bounce status is difficult. The guy dubbed “Lee Rude” makes the list, but at #20.
Sting and his tantric antics were out of the relevant spotlight for a while, then popped back up a couple of years ago on the Police Reunion Tour to remind folks what an irascible pain in the ass he is. It’d be called “justifiable homicide” if Stewart Copeland beat him to death. Note to Gordo: a man’s sexual escapades should not last longer than his entire set at the Verizon Center. He's more of a "prick," but he'll do just fine here in the Douche Capades.
18. Yngwie Malmsteen
True Confession: I’ve never heard an entire composition by this cat. I do like saying his name, though. But according to G:TB’s crack team of beat reporters, aka three guys with internet access, the Swede is a superlative douchecock in the arena of neo-classical metal guitar (stifle the laughter, boys), even insulting “real” guitar legends with a high frequency. Internet Search Result: "Yngwie Malmsteen is the biggest fucking asshole ever." Yngwie!
17. Courtney Love
What does it say when Courtney’s on this list and Yoko’s not? (It might say that Yoko’s not rock and roll.) In truth, I’ve liked some of Love’s music, she has gone through some shit, and I don’t mind her antics all that much. But she has made a continual public nuisance of herself over the years (although she has called out several people on this list, which we like), and her shtick tends to reek of talentless social climber. "Abrasive" is a term perpetually associated with this she-douche. "Bitch" is another, less gentle one. Is the new BNL song “Be My Courtney Love” that far off?
See the Lou Reed entry, and multiply by 10. “Genius” is a strong word best left to tongue-in-cheek usage by non-douches like the late Warren Zevon, but if it applies to any rock musicians, Prince is in the conversation. Genius, sadly, almost always goes hand in hand with eccentricity and peculiarity, and the Purple One is no exception. But when bizarre becomes big-headed, where reclusive oddity begets sheer greed, “that’s just how he is” no longer suffices. The name change, the suit of Sony, the deviant sex appetites, the thing where you only ever listen to your own music . . . fine. The uber-douchy lawsuit against the artists who got together and did a tribute album for your 50th birthday, and the ensuing demand that all copies of the music be destroyed . . . douche. And Kevin Smith’s long story (read it) about weirdness, warpedness, arrogance, and zero gratitude says it all.
15. R. Kelly
This douchenozzle is an accused child molester, and we’re not talking about just one count. Plus, he allegedly urinated on a 14-year-old girl while he was having sex with her. He was never convicted, so it’s not entirely fair that this pederast's name appears here. Gheorghe: The Vigilante Justice. Yeah!
14. Diana Ross
It’s fairly common knowledge (or accepted rumor, whichever) that Berry Gordy made Diana the queen Supreme because she was the hottest and he was nailing her, not because she had the best voice of the trio. The story goes that “Miss Ross” (as she makes folks call her) achieved fame and wealth not merely through her singing talent, but through conniving, manipulation, quite a bit of sexual ladder-climbing, and generally extreme douchery. The Ghost of Florence Ballard now haunting her, she’s left to self-medicate, get arrested and have Teejay point us to her appearances on The Smoking Gun.
13. Don Henley
Yep, he was the most successful songwriter and musician in the Eagles – and beyond the Eagles. But that band was a collective of talent through and through, and to be a me-first guy in that outfit is extreme arrogance. As Denis Leary said, “I got two words for Don Henley: Joe Fucking Walsh, okay!?” Granted, Glenn Frey and Don Felder have exhibited much the same level of doucheitude, but Henley’s reputation tops theirs: that of a humorless, insufferable crankpot who sues first and asks questions later. He was also a part of the Artists’ Coalition that supported prosecuting individuals who pirated music. How to win friends and influence people. Mojo Nixon once sang “Don Henley Must Die”; we’re less extreme here at Gheorghe, we'll just call you a douche.
12. Lars Ulrich
Ah, speaking of the piracy battle and how not to fight it . . . Metallica’s Napster snafu crushed them in the court of public opinion, and the guy most associated with the debacle was drummer Lars. His wormy quip “You want to fucking see in three months how we can fucking blow your measly little company apart? No problem!” was the epitome of misguided rock self-importance. And these things always seem to coincide with the band’s dearth of good material. The Metallica documentary only seemed to confirm what most folks thought: Lars is the weasely, smug douchelick of the band. Even TJ’s buddy Jim Breuer has a problem with him!
