What defines a true fan?
To me, being passionately into something is the essence of life, whether it’s sports, arts, fashion or music. As long as it gives you “THAT” indescribable feeling of euphoria.
Rock-fans are those insane people that are willing to do anything to get an adrenaline kick at a show, for instance
They will stand out in the cold and the rain all day long to get a front row spot, they will walk in mud, shit and piss at festivals, they will fight like dogs to keep the spot they managed to get, or they will be assholes and try to hurt others to steal theirs.
Fans LOVE music, they would do anything for it.
This is my take on the fan-phenomenon.Rock’n’roll is like religion, in many ways. You worship your idols.
When I look up the definition of these two words, it makes perfect sense:
Worship – “ceremonies, prayers, or other religious forms by which this love is expressed”
Idol – “an object of worship“, “a false god” or “One that is adored, often blindly or excessively.”
Anyone who is or has ever been a true fan of music knows how music can make you feel. It can be very difficult to explain to those who haven’t felt it.
I’m not religious, but it’s what I imagine that those who worship Jesus feel when they go to church. It’s just that extatic feeling that is beyond anything.
It’s love on a higher level. It’s blind adoration. And just like people do strange things when they fall in love, fans do the same with their idols sometimes.
I know exactly what it’s like. People who write the music that means so much to you – like Judas Priest in my case – become somewhat unreal because they are able to create something that touches your heart. That is magic. It’s precious.
My way of expressing my appreciation was usually by writing to the bands and artists I loved the most. I’m a bit embarrassed by it today, because what I used to do when I was younger, is not necessarily what I would do today. However, it served its purpose to some degree.
The reason I even became friends with Skid Row for instance, was because I started out as a huge fan. At the time, I figured that the only way I would get noticed by a band that received tons of fan-mail every day, was to do something crazy. Something that nobody else would do.
I ended up writing the longest fan-mail in the world. It was on TV and everything. I was in the Guinness book of world records for that thing and as it happens, Sebastian Bach called me one evening to say thank you.
[A local TV-station wanted to find out more about the record-breaking-fan letter. Here I am, 20 years old with my Skid Row t-shirt and Yngwie guitar-pick necklace, talking about writing letters and hard rock in general. Oh yeah… it’s in SWEDISH by the way. :-D]
He was excited, couldn’t believe someone would do something like that, and it took him a week to read it, but he did read the whole thing (I know he did, because he kept mentioning things years after, that had been in that letter).What took me 6 months to write, took him a week to plough through. Mission accomplished.
I did get noticed and it all went from there. I’ve always been a fan of Skid Row but I related differently to them as the years went by and as I got to know them better. I don’t think of them as “idols” anymore, I think of them as friends, and we go way back.
Being a huge fan often means that the band and the music means more than anything else.
Back in 1998 I was so taken by the Whitesnake-shows that I absolutely wanted to see more shows in England. I couldn’t afford it, so I decided to sell my furniture to finance the trip. Said and done. I couldn’t even afford Christmas-presents that year, but it was so worth it! I still don’t regret doing that.
I’ve been standing out in the cold and the rain for hours, waiting for an artist to show up at the stage door. I’ve waited in hotel lobbies for hours, sometimes DAYS, for bands I wanted to meet.
I remember once, a pissed off guy wrote to me and said that “chicks like me” got everything for free. He figued that because I was female and not necessarily butt-ugly, I had the red carpet rolled out every time I showed up somewhere. Think again – pal.
While he was probably hanging at some pub getting wasted before a show, I was freezing my ass off outside the stage door in the hopes of meeting a nice bus driver or roadie or whoever, who would put me on a guest list. I never asked, it just usually kind of came up in the conversation.
I was cold and hungry many times just because I wanted to meet the people whose music I adored. I was ready to sacrifice anything for that.
I have bought tons of records in my life, I can’t even BEGIN to explain how much money I’ve spent on merchandise, trips, concert tickets, records, videos, books…memorabilia – ANYTHING music related!
I’ve been all over the world, seen hundreds, probably thousands of concerts in my life, and then some asshole tells me that I got things for free just because I’m female?
Oh, give me a break.
