Maybe it's a sign of my age. Or cynicism. Or chosen career path. Whatever the case, I'm feeling like rockstars don't exist anymore. Note: when I say rockstar, I mean a "larger-than-life unattainable, unapproachable figure."
I think this is a good thing.
When I was a kid, rockstars to me were the guys that were on MTV. These were the musicians I watched on the MTV Video Music Awards with my parents. We're talking about the guys with the long hair, the mansions and the "Playmate" girlfriends.
Thanks to the Internet, every band is local in a sense. Fans can get closer to their favorite musicians - and in turn - the artists really need street team level help. Even the big bands need promotion to sell tickets to their shows, and that's where Facebook, Myspace and blogs really help.
I suppose the Internet means everyone is a pro-musician these days, too. New technology means every start-up band in the world can get together, record jam sessions and independently release a CD. By the same token, every music fan is a critic. I'm astounded at the sheer number of metal websites these days. I don't claim to be great at what I do, nor do I think BBG! is even that awesome of a site, but I update daily and try to mix the current with favorites of the past. This website has helped me get connections to some of my favorite bands, bringing me back to the main question: do rockstars still exist?
By closing the gap between fame and fan, the entire genre of metal somehow seems more real. As a kid, you tend to think everything is glamorous. Then you live it. Let me tell you that the Today show was the apex of broadcast news for me in high school. All through college, I thought I'd just go work on that program. So, I did my due diligence and worked in local news as a producer and got damn good at it too. I have enough experience to work on Today, but no thank you. There's no glamour in working all night, every holiday or fighting with people 24/7 over non-important matters. The stark reality is that there isn't in glamour in news and it's a hard job. Much like metal.
Sure, I'll assume there's nothing cooler in the world than playing live for a few thousand adoring fans, but the climb to get there is a struggle. Much like anything, without passion, you won't succeed. Metal musicians have figured out the best way to succeed is to become somewhat open to embracing fans. I have no idea what the real scene was like backstage after a metal show in the 80s because I wasn't around but I bet it was much different from today - and I don't just mean party-wise.
If you hang with a musician you admire, maybe you still consider them a rockstar. Maybe you consider them human. I'm not sure.
I do know that every musician I've met has been ultra-cool and approachable. Most are very friendly and funny - and that's after working their ass off on stage.
Maybe I was wrong all those years ago, sitting on my bedroom floor listening to my Aerosmith albums. Maybe no band is unreachable. Maybe every musician actually wants to talk to fans - at least from time to time. Perhaps the golden age of security-clad rockstars is dead.