Facing The Music

There’s something about musicians. We treat them differently. The sins of musicians seem exempt from the scorn and contempt that is heaped upon every day folk, and especially, politicians.

Consider the case of Jared Fogle, the seemingly wholesome (former) Subway pitchman. Jared and his boyish face became an advertising fixture with his claim that he lost gobs of weight eating Subway sandwiches. One day, we wake up to hear that ol’ Jared has some issues.

Subway has fired him, and some rather serious federal charges are still pending.

Those charges – including - possession of inappropriate material involving children – seem to merit his dismissal, but I can’t help thinking, would it be different if he was a musician?

There seems to be compelling evidence that Michael Jackson had at least one inappropriate relationship with a child. Yet, we still play his songs on the radio. Marching bands perform grand choreography while playing his songs at halftime. Indeed, there is still demand for his tunes in advertisements. Michael Jackson is revered as one of the greatest of a generation. Why do we choose not to hold his past against him?

Gary Glitter, same thing. Gary Glitter’s song, “Rock and Roll Part 2” is alive and well at sporting arenas across the U.S. and Canada. You may know it as the song where you shout “Hey!” every so often. Bands love to play it, and loudspeakers blare it to keep the crowds amped up.

Gary Glitter has been convicted and served time for sex crimes. And there are additional similar charges against him even now. Yet, even my beloved University of Georgia still pumps out that song he co-wrote back in the 70s. Billboard magazine estimates that the song still earns around $250,000 a year in royalties, almost all of it from sports venues.

Every problem involving a musician is not pedophilia, of course. And granted, all crimes are not equal. Paul McCartney was arrested in 1980 for bringing weed into Japan. He spent eight nights in jail for that. These days, most of us don’t think marijuana possession should be a crime, so that seems pretty easy to blow off.

George Michael. Arrested for both drugs and “engaging in a lewd act” (albeit with an adult). The drug was pot, and he claims the other charge was the result of being lured in by an undercover police sting. Do we care? Nah. He may not really be our “Father Figure”, but we know all the words to the song.

James Brown. Arrested several times: theft, drugs, assaulting a cop, resisting arrest. Spent time in jail at least twice. We have no problem playing his classic songs. His arrests are viewed now as just part of his persona.

‘Musicians that have been arrested’ is an interesting Google search to kill some time. Justin Bieber, Merle Haggard, Rick James, Ozzy Osborne, David Crosby, Lil’ Kim, Peter Yarrow, Bobby Brown, Kid Rock, Rick James, Phil Spector… the charges run from peeing in public to murder.

Jim Morrison, front man for The Doors, was arrested five times. At least one of the charges was for dropping the F-bomb on stage. That right there is public obscenity, my friends. Or at least that was the charge. I’m trying to imagine a rock concert now without the F-bomb.

Dying appears to help your cause. James Brown, yeah, he had some issues but, man, could he sing. And bust a move! Jim Morrison was a drunk. In death, he is a rock god.

How about Rick James? Forget the draft dodging, kidnapping, and crack-piping. He’s the king of punk funk, dude. Somebody put on “Super Freak” and let’s turn this place out!

So poor ol’ Jared will live in our memories as a guy who rose to stardom for eating fresh and losing weight, then crashing and burning in the shame of the charges he now faces. Can’t help but wonder if it would be different if he had a few hits songs under his belt.

Where No Man Has Gone Before (My Physical)

My Press Conference (I Did Not Inhale!)