11. Roger Waters
Okay, so we’re back to the dilemma of virtuoso versus villainy. Roger’s Floyd work is indisputably amazing, no question. But when it comes to getting along, Roger Waters cannot. He alienated band members while vaulting himself to the self-proclaimed status of resident creative genius. He unsuccessfully sued the remaining Pink Floyders after he left to try to prevent them from continuing their work in the Floyd name. He even threatened to sue a radio station for playing the stuff he did for the Live Earth benefit. (Someone explain charity to Roger.) Oh, and he spat at fans. ("Mother, should I run for president?" "No, you're a huge douche and people fucking hate you.") Someday, he’ll get what he wants and get to be alone forever. And out of that, the sequel to The Wall can happen!
10. Billy Corgan
Same sort of story, right? He was the driving force behind The Smashing Pumpkins and got a big head. Okay, that’s an understatement; he wrote every song and played most of the instruments, too. But in every interaction he seems to have with famous folks, fans, and strangers, he comes off as a total asshole. Ask Rob – he can’t stand this douchebuckle. (He’ll tell you why.) The prima donna without much to justify it, Corgan even recently pulled a dude on stage from the audience to exchange barbs. Billy Corgan puts on airs Roger Daltrey wouldn’t dare, and we’re just not sure why he thinks he has a right to.
9. Eddie Van Halen
Ah, how the mighty have fallen. Circa 1984, another fine VH album (we’ll let you guess which one) was re-affirming Eddie’s guitar legend status . . . okay, “Jump” and a few others made us fear for the future, wisely. Another great VH video (“Hot for Teacher”) made us kids think these loons were all buddies ‘til the end. Eddie was genius, and let’s face it: there was a legion of folks who thought “E.C. Is God” should’ve been replaced with “E.V.H. is God.” And then . . . oh, crap. Dave leaves the band, Hagar comes in, and Eddie later cleans up. Ugh. Eddie starts believing his own press. And losing his marbles. And generally being a complete douche. He wrested control of the band unto his own, which I guess he had a right to – except that Van Halen has sucked so very badly for 15+ years. In this Howard Stern interview (wow), Eddie manages to piss on each of his old bandmates multiple times, talk about his son whacking off, and claim -- seriously -- that he’s curing cancer (his words) . . . while he keeps smoking cigarettes. Awesome, Ed. It’s just that you used to be so damn good.
8. Ryan Adams
Deranged cock-a-douche. I’ve heard it from folks who witnessed his onstage meltdown here in Norfolk. (He arrived 45 mins late to the start of the show to find his bandmates playing speed metal in his stead; he gave everyone the finger and left. He later harassed the local DJ who reported it. He’s a mess.) I’ve read it in self-aggrandizing interviews. I’ve heard Rhett Miller say that Adams manufactured a feud between his band Whiskeytown and the Old 97’s just for the press. And I have heard the world of shit that will go down if you ever . . . EVER . . . in seriousness or in jest, call him “Bryan” Adams! You do not want that! (As his reputation goes, Bryan’s no walk in the park, either, but he's Canadian, so how douchy could he be?)
7. Fred Durst
We're pushing the limits of whether the level of talent merits inclusion here, but Fred Durst’s purported dickish douchetry is of first-ballot purity. Really, just Google fred durst asshole and read the stories if you’re interested. He didn’t just boink and tell about Britney Spears on Stern. (I kind of enjoyed that part.) He is a pseudo-rude boy who’s quickly moved to tabloid celebrity status after a decent Limp Bizkit album and utter rubbish thereafter. He’s now taken to leaking his own sex tapes. His karma is in worse shape than his musical legacy. Bad times, douchedurst.
6. Kanye West
Soaring up the charts (these charts) is young Kanye. Saying “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” on TV wasn’t the coolest thing ever, but it made us chuckle. Making his Bonnaroo left-wing fans wait an additional 90 minutes for him to go on last year made him an equal-opportunity douchebag. (Bitching about those fans on his blog was very Robert Henson of him as well.) And finally, and inexplicably, the Taylor Swift VMA crap was just asinine. Nathaniel Hornblower he ain’t. Way to be a dick, doucheroo.
