Today is April 16th, 2012, and we are now living in a world where Guns n’ Roses is a museum exhibit. It was bound to happen sooner or later. It’s their fault for living beyond forty. Can you believe every single member of Guns n’ Roses is still alive? None of them died! Three Ramones are dead, and they drank Yoo-Hoo. Axl Rose ate large blocks of cocaine like coffee cake in the late eighties and somehow he sashayed his way into the Ed Hardy era. Of course, Axl and the rest of Guns have been culturally condemned for a while now. The only question anyone’s had for anybody on that totem pole since the release of Chinese Democracy has been, “Hey, when’s the real Guns n’ Roses getting back together?”
Perhaps this is why Use Your Illusion era GNR drummer Matt Sorum announced shortly after the
carbonite freezing process induction ceremony that he’ll no longer be “commenting” on his former band in interviews or on Twitter or down at the tattoo parlor (or anywhere else, ever, I guess). Okay, Matt, but that doesn’t leave a whole lot to discuss.
I’ll admit I could read a healthy magazine article about that Neurotic Outsiders record you made, and sure, maybe I have some questions about Y Kant Tori Read, but where do we go after that? I’d be lying if I said I gave a tinker’s damn about your performance on the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers theme song. I have even less interest in your bandana collection.
It’s a hard pill to swallow, Matt, I know, but look at Axl. He did the most logical thing he could after he fired all of you: He assembled a rag tag crew of MVP musicians to constitute the “new” Guns n’ Roses, and the world still sniffed with massive, crushing indifference. The whole thing came across like those final seasons of “Happy Days” where they had Ted McGinley and Crystal Bernard. It’s not that Ted McGinley and Crystal Bernard aren’t great, it’s just that we grew up with Ron Fucking Howard, and goddammit, that’s who we wanna see getting the business from Potsie and Mr. C. Yes, I am equating Tommy Stinson with the chick from “Wings,” and neither one of them should have any issue with that.
But I digress. Let me know how that whole “not commenting” on GNR thing goes after you’ve been stuck at the Kansas City Airport for thirteen hours amongst a gaggle of weary travelers who don’t follow your Twitter. If you didn’t want to spend the rest of your life fielding questions about a potential reunion with Axl or Slash’s shoe size or the cymbal hiss on “Don’t Cry,” maybe you should have just stayed in the Cult.
The Beastie Boys and the Red Hot Chili Peppers also went into the Rock Hall over the weekend, which means the nineties might be over, the eighties are definitely over, and those socks the Chili Peppers wore on their genitals are probably being delicately handled by a RNRHOF intern as I type this. Make sure the decades-old sweat stains are visible in that display case, Mortimer! That’s what the people are paying to see!
Jimmy Castor, the boisterous funk singer who authored some of the genre’s best tongue-in-cheek party anthems, died today of causes yet to be revealed. Castor’s death was confirmed on Twitter this afternoon by his grandson, P.J. Romain. The singer was 64.
Born in Harlem, Jimmy Castor tasted his first morsel of fame in 1957 when he briefly replaced troubled doo-wop singer Frankie Lyman in Lyman’s group the Teenagers. Castor floated around the New York scene for a while after that before scoring a solo hit in 1966 with the Latin soul record “Hey Leroy, Your Mama’s Callin’ You” (famously sampled twenty years later by the Beastie Boys on their track “Hold It, Now Hit It”). The formation of the Jimmy Castor Bunch came in 1972; that group would pepper the ’70s with an array of goofy funk jams like “Troglodyte (Cave Man)” and “The Bertha Butt Boogie.” Despite their often laughable themes, everything the Castor Bunch played was founded on a bedrock of serious musicianship, and the group was indeed respected within the funk community.
Once the Me Decade faded away, Jimmy Castor’s flame was kept alive by scores of pioneering hip hop artists who sampled his music in their own. Said hip hoppers include but are not limited to Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, Erik B. & Rakim, the Ultramagnetic MCs, Big Daddy Kane, 2 Live Crew, House of Pain, the aforementioned Beastie Boys, and even N.W.A. No less than Kanye West has sampled Castor in the Twenty-First Century, using a portion of 1979’s “I Just Wanna Stop” on the 2004 College Dropout track “We Don’t Care.”
I went through a deadly Jimmy Castor phase circa 2007. Anyone who rode in my car was forced to listen to the JCB’s greatest hits CD, particularly “King Kong.” I adore that silly ode to Hollywood’s most beloved giant ape. It’s easily my favorite Jimmy Castor composition. Never fails to melt my blues away.
My condolences to P.J. Romain and the rest of Castor’s surviving family. I’m sure he’ll keep the afterlife extra funky and fun for everyone stuck on that unfortunate side.