My Favourite Music Legends

I noticed an exhibition showing at Proud Chelsea called Rock Stars and Superstars, the feature image being one of David Bowie, and I knew I had to go. I decided to go with my then-boyfriend (now husband) for my birthday and tie in a nice lunch in Chelsea at the same time.

It was not an exhibition but rather, a gallery full of limited (and purchasable) photographs. To be fair, it was pretty cool. They had some awesome pictures of some rock legends as well as superstars like Edie Sedgwick and Andy Warhol, and pictures of Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann from the film (one of my faves) Withnail and I. It’s closed now but it was nice to have a little wander.

I thought it might be nice to write a little piece on my favourite rock legends. They’re people that have entered my life at an early age and no doubt influenced my taste in music, photography, fashion and arguably life choices. Putting on that song to cool down, or get yourself motivated, or to give you some courage? Yep.

David Bowie

Bowie is one of my ultimate favourites. I was lucky that I was introduced to him young as my mother was also a big fan (she went to her high-school disco/prom as the Clown from Ashes to Ashes — solo). He’s released some amazing songs, acted in some great films, and inspired some fabulous high-fashion pieces that can undoubtedly still be seen in mainstream fashion photography still today. I find him so interesting as a person because he is unafraid to challenge gender, or traditional musical outputs, and he refused to be lost in glam-rock history, instead constantly changing and evolving as an artist.

Bowie has a really special place in my heart because of who he is but also because I love his music unconditionally, there’s a different tune for every moment I could ever require, including our planned first dance (Absolute Beginners).

I’ve also always loved Berlin and really wanted to live there for a time (hence the brief stint). Since visiting the first time with a friend, I’d always wanted to to back. I was in bed watching a Bowie in Berlin documentary, fed up with my current situation, and decided to take my (then-single) self off to Berlin for my own much-needed break. Bowie took himself away to Berlin (with Iggy Pop) at a time in his life when he needed a change — and in doing so he generated some of my favourite albums. I’m not comparing myself to him, of course, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with learning from those who inspire us and channeling a little of them in our own lives if it aids our own happiness. When I returned from Berlin, I was clear as day. I decided to leave my stagnant life behind and move to another city (Manchester). Once I’d made that change, my life changed, I met my future-husband, amazing friends and my career blossomed. I went on to visit Berlin again more times before moving there with my now-husband — and so I got my dream and some.

But let’s talk music. My absolute favourites are Fashion, Look Back in Anger, Heroes (of course), Ashes to Ashes, Life on Mars, Cat People, Never Let Me Down and Sound and Vision.

Led Zeppelin

Bowie and Zeppelin make up my top two ultimate favourites. Again, I was introduced to them from a young age so was lucky to have grown up with them, and have a mother with whom I could watch whole Zep concerts on TV.

Led Zeppelin, I think, are one of the greatest bands that ever existed, if not the best. As Dave Grohl says, “heavy metal would not exist without Led Zeppelin, and if it did, it would suck”. They are the best band to put on loud and headbang, shake your hair, flail your arms and hop your feet to. They are the band I will always turn to when I need an instant boost. But that’s not all they are. Their folky, mysterious, floaty sound in slower tracks such as Tangerine and the Rain Song always do it for me. Likewise, the slower Since I’ve Been Loving You, less folky and more an emotional, writhing, bluesy, one-of-the-greatest-tracks-ever tune, will forever be one of my favourites to put on loud late of an evening.

I find the combination of individual members fascinating. Such a mix of personality, talent and mystery. They really were four of the best musicians ever (that drum solo in Moby Dick, though), so it’s no surprise that the sound they created was just pure magic — you can feel it right in your core.

Mötley Crüe

I only discovered Mötley Crüe when I was around 17 or 18. I remember going to a friend’s house and seeing one of their records and asking “who are these guys?!”. Since I asked that question, they have become one of my favourites. A bunch of totally wreckless, immature, laughable idiots — who created some awesome music. I recently read Nikki Sixx’s Heroin Diaries which entails a lot of details about what the band got up to in their glory years as well as much of Nikki’s drug-induced rambling. Nikki really was a tortured soul as well as an idiot but he was also a very talented writer.