5. Noel & Liam Gallagher
The Oasis boys will always have a place in Rob’s heart; our little buddy swoons when “Don’t Look Back in Anger” comes on the hi-fi. I guess Rob likes dicks, because these guys are Grade A, FDA-approved douchebuckles. They insult: each other, their other band members, especially other musicians, and the collective intelligence of the world when they compare themselves to the Fab Four (through statement or knock-off). They scrap like bad boys, but somehow come off like pouty brats employing tough-guy bravado. The Gallaghers aren't getting any cheerier with their more recent material stuck at the foothills of the critical and commercial heights of their 1995 work. Less douchey, unibrowed, singing English brothers aren't walking through that door, as they say. And they will not appreciate that everyone at Gheorghe (save one) would rather watch this Gallagher than either of them.
4. Ted Nugent
Ah, the Nuge. What a buffoon. The Lyndon LaDouche of this list. The loincloth-donning, misogyny-spouting guitar wiz turned crossbow-wielding, NRA-loving, right-wing crusader. We just liked him better when he was a hard rockin’ manchild singing about female body parts (best: “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang”), albeit not quite as deftly or cleverly as AC/DC. (Uh, a fellow named Derek St. Holmes was his singer/guitarist; does that tell you anything?) Once ol' Ted unplugged the Gibson and started killing and eating animals, he became like reality TV, except even douchier. He’s a loudmouth, a bit of a bigot, and worst of all, he’s smarmy. Guitar gods don’t do smarmy, dumb ass. He loves his guns – more than he loved the 17-year-old whose guardian he became allegedly so he could legally sleep with her. He loves the Motor City. But as much as we loved “I made the pussy purr with the stroke of my hand,” we’ve got no love for the Nuge. [It’s only because we had a fraternity brother whose birth name is also Ted Nugent that he’s not higher on this list. Oh, and “Motor City Madman” . . . our Ted Nugent is crazier than you.]
3. Gene Simmons
The KISS Army loves Gene Simmons, but otherwise, Gene has very few friends in the world. Gene Simmons was the bassist, the baddest-looking and the most popular member of KISS. He is a film actor, reality TV star, and an unmarried playboy despite taking silver to Ron Jeremy’s gold in the Swarthy Olympics. He’s also a huge douche. Born Chaim Witz in Israel (do not call him "Baba Ga-douche," that's Arabic and he will freak out on you), he formed a cool-named band (Wicked Lester) with (Paul) Stanley Eisen and some other nerds, then went on to form the greatest stage show in rock: KISS. His tongue stole the spotlight in many cases, and he’s detailed unpleasantly how much action that tongue has gotten over the years. (Some say by now the many sores are the only thing keeping it attached.) These days . . . ugh. He’s a major money-grubber, whoring himself out in ways even he shouldn’t. He’s slimy, and fan encounters usually involve ignoring or insulting the dudes while groping or putting his tongue on the chicks. In an NPR interview a few years ago, he apparently hit new lows – even to the point of threatening NPR if they aired it. He’s an unapologetic bastard, playing the pompous asshole so as to remain relevant. And it'll work. (This is a recurring theme in this list, of course.) His latest solo album’s title? "Asshole." Come on, Gene. The Army looked up to you for so long. Stop letting them down when it would take a single of iota of energy to be less of a complete and utter douchebag.
2. W. Axl Rose
Oh, man, it took somethin’ special to keep Axl out of the number 1 spot. There are so many reasons to be down on the erstwhile Bill Bailey. There’s the Eddie Van Halen/Roger Waters/Sting thing, where his huge ego helped break up a great band, thereby denying us more great music. There’s the ridiculous bravado, playing tough guy with a pencil-necked physique. (Telling Guccione Jr. to “get in the ring” was especially preposterous.) There’s the part where of course I’m jealous, as he has a lifetime’s worth of riches based on one great album, he married Stephanie Seymour, and he got to hang with rock elite. But it really just comes down to that white-trashy sneer, the false sense of entitlement, and the criminal abuse of the fans who want good rock ‘n’ roll without the douchiness. The Montreal show where Hetfield burned his face off and pouty Axl cancelled mid-set because his throat hurt, ensuring a riot? Pussy prima donna at its peak. But even just a few years back at a “Guns N’ Roses” (and Roger Waters sued??) show, he stopped during “Sweet Child o’ Mine” to bitch a fan out and have him removed. To the detriment of the show, to the chagrin of the fans, but to the enrichment of his somehow still-swollen ego. He’s still the same cocksucker, not humbled a bit from his own mediocrity and the public’s indifference. That he has fallen into punchline status for over a decade is karma coming around the bend. Bad plastic surgery stories, a rotating lineup of has-beens & nobodies in GN’R, a wide divide with “fans” getting wider, his legacy withering, . . . and oh my, Chinese Democracy. All hail Appetite for Destruction, long live Slash & Izzy, R.I.P. Axl Rose. Ya douche.
