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Rock stars who definitely have not sold out

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The opposite of that other thread

In this thread, discuss rock stars who didn't "sell out" and why they are cool/not cool.

Van Morrison is the first person that comes to mind for me. His music has naturally changed with his age, and when he plays old stuff you can tell it's not because he wants to cash in on baby-boomer nostalgia, it's because he believes in the timeless-ness of certain music. Not that I have any direct quotes to assert that position, it's just the impression I got when I read a Rolling Stone interview with him about his recent concert in which he played all of "Astral Weeks."

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Bob Dylan gives me the impression that song writing, song re-writing and performing is a physical need for him: one needs an audience for a concert, but he will not play to please it.

Other ones that come to mind are Eric Burdon, indeed Van Morrison, and Joe Cocker, who once declared that, had he not become a singer, he would have ended up in jail for murder in the first degree.

And I was impressed by a documentary on John Mayall, couple of months ago: anything to play the blues, the blues and nothing but the blues.

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I saw John Mayall and The Bluesbreakers early in the '80's at the Capital Theater in Passaic, NJ. A place I miss very much.

I just pulled this from the Mayall Website, so I know the year was 1982 (BTW mayall is 75 years old)

Motivated by nostalgia and fond memories, in 1982, John (together with Mick Taylor and John McVie) decided to re-form the original Bluesbreakers for a couple of tours and a video concert film entitled Blues Alive, which featured Albert King, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Etta James, and Sippie Wallace and others. A whole new generation of followers could get a taste of how it all sounded live two decades before at the birth of the British Blues explosion.

Anyway, the day I saw them, John McVie was flat out stoned...high as a kite. He couldn't handle playing the bass at all that night. Mayall got so angry, that he jumped away from his keyboard and pulled the cord from McVie's bass right out of the amps. McVie stood there and played for another 5-10 minutes before he realized he wasn't plugged in anymore. He was led away, and most likely sent back to Fleetwood Mac.

It's fair to say Mr. Mayall is all about the music.

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Cool strory, Ron... :cool: I never saw John Mayall live, I would have loved to...

Jumbo, you´re right, Dylan seems to give a bleep about his loving audience... :P and Eric Burdon is amazing on stage... he loves his audience... :)

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Bob Dylan gives me the impression that song writing, song re-writing and performing is a physical need for him: one needs an audience for a concert, but he will not play to please it.

How can one argue that Dylan has "definitely" not sold out, when he has repeatedly prostituted himself by appearing in TV advertising to promote the sales of products which are not even music-related.(Victoria’s Secret lingerie, Cadillac, Pepsi)

He has allied himself with corporate capitalism, which in Dylan's case, looks mighty like a sell-out.

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Nick Cave's name was the first to pop into my head. I'm not sure why, I don't even know that much about the guy (apart from the fact that he refused to accept his ARIA award without the Bad Seeds being honoured as well, which was pretty cool).

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I see. So any musician whose publisher or agent has leased their artist's material for additional income on TV has indentured that musician to being a "sell out."

Does that apply to movie play income? How about concert ticket sales? Radio revenue? Album sales?

I guess basically, the only non-sell outs are those who have made no money by being a musician.

OK.

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How can one argue that Dylan has "definitely" not sold out, when he has repeatedly prostituted himself by appearing in TV advertising to promote the sales of products which are not even music-related.(Victoria’s Secret lingerie, Cadillac, Pepsi)

He has allied himself with corporate capitalism, which in Dylan's case, looks mighty like a sell-out.

I was not aware of these commercial activities, but I do not think that these are part of a sell out, as intended in this topic.

He may have earned some quick bucks advertizing some products, he never seeks to please an audience by honoring its expextations.

Bob will play as Bob feels. Sometimes much to the surprise of his band. Didn’t he drive Tom Petty crazy a few times? This also implies a big risk when you intend to buy a ticket for a concert of his.

A year ago I saw Chuck Berry in the Heineken Music Hall, in Amsterdam. That’s an example of milking old succes.

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I see. So any musician whose publisher or agent has leased their artist's material for additional income on TV has indentured that musician to being a "sell out."

Does that apply to movie play income? How about concert ticket sales? Radio revenue? Album sales?

I guess basically, the only non-sell outs are those who have made no money by being a musician.

OK.

Along with what Steel says, I think the atmosphere back in the '60 and early '70s was to try to hold on to your principles, morals and ideology of not "selling a song for money". But... dreams of ideology sometimes fade away.

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Whenever I think of artists who don't "sell out," I think of those fringe/outsider-art artists and artists who aren't very good (or are amateurs).

How about Ani DiFranco? She strikes me as a very do-it-yourself kind of artist... and she's a bit of an outsider, yet music fans recognise her and her work.

