Rock Jam Lineup A Cautionary Party Tale
Heading out to Mack on Friday night, Aug. 23, to live like a rock star at Colorado’s premier debauched end of summer slam fest?
Boozing it up with thousands of distorted rock zombies just like you did in 1991 when Headbangers Ball was still in heavy rotation on MTV instead of Teen Mom 3?
Good for you. Go full throttle this weekend. Rock Jam wouldn’t have it any other way.
Yep, the unofficial experience Rock Jam sells you is the glamorized version of rock ‘n’ roll. The careless, live free and die for today version of rock ‘n’ roll recounted in Keith Richards’ biography, “Life” (aptly titled as that’s approximately how long it takes to finish).
Heck, the $425, two-day VIP package comes with complimentary Budweiser products all day and night and complimentary cocktails after 5 p.m. each day. The booze is right there, waiting to be slammed down your gullet.
Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. That’s what it’s all about, at least for the next 48 hours.
Ironically, the way you are expected to act at Rock Jam is the same as the lifestyle choice that nearly destroyed a majority of the bands playing at this year’s festival. Top to bottom, Rock Jam is the cliché rock ‘n’ roll story. Sell a bunch of albums, develop an addiction, fade from the limelight…
It’s the story lived out by countless bands on “Behind the Music,” and the story festival headliner Korn knows all too well.
After an amazingly successful run, two founding members of Korn were kicked out of the band for substance abuse. Born again Christian, guitarist Brian “Head” Welch admitted to his addiction to alcohol, methamphetamine, Xanax, and sleeping pills after leaving the group.
Welch’s signature hair braids and nu metal guitar work helped Korn sell more than 35 million albums, yet the rock lifestyle temporarily cost Welch a spot in one of the most successful metal bands ever. Now that Welch has straightened out, Korn has welcomed him back. The same cannot be said for original drummer David Silveria whose drug problem resulted in a permanent split with the band.
Adam Gontier, former lead singer and lead guitarist of Three Days Grace, was forced to leave the band because of “health reasons,” code for drugs, specifically OxyContin. Gontier’s addiction and recovery was detailed in the documentary film “Behind the Pain,” which ends with him sobering up but forever separated from the band he helped found.
Lead singer, guitarist and founder of Seether, Shaun Morgan, entered rehab for alcoholism. Hinder frontman Austin Winkler is on temporary leave from the band, currently back in rehab for the second time for issues related to Vicodin abuse.
Then there’s the gold standard: Lynyrd Skynyrd.
During their 1970s heyday, the band had a legendary appetite for destruction. Individually, Gary Rossington, the only original member still performing with the Skynyrd, inspired one of the group’s most popular songs with his drug-related exploits.
Rossington, driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, crashed his new Ford Torino into an oak tree, an incident that resulted in the cautionary drug tale “That Smell” (see song lyrics).
Just a year later Rossington was one of six Skynyrd members to survive the most infamous plane crash in rock history. Rossington broke both arms and wrists, both legs and ankles, and pelvis in the October 20, 1977, Gillsburg, Miss., crash. The subsequent recovery period only exacerbated Rossington’s drug addiction, having to depend daily on heavy pain medications.
It’s no secret that rock stars drink and do drugs, but it’s shocking to see the very real impact abuse had on the small number of bands playing this year’s Rock Jam. Extrapolate that out to the larger music community and you can fill out the rest.
Yes, go out, party, and make the most of this weekend. Just don’t forget your Skynyrd: “ooh that smell / the smell of death surrounds you.”