The Personalities of a Typical, Average,
The possible combinations of musicians and instruments in a rock-and-roll band can vary beyond imagination. I have played, written, recorded, and produced rock-and-roll music professionally for 24 years. I have worked with some of the best musicians in the business, and I've worked with some of the least talented people ever to call themselves musicians. There is one interesting fact I've learned over the years. Even though a creative intellect breeds complex and multiple character traits in most musicians, there are very common, closely related characteristics among the personalities of those who play like instruments in rock-and-roll bands.
We shall examine the common characteristics of the five most common musicians in a typical rock-and-roll band. These traits can be divided on the basis of these ten similarities:
(1) General intelligence, including the ability to speak in multi-syllabic and comprehensible English.
(2) Creative output.
(3) Physical stature and general appearance.
(4) The type and appearance of the vehicles they drive.
(5) Formal schooling and musical training.
(6) The jobs they hold.
(7) Their heroes.
(8) Their fantasies.
(9) Self image.
(10) Sexual orientation.
Let's start with drummers. Drummers are known to be the least intelligent members of the band. However, in physical stature, they are the biggest and strongest. They are not afraid of hard, grueling work. Manual labor doesn't bother a drummer in the least. They can lie down beside it and go right to sleep, never giving it a second thought. Most drummers think work is for those too proud to stretch a can of Spaghetti-O's into three days worth of meals. More drummers have starved to death in the years since the government stopped giving general assistance welfare entitlements, than in the previous years since the beginning of recorded history.
Usually having the longest hair, scruffiest beards and most fleas, drummers generally look like a soaking-wet, junk-yard dog. Without a doubt, it's the drummer your mother always warned you about.
The drummer usually has nothing to do with any of the creative aspects of the music or lyrics. He is, more often than not, completely oblivious to the world around him. While the creative writing process goes on all around him, he will be sitting on the floor in a corner of the rehearsal studio, savagely tearing apart some little electronic gadget he intended to fix, and uttering barely intelligible, mono-syllabic phrases like: "Huh?", "Uuuuhh, yeah.", and "@#@&*%@#$!".
The drummer drives the car with the most dents, dings and crunches; and the least amount of bumpers, fenders, hub caps and complete, fully-intact windows. The average drummer drives a car that most people would expect to see setting on blocks in their friendly, neighborhood red-neck's front lawn. If rust was gold, a drummer's car would be worth millions.
If brains were drums, drummers wouldn't exist. Think about it this way. A drummer's job is to use big sticks and beat on animal skins stretched across round pieces of wood. This takes absolutely no formal musical training to accomplish, of which the drummer has none anyway. To put it frankly, drummers just aren't too long out of the caves. They are primal, and fundamentally flawed in their genetic code.
A drummer doesn't have a big ego. I once asked a drummer about his ego. After I spelled it for him (three times), he thought I was talking about a toaster waffle. I didn't pursue the issue any further.
Most drummers seldom have girlfriends. If a drummer could find a woman who liked being dragged by the hair, he would be considered heterosexual, an insult to all procreating animals on earth.
A drummer's heroes are: Animal, the drummer on the Muppets; all W.W.F. wrestlers; Jethro Bodean, who he thinks is a brilliant dignitary. (Though he has no idea what those words mean, he memorized them at fourth-grade camp, and uses them every chance he gets.); and Mighty Joe Young (whom he thinks struck out).
His fantasies include: Bigger sticks; bigger animal skins; dragging Pamela Anderson-Lee by the hair.
2.) Bass Players
The bass guitar player is the next step up on the evolutionary chain, proving a small amount of intelligence can be a dangerous thing. Bass players have just enough intelligence to get into a lot of trouble, and to be a lot of trouble for the rest of the band. On road trips, for example, the bass player insists on reading the map, though he doesn't know which way is north. This is mainly because bass players, on average, are sixth-grade drop-outs. Once puberty starts in a person who is to become a bass player, school holds no more interest for him (except on the days the class would read articles from National Geographics). Since the bass player has just enough intelligence to be aware of the world around him, he also became very aware of, and interested in, girls. Girls seemed to enjoy being carried over a shoulder much more than they enjoy being dragged by the hair.
In general, bass players--though they do walk mostly upright--are able to perform simple, elementary tasks just above the abilities of an average primate. At least, he can--well, most of the time he can--well, occasionally he can sustain a normal existence in today's society. Bass players can usually be found working in a Jolly Pirate doughnut shop filling the long-johns with cream filling. Performing more complex tasks, like walking and talking simultaneously, are also within their ability. If the combination of tasks also included a third element, such as chewing gum, overload would then occur in the neuro-transmitters and severe confusion and bewilderment would ensue. (I once knew a bass player whom I had never seen without his headphones over his ears and a Walkman in his pocket. One day, I snatched them off his head and put them on myself. I heard a voice on the tape saying: "Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out..." I gave them back to the poor guy just as he reached an interesting shade of deep blue.)
