NO BOWIE, NO get's a bit colder and paler every day...

Sad things happen without warnings - and within minutes. Poof! My last post in my new column in the Huffington Post, also called "Gray in L.A." because I like it so much, had only been up for 1 DAY! In it I write about the glorious old rock n roll days when all the concerts were cheap, innocent and mostly carefree and the Artists were mostly Artists. And then we all learned that PRINCE had died at the age of only 57. Oh No! Not again another Great Musician, many cried out. What is happening?
I "met" PRINCE in 1994 at the opening of The House of Blues on Sunset. He was standing next to me in the elevator - barely reaching my shoulder. A pixie-ish cute guy with a hint of a very shy smile and big sparkling yet sad eyes. A guy you wanted to hug a little (a least I did!) Gone!

His death also reminds me that music means SO MUCH to so many people worldwide that I officially declare it the most important art-form. And I love words (obviously) and am a movie-buff. Music saved my teenage-life many times over. When I felt alone and misunderstood - I always had the bands, the voices, the sounds, the melodies that accompanied me in my secret life that was filled with fantasies of a better world. And it was MINE, that world. No grown-up could destroy it.

Young Music Reporter at 21 in 1968

No, I didn't actually go to COACHELLA, that rather pretentious yet prestigious SoCal rock fest for the badly dressed and desperately with-it-crowd. I hadn't planned to either, would have had to be paid the same amount of money that the famous and illustrious guests dropped there for their private jets, luxury tents and hotel suites, to lure me there. And it's not because I'm gray and fear that any wild dancing and finger snipping on my part might have been filmed and put on social media with barbs like  "Grandma's Last Waltz" or so. The thing is - as any "older" music-obsessed festival goer of the past 45 years like me can tell you - we've seen it all, only simpler, often much better - and definitely cheaper. I certainly have.

We are not very popular among a lot of young people. We, that would be the original hippies and hipsters, rock 'n' rollers and concert mavens, the original inventors of festivals, cheap chic and sexual liberation (and for the ones who might say, "Yeah, so? And look what happened?" - that's another story we can discuss).
The 3-day COACHELLA Music Festival (in it's 15th year) attracts more fans each year. As ever, maybe even more, people crave music and spectacles - memories of Woodstock loom large even if they have faded a bit. Right now the early 70s are back again in the not so great HBO-series "Vinyl"- trying to depict an obviously unforgettable, magical and explosive era of prime rock and early punk for people who didn't live through it.
I feel nostalgic about it myself 'cause I was there when it all happened! (In Europe and New York). Music was part of life in the late sixties, somehow homogenous and natural. Bands played for fun and for us, their enthusiastic fans. For money, too, of course, but that wasn't the main thing.

It was all simple. It was announced in the newspapers and on the radio that Led Zeppelin or the Stones came to town for a concert; you were very excited, told all your friends if they didn't know it already, and then you or one of the friends stood in line at the box office und bought tickets. And then you all just went.
I always make fun of the dreadful designer hippie-look clones at COACHELLA and the exorbitant prices for silly duds, but it would be dishonest to pretend not to have cared back then what to wear to such an event. I was a fashion plate all my life (I could sew and I had a vintage clothes collection) - but it neither cost any real money, nor did it take a stylist or more than an hour to get ready. Men had it even easier since it was basically about making a decision to wear a floppy hat or not, and which scarf or velvet jacket to wear. I'm not here to say that the combo of white patent leather loafers, striped pants with a ruffled paisley shirt and a leather belt with a huge brass-buckle was a good look (something Eric Clapton wore when I met him in '67). 

Whenever I read now about music festivals and look at the footage I shudder. Yes, maybe I've lost touch with trends. My tastes are such that to me the Beatles are forever, and the epitome of a modern female provocateur of superior talent is someone like Pink; that I never tire to listen to Joni and Chrissie Hynde, that I think Madonna is a sad case and Billie Holiday's voice still moves me deeply. Something that can't be said of Kanye West and the Chauvinist Club, or the faceless female stars that dance through cosmetic commercials.
Does it sound phony or cynical to use the words "purity" and "integrity"? If there is something I miss the most today, it's that. I don't know whether audiences get only what they want or deserve. Maybe there simply aren't that many individual visions by artists left. It's all about product placement, fashion magazine covers and such crass commercialism, that even a gut-wrenching riff and a perfectly mesmerizing song pales next to Cover Girl's relentless Lip Gloss marketing with rock stars like Katy Perry. In America it all ends up in marketing anything creative to death. Killed by commerce.

I was lucky, I've seen most of the 60s and 70s icons: The Beatles, the Kinks, Chuck Berry, Led Zeppelin, The Bee Gees, the Who, Pink Floyd, The Beach Boys, Frank Zappa, Bob Marley, even T.Rex; and attended legendary concerts like the Stones in London's Hyde Park, Bob Dylan on the Isle of White, and so on.
There are very good new musical talents emerging every year and I don't doubt that the 20 to 40 year-old crowd is as crazy about music as I was when I entered the famed "Star-Club" in my hometown of Hamburg where I saw a not yet mega-famous Jimi Hendrix play for 2 nights in 1967. But they will never experience the excitement and joy of discovering a sound you have absolutely never ever heard before. This feeling of luck and pure bliss has never totally left me.

"OK, we got it. What's the point?" youngsters may say. "Times have changed, you are old people, have-beens and have-seen-it-alls. It's us now; we're deciding how the music is played and who to follow."
It's a generational thing, I know. I do believe there's mutual envy of the most natural way. They wish that they could for once have a slice of inexpensive ecstasy (and hear Jimi play), and we wish we could still be 24 once in a great while. In my case only to be really really glad not to have to show up at COACHELLA and be exhausted to death.

Admittedly, it was all pretty male-centric back then; the few famous female icons I truly missed out on were Janis Joplin and Joni Mitchell.
So for me, the really exciting change in music of the last decades is that female artists finally pushed their way by sheer talent, strength and cleverness into the limelight and blew the boy's club to pieces. I don't think they'll ever play second banana again. And just for that fact - I'm delighted and cheer the new world of rock. Grab your mike, find your real voice - and leave the lip gloss at home, girls!

Here are the other 2 posts from my new Blog.


  1. I was talking with a young person last week, and he made a complaint about his generation... their homogeneity in music, and appearance, face and clothing. And sheer commercially. So it appears the younger generation is aware that they have been hijacked by big business!

  2. I love this post, and I envy your seeing Jimi, the Beatles, etc. My music moment came a little later: Rod Stewart, early U2, the GoGos and (Oh my goodness), the Talking Heads... David Byrne and the big suit, and David Bowie, the most elegant man in Rock and Roll — maybe, besides Brian Ferry. You are right that the kiddos these days are jaded. They know they are and they are sad about it, I can tell you. My daughter says, "Of course we're sad. Nothing's filtered." Of course I think *everything* is filtered, or maybe just overexposed, and that's sad, too. What a great story you tell, Radical Chick. I thought I was SO not cool enough for Coachella, but you make me feel de rigueur after all. And I'm another kindred spirit personally wounded by our loss of Prince and Bowie. The world is not the same without them. Never imagined what it would be like to lose the musical sources of my dancing days. God bless.

  3. Thank you Jen - appreciate it. Couldn't agree more. I saw the Talking Heads in NY in 1982 or so. Loved them. They were the best. Am still a big Fan of David Byrne, love his voice, he made quite a fe lovely records - and I interviewed him for a German magazine. Smart man. Yeah, maybe I should write about the good ol times from the perspective of a young enthusiastic German who was seeking for a different language of expression. Literally. Sabine


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