Personally, I think there’s a lot to be said for a guy who can pull off the hair metal look.

My favourite track from these guys will always be You’re All I Need. Not really the nicest of songs, but a great tune. I will also always love Girls Girls Girls because it will always remind me of dancing like no one was watching in rock clubs with one of my best friends.

Prince

Much like I admire David Bowie for dressing how he likes, I feel the same way about Prince. He really doesn’t (edit: didn’t!) give a damn — as evident by everything about his film, Purple Rain. He’s brought out some absolute undisputed classics and I get so excited about New Year’s Eve because it means I get to play 1999 at midnight. He is one of few whose tunes you can pop on and they get people dancing like you’ve never seen before. Favourites are Erotic City, Let’s Go Crazy,Take Me With U, Computer Blue, Beautiful Ones and Controversy.

Freddie Mercury

What an interesting guy! He was born in the Sultanate of Zanzibar (now Tanzania) and he and his family practiced the Zoroastrian religion, which is an ancient monotheistic Iranian religion and a religious philosophy — but obviously that’s not what we know him for.

What a character, and such a great loss. I don’t think anyone can wear a cape like this guy could — neither will anyone match his vocal talent. My favourite is his track that he did for the album (among other artists in 1985), Metropolis (1927), called Love Kills. It wouldn’t be right to mention Freddie without also saying that Queen are absolute rock gods — but Freddie stands out enough to get his own mention from me. I also love Killer Queen (I named a magazine after it!) and Who Wants to Live Forever, Teo Torriatte, and A Kind of Magic.

Talking Heads

I love a bit of new wave and this band were my favourite thing to come out of that. I love David Byrne’s effortless vocals and stage presence (their performance on the Old Grey Whistle Test is my fave). This New Year I went to a gig venue in Leeds and a Talking Heads tribute band played. When they did Once in a Lifetime it made me realise just how much I love that song and how great it is in a crowd — but — my favourite will always be This Must Be the Place. Oh, and Psycho Killer. And Take Me to the River.

Free

Paul Rodgers’ voice though. Free are one of those bands that seriously paved the way for hard rock — they mixed the sound of earthy blues and metal and it sounded good. It’s a shame that these guys aren’t as well known as others of the same time — they sort of faded into rock history (for most). My favourites are Ride on a Pony, My Brother Jake (Rodgers’ vocals on the chorus, wow) and Stealer. I love the bopping-guitar mixed with Rodgers’ constant ‘huh’ noises. The instrumental Mouthful of Grass (though sadly sans-Rodgers’ vocals apart from the oooohs and aaahhs), is my ultimate go-to relaxing song.

Electric Light Orchestra

ELO have a really special place in my heart. They are the favourite band of both my Auntie (who I love dearly but never get to see — I always remember her singing along to Mr Blue Sky) and my mum, so I grew up listening to these guys too. My love for them was really revived when I met my husband. We were sat in his apartment, shortly after we first got together and Livin’ Thing came on. He started singing along and professed to have loved ELO from a young age. It was one of the many things we were to find out we had in common. We both grew up especially listing to ELO on car journeys with family, and he always asked for his favourite song, Mr Blue Sky, to be put on. Adorable.

On one particular car journey of our own, he was driving me down to my mother’s 2 1/2 hours away after work and dropping me off to drive straight back as my Step-father had taken a turn for the worse after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. Telephone Line came on from our shared playlist and I remember us both singing it like mad-people, me with tears down my face. It was just one of those really emotional moments you tend to get when you’re going through something really horrible and something really random just breaks you down and you totally go with it. It’s ever more sentimental because my step-dad passed away shortly after, so now I hold that song really dear as a memory of being able to see him and say goodbye.

I could write about so many more, there are ones I’ve missed out that were included in the exhibition that I’m craving to write about but since it’s already a pretty long post I’ll leave it for another time.

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