The bass player usually hangs around with the drummer because it makes him feel more intelligent. He can use small words, sometimes three or four combined to make a simple sentence. A bass player's truest talent is inventing new words. This is accomplished by writing down all the cuss-words he can think of, rearranging them, then inventing new ones.
The drive to create is non-existent in the bass player, as is the desire to bathe more than once a month--whether he needs it or not. Bass players do have enough sense to be at least somewhat concerned about their general appearance--especially if it's only been a week or two since his last bath. He tries to keep himself in relatively good physical shape. (Hoisting girls over your shoulder does take a fair amount of strength.) A bass player, immediately after his bath, can look like a comparatively normal homosapian.
Bass players drive cars that were once seen along the roadside, dead or quickly dying. They watch a car for a week or two, and if they are still there, they figure the car is theirs for the taking. This does help to rid the highways of those unsightly heaps, and keeps the police from having to tow them away.
Bass players are usually into horoscopes and cream cheese (cream cheese, because it covers two of the basic food groups at once; the third being Slim-Jims, the fourth--we won't talk about here).
A bass players heroes are: whoever makes those astoundingly realistic Japanese monster movies; whoever invented deodorant; and whoever invented doughnuts.
His fantasies include: Getting promoted to spreading the icing on the tops of the doughnuts; just once, finding an abandoned car with a full tank of gas; and taking a bath with Pamela Anderson-Lee.
3.) Keyboard Players
Keyboard players are gay. If they are not gay, they want to be. If a group of men were sitting in a room, and the only thing you knew about them was that they were all musicians, you could easily pick out the keyboard players. The guys with the pale, pasty complexions, limp wrists, and the legs crossed at the knees would be the keyboard players.
Keyboard players don't usually have the physical strength to carry their own equipment, much less help with any of the heavy stuff. Usually, they can barely carry themselves. Most keyboard players act like they are great friends with the drummer and bass player, so they will carry his keyboard equipment for him.
Keyboard players are very egotistical. They have a right to be. They are the most creative members of a band. They add what little melody there may be in any rock-and-roll song. Having an extensive vocabulary, they add a lot to the lyrical content of the songs. The subject matter is usually questionable, but at least it is...well, colorful.
They dress in Dockers (short shorts in the summertime), white shirts, Italian loafers, and spend a fortune on their hair--and nails. They are prettier than most girls, but are always willing to share or learn make-up tips.
Keyboard players drive either a Mary Kay Cadillac with vanity tags that say: "HAPPY 1"; or small, economical imports; either will have a Chippendale air freshener hanging from the rear-view mirror.
His intelligence is at the opposite end of the spectrum as the drummer or bassist. He has a bachelor's degree in something related to accounting or computer science, but just doesn't have the courage to face the world and find a real job. By day, he is either a tele-marketer, or the guy who hangs those bags full of advertisements and coupons on your doorknob. By night, if he can find just the perfect hand-bag and matching pair of pumps, he moonlights as a librarian.
A keyboard player usually has an extensive educational background in music, and will usually have at least several students. I know one, in particular, who is always talking to young men about things he can teach them. I assume he is talking about keyboard lessons.
His hero is: Mary Kay. (Enough said.)
His fantasies include: Someday, somehow, finding a place on earth where he can just be himself; spending two weeks at Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch (which is probably the special place he has been searching for); learning how to do his own hair and nails; changing his name to Wink, Biff, Skip, Breeze, or Hernando; and doing Pamela Anderson-Lee's hair--and nails.
Never to be forgotten are the guitarists. These are the men who constantly compete with the singer for the spotlight. Most guitarists wish they could sing. When finally they learned they couldn't carry a tune in a bucket, they learned to play guitar.
All guitarists have large, exaggerated egos. They go to great lengths to keep their bodies in great shape. They primp in a mirror like a movie star for hours on end, paying special attention to their hair. They will do anything to make themselves more attractive to young girls. Whatever the current trend in rock-and-roll-style clothing is, they are right on top of it.
There are basically two types of guitarists;
(A) the Rhythm Guitarist; and
(B) the Lead Guitarist.
We shall first discuss;
A) the Rhythm Guitarist
This is the guy who plays mostly rhythm guitar, but when a simple and uncomplicated lead part needs played, he will whine and cry until he is allowed to do it. He has never had any formal lessons, but a good guitarist taught him five or six chords once, so now he knows enough to play in a band. He plays painfully loud, so all you hear is distortion; not his sour, flat, grating strains of dis-chord. He will always need the other guitarist to tune his guitar for him.
He is just a little brighter than the bass player, which enables him to play a guitar with six strings instead of four. He is usually a relatively quiet guy who has, at least, learned the aphorism that it is better to be silent and thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
The rhythm guitarists usually holds his very first, real job for a lifetime. He may be the person in charge of changing the blue-light bulbs at the K-Mart stores. (You know...the blue-light specials.)
He drives a car no older than he is. The car, though old, is mechanically sound. This is so he can go on his numerous dates, then be sure he has a ride home if the girl slaps him silly (which, on occasion, happens several times in one night). It also has a great sound system. He may not know much about playing guitar, but he can play a great stereo.