1. Mike Love
. . .and here’s that somethin’ special that makes Axl Rose look like John Denver. Wow. My goodness, is there a whole lotta reason to label Mike Love the all-time biggest douchebag in rock and roll. Enough that I have to do a great deal of editing to cull out the best (worst) parts, leaving much on the table. Mike Love takes so many of the negative attributes mentioned in the entries above and compiles them into one seamless body of work, one-upping them on nearly every count. This will be the tip of the iceberg, but again, do a search on his name and you’ll see.
We’re gonna borrow from others (and there are hordes of Mike Love loathers out there). Man vs. Clown’s Peter Lynn compiles it the best in his fascinating missive “Why I Hate Mike Love.” It’s bad form to lift some much from one source, but please, go visit the site for the full spiel. (And I cut a number of chunks out; there simply is too much stuff to dislike Mike Love for.) He writes:
“My favorite Beach Boy is obviously Brian because he’s the genius. Next comes Dennis because he was the coolest by far, emerged as a late-blooming significant talent in his own right, and once beat the living shit out of Charles Manson and reduced him to a blubbering mess in front of the Family. And then comes Al, because he’s basically the Ringo or the Michael Anthony — the friendly, funny-looking goof who just can’t believe his good fortune at being allowed to be in the band. Mike comes way down at the bottom after John Stamos.And that's not even all of the worst stuff he posted . . .
There should be a Wikipedia page on Reasons People Hate Mike Love. My two primary ones are these: First, he hassled Brian so much that he had a breakdown and abandoned his masterpiece, Smile, thus leaving Mike free to take control of the Beach Boys and turn them into their own cover band, a corny travelling jukebox endlessly belching out their beach and car songs for the next 40 years. And second, when Brian finally got it together enough to release Smile as a solo album, Mike had the gall to sue him for promoting it in a way that, to quote, “shamelessly misappropriated Mike Love’s songs, likeness and the Beach Boys trademark, as well as the Smile album itself.”
Other reasons to hate Mike Love:
- He apparently beat his wife.
- He rewrote the Leiber/Stoller song “Riot in Cell Block 9” into the song “Student Demonstration Time,” which sucks ass, yet somehow made it onto the Surf’s Up album while excellent songs by Dennis such as “4th of July” and “Fallin’ in Love” stayed in the can. (Of course, Dennis got the ultimate revenge against his longtime foe by marrying Mike’s illegitimate daughter and giving him a grandson just to piss him off.)
- He really got into transcendental meditation, and just wouldn’t stop writing shitty songs about it.
- He pushed a very obviously mentally ill and terrified Brian onstage as part of the “Brian’s Back!” campaign, and even wrote a song called “Brian’s Back” in which he pretended to like him.
- He’s an alleged racist.
- He’s a right-wing Republican, but he did give $5000 in start-up capital to Tipper Gore to start up the PMRC to censor pop music.
- He thinks no one will notice he’s bald if he just keeps wearing a hat.
- He created a TV miniseries full of revisionist history to glorify his own contributions to the band and take credit for a lot of things he never actually did. He also used it to give the impression that John Lennon wanted to jam with him, although Lennon is quoted as calling him a “jerk.”
- He sued Brian over songwriting credits he claimed he never received, which might have been due to his not actually having done the songwriting he claims to have done.
- He did do a little songwriting, which used all kinds of hip slang that didn’t age well at all and sounds retarded years later. And his onstage patter was lame and unfunny.
- He keeps suing poor Al every time he tries to tour.
- He introduced himself to Sean O’Hagan of the High Llamas, a huge Beach Boys fan who Bruce Johnston brought in to produce an album for them, by saying, as soon as he met him at the airport, “You’re English, right? Aren’t all you English guys fags?”
- His solo albums suck, even for Beach Boys solo albums, which mostly kind of suck to start with.
- He is responsible for “Kokomo.” And he’s proud of it.
- He just plain has one of those thin-lipped humourless-asshole-looking faces you want to punch.
- He’s still alive, while Dennis and Carl are dead.
