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Rolling Stones: The ultimate sell-outs?

November 24, 2012

rolling stones pic

note 4Opinion: Rolling Stones gigs

This week, old-time rockers Rolling Stones are playing sold out shows in London and New Jersey. They’re putting on quite a show according to the five star reviews for the first show this side of the Atlantic. But if I were paying a minimum of £106 for the gig, that’s the very least I’d expect. And if I were paying £950 for the deluxe VIP package, I’d only be happy if it came with a post-gig hot tub session with the band, sipping free Moet whilst being taught guitar by Keith.

But what I’d really like is a ticket that didn’t rip off a devoted fan who has already bought far too many reissues and poor-fitting merchandise. Mick Jagger excused the cost saying it was “expensive to put on,” forgetting that fans had turned up for the band, not a fancy light show à la Muse. He explained too that the price reflected the market, sounding like a free marketeer, rather than a grateful musician whose countless adoring fans have kept him comfy in his country pile for the past 50 years. And what will Mick and the gang be paid for the shows? Reportedly $25 million.

I guess it’s time to resign ourselves to the fact that the Rolling Stones have sold out. We live in an age where the attraction of filthy corporate lucre has enticed bands previously thought impervious to bribes to reunite, lend songs to adverts, and endorse Sony (shame on you Alice Cooper).

Paint it Green

It might have seemed a triumph, for example, when Sex Pistols turned down an invitation to play the London Olympics. Playing an event steeped in corporate sponsors would have contradicted the band’s legendary agenda, and so too would a sudden show of patriotism. Their revolutionary punk was the very definition of ‘Sticking it to The Man’. But alas, only a couple of years beforehand John Lydon was happily flogging butter (and his soul) in the Country Life adverts. In 30 cringeworthy seconds, the Sex Pistols legacy had been tainted.

And he’s not the only guilty artist to blemish their heritage: Iggy Pop hamming it up in the Swiftcover adverts, Bob Dylan shilling for Victoria secrets, and Stone Roses reuniting just for the moolah.

It seems music and money have sadly integrated and sell-out no longer feels like such a dirty word. But at least there is some hope for the anti-sell-out crowd. Adele, in a refreshing – albeit perhaps anachronistic – statement to Q magazine in 2011, said:

“I don’t want my name anywhere near another brand. I don’t wanna be tainted, or haunted, and I don’t wanna sell out in any way. I think it’s shameful.”

She is a lone voice though.

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