He has at least two years of high school under his belt, no matter how many years it took him to accomplish it. He can use the English language just well enough to talk a lot--and say absolutely nothing. But, why should he care as long as the young girls think he's cute.
The rhythm guitarist thinks he has much to offer in the creativity of each song. This is why most of the songs sound the same. He has probably had one good idea for a song in his life, and will milk it for the next thirty years. He will tell his grandchildren about his number-one, smash hit song. In reality (which is a place the rhythm guitarist likes to stay far away from), the more handsome a guitarist is, the less he needs to be a good player or writer. As long as the young girls think he is cute, why should he care if he can play?
His heroes are: Captain James T. Kirk, because he always got the girl; James Bond, because he had all those really cool toys--and because he always got the girl; and Han Solo, because he got the Princess and has a wookie as a slave.
His fantasies include: learning how to sing so they can toss the singer-dude, and then he could get all the girls; getting guitar lessons from Eddie Van Halen, because then, he could meet Valerie Bertinelli; getting the lead acting part in the Diet-Coke-construction-worker-who-takes-his-shirt-off commercial, so all those girls would lust after him; and meeting Motley Crue, because Pamela Anderson-Lee would be better off with him.
B.) the Lead Guitarist
This type of guitarist is the bigger ego-maniac of the two guitarists. His clothes; his hair; his speech; everything he does is because he thinks he is the secret sexual fantasy of every girl on earth. (In reality, the girls like the singer, but he'll never admit that.)
He is the one who speaks for the band. He graduated high school (in just under six years), so he is able to piece together a reasonable sentence--not intelligent, but reasonably intelligible.
He works at a normal blue-collar job and drives a custom van with the scantily-clad women air-brushed on the side. He has nothing to spend his money on, except for the sound system in his van.
He has just enough musical knowledge to piece together the simplest of songs. He thinks every one of them is a masterpiece. He is wrong.
He started playing guitar because his parents knew the people across the street, knew their son was a drummer, and wanted to save their family from that kind of complete disgrace. Thus, they bought him his first guitar. Usually, at some point in his life, he had at least one guitar lesson. He would have had more, but the teacher, who could only get out of jail one weekend a month, ended up having to pawn all his equipment to pay his fines and court costs. This is when the aspiring, young, guitar-god wanna-be started reading a teach-yourself-guitar-in-one-easy-lesson book. He probably read through the entire book (with some help on the big words) in a matter of a few short years.
His heroes are: Slash, the guitarist for that Runs 'n' Hoses band; the guy who invented those great sounding Bose speakers, whatever his name is (Could he mean Dr. Amar Bose?); and, that great big fish in the movie, "Jaws."
His fantasies include: Finding a rhythm-guitar player whose guitar never goes out of tune; being buried with his guitar (and on top of the singer), and giving guitar lessons to Pamela Anderson-Lee.
Last, but not least, is the lead singer. This is the person all the girls instantly fall in love with--and the person all the guys in the band soon begin to hate. Of course, they hate him because all their girlfriends fell in love with him. He was hired because he looked good in a pair of tight jeans. They just didn't want him to look good while their girlfriends were around. If the band was really lucky, he would be able to sing at least a little. But, the better you look with your shirt off, the less you need to be able to sing well.
Ironically, the singer is the one who usually considers himself the true musician of the band. In reality, he became a singer because: A) he couldn't learn to play guitar, B) couldn't learn or afford keyboards (not to mention he liked girls), C) he knew the kid down the street who was a drummer, and didn't want any part of that. So, singing was the only alternative.
The singer is the same guy who flunked music in the fifth grade because he continuously made passes at the music teacher. He also made passes at his home-room teacher, his principal, his school-bus driver, and the school nurse (but, the school nurse was an accident. We won't discuss that here).
The singer usually has the most common sense (albeit not very common), of any member of the band. After all, he knew he couldn't play a real instrument, and yet, he plays in bands. He doesn't have to buy any equipment except a microphone. He doesn't have to buy strings or sticks or heads or guitar picks. He doesn't have to worry about tuning his instrument. In a way, he has it made. This is another reason the other guys in the band hate him. They're jealous. They realized they weren't smart enough to be a singer.
His heroes are: his fifth-grade music teacher, who never gave him a real chance; and, of course, himself. (Who else matters?)
His fantasies include: Someday, somehow, finding a band worthy of him; someday, somehow, finding a woman worthy of him; and, seeing the movie, Barb Wire, starring Pamela Anderson-Lee...again.
These character traits may seem, in the very least, a bit bizarre--but that's only because they are. Musicians are a strange breed of animal. Something about the instinct and drive of a rock-and-roll personality has always made it subject to the extreme ends of most spectrums. But, what may seem incredible to the average non-musician, is very un-surprising to other musicians. If these strange out-casts from society didn't have music to bring them together, bind them, and keep their so-called minds occupied, God only knows what they would be doing. I suppose its better to keep them busy and off the streets.