Death and the Rock Star: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Death and the Rock Star

1st Edition

By Catherine Strong, Barbara Lebrun

Routledge

222 pages

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pub: 2015-09-28
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Description

The untimely deaths of Amy Winehouse (2011) and Whitney Houston (2012), and the ’resurrection’ of Tupac Shakur for a performance at the Coachella music festival in April 2012, have focused the media spotlight on the relationship between popular music, fame and death. If the phrase ’sex, drugs and rock’n’roll’ ever qualified a lifestyle, it has left many casualties in its wake, and with the ranks of dead musicians growing over time, so the types of death involved and the reactions to them have diversified. Conversely, as many artists who fronted the rock’n’roll revolution of the 1950s and 1960s continue to age, the idea of dying young and leaving a beautiful corpse (which gave rise, for instance, to the myth of the ’27 Club’) no longer carries the same resonance that it once might have done. This edited collection explores the reception of dead rock stars, ’rock’ being taken in the widest sense as the artists discussed belong to the genres of rock’n’roll (Elvis Presley), disco (Donna Summer), pop and pop-rock (Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse), punk and post-punk (GG Allin, Ian Curtis), rap (Tupac Shakur), folk (the Dutchman André Hazes) and ’world’ music (Fela Kuti). When music artists die, their fellow musicians, producers, fans and the media react differently, and this book brings together their intertwining modalities of reception. The commercial impact of death on record sales, copyrights, and print media is considered, and the different justifications by living artists for being involved with the dead, through covers, sampling and tributes. The cultural representation of dead singers is investigated through obituaries, biographies and biopics, observing that posthumous fame provides coping mechanisms for fans, and consumers of popular culture more generally, to deal with the knowledge of their own mortality. Examining the contrasting ways in which male and female dead singers are portrayed in the media, the book

About the Authors

Catherine Strong lectures in the Music Industry Program at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia. She is the author of Grunge: Music and Memory (Ashgate, 2011), and Chair of IASPM Australia-New Zealand branch. Her research focuses on memory, heritage and gender in relation to popular music. Barbara Lebrun is Senior Lecturer in French Studies at the University of Manchester, UK. Her first book, Protest Music in France (Ashgate, 2009), won the 2011 IASPM prize for Best Anglophone Monograph, and she is the editor of Chanson et Performance (2012).

About the Series

Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series

Popular musicology embraces the field of musicological study that engages with popular forms of music, especially music associated with commerce, entertainment and leisure activities. The Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series aims to present the best research in this field. Authors are concerned with criticism and analysis of the music itself, as well as locating musical practices, values and meanings in cultural context. The focus of the series is on popular music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, with a remit to encompass the entirety of the world’s popular music.

Critical and analytical tools employed in the study of popular music are being continually developed and refined in the twenty-first century. Perspectives on the transcultural and intercultural uses of popular music have enriched understanding of social context, reception and subject position. Popular genres as distinct as reggae, township, bhangra, and flamenco are features of a shrinking, transnational world. The series recognizes and addresses the emergence of mixed genres and new global fusions, and utilizes a wide range of theoretical models drawn from anthropology, sociology, psychoanalysis, media studies, semiotics, postcolonial studies, feminism, gender studies and queer studies.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUS035000
MUSIC / Genres & Styles / Rock
SOC036000
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Death & Dying