Then, there are groups and bands who are popular with their niche group of followers. Death In June/Douglas P. has been around for almost 30 years, cutting records, doing concerts, selling shirts, patches, memorabilia, etc., but he's far from a mainstream success to have requests for the usage of his songs in movies and beer commercials. Bigger names that come to mind would be Neu! and Cabaret Voltaire. These guys were/are at the top of their game, but I don't hear or see much of their music being used to hock new junk onto unsuspecting masses. I think "Animation" was used as the theme song for a music video teevee show, but it's one of those instances where the music and the product go hand-in-hand... and I really doubt the Cabs made truckloads of money for it. Neu!'s music was used illegally for a (in)famous kung-fu movie - he never got to see a cent in royalties for its usage when he was alive. However, I don't know whether it was principles that made them end up where they are commercially. Maybe if a cigarette company had offered them a ton of cash for one of their catchy techno songs, they might've brokered a deal; it just never happened that way in their careers.

Brian Eno also strikes me as one who doesn't "sell-out" in the sense that most of the commercial music he's made has been original work that the companies paid for rather than using tunes from his albums. So, you won't be hearing Another Green World or Nerve Net as video game and computer jingles any time soon.

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well, look at that... everything can be found on wikipedia

Music

["Selling Out"] is frequently heard in the musical community, where it is used to imply that an artist has compromised his or her artistic integrity in order to gain radio airplay or obtain a recording contract, especially with a major label. Often, the label will force a particular record producer onto the performer, insist on the inclusion of songs by commercial songwriters, or the label may even refuse to release an album, deeming it uncommercial.

[...]

Criticism of the term

An artist may also be accused of selling out after changes in artistic direction. This conclusion is often due to the perception that the reason for the artist changing artistic style or direction was simply potential material gain. This ignores other causes of artistic development, which may lead an artist in new directions from those which attracted their original fans. Artists' improvements in musical skill or change in taste may also account for the change.

Other times, artists resent the term on the grounds that the perceived desire for material gain is simply a result of the band seeking to expand its message. For example, when questioned about signing to a major label, Rage Against the Machine answered "We're not interested in preaching to just the converted. It's great to play abandoned squats run by anarchists, but it's also great to be able to reach people with a revolutionary message, people from Granada Hills to Stuttgart".[6]

Other bands (including those without politically-oriented messages) may also reject the term, on the basis that not going mainstream or signing to a bigger label -- in order to prevent "selling out" -- (a): limits a band's ability to address their wider audiences, regardless of whether or not there is any real artistic change, and/or (B): arbitrarily hampers the artists' course of mainstream success, with the assumption that mainstream success must be against the artists' intentions.

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I don't think doing commercials is a sell out. These guys love $$$$$ too. I'm not really sure what selling out means. To me it's a silly out dated 60's term.

Edited by Guest

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I don't think doing commercials is a sell out. These guys love $$$$$ too. I'm not really sure what selling out means. To me it's a silly out dated 60's term.

It's a nebulous area, this selling out business. Would one say Leni Riefenstahl "sold out" to the Nazi Party when she directed Triumph Des Willens and Olympia for them? Hell, some think she shoulda been tried at Nuremberg with the rest of them! :beatnik:

I don't say so-and-so "sold out" explicitly. However, I use such words as "tacky" and "inappropriate" to describe such instances.

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I think it depends on the artist. Like if Janis Joplin was the one who decided she wanted "Mercedes Benz" in a Mercedes Benz commercial, she would be a sellout for what I assume are obvious reasons. But if, let's say, Lil Wayne sold a song to a Lamborghini commercial, I wouldn't consider that to be selling out, since as far as I can tell Lil Wayne really likes Lamborghinis.

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When I think of "selling-out," I think of doing something that goes against your core principles. Since most musicians embrace endorsement deals and chase pop stardom, in my mind they can't sell out. So, that leaves a fairly small group of artists like Neil Young and Bob Dylan.

Ani DiFranco definitely comes to mind, since I think she could become a Pop starlet if she wants to. She could definitely cash in by selling her label to one of the big boys.

I also think Eric Clapton has stayed true to what he believes. I think the Unplugged version of "Layla" and his mellower sound can be explained by shifting tastes as he aged.

Love the McVie story Ron. :)

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I agree with you Carl. A sell-out is someone who goes against their principles for money. However, if their goal is to make money, they can't really sell out.

When you look at it that way, it's really hard to determine who is a sell-out and who isn't. Who can say what an artist's goal is besides the artist himself? And really, making good art and making money can go hand in hand, because if you make good art and you make money with it as well, you can use that money to (figuratively) buy yourself more time or (literally) buy the equipment to keep making good art.

And sometimes "selling out" is a good thing. In high school I was a Death Cab For Cutie fan, and I think that once they started making more accessible and well-produced music they became a better band.

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