Sunday Extra: Random Thoughts from a Middle Aged Music Buff

Okay, totally off topic today but I’ve been kicking around a music related random thought:

What if Jimi Hendrix was still alive and Eddie Van Halen had died after say, four albums? (Hendrix only officially released four albums in his career and Van Halen’s fourth was “Fair Warning”—which happens to be one of my favorites) Who’d be considered the bigger guitar god today?

What about other “icons”? Would Led Zeppelin still be making ground breaking music? Kurt Cobain? Axel Rose? (no, wait . . . )

Don’t get me wrong, Hendrix’ guitar playing was legendary, but he died right at the peak of both his talent and his impact. In other words, he died at the top of his game.

What if he hadn’t?

Compare that to the rise and fall of Eddie Van Halen. Eddie’s playing is also masterful, but he’s lost a step or two lately and he’s had his fair share of health scares, relational issues—both personal and professional (who’s the singer this week??) and over-the-top rock ‘n roll lifestyle excesses. All of which have taken their toll on his once ample talents. What if they hadn’t?

What if it was Van Halen that had died after his fiery introduction into rock shredderdom? What if it was Hendrix who’d lived into his, what 60’s now? with his own share of life’s trials and missteps.

Is it their talent that wanes over the years, drowning out the thunder of their early, revelatory, genre-changing styles? Or is it that, when “life” happens to those who turn out to be real people, the pedestal we’ve placed them on begins to shrink . . . and shrink . . . until they’re nothing more than . . . normal?

So, is Hendrix really that big of an icon? Or did he die before his living could humanize him? Is Van Halen a “has been”? Or has his living merely humanized the extraordinary talent he burst onto the rock scene with all those years ago?

So . . .

Take this in to work on Monday and see how big an argument you can get started. And kids, if you need to, you can ask your parent who Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Van Halen are . . . I won’t feel old. Honest I won’t.

Yeah, yeah I will.

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