- James Brown
- Eric Clapton
- Elton John
- Little Richard
- Rod Stewart
- Pete Townshend
If there is one thing we can be certain of in life, it’s that it is uncertain. While it can be terrifying to think about, we ultimately all face the realisation that no matter what we do, there will be things that happen to us that we just didn’t plan, didn’t want and may feel we can’t deal with. It is the chaos of life. Music puts into sounds and words the experiences and feelings that we can’t, helping us make sense of the world that surrounds us. A stranger’s voice can sometimes articulate our feelings better than we can.
As such, it is easy to look at the people behind these works as those who have it all figured out. Sometimes, even if we are intimately involved with music daily, we forget that the songs we hear are the final products of a long series of filtering, crafting and polishing: endless tweaking on pen and paper, on instruments in the studio and finally at a mixing desk. But the people that orchestrate these moments — the musical legends behind them — are still just people. And like all of us, they have their own problems and heartaches and are far more complex than any time signature, rhyming structure.
Like all of us, these legends have made some mistakes, or done things we won’t necessarily agree with. You don’t become an icon by following the rules, but that doesn’t mean some of our heroes haven’t crossed the line into tremendously dark territory.
For some, stardom and all that came with it was their dream — the music industry was but one path they could have travelled down to achieve the life that they wanted, caused by some twist of fate. For others, stardom was nothing but a terrible side effect; they were afflicted with the need to create music, their outlet for the emotions and thoughts that boiled beneath them tearing them apart.