26 July 2014

What do the likes of Rod Stewart do on their days off?

Rod Stewart in his 'day job'
Despite every effort of publicists to persuade us otherwise, rock start are people, too.  In a recent interview in The Telegraph with Briony Gordon, Ronnie Wood's wife, Sally, admitted that when Ronnie's not tending his wisteria, the couple like to stay in of an evening doing jigsaw puzzles and watching TV box sets.

Briony was only lucky that Ronnie didn't pull out his stamp collection, for the former crack, smack and booze-crazed guitar-slinger is a noted philatelist, a hobby enjoyed by Freddie Mercury and John Lennon.

Bill Wyman metal detecting
The Rolling Stones seem unabashed about gathering moss off stage.  Former bassist Bill Wyman potters about the countryside with a metal detector looking for objects even older than the band. Mick Jagger enjoys a game of cricket, where he is sometimes joined on the village green for an innings by drummer Charlie Watts, who only listens to Radio 3 at home.  Keith Richards is a history buff who professes to like nothing better than getting his nose into a good Second World War tome, although the hard-living hedonist makes even reading sound like a dangerous pursuit.  The Stones had to postpone a tour in 1998 after Keith Richards fell off a ladder in his library.
Keith Richard in his library
Every rock star has a boring side.  No one can keep up an unrelenting diet of sex, drugs and rock & roll, at least if they make it past the life fast, die young phase.  Life is long, recording and touring are filled with tedious stretches where nothing much is done, and surely even hell-raisers  need a hobby/  So what do you do to take your mind off things if your job is the kind of leisure pursuit other people fantasise about?

Building model railways is very popular among rockers of a certain vintage.  Rod Stewart, Neil Young, Phil Collins and Roger Daltrey all have elaborate train sets, with Stewart stating in his autobiography that making the December 2010 cover of Model Railroader was 'a major career milestone .... getting on the front of Rolling Stone had nothing on this.'  Elton John collects porcelain.  Kylie plays Scrabble.  Grandmaster Flash collects souvenir mugs.  

Justing Timberlake practising his swing
And there is an awful lot of golf being played by people who would never be seen in public wearing checked trousers.   Alice Cooper has a handicap of 5.3.  He could put in a round with Meatloaf, Eddie Van Halen, Justin Timberlake, Roger Waters, Mick Fleetwood, Snoop Dogg and maybe even Bob Dylan, although he has a handicap of 17.

Perhaps rock stars, who act out a teenage fantasy existence, long for the lives they once rebelled against?  

Hobbies are an opportunity to play at being grown-ups, without having to do any of the tedious stuff.  But while glimpses into domesticity once seemed strange and tantalising, their paradoxical allure lessens with each revelation of homebody dullness.  

Bob Dylan with his metal work
With the 24/7 access demanded by fans in the era of social networking, stars are going to have to find some more interesting hobbies, like Jack White's taxidermy, and Dylan's sheet metal work.  How many selfies to you want to see of an outlaw hero tending begonias?

Neil McCormick from the Telegraph

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