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The return of rock

Brian's guest editorial for Guitarist magazine, November 2001.


Ages ago Neville asked me if musicians were ever likely to reclaim music from groups of choreographed kids miming to their latest manufactured single. Well, I was at the Kerrang! Awards the other day and guess what? I think it's happening. Rock music has benefited enormously from an infusion from the edges of rap, and it's totally in contact with today's younger generation. But it hasn't been like that for quite a few years. When I was a kid, rock music expressed our generation perfectly and our whole world revolved around it. But five years ago that wasn't true. Rock was in the backwaters and sounded old, even to me. So I think this new wave is cause for celebration. (Mine's a Guinness!)

Inevitably, someone asked me about the credibility issues raised by my working with a band like 5ive. I told them, I'm much too old and I've come much too far to worry about credibility. Throughout my life I've never done things because I thought they were cool, I've don't them because I thought they were worthwhile. So when these young guys say the want to do We Will Rock You, what am I going to say? I'm going to say, Yeah I would love to. And, selfishly, not only do I get my creative juices flowing, I gain access to a new generation.

But I'm also conscious that the important things are already happening and it's not going to be me that makes them happen. When I was these guys' age I was doing things that influenced what was going on and I can still be a part of it for a while, but I'm not going to be the centre of things any more. Those important steps were made by Run DMC, Rage Against The Machine, Pantera and bands like that.

When I walked into that room at the Kerrang! Awards I thought I was entering this minority world. But I wasn't, I was walking into a glitzy place and I realised this is not minority stuff. Groups like Muse, Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit are selling a million records and I think it's incredible rock music might sweep back into the public consciousness and become the language of the kids again.

Sadly, I also hear warning bells. Why? Because it could easily become commercial again - there's money to be made and it could get sabotaged and the values changed. Make no mistake, there are people at this very moment saying, Boy bands used to be in, now it's rock bands; let's create a few for our label. But then, from Dion to The Monkees to Hear'Say, that's always happened. And the funny thing is - it's not all been bad! Hell, we'll just have to steer our way through it.

Keep rocking...

Brian May


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