Other sources add more:
“His own daughter, Shawn Love Wilson (also the third wife of Dennis Wilson), needed $500,000 for a liver transplant because of cancer. She tried to contact him several times, and everyone in and around the band knew of her plight. He never even acknowledged her problem. She died in September 2003, just after her son Gage turned 21. What an asshole.”To me, it's all incredibly damning, but the classic "in a nutshell" example of Mike Love as the #1 Douche of All Time is his acceptance speech from The Beach Boys' induction into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 1988:
“The fact that Mike thinks he has every right to tour under the 'Beach Boys' moniker, but Al Jardine and Brian Wilson(!) don't baffles me. At least Al sued him and finally, after two years, won. By the way, Mike, in case you needed a reminder, The Beach Boys are and always will be Brian Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Carl Wilson, Mike Love, and Al Jardine (sometimes featuring Bruce Johnston, Blondie Chaplin, Ricky Fataar, or David Marks). Not these guys.
Oh, and one more thing - you can take that hat off, Mike, because you're fooling nobody. It was obvious you were losing your hair in 1963.”
“Mike Love takes credit for naming the Pet Sounds record, when in fact Carl always said that it was Brian’s idea, and Brian always said that it was Carl’s idea. One thing that the brothers could 'agree' upon was that the name was hatched at the Pet Sounds photo session for the cover, when the group was playing with the animals at the petting zoo and laughing and joking around. The naming of the album and its genesis was always a joke between the two brothers… that is, until Mike Love came along and cleared up the controversy by declaring that he and he alone came up with the title. This is especially nauseating when you consider that Mike Love hated Pet Sounds from the very beginning…simply loathed it.”
“Mike Love was a regular Eddie Haskell when it came to [Wilson brothers' dad] Murry Wilson. He would be the consummate suck-up to Murry when he was around, but would be the instigator of all sorts of trouble when Murry had his back turned. Unforgivably, Mike Love frequently joined in on Murry’s tirades against his sons, egging him on, especially Brian. Mike Love also reportedly was a tattletale in the years when Murry was their manager, sparing no details about groupie activity and such.”
“And I think it's wonderful to be here tonight, but I also think it's sad that there are other people who aren't here tonight. And, uh, those are the people who have passed away, those are the obvious ones. But the other not-so-obvious ones are people like Paul McCartney, who couldn't be here tonight because he's in a lawsuit with Ringo and Yoko. That's what he sent a telegram to some, uh, high priced attorney in this room, you know. And that's a bummer, because we're talking about harmony, right, and the world. If we can't get it together in America and in England, and harmony within our groups, I mean, believe it, you can believe it the Beach Boys have their own interstescene(?) or whatever you call it, squabbles. But that's a bummer when Ms. Ross can't make it, you know? The Beach Boys have continued to do, about, we did about 180 performances last year. I'd like to see the Mop-Tops match that! I'd like to see Mick Jagger get out on this stage and do 'I Get Around' versus 'Jumpin' Jack Flash,' any day now. And I'd like to see some people kick out the jams, and I challenge the Boss to get up on stage and jam. I wanna see Billy Joel, see if he can still tickle ivories, lemme see. I know Mick Jagger won't be here tonight, he's gonna have to stay in England. But I'd like to see us in the Coliseum and he at Wembley Stadium because he's always been chickenshit to get on stage with the Beach Boys.”
“Note: that year, The Beatles and Bob Dylan were also inducted in to the Hall Of Fame. Later in the show, as Bob Dylan was accepting his induction, he said, 'I just want to thank Mike Love for not mentioning me in his speech.' Oh, and unbeknownst to Mike, Mick Jagger was there that night, in the second or third row.”
Enough about Mike Love, and enough about these 20 douchewhistles. Soon G:TB will return to heralding what's right with the world, and not who's wrong with it. In the meantime . . . douchebags: stop being douchebags. Stop being so impressed with yourself. Stop fighting good people. Stop ruining good things. Stop suing people because you can't make money with music any more. Stop insulting others for fear that the lens may focus too closely on you and your shortcomings. Stop being an asshole simply because there's a microphone handy. Stop insulting people you don't know because there's a chance they might be better at what you do than you are. Stop doing anything that might prevent great music from reaching our ears. Just knock it off. It's not too late to rebound from low-level douchitudes and actually turn out pretty cool.
That is all. Happy Music Month.