As a fan I’ve given my idols gifts every now and then as well. David Coverdale mentioned in the interview I did with him, that he loved art and used to study art. But he hadn’t painted anything in a long time.
I thought that was a shame, and figured that during all the hours alone in a hotel room or on buses and planes, he should find the time to do a bit of sketching again – and be creative in more than one way. So I bought a sketch-pad and a few various artist-pencils, in a professional art store. I had it sent to his room as a small token of my appreciation for him giving me a great interview.
I think he liked it. At least there was a thought behind it.
I remember giving Chris Holmes of W.A.S.P a necklace with a special kind of stone that was said to bring luck to its owner.
Not that I was a particular fan of Chris’ but when I was hanging with the band for about a week during their Helldorado-tour, he was being very nice to me, and seemed to enjoy hanging with me. I liked his non-bullshit attitude.He had not had an easy life, and I just felt some kind of sympathy for him, so I gave him the necklace.
God, the look on his face when he got it..! :) He looked like a five-year old on Christmas Eve! He had this huge smile and went: “Wow! Thank you! Thank you so much!”
I’ll never forget his expression, he was truly happy about the gift. I love seeing people happy – rock stars or not. :)
I was talking to Rachel Bolan (Skid Row) a few years ago, I think it was in 2003 or something, and he was bummed because he had left his books at home and was bored out on the road. There was nothing to do, nothing to watch as the hotel rooms often only had news channels, he complained. Remember that this was before everybody had a laptop and access to wireless internet everywhere…
I was going to see Skid Row in Copenhagen two days later, so I went out and bought him Lemmy’s biography “White Line Fever” and gave him that when he came off the tour bus in Copenhagen.
He was so glad that he got a cool book to read. About an hour later, he came over to me and asked: “How much do I owe you?” I wanted to say that the enormous kicks that Skid Row had given me with their music and live-shows over the years, was more than payment enough, but that would have sounded dorky, so I just played it cool and went: “Nothing, we’re good…”.
A few months ago, I saw that Gus G was doing a live-on-the-air interview and I was looking for info about what time it was scheduled for. I went to the Firewind-page on Facebook and noticed a guy that had commented on lots of stuff on there. He seemed to be a super-mega-huge fan of Gus G.
I have to admit that I first thought “is this guy gay or something?” when I saw his photo-albums that contained hundreds of photos of Gus. Somebody called him a “stalker” and his response was:
I have had gifts made for an artist out of complete appreciation for their music, musical ability and to thank them for making a real difference in my life as a result of their music. (Got me out of a dark lonely place and made me see life again) I explained this to that artist and he is totally cool about it. At the same time, I second guess me doing this..Cuz well, it’s kinda weird for a dude, to get a dude gifts for being such an inspiration.. I’m no stalker!! Just a big fan..
Well when a guy admires an artist as much as I do, people call you obsessed …The artist might consider you creepy or wonder about your sexual preferences.. It’s hard to express your admiration or respect for an artist while maintaining a balance of “when is too much?”
He most certainly is. I ended up chatting with the guy one evening and he was actually pretty cool to talk to. Nuts? Crazy? No doubt about it, but 100% dedicated and quite honestly – isn’t it for that kind of people that the artists are making their music – really?
[Gus G © Patric Ullaeus, revolver.se]
When you start playing, you want people to notice, to like what you do, maybe you want your music to touch other people’s hearts and perhaps make a difference in someone’s life.
Well. Gus totally changed that guy’s life. Recently, he sent me a very long e-mail where he explained exactly where this adoration comes from and why. After I read it, I asked him if he had ever told Gus his story. He said no. He was afraid that he might think he was out of his mind.
If it had been me that had received a letter like that, being an artist, I would have been moved to tears. That was some pretty heavy, personal stuff. I could see why he thought so highly of Gus and all the things he does as a fan kind of make sense now when I understand the background.
It’s 5 pages long and I will have to edit it quite a lot before posting it. I asked the guy for permission to publish it, and he said it was cool. I will let him read the edited version before posting it, and add it as a “Part 2” of this blog.
Some fans are just more fans than others